Most Important Truth

God’s Grand Plan (Eph 1: 3-10) :

Before the foundation of the world, He is giving to His Son a redeemed and renewed people holy and Christ-like to be citizens in His divine and eternal kingdom.

God’s Sovereign Work (Titus 2:11-14) :

1. Jesus CAME to bring salvation for all people,
2. Jesus TRAINED us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live godly lives in the present age.
3. Jesus GAVE Himself to redeem us from sin and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Christian’s Walk (1 John 2: 6) :

To walk as Jesus walked in
1. Love. John 15:13
2. Humility. Phil 2:5-8.
3. Endurance. Heb 12:1-3.
4. Service. John 13:12-15.
5. Mission. Luke 4:18.

Postscript : Coming to God not knowing what He wants but what we want, we will be missing the whole purpose of our lives.

Dealing With Trials in Life

Phil 4: 6-9

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Whenever we face trials, it is human to be anxious.  Anxiety will set in and we will feel the tremendous turmoil in our hearts. Though we may come to God and present our requests to Him,  we cannot help but to feel anxious and think about possible scenarios and solutions that we can undertake at the same time. It is easier said than done to just switch off the turmoil we have when we are facing ongoing trials.

We often overlook the exhortation in verses 8 and 9 to have noble, excellent or praiseworthy thoughts instead of negative thoughts.  And we should learn from the experience of St Paul and other heroes of faith on how they faced trials and still kept faith in God.  St Paul had his fair share of the harshest trials.  He had almost nothing and his hands had to minister to his own needs even if it was the menial work of tent making.

Allow me to share this personal testimony to show that God’s peace is so amazing and beyond understanding.  I pray it will encourage the brothers and sisters who are struggling with trials right now.

Many years ago when I had a business enterprise, I once had a bad debt of 200,000 US dollars.  It was almost as good as gone. I prayed for God to give me the peace.  I dare not ask for the recovery of debt but rather the peace to deal with it.  I knew the anxiety would definitely debilitate me. Over the next few months, I really had peace instead of turmoil.  I thought about His amazing grace and the blessings I had over the years.  Out of the blue, I received payment of 80% of the debt.  Later I learned that the US debtor had been admitted to a mental institution due to mounting debt and bankruptcy.  In another case, I bought and sold a batch of goods costing 60,000 US dollars and the parts were not made to correct specification which could not be salvaged. Again, I prayed for peace instead.  Again, I received payment for it incredibly.  Both situation could have wound up my enterprise.

I faced life threatening situation several times as well.  I dare not say that I have the same courage to say this like St Paul : “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”   But after I prayed and starting thinking about the ordeal of St Paul and other heroes of faith,  my thoughts would drift to the scenarios of these heroes meeting Jesus our Lord.  How would Jesus commend them ?   Would He commend them as faithful servants ?   What will heaven be like ?   The fears dissipated and turned to excitement instead.  Indeed, since we are surrounded by such a great crowd of witness, we should have the same faith and join them in traveling as exiles on earth and looking forward to this better country of God. (Heb 11 and 12).   I would think about how to make the most of the time left, and turned from the feeling of weakness to renewed strength instead by the grace of God.   I guess that is the comfort we often pray for others in similar situation.

Although I received a happy ending for the trials so far,  it was the peace given by God in my heart to deal with the trials that is so amazing.  I thought I would be so drained emotionally without any solution in sight.  But God did give me this peace to move on.  All thanks and glory to God.  Amen.



Dealing with Matter of Truth and Matter of Conscience

There is this following saying attributed to St Augustine : Essentials, unity; Non essentials, liberty; All things, charity.

It is a good summary of how we should deal with matter of truth and matter of conscience.

I will paraphrase as such : Matter of Truth, unity; Matter of Conscience, liberty; All matters, love.

There should be absolute unity concerning matter of truth or doctrine. Any deviation from the biblical truth will be considered as apostate belief. We cannot agree to disagree on matter of truth. For example, if we hold the belief that Christ is the only way and others hold the belief that there is several ways to God including Christ, we are not traveling on the same road together anymore.

