Saturday, February 13, 2021

Why Did I Become A Calvinist?

Image result for calvinist

George Whitfield said, “We are all born Arminians.” It is grace that turns us into Calvinists. - C.H. Spurgeon

When I was born-again in 1996, except for the gospel of Christ, I had zero knowledge of the Holy Bible. As I began to grow in the Lord, I got exposed to several doctrines. But no doctrine frustrated me like the doctrine of Calvinism.

I attended a church that didn’t believe in Calvinism. I studied in a Bible college that wasn’t in favor of Calvinism. My close friends were anti-Calvinists. Most of the books I cherished reading in my early Christian life were written by non-Calvinists.

I hated Calvinism. I mocked the Calvinists. When I heard or read some statements related to Calvinism, I gritted my teeth. I took delight in reading against Calvinism. I vehemently argued against Calvinism. I wasn’t merely a non-Calvinist but an anti-Calvinist. I considered Calvinism a great heresy in Christianity.

With such disposition against Calvinism, what compelled me to become a Calvinist?

I want to mention at the outset that I dislike using the term “Calvinist”. It seems to highlight Calvin and inflates the misbelief that he invented the doctrine of Calvinism. I prefer to use “Reformed view of soteriology” or “Doctrines of Grace.” But since many are unaware of these phrases, I am using “Calvinist” or “Calvinism” in this article. 

Two factors essentially led me to change my perspective on Calvinism.

1. THE HOLY SCRIPTURE

With hatred towards Calvinism, I was reading the Holy Bible every day. And as I read, I couldn’t resist God’s revelation in His Word concerning the doctrine of election. The first Scripture that shook me to the core was 1 Thessalonians 1:4.
For WE KNOW, brothers loved by God, THAT HE HAS CHOSEN YOU, BECAUSE our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 
In this verse, I saw how Paul was certain (“we know”) that God had chosen the Thessalonians (“that He has chosen you”). How was he convinced about God’s election of them? Because the gospel transformed the lives of these Thessalonian believers ("because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction").

Observe, God didn’t choose them because they believed in the gospel. They believed in the gospel because God had chosen them. The gospel is effective only in the lives of God’s chosen ones.

Later I saw Acts 13:48 confirming this truth: “And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Unconditional divine election preceded people’s belief in the gospel.

As I kept studying the Holy Scripture, I came across numerous scriptures affirming the “Doctrines of Grace”. Since this is an article and not a book, I am confined to brevity. Interested readers may look at these 10 Scriptures (there are a few more):
Matthew 11:27, “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
 
John 17:1-2, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him." (cf. v.6)
 
Acts 18:9-10, And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
 
John 5:21, "For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will."
 
Romans 8:30, "And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Ephesians 1:4-5, "even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” (see v.11)
 
Acts 2:39, "For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
 
John 6:65, "No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.
 
John 10:25-28, Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand."
 
Romans 9:14-16, "What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."
Finally, I couldn’t fight anymore against the revelation of God’s Word. The authority of God’s Word prevailed over my human, finite reasoning. I humbled myself, resisting my own sentimental assumptions, and yielded to the “Doctrines of Grace” (“Calvinism” or “Reformed View of Soteriology”). 
 
If not for the Holy Scripture, I would never have become a Calvinist. I am a Calvinist because Calvinism is based purely and solely on God’s Word. I now regret accusing Calvinism a heresy. It is the truth God’s Word plainly teaches.

2. REFLECTION ON MY CONVERSION 

The other triggering factor for me to become a Calvinist was my reflection on my own conversion experience.
 
I often say that if I was not converted by the gospel, I would have become either a criminal or a smuggler. I didn’t seek God. I hated attending the church. I was not too fond of the gospel when I heard it. I loved sinning and wallowed in it.
 
While being dead in sin, my life was drastically changed (still changing) by the gospel of Christ on June 26, 1996. And most surprisingly, I was born-again in the temple of Sai Baba. I have written in detail here how the gospel of Christ transformed my totally depraved life.
 
So when I reflected on my conversion experience, I didn’t understand how I chose to become a Christian. I was a terribly spoiled brat, bent on committing every evil possible. Personally cooperating with God as He worked in my heart to believe in Him (synergism) was an impossibility. I was good at rebellion against God and not at yielding to Him. 

