Book Spree

Yipee! For me… it begins next month. Hopefully the exchange rate will be much better by then. Somehow, I am quite disappointed with the lack of materials in Malaysia. Which is why I am quite enjoying the latest fad (for my family): Internet Shopping! hahaha…

It’s bargain hunting on Amazon! Next month. 

Will post my wish list and what finally went into the checkout then. Stay tuned for it!

A Cheapening of God

[I wrote this a while back, and found the relevance of it when I went through again the issues concerning sin in man. It is interesting to note that Pelagians and Semi-pelagians (which includes Arminians of various degrees) do not think that sin corrupted the will of man in making a choice. That is an error in logic, as a will that is uncorruptible by sin does not need Grace from God; which is equivalent to ‘works of man’.]

I have problems when I read how ‘cheapened’ the God of the bible is made up to be among evangelicals. It is comforting to know that I am not the only one with this line of thinking. Anyway, how is God cheapened or domesticated?

Well, one way is by likening God to that of an earthly father or an employer. E.g. It is inconceivable for a father to be justified in condemning a son who had no ability in passing his examinations. And therefore, the argument given is that God must be really cruel nor can He do such a thing because by the analogy, it is unjust to do so.

Answer: A father who does that of course is cruel and idiotic. And has no sense of humility. But can God be likened to that? Does a father create the child? Can a father have total ownership of the child? Of course not.

Now if we were to put out the true basis of God’s actions, which is defined by God (not our own sense of what justice is), it then is reversed: Imagine a Creator who has created a creature. The creature was made to fulfill an objective as determined by the Creator. Unfortunately, the creature messed it up and by so doing short circuited its entire being, resulting in an inability to fulfill its objective. The Creator who owns it definitely would have the right to command of the creature to meet its objective. But it cannot. Yet, the Creator is now commanding the creature to do as it was created to do. Is that not just?

Creature messed up. Creature is unable to do as it was created due to itself. Creator has no right or just cause to command it to fulfill its objective created for? If that’s the line of thinking, then don’t we ever dare be frustrated with our possessions (creatures which we have ownership in) when they are broken or spoilt. For if you ever were to do so, you’re just being stupid. Well, experience tells us that if your car is totalled, you as the owner have all the right to send it to the junk yard to be scrapped. It is useless, therefore you would still wish (in our limited human way) it was able to transport you, but because it cannot, you have all the right to decide its fate.

Unless you as the owner, repair the damage, fix the engine, and then it becomes ready and willing to do as it was created for.

Do not cheapen God with wrong analogies.

One of the chief reasons why many are unable to grasp the concept of total depravity of man, is because they fail to see the frame of reference from God’s point of view, and merely see it from a human, experiential way. Choose good. Sure, anyone can choose things that are described as good, but real spiritual good is defined not by actions, but the heart condition. Therefore, good people are going to hell! Yes, people who ‘choose good’. That is why, it is a universal blanket that original sin is pervasive in all nooks of the human being, in all aspects. Even in the total corruption of will. Can they choose good works. Of course. That is why they can choose good, and die in their ‘goodness’. But true goodness is only given by God and attributable to Him. That is why those who are righteous are righteous by the presence of the Holy Spirit (God Himself) in their lives, so that whatever good done is not by themselves, but by God. Why then are people not as sinful as they can be? Why are some ‘externally good’? Because God has given grace (common grace is the technical term here) more on some and witheld the greater corruption of sin from permeating more in that society. Are those external good, good in the sight of God? No. What then is their external good? Their external good is just a semblance of True Goodness, that brings benefit to society (in a physical sense) and thus have no true bearing on spiritual matters — since their hearts are unconverted and not dwelt by God)

Grace is grace, when sin is seen as sin.

Any cheapening of sin in its totality and effect, cheapens salvation likewise.

[With the publication of this, I have no more ‘drafts’ in my blog system 🙂 Finally!]

Church History

is important. It is important because history repeats itself, just as much as Israel’s unfaithfulness reflects the flaw in mankind. Over and over again.