But concerning matter of conscience, we can have liberty to agree to disagree. One good example is found in 1 Cor 8 concerning eating food offered to idols. For those with knowledge will know that idols are lifeless artifacts and there is only one God who is spirit. They can have the liberty to eat without asking question when invited by the pagans to join their feast with the food offered to idols. But for those without knowledge, thinking that the food is defiled, they can choose not to eat as food does not bring us any closer to God anyway. The only concern is not to stumble the weaker brother in insisting on the exercise of our rights. Obstinate insistence on the exercising of our rights causing the stumbling of the weaker brother is sinning against Christ. Be warned.

The overarching consideration in all matters is to deal with love. As long as we put the interest of others above ours, we are doing well as we are following the example of our Lord Jesus.

Phil 2: 3-11 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Tolerating False Teaching is Sin

Rev 2:1-21 NLT
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus. This is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, the one who walks among the seven gold lampstands:
2 “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. 3 You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. 4 “But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches. 6 But this is in your favor: You hate the evil deeds of the Nicolaitans, just as I do…14 “But I have a few complaints against you. You tolerate some among you whose teaching is like that of Balaam, who showed Balak how to trip up the people of Israel. He taught them to sin by eating food offered to idols and by committing sexual sin. 15 In a similar way, you have some Nicolaitans among you who follow the same teaching. 16 Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
20 “But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.

It is very clear from the above Scriptural passage that our Lord’s main rebuke was for tolerating false teaching of Balaam and the Nicolaitans, and the Jezebel’s spirit. It is sin for tolerating false teaching.

Exposing false teaching is serious business and urgent because it concerns eternal life and death of souls. James 5:19-20.  Let us be obedient in exposing false teaching instead of tolerating it for the sake of false peace and unity.

Dealing with Propagandists, Victims and Would-be Victims of False Teaching

Jude 1:3-4,12,16-19,22-23 NLT

3 Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. 4 I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…12 When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you…16 These people are grumblers and complainers, living only to satisfy their desires. They brag loudly about themselves, and they flatter others to get what they want. 17 But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ predicted. 18 They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. 19 These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them…22 And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. 23 Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

The Scripture above makes a clear distinction on how we should deal with propagandists, victims and would-be victims of false teaching.

For the propagandists, we are warned that fellowship with them can shipwreck our faith. And the appropriate response is mentioned in 2 John 1:10-11, “10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.”

For the victims, we should show compassionate interest in guiding them out of such false teaching into the biblical truth.

For the would-be victims about to be lured away, we must give strong resolute warning and instruction as described in the imagery of snatching them away from the flames of judgment. We must also show our great disapproval of their sins despite showing mercy. That call for spiritual wisdom to handle such situation as the firm way of warning and instruction and hating the sins simultaneously may come across as condemnation.

For God So Love The World

One evening during my personal devotion,  I was so overwhelmed by the love of God.  He loves us so much that He gave….He gave His Only Begotten Son for us !

Won’t He give us all things with Him ?   So overwhelmed that I just blurted out this impromptu personal rendition of John 3:16.

Law-less Grace

“The Law sends us to the Gospel, that we may be justified, and the Gospel sends us to the Law again to enquire what is our duty being justified.” – Puritan Samuel Bolton.

“Keeping God’s Law is not the BASIS on which we are put right with God – but it is the RESULT of it. Again, keeping God’s Law is not the MEANS of our salvation – but it is the ESSENCE of it.” – John Stott.

In His encounter with the Pharisee Nicodemus, Jesus our Lord said clearly that nobody can enter the Kingdom of God unless he or she is born of water and of the Spirit and he or she must be born again. This born again experience is best explained in Ezek 36: 25-27 :

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

We will be cleansed of our sin and we will be given a new heart and a new spirit. God will also put His Spirit in us to MOVE us to follow His decrees and be careful to keep His laws. That is the reality of sanctification as expounded by both the Puritan Samuel Bolton and John Stott. Ultimately keeping God’s Law is the essence and result of justification. The epistles of John also testify to the same teaching that whoever abides in Christ will also keep His commandments. 1 John 2:3-6.