Moreover, if it were a matter of man’s choice, my young neighbors were better than me to believe, having a good upbringing. But I was born-again, and all my decent, non-born-again religious neighbors were shocked by my transformation.
 
I eventually understood that I chose Christ because He first chose me before the foundation of the world. I sought Him because He first sought me. I came to Christ because the Father had drawn me to Him. I believed in Christ because He regenerated me.
 
I was neither better than my neighbors (in fact, I was worst) nor softened in my heart to believe in Christ. It was only the sovereign grace of God that awakened me to eternal life (monergism). Like Lazarus who came out of the tomb when the Lord called Him, I came out of the darkness into the light because God called me. Thus says God’s Word,
“And those whom he predestined he also called (effectual calling), and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom. 8:30)
Of course, each person’s lifestyle and conversion experiences are different. But the cause of all born-again believers is the same. And that cause is, "He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.” (Eph. 1:4-5)
 
So the revelation of God’s Word and reflection over my own conversion experience have compelled me to become a Calvinist. I still wonder why God in His grace and mercy had chosen me, a depraved sinner. And I don’t have answers for some mysterious issues pertaining to God's sovereign work. Thus says the Scripture, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom. 11:33)
 
FINAL WORDS 

Before I close, I want to share a few thoughts. I subscribe to all the tenets of "Calvnism" or "Doctrines of Grace." But I must confess that Calvinism does not save people per se. The truth of the gospel—i.e. the death and resurrection of Christ for the reconciliation of sinners to God (1 Cor. 15:3-4)alone saves people.
 
Calvinism is the backdrop, which explains the sovereign work of God in and through the gospel. But the substance of the gospel is the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. And only faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ justifies a sinner before the Holy God (Rom. 5:1-2).  
 
So although I am strong in my convictions of Calvinism, my relationship with God’s children is based on the gospel of Christ. I am taught in Romans 15:7 to accept others just as Christ has accepted me (i.e through faith in the gospel). And I would love to engage in healthy discussions with others, sharing my biblical convictions for their consideration.
 
I consider all non-Calvinists born-again believers my brothers and sisters in Christ. And when we all get to heaven, we would behold things brighter than we perceive now. In the meantime, I plead with them to consider studying Calvinism, giving thought to its teaching. Many hold myths about Calvinism because they haven’t personally given themselves to diligent study, thereby possessing a partial and misconceived understanding of it.
 
Well, as a Calvinist who has a lofty view of God’s amazing grace, I am learning to grow in grace and truth, fighting against the arrogant and self-righteous attitude towards those who don’t hold my Calvinistic convictions. May God empower me to defend the Doctrines of Grace graciously.
 
Soli Deo Gloria!
 
Recommended book: Many good books are available on Calvinism. The one I would recommend is “Five Points” by John Piper. It is concisely written, precisely explained, and the PDF copy is available for FREE.
 
Calvinistic preachers and teachers who were a tremendous blessing to my Christian growth: Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, John Owen, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Piper, John MacArthur, R C Sproul, Wayne Grudem, D.A. Carson, Steve Lawson, Steve Atkerson, Paul Washer, David Platt, Mark Dever, Voddie Baucham, Paul David Tripp and so forth.

___________________________

Enquiries: 

cstephendavid@gmail.com

Monday, December 14, 2020

"IT'S MY LIFE"

 It's My Life (feat. TumaniYO) [Explicit] by Эндшпиль on Amazon Music -  Amazon.com

When I was a teenager, I enamored a pop song which was much celebrated at the time. It goes with the title "IT'S MY LIFE." That precisely defines the pulse of our depraved humanity. 

But after I became a disciple of Christ, I understood it's a lie to believe "IT'S MY LIFE." I realized, "IT'S NOT MY LIFE." 

1 Corinthians reveals who does my life belongs to. 

First, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 exhorts to flee from sexual immorality. And the reason it gives is that my life belongs to God who bought me with the blood of Christ Jesus. It says, "YOU ARE NOT YOUR OWN. for you were bought with a price." It's God's life. 