It reveals to us where things go wrong, and where it comes back again. It shows where the answers lie, in the midst of confounding silence wrought by ignorance.

Church history is important.

Nokia, Celcom, Google, Apple – Mobile Developer Challenges

If you are into the mobile scene… these are already offering prizes for the best applications you can come out for them. This is the general area where companies are planning to pump their money in the next 5 years (at least). Interesting… Mobile phones really are the next computers (of the 80s). What’s next?

Google’s HTC Dream is going to be released today in the States under T-Mobile. The handset name? G1. 

Interesting to see how all these will work out.

Ownership of Jerusalem

How was it possible for Abraham to have the view of the land promise that the New
Testament ascribed to him? What led him to “spiritualize” the promise to make it entail
future heavenly, kingdom realities? The answer lies in the fact that he took seriously
God’s promise to him that “in [him] all the families of the Earth would be blessed”
(Genesis 12:3).12 Therefore, he perceived that the promise to him and his offspring,
who is Christ (Galatians 3:16), entailed that in Christ “he would be heir [not of Palestine
but] of the [glorified] world [kosmou]” (Romans 4:13). Plainly, Abraham under-stood
that God’s land promise meant that God would restore the entire cosmos to its former
paradisical glory and in that he placed his hope and patiently waited for it. His faith and
understanding would have been satisfied with nothing less!

Moses too, and his contemporaries, wandered in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years,
and died in faith, not having received the promise (Hebrews 11:39).

Under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites conquered the land, receiving in a limited
fashion the paradise God had promised. But it quickly became obvious that this territory
could not be the ultimate paradise. Undefeated Canaanites remained in the land as
“hornets.” And because of Israel’s sin throughout the united and divided kingdom
periods, finally the land was devastated by the Neo-Babylonians; the indwelling Glory
departed from the Solomonic Temple (Ezekiel 9:3; 10:1-22), which Temple was then
destroyed; and the people were banished and came to be known as lo-ammi, meaning
“not-my people” (Hosea 1:9). The once fruitful land took on the appearance of a desert,
a dwelling place of jackals, owls, and scorpions. Paradise, even in its old covenant
shadow form, was taken from them.

Even the restoration after the Babylonian captivity, under Ezra and Nehemiah,
designated by Biblical scholars as the Second Temple Period, could not be paradise. But
the return to the land and the rebuilding of the Temple pointed the way to it. The glory
of that tiny Temple, Haggai prophesied, would someday be greater than the glory of the
Solomonic Temple. What did this hyperbolic language mean? It meant that God had
something better for them than a temporal land and a material temple. The promise of
the land would be fulfilled by nothing less than a restored paradise on a cosmic scale! As
Isaiah predicted, someday the wolf would lie down with the lamb, the leopard would lie
down with the goat, the calf and the lion would live in peace, and a little child would
lead them. The nursing child would play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned
child would place his hand on the adder’s den, and the Earth would be full of the
knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the places of the sea (Isaiah 11:6-9). No
more would sin and sorrow reign nor thorns infest the ground.

I find that the material and physical focus of those under the Dispensational Viewpoint are looking too deeply into things that are meant to be spiritually focused. They do not want to concede that Israel has run its course in God’s purposes, and instead cling to one or two passages, while neglecting the unity of the Bible message. 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… I await that day, that may not come while I am on this earth, but is surely there when into Your presence I come:

Rev 21:10-27  

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,  (11)  having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.  (12)  It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed–  (13)  on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.  (14)  And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  (15)  And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls.  (16)  The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal.  (17)  He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement.  (18)  The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass.  (19)  The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,  (20)  the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  (21)  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.  (22)  And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  (23)  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  (24)  By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,  (25)  and its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there.  (26)  They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.  (27)  But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Ownership of Jerusalem

How was it possible for Abraham to have the view of the land promise that the New
Testament ascribed to him? What led him to “spiritualize” the promise to make it entail
future heavenly, kingdom realities? The answer lies in the fact that he took seriously
God’s promise to him that “in [him] all the families of the Earth would be blessed”
(Genesis 12:3).12 Therefore, he perceived that the promise to him and his offspring,
who is Christ (Galatians 3:16), entailed that in Christ “he would be heir [not of Palestine
but] of the [glorified] world [kosmou]” (Romans 4:13). Plainly, Abraham under-stood
that God’s land promise meant that God would restore the entire cosmos to its former
paradisical glory and in that he placed his hope and patiently waited for it. His faith and
understanding would have been satisfied with nothing less!