We fully agree with the true biblical part of the hyper grace doctrine that we cannot earn our salvation through works or we are not put right with God by keeping the Law. But we completely disagree with the false erroneous part of the hyper grace doctrine that the Law is being dispensed with or abolished altogether. Our Lord made it very clear too that He came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it.

Gal 6:15 says, For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” and 1 Cor 7:19 says, “For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. ” Clearly we see that a new creation in Christ is equated to keeping God’s commandments.  St Paul was not contradicting himself as he confirmed in other parts of Scripture that when one is born again and is justified, God will put His Spirit in him or her and move him or her to keep His laws.

If the Bible ever contradict itself between one part of Scripture with another, it cannot be the Word of God for God’s truth has to be consistent and immutable. We have just seen in a mere few verses in the epistles of Paul, John, James and parts of Ezekiel and the gospels – they are harmonious on this same truth that the essence and result of justification, and not the means, is keeping God’s laws.

If God’s Spirit is truly in us, He will MOVE us to keep His laws. If we are indifferent to keeping God’s laws, we must re-examine our faith again for we reveal our true heart condition that we want nothing of the kind of life of holiness in heaven which we will be perfect as Christ is perfect. Just to ensure their followers do not examine themselves, a broadside of this false teaching not to examine oneself is frequently fired.  That is the kind of spiritual warfare.  Terribly subtle deception.

Effort-less Grace

The epistles in the New Testament are full of exhortation to obey God’s commandments and to live a holy life. Search these three words “make every effort” and you will find at least 9 verses. Luke 13:24; Rom 14:19; Eph 4:3; Heb 4:11;Heb 12:14; 2 Pet 1:5; 2 Pet 1:10; 2 Pet 1:15; 2 Pet 3:14.

Heb 4: 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

Heb 12: 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

2 Pet 1:10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.

We were born again when God gave us a new heart and a new spirit and His Spirit to MOVE (convict) us to OBEY His laws. Ezek 36:26-27. And His Spirit is only given to those who OBEY Him.

( Acts 5:32. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who OBEY Him. John 17:6. “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…)

It is by grace that we are saved by faith alone in Christ Jesus, and not by works. But we are God ‘s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. Eph 2:8-10. Though we will continue to sin after believing in Jesus, the desire to obey is evidence of this new heart and new spirit given by God. The struggle with sin is real as we all experience just like St Paul but we take heart that Christ Jesus has overcome the world and He will deliver us. Rom 7:14-25. On the contrary, a heart not intending to surrender and does not have the desire to obey from the onset is evidence of the ABSENCE of this new heart and new spirit !

So it is not difficult to understand why the hyper grace doctrine keep insisting that obedience is a WORK…because if it is a WORK, they can conveniently dismiss it as we are not saved by works. If it does not have this rhetoric of trivializing obedience, the net will not be cast wide enough to reach the unsaved who does not really want to surrender the throne of their lives to live a holy life but living covetously with wealth and every good thing without any prick of their conscience – so much so that the doctrine further deny the prompting work of the Holy Spirit in convicting the Christian of sin.

When the hyper grace believers exclaim, “it is done, it is done, it is done”, what they really want is that they can have the salvation in Christ without surrendering any part of their lives in active obedience. They rightly claim that their version of grace is effort- less.

Repentance and Saving Faith

Acts 8:9-24

Simon was another clear-cut example of one who professed faith in Jesus and was baptized, and yet had no saving faith. Evidence of the lack of saving faith were clear when Peter said :

1. He would end up in hell with his money.
2. He had no part in the ministry.
3. His heart was NOT right with God.
4. He had to REPENT and pray in the hope that Jesus would forgive !

The word Simony is derived from this story of Simon – just like how the word Sodomy came about from the story of Sodom – which is defined as the making of profit out of sacred things.

Today, the hyper grace false teachers are also making huge profit out of twisting the true gospel to pander to itching ears of followers who do not want to hear about a life of obedience and discipline in the Kingdom of God, especially REPENTANCE from a life led by sin into a life of holiness led by the Spirit. After Peter rebuked Simon of his sin and pointing out his illegitimate faith, there was no evidence that he had godly sorrow for his sin and repented as he only wanted Peter to pray for him to avoid the consequences of his sin.