Second, 1 Corinthians 8:13 speaks about giving up eating certain food that causes a Christian brother in the church stumble. My Christian brother's welfare is more important than my personal pleasure. This shows my life belongs to the community of God. I am not my own. 

Third, 1 Corinthians 7:4 teaches that a Christian married couple must satisfy each other's sexual needs, "For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does." This points out that I must give preference to my wife's needs over mine. I am not my own. I belong to her. 

You see, all the above Scriptures reveal that our life is not our own. God owns our life, and we belong to His community and our spouse. "IT'S MY LIFE" is a phrase that must never be uttered and lived by a Christian. 

Hearing this truth, one might wonder, "Then what about my joy and happiness?"

Remember, the most joyless people in the world are selfish people. True joy is not in living a selfish and individualistic life but in living for God and those He placed in our lives. Blessed is the one who lives accordingly. 

___________________________

Enquiries: 

messageforourage@gmail.com

Friday, April 3, 2020

Can We Claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 for God’s Healing of Nations from Covid-19?


2 Chronicles 7:14 has become a great hallmark for revival. During the present Covid-19 crisis, many well-intentioned preachers are claiming 2 Chronicles 7:14 and calling the church to repentance. “If we humble ourselves, confess our sins and seek the Lord, then God would heal our land from coronavirus,” they proclaim.

Now it is always good to call the church to heart-searching repentance. It is necessary to pray to God to have mercy on us and deliver us from Covid-19. But can we claim the promise given in 2 Chronicles 7:14?

It is rightly said, “A text taken out of its context (the original situation into which it was spoken) is a pretext (a false reason that hides the true intent).” Let us see the context of 2 Chronicles 7:14 to refrain from faulty interpretation and application. This article is long but worth your time and attention.

WHAT IS THE CONTEXT?

After taking seven years to build the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, Solomon offered the dedicatory prayer (2 Chro. 6:12-42). As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, the glory of the Lord filled the Temple (7:1-3). Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and assured him that He had heard his prayers (7:12). He said to him,
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (7:13-14)
According to this Scripture, we must ask two questions.

WHERE TO PRAY?

Question One: According to 2 Chronicles 7:14, in which place did the Lord say He would answer the prayers? In which place did the Lord expect His people to pray and seek His face? To answer, we must go back to Solomon’s dedicatory prayer. Due to space constraints, I will only quote the words that require our attention.
2 Chro. 6:22-23, “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath and comes and swears his oath before your altar IN THIS HOUSE, then hear from heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:24-25, “If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you IN THIS HOUSE, then hear from heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:26-27, “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray TOWARD THIS PLACE and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, then hear in heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:28-30, “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence or blight or mildew or locust or caterpillar, if their enemies besiege them in the land at their gates, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing his own affliction and his own sorrow and stretching out his hands TOWARD THIS HOUSE, then hear from heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:32-33, “Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for the sake of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm, when he comes and prays TOWARD THIS HOUSE, hear from heaven…”= 
2 Chro. 6:34-35, “If your people go out to battle against their enemies, by whatever way you shall send them, and they pray to you TOWARD THIS CITY THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN AND THE HOUSE THAT I HAVE BUILT FOR YOUR NAME, then hear from heaven…” 
2 Chro. 6:36-39, “If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you are angry with them and give them to an enemy, so that they are carried away captive to a land far or near…if they repent with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity to which they were carried captive, and pray TOWARD THEIR LAND…then hear from heaven…”
Do you observe the phrases "in this house" "toward this place" "toward this house" and “then hear from heaven”? What is the place in which Solomon pled with God to answer? It is solely in the Temple at Jerusalem. Every petition that Solomon made was connected to the prayers offered at the Temple he built.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, when the Lord said if they humble themselves and pray, it is in the Temple or toward the Temple of Jerusalem. Solomon acknowledged that this place was chosen by God Himself, “the city that you have chosen and the house that I have built for your name” (6:38).

Immediately after 7:14, the Lord said in verse 15, “Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made IN THIS PLACE. For now I HAVE CHOSEN AND CONSECRATED THIS HOUSE that my name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart WILL BE THERE for all time.” The humbling of the people of Israel and their praying and seeking the Lord was at the Temple that Solomon built.