Moses too, and his contemporaries, wandered in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years,
and died in faith, not having received the promise (Hebrews 11:39).

Under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites conquered the land, receiving in a limited
fashion the paradise God had promised. But it quickly became obvious that this territory
could not be the ultimate paradise. Undefeated Canaanites remained in the land as
“hornets.” And because of Israel’s sin throughout the united and divided kingdom
periods, finally the land was devastated by the Neo-Babylonians; the indwelling Glory
departed from the Solomonic Temple (Ezekiel 9:3; 10:1-22), which Temple was then
destroyed; and the people were banished and came to be known as lo-ammi, meaning
“not-my people” (Hosea 1:9). The once fruitful land took on the appearance of a desert,
a dwelling place of jackals, owls, and scorpions. Paradise, even in its old covenant
shadow form, was taken from them.

Even the restoration after the Babylonian captivity, under Ezra and Nehemiah,
designated by Biblical scholars as the Second Temple Period, could not be paradise. But
the return to the land and the rebuilding of the Temple pointed the way to it. The glory
of that tiny Temple, Haggai prophesied, would someday be greater than the glory of the
Solomonic Temple. What did this hyperbolic language mean? It meant that God had
something better for them than a temporal land and a material temple. The promise of
the land would be fulfilled by nothing less than a restored paradise on a cosmic scale! As
Isaiah predicted, someday the wolf would lie down with the lamb, the leopard would lie
down with the goat, the calf and the lion would live in peace, and a little child would
lead them. The nursing child would play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned
child would place his hand on the adder’s den, and the Earth would be full of the
knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the places of the sea (Isaiah 11:6-9). No
more would sin and sorrow reign nor thorns infest the ground.

I find that the material and physical focus of those under the Dispensational Viewpoint are looking too deeply into things that are meant to be spiritually focused. They do not want to concede that Israel has run its course in God’s purposes, and instead cling to one or two passages, while neglecting the unity of the Bible message. 

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem… I await that day, that may not come while I am on this earth, but is surely there when into Your presence I come:

Rev 21:10-27  

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,  (11)  having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.  (12)  It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed–  (13)  on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates.  (14)  And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.  (15)  And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls.  (16)  The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal.  (17)  He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement.  (18)  The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, clear as glass.  (19)  The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,  (20)  the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst.  (21)  And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.  (22)  And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.  (23)  And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.  (24)  By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it,  (25)  and its gates will never be shut by day–and there will be no night there.  (26)  They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations.  (27)  But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Obsessed with Rapture

This is a good explanation on the lack of biblical warrant for a Dispensation rapture view. A particular point which I agree with thoroughly, is on the sad reality of having a low-view of Christ in the End Times. And this comes because of the focus on activities, and not on the reality in Christ in His Second Coming. This also puts down salvation by grace and the unity of how God saves sinners. In fact, it shifts the concern for tribulations and the Second Coming to only those who are ‘really’ at the last time. A progressive revelation view makes it applicable for every generation of Christian, which is exactly how Jesus Himself intends. Besides, Dispensation view is a more recent invention in Christian history (by John Nelson Darby in the 1800s who was the founder of the Plymouth Brethren assemblies). I always find that God’s tenet in His Word is always for faithfulness and not (never) novelty. 

Anyway…

The MP3 download is from http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/The_White_Horse_Inn/archives.asp?bcd=2008-9-14, or you can visit the site itself: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/ (The White Horse Inn). 

Good resource for a clearer understanding of God’s Word on the End Times.