Bear in mind that there was only One Temple in Jerusalem where people offered prayers and sacrifices. That was God’s chosen place in the Old Covenant. If we apply 2 Chronicles 7:14, then we must offer prayers in the Temple of Jerusalem, for that’s what the text meant. Unfortunately, there is currently no Temple in Jerusalem but the Islamic shrine “The Dome of the Rock” located on the Temple Mount.

Caution is required here that church buildings are not the Jerusalem Temple. Many falsely attribute church buildings to God's physical Temple by misinterpreting Old Testament Scriptures. To be sure, according to 1 Corinthians 3:16, it is not the church buildings but the church (God’s people) which is God’s Temple.

But 2 Chronicles 6-7 exclusively mentions the physical Temple in Jerusalem where God answered the prayers offered by the Israelites. It has no relevance to God’s New Covenant people. The discontinuity from the old pattern of prayers and worship was answered by the Lord Jesus Himself, which He spoke to the Samaritan woman:
Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain (where Samaritans worshipped) nor in Jerusalem (where Jews worshipped on the Temple Mount) will you worship the Father.....But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. (John 4:21, 23-24)
 WHICH LAND GOD PROMISED TO HEAL?

Question Two: What is the land that the Lord said He would heal? 
2 Chronicles 7:13-14, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 
Observe the phrase “heal their land.” Whose land? The land given to the nation of Israel. The Lord promised to Abraham centuries ago, “To your offspring I will give this land” (Gen. 12:7; 15:18; 17:8). This land is the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. 

Centuries later, when the Israelites were held in the bondage of Egypt, the Lord appeared to Moses and said, “I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites…” (Exo. 3:8). 

After their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, when the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, the Lord spoke to them about blessings for obedience to the Law and curses for disobedience to the Law (Deut. 28-30).

The blessings include rich harvest and abundant rain, and victory over enemies in the land in which they would live (28:1-14). The curses include famine, pestilence, defeat by their enemies, eventually losing their land and going into captivity (28:15-28). But if people repent of their sins and turn to the Lord, God said He will bring them into the "promised land" and prosper them again (30:1-10).

So the prayer that Solomon offered in his dedication of the Temple in 2 Chronicles 6 was in accordance with God’s promise of blessings and curses and restoration written in Deuteronomy 28-30. And the assurance that God gave to Solomon in healing their land as a result of His people’s repentance was based on His promise of restoration in Deuteronomy 30. This healing of the land in 2 Chronicles 7:14 is concerning the curse the Lord would bring on the land, "When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people" (7:13).

When the Lord brought out the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt, He made them a distinct and theocratic nation, gave them the Law (613 laws) by which they must abide, and brought them into the land of Canaan where their prosperity and adversity was dependent on their obedience and disobedience.

In contrast, the church is not a theocratic nation. We are God’s people living in secular countries. The church is not under the Mosaic Law. The covenant that the Lord made to Israel, the several blessings for obedience to the Law and curses for disobedience to the Law, does not apply to the church because we are under the New Covenant, under the Law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:20-21).

Do you know that even the present Israel cannot claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 because their blessings and curses are now based on their faith and rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ? They are no more called to live under the Mosaic Law with its blessings and curses. They are called to repent and believe in the Gospel of Christ and live under the New Covenant.

2 CHRONICLES 7:14

Therefore, in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14,

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence AMONG MY PEOPLE,” speaks about the disasters God sends among His covenant people because of consistently breaking His Law. Only God’s people (i.e. the Jews) are in view here. This text doesn’t speak about God sending these disasters on Gentile nations.

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves” speaks about the nation of Israel (who are called by God’s Name) humbling themselves before the Lord. This text doesn’t speak about individuals or a small group of people praying to the Lord, but the nation of Israel. This text doesn’t even speak about repenting on behalf of the nation but the nation itself repenting before the Lord.

“and pray and seek my face” speaks about the Israelites offering their prayers in or toward the Temple of Jerusalem.

“and turn from their wicked ways” speaks about the Israelites turning away from their disobedience to the Mosaic Law.

“then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” speaks about the restoration of or to the "promised land", the land flowing with milk and honey. The land here is the land promised to Israel and not any other lands.

When you consider all these issues within the immediate and broader context of 2 Chronicles 7:14, do you suppose you can claim it for our present Covid-19 crisis? Did the disaster come only on God's people? Are we as a whole nation repenting before the Lord? Is our land the "promised land" given to the Israelites in fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant? Are we praying and seeking the Lord in the Temple of Jerusalem?

CONCLUSION

Well, does all this mean that we learn nothing from 2 Chronicles 7:14? Not at all! We cannot claim its promise literally, but we can learn some good principles from it. We learn about God’s goodness, holiness, faithfulness, and grace manifested toward His people. We grasp how humble repentance is pleasing to the Lord. We observe how broken and contrite spirit moves the heart of God to forgive and accomplish His purposes in His community. The Book of James exhorts:
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (4:8-10)
But can we claim 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a promise to apply to our current crisis, that is, if the Church repents, God will heal the nations? No, we cannot. The call to repentance with a promise of healing of the land was given to God’s Old Covenant people, the Israelites, who lived under a different dispensation. We, the church, are under the New Covenant, and are neither a political nation nor do we own a particular land as a nation.

In the Old Covenant, the Israelites had a physical Temple where God's presence dwelt, sacrifices of animals were offered on the altar, and Levitical priests were the mediators between God and people. They were also given the Law with blessings and curses in the "promised land" they lived. If they obeyed the Law, they prospered in the land. If they disobeyed the Law, the people and the land were cursed. And if they repented of their sins against God, the Lord healed their land.

Considering the New Covenant, Christ Jesus has become our sufficient and ultimate sacrifice for our sins (Heb. 10). Through Him, we have direct access to God (Heb. 4:14-16). Through Him, both Jews and Gentiles have become one people of God (Eph. 2:13-16). Through Him, we have become the Temple of God (Eph. 2:21-22). Through Him, we have become royal priests of God (1 Pet. 2:9). Through Him, we are no longer under the curse of the Law of Moses (Gal. 3:10-14). Through Him, if we confess our sins, we are cleansed from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7,9) What's more, through Him, we inherit God's eternal Kingdom (Eph. 1:13-14). Hallelujah!

Remember that we cannot randomly claim the Old Testament promises, particularly when they were given to God’s Old Covenant community, i.e. Israel, under a different dispensation. The blessings and promises given to the church in Christ Jesus are incomparably greater (Read Ephesians chapter 1).

Finally, although it is inappropriate to claim the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14, can we pray in general for God’s mercy and plead with Him to heal the nations from Covid-19? Sure! Much prayers must rise at the moment to the Throne of Grace for God’s deliverance from Coronavirus. We must also pray that the Lord would use the Covid-19 crisis to awaken unbelievers to remind them of their mortality and insecurity in the world, and show them the greater need of salvation found only in Christ.

We must likewise pray for the local churches that the Lord would use the current plight to bring spiritual awakening and deliver them from lukewarmness. We must pray that the Church would remain faithful in the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, because real healing of the nation can only come through individuals turning from their sin to Christ. Without the preaching of the Gospel and without people experiencing the forgiveness of sin found in and through Christ, true healing cannot come to the nations.
___________________________

Enquiries: 

messageforourage@gmail.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

What Does Coronavirus Reveal About the Condition of Our Heart?


The outbreak of the pandemic Covid-19 has sent tremors all across the world. Yes, knowing its contagious and catastrophic nature, we must be concerned about its impact. However, this crisis need not cause God's redeemed people overcome by panic and despair. We may face fear but we must not be conquered by it.

Today morning, in my personal devotions, I came across the words of Christ Jesus, which birthed the following words.

At the end of His Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus delivered heart-searching words. He said that anyone who listens to His words and puts them into practice would be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. When the floods and winds storm the house, it doesn't fall because it is built on the rock. But when these disasters storm a foolish man's house, it collapses because he built his house on the sand. (Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 6:46-49)

The point that the Lord Jesus made was that if we keep listening to His words but do not put them into practice, we will collapse when difficulties storm our lives. Head-knowledge without heart-obedience cannot stand well during crises. But if we keep hearing and obeying God's Word, we will live a steadfast and unshakable life amidst the storms of life.