Honesty on True Christian Conversion

A good friend of mine passed me this to evaluate. The first 5 minutes is merely an intro on the performance given during the conference. The gist of the message comes after that. 

This is not a new message to Reformed Christians, which I really thank God for. However, this is still the common belief among general mainstream evangelicals (Baptist, Brethren assemblies, Methodists, Anglicans) around the world. 

Paul Washer was criticised for saying what many true bible believing Christians who are well-taught ought to know: merely repeating or mouthing a prayer does not save a person. I am glad that he also pointed out Romans 10:9, the verse which many have taken out of context, justifying the modern evangelism style that permeates most Christian cultures. 

And he is spot on in mentioning the heresy of not being able to judge a book by it’s cover, for we are to do so. I have heard many Christians saying that “You cannot say so and so person is not a Christian, because he has said the ‘sinner’s prayer’ and therefore he is saved.” (fullstop). Ridiculous of course. 

Some would even go so far as saying that you cannot say that there were people who ‘look’ Christians, but are actually not in the assembly of the church. A chief example is shown of Ananias and Sapphira, who were not disciplined, but punished by God and shown their false profession of faith as a result. Those who have gone out from Paul and into the world were clearly false professors. And those who were not on Moses’ side during the golden calf incident died in their sins, condemned for their wrong faith. (I suspect that those who are not able to make clear distinctions of these matters reveal a lack or flaw in their look of salvation and what true grace and faith is all about).

God makes it clear that He knows His sheep… not we. And therefore it can be a surprised to see false professors among us, but it never catches Him by surprise at all. You can only understand this properly if you have a good grasp of the Doctrines of Grace.

So watch this long (55 minutes) message and see how a missionary laments the backwardness of his own home country. Thank you, Mr. Washer for being honest on a matter that is so crucial to Christians all around the world.

Distinctive Gospel Message

Something fundamental to Christian worship is the preaching of a distinctive Gospel Message from the pulpit every Lord’s Day. This has been a good heritage from the Puritans (ever since the recovery of the Doctrines of Grace during the Reformation), but in the past decade has been silently losing its hold in our ‘modern’ generation. 

There is such a thing as an Evangelistic or Gospel Message that is distinctively Gospel in thrust. This is not a message targetting ‘Christians’ in the congregation, but to target unbelievers in the congregation. Again, here is where a good foundation on Calvinism (Doctrines of Grace) helps; we do not assume that everyone in the congregation, especially the younger ones and ‘new’ Christians, are automatically Christians just because they profess to have ‘made a choice or willed themselves into faith’. Moreover, even for Real Christians, the message of the Gospel is a good and necessary reminder of our need to not take salvation for granted! That is why Paul preached “Christ and Him crucified” among the Corinthian believers (1 Cor 2:1-2). 

Some observations are necessary here:

ML’s experience in a Brethren church in Melbourne surely showed how they got this practice wrong as they merely repeated the same message (nearly verbatim) every week in the evening service. It is also wrong to hear messages which are preached expositorily but given a last paragraph tag of the gospel call being called a gospel message. In this practice, the preacher is liable to wreck proper exegesis for the sake of building a ‘body’ for the lack of a real gospel framework (http://www.cprf.co.uk/articles/gospelservice.htm is one article that condemns it for this reason. I agree with the warnings but disagree with its tenets for rejecting gospel meetings). 

I find that Gospel Messages (personally) are by far the hardest form of preaching as it is to be persuassive, authoritative and clear on the Gospel. More so with us living in a Post Modern world. But it is not impossible. Calvinists have been strong advocates of a distinct Gospel Message preached from the pulpit, and sees the need of them in the light of our Lord’s commission to the church to make disciples. 

Maybe the reason why Christians in Malaysia are so lethargic and many are encumbered by the world’s influence is due to the lack of hearing the gospel preached every Sunday? The Lord’s Supper only does so much to remember the event… it cannot replace the main thing which it points to; the Cross at Calvary and the Death of Christ for sinners.