The outbreak of Coronavirus is a testing time for God's people about their obedience and genuine knowledge. We have been reading God's Word and listening to sermons about the goodness and sovereignty of God and trusting Him in times of difficulties. Praise God! But what does Coronavirus crisis reveal about the condition of our heart concerning all that we have been learning?

In their book "How People Change", Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp show us the humble truth: "Trials do not cause us to be what we have not been; rather, they reveal what we have been all along. The harvest the trial produces is the result of the roots already in our hearts."

So what does Covid-19 pandemic disclose to us about how much we know God and obey His Word? Where is our faith in God's goodness and sovereignty? Where is our praise and thanksgiving to God in this affliction? Where are our unceasing prayers for God's kind help with whom nothing is impossible? Where is our comfort of God? Where is our joy in the Lord? Where is our hope of eternal life through Christ's death and resurrection? Where is our obedience to all that we have been reading and listening about God?

Contextualizing the Lord Jesus' words spoken at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, let us put it this way. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. When Coronavirus comes closer to his doors or storms his life, he is steadfast and unshaken because he built his house on the rock (knowledge with obedience).

But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. When Coronavirus comes closer to his doors or storms his life,  he is shaken and collapses because he built his house on the sand (head-knowledge without obedience).

What does the pandemic Covid-19 reveal about the condition of our hearts?

___________________________

Enquiries: 

messageforourage@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

"It Is Better Not To Marry!"


"IT IS BETTER NOT TO MARRY!" Don't get upset. These are not my words.

The Lord Jesus said, Moses told to give a certificate of divorce because of men's hardness of heart. "I say to you," asserted Christ, "whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Matt. 19:9).

Hearing the Lord's firm words, the disciples were afraid and responded, "If such is the case of a man with his wife, IT IS BETTER NOT TO MARRY" (19:10). The disciples understood the seriousness of marriage that once a person is married, divorce is not an easy option. There is only entry but no exit. Marriage is a permanent commitment and not a temporal relationship.

Don't you suppose divorce is rampant today because such seriousness is greatly lacking in the married couples? When there are several reasons for divorce, marriage is not a severe and sober decision.

However, biblically, to marry someone is to keep the covenant of marriage until the heart stops beating and the soul leaves the body. For this reason, a man and woman must discern carefully before getting into a marital relationship. Why shouldn't they when marriage is a significant choice of living together for life?

Many who claim to "fall in love" do not "stand firm in marriage". They easily give up on marriage because they quickly get into it without considering the cost. No wonder, it isn't uncommon for marriages to crumble because couples marry based on excitement, attraction, and wild emotions that don't last long.

Do young men and women pray for God's wisdom to discern wisely their life-partner? Do they seek the counsel of mature people? Do they discuss the pros and cons of marriage? Do they honestly discuss their differences and weaknesses? Do they understand God's design for marriage and submit themselves to its authority? Do they know what it means to die to self in marriage? Are they aware of the tremendous responsibilities and potential conflicts that come along with marriage? Do they read books on marriage to prepare themselves well? Do they understand how the Gospel builds their marriage? Do they put emotions (cart) behind and reason (horse) before them?

Dear young men and women, here is my counsel: GET INTO MARRIAGE WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING. DON'T TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. IT IS A PERMANENT RELATIONSHIP. CONSIDER THE COST OF MARRIAGE. BE SOBER-MINDED. EXERCISE SELF-CONTROL.

To marry someone impulsively is dangerous and destructive. Marriage, in reality, is not like Hollywood and Bollywood movies (i.e. always romantic and erotic). It is a tough relationship on planet earth.

So prepare yourself well for marriage. Choose your life-partner wisely. Set the Holy Bible before you, mature people around you, the Lord Jesus Christ at the center, and get ego out of everything. Remember the words of disciples (who understood there is no easy way out of marriage): "It is better not to marry" (Matt. 19:10).

IT IS BETTER NOT TO MARRY IF YOU DON'T PREPARE YOURSELF BETTER FOR MARRIAGE.
___________________________

Enquiries: 

messageforourage@gmail.com

Monday, November 18, 2019

"My Husband Doesn't Spend Time with Me"

Image result for wives complaining about husbands

During my life lived "under the sun", the complaint I have most often heard from women is this: "My husband doesn't spend time with me". While this is an emotion that probably men also share, I haven’t yet come across a man who complained about it.

Let this be clear: Husbands must certainly not ignore the feeling of grief their wives have about their dissatisfied relationship with them. Instead, they must commend the longing and love their wives have for them.

But what must wives do with the grief they have about their husbands not spending time with them?

Here is my most sincere counsel to wives for their consideration.

Firstly, examine yourself. Ask yourself if your desire towards spending time with your husband exceeds the longing you have towards your heavenly Father. Do you neglect your intimacy with God and pursue intimacy with your husband? Have you idolized your husband and try to find your security and satisfaction in him?

May I tell you the plain truth (which maybe a painful truth to some): Your husband can never satisfy you and meet all your needs. Only Christ is your all-sufficiency. You are first married to Christ, and you owe your utmost allegiance and devotion to Him.

Remember the words the Lord Jesus spoken to the Samaritan woman who was in the pursuit of finding her heart's satisfaction in several men:
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)
Most women claim to believe in Christ, but it seems to be only an intellectual confession because they haven't experienced the living water Christ pours on their thirsty hearts. As Jeremiah 2:13 reveals, they still desperately look to the broken cisterns, which is human relationships, rather than to the fountain of living waters, which is Christ Himself.

Your soul’s desperate need every day, therefore, is not for your husband but for Christ. So pursue your intimate relationship with Him. Long and seek communion with Him. Drink daily the living water at His feet. Make Him your strength, security, and satisfaction.

Secondly, think about your husband. Think about whether you are concerned about your husband's relationship with God! Do you encourage your husband to draw closer to God's heart? Are you an inspiration in his walk with his Creator?

Remember that God has made your husband, not for yourself, but for Himself. You do not own and possess your husband but God. You are not his life but Christ. You do not enthrone his heart—God alone does. Your husband doesn't exist for your happiness but for God's glory.

Your predominant responsibility in marriage, therefore, is to be a helper of your husband's walk with God. Here is a staggering fact that requires much consideration—A WOMAN WHO ENCOURAGES HER HUSBAND TO DRAW CLOSER TO GOD'S HEART DRAWS HIM CLOSER TO HER OWN HEART AS WELL.

Thirdly, let him knowgently. As you are desperate for your Maker and pursue an intimate relationship with Him, and as you encourage your husband in his walk with God—your desire to spend time with your husband will be noble and meaningful.

Instead of nagging your husband to spend time with you, gently share with him how much you love him, and enjoy spending time with him. Ask him what you can do to help him have sufficient time with you.

If necessary, seek the counsel of the elders of your church or some mature Christians to help you both enjoy a mutual love relationship in your married life. But remember to keep priorities intact.

Finally, do not lose heart! Despite seeking to help your husband have sufficient time with you, if all your attempts fail, do not lose your heart.

Christ Jesus, your eternal life, and heavenly husband, is always loving and faithful towards you. He loved you to the extent of laying His life on the cross for your sins. He will never leave you, nor forsake you, nor neglect you. You are the apple of His eye. If you give your heart to Him and make Him alone the King of your life, nothing can break your heart.

The Scripture reveals one of the things under which the earth trembles and cannot bear up, and that is—an unloved woman when she gets a husband (Proverbs 30:21-23). This woman would devour her husband for undivided attention, unfading affection, and undying satisfaction. How foolish it is for a woman to look for from her husband what only God can give!

Dear husbands, if you happen to read this message, be considerate towards your wives. If you love Christ and understand how much He loved the church and laid His life for her, give your time to your wives and encourage them in their walk with God (Eph. 5:25-33). Do not use the factor of finding your wives' sufficiency in Christ to evade your responsibility as a loving husband.
___________________________

Enquiries: 

messageforourage@gmail.com

Saturday, April 28, 2018

You Are Not Created For Heaven


"I have put my faith in Christ Jesus, my sins are forgiven in Him, now I have the gift of eternal life, and therefore I am awaiting to go to heaven"—such is the tendency of many Christians.

Although the assurance of heaven to those who believe in Christ Jesus is true, this narrow perception has done immense damage to Christianity.

A lot of Christians' focus is on heaven while they live here on earth for themselves. Their excitement is all about the benefits of salvation for themselves—such as love, forgiveness, deliverance, peace, joy, blessings and heaven. There seems no great passion and devotion in them for the Lord Himself.

CREATED FOR THE CREATOR


It is necessary to understand that YOU ARE NOT CREATED FOR HEAVEN. The Scripture declares:

  • "All things were created through him and FOR HIM" (Col. 1:16). 
  • "FOR WHOM and by whom all things exist" (Heb. 2:10).
  • "For from him and through him and TO HIM are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen" (Rom. 11:33).
  • "Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and FOR WHOM WE EXIST" (1 Cor. 8:6).
  • "Everyone who is called by my name, WHOM I CREATED FOR MY GLORY" (Isa. 43:7). 
  • “The people WHOM I FORMED FOR MYSELF that they might declare my praise” (Isa. 43:21).

The Scriptures testify that WE ARE MADE FOR GOD AND FOR HIS GLORY. It is good to know that there is heaven for those who have faith in Christ Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. But we must know: WE ARE NOT MADE FOR HEAVEN. WE ARE MADE FOR THE LORD AND FOR HIS GLORY.

If we are created for the Lord, don't you suppose our lives must be lived for the Lord? Shouldn't we know and submit to His Holy Scripture? Must not the purpose of the Lord and His will be our own purpose and will? Shouldn't His glory be our goal?

REDEEMED FOR THE REDEEMER


Salvation is not merely about possessing heaven. It is God's restoration of our lives to live (on earth and eternally) for the purpose for which we were created, i.e. for the Lord's glory.

The Lord Jesus did not die on the cross to bring you just to heaven. He died so that He can bring you to God: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that HE MIGHT BRING US TO GOD" (1 Pet. 3:18).

God's passion and purpose for you is not to bring you to heaven, although there is heaven for those in Christ Jesus. God's goal for you is to bring you to Himself.

The Scripture in 2 Corinthians 5:17 is quite well-known, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." But here is a Scripture, just above two verses, which many Christians seem to have never read carefully in their entire life:

  • "He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor. 5:15). 


Read the above Scripture again and again!

What do you think is the meaning of these words spoken by the Lord Jesus to His disciples: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt. 16:24).

When the Lord Jesus said, "Deny yourself," He meant, "Don't live for yourself." And when He said, "take up your cross and follow me," He meant, "Live for Me and follow Me at the cost of suffering and giving up everything." To follow Christ is nothing but to live for Christ. To become a disciple of Christ is to become completely devoted to Him. Doesn't He deserve this from us?

Paul well exemplified a self-denial and Christ-centered life in these words: "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).

Caution must be made here: We do not live for the Lord to earn salvation We live for the Lord because that's what salvation is. Sin has separated us from God, making us our own gods (Gen. 3:5). Salvation in the name of Christ Jesus is reconciliation to the only true God by whom and for whom we were created and redeemed. Blessed be HIS Name forever and ever.

ETERNAL LIFE IS ETERNAL JESUS


So may we not live for ourselves on earth while hoping for heaven. In fact, here is the truth for us to reflect upon—HEAVEN IS NOT FOR THOSE WHO LIVE FOR THEMSELVES ON EARTH.

Do you know what eternal life is? It is not just endless living all through the eternity. Listen to the Word of God, "The life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us" (1 John 1:2).

The Scripture declares that eternal life is Jesus Christ. To have eternal life is to have Jesus eternally. And to have Jesus eternally is to know Him and to live for Him throughout the eternity, beginning from the time of our salvation on earth (cf. John 17:3). Heaven is all about Jesus.

Therefore, let our lives be marked on earth with a passion and devotion to live and die for the Lord and for His glory. Let us live for the One who made us for Himself and who redeemed us by His blood to make a people for His own possession.

HOW TO LIVE FOR THE CREATOR AND REDEEMER?


1.    Delight yourself in the Lord and find your utmost satisfaction in Him.

2.    Pursue intimate relationship with Him through prayer.

3.    Enjoy worshipping Him and thanking Him at all times.

4.    The Holy Bible is God's mind and will. Therefore, study it diligently to know His will and to understand His purposes.

5.    Obey God's commandments without reservations.

6.    Keep God's glory as your focus in everything you do.

___________________________

Enquiries: 

messageforourage@gmail.com