Harmony in diversity

Some of you may have already known recently that NCC has organised a special SG50 concert on Monday night (Jul 6), in celebration of Singapore’s religious and racial harmony. It was also reported in the news that Deacon Kang has mentioned, ‘Let us resolve and commit to sustaining and growing this harmony we enjoy. It must be preserved at all costs and not be taken for granted.’

At this juncture, i should pause and reflect upon what this religious harmony might mean for the church. I have no doubts the taoists who co-organised the event would very much welcome this harmony as it is part of their philosophy to be in harmony with nature and the world. Good and bad, light and darkness are inextricably linked together and cannot be separated. Concepts that are evident to the Christian, like good and bad, are but different sides of the same coin.

In the Tao, there is no god or gods. What does the Bible say of such things?

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

James 4:4

I will not go into the study of this verse but suffice to say, non-believers are enemies of God.(As were we before we converted). What does light have to do with darkness? Or what harmony does the day have with the night? The lusts, philosophies, cravings and thoughts of the world are in emnity with God and hate God for who He is. The Bible makes it clear we cannot be a friend of God and a friend of the world at the same time! it is just impossible.

With this, i leave you to ponder and think. If you need to take a stand, will you stand on the side of truth?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Strange Fire-A believing Charismatics’ response to the Strange Fire conference

It has been more than a year since the controversial conference held at Grace Community Church and championed by none other than Rev John Macarthur himself. Whether you have had the opportunity to attend the conference in person, or like myself, wait for the conference sessions to be uploaded online, you would have been aware of the huge wave of criticism and argument that has been generated by this conference. However, as far as I am concerned, being a charismatic Christian, I am more interested in the main issues pertaining to doctrine and teaching than in the secondary issues that has been debated and argued since time immemorial.

My main thesis is not to add more fire to the ongoing debate over issues like the gifts of the Holy Spirit but rather look beyond the surface and hopefully, glean some truth from the main points of the conference.

For this purpose, and also to save on going into too much detail, I will be mainly focusing on the opening session addressed by John Macarthur himself (Or JM in short). The opening session sets the tone of the conference and highlights the theme.

First session

JM begins this session by stating that the Charismatic movement is an issue ( that needs to be dealt with ). He then states that there are half a billion Charismatics compared to 14 million mormons and a billion catholics. (Interesting to note JM places Charismatics in the same category as mormons and catholics)

JM then goes onto the main theme of the conference, which is found in Leviticus 10.

However, at this point JM makes a statement that I would say is also crucial to the whole argument. He states:

“…The Father seeks true worshippers, believers in the gospel, in the Lord Jesus Christ, ARE THOSE TRUE Worshippers!”

According to JM, nothing is more serious than worship and this is something all of us can agree on. Also, according to JM, “ …we are called to worship in Spirit, that means with our emotion and with our human faculties…we are also to worship God with all our heart, soul mind and strength”.

The passage that JM is referring to is found in the story of the Samaritan woman in John Chapter 4. Without going into the details of the story, I will just highlight the particular verse of this scripture:

“But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” Jn 4:23 (KJV)

However, one should note that in the following verse, Jesus says:

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (V 24)

In case you did not catch it the first time, please note that Jesus describes God as a pure spirit! Not a material or physical entity but a Spirit! The greek word for Spirit in both verses 23 and 24 is pneuma, which means a spirit. Therefore, it would seem strange to me that Jesus would be describing in verse 23 how the worshipper should worship God with his emotions and human faculties when the word obviously does not mean that!

Moving on, JM quotes Lev 9 and 10 where the theme of the conference is taken from. In chapter 9 of Leviticus, Aaron is commanded to offer sacrifice according to the instructions laid out by Moses. Aaron follows them strictly and his sacrifice is accepted by God. Then in chapter 10, we read the account of how Aaron’s two sons had foolishly offered ‘Strange fire’ or ‘unauthorized fire’ and was slain outright for this act.

JM uses this example to show how serious a crime was with the corrupt worship of God. So with regards to the charismatic movement, JM states that:

“…the Charismatic movement continually dishonours God in its false forms of worship. It dishonours the Father, it dishonours the son and more specifically, it dishonours the Holy Spirit.”

Now let me say here that this is a very serious accusation coming from a man like JM. Accusing charismatics of demonic activity and heretical practices in short is a very serious accusation.

But how can JM make this accusation? This is because according to JM, the vast majority of charismatics are non-believers and non-Christians! If that is a fact, then no wonder we are ‘Offering strange fire’.

Just to give you a brief exposition of strange fire without going into too much detail, please look at lev 9, 10 and especially chapter 30. You need to understand that the old testament offering and practices are a type of the antitype found in the new testament. They speak of the person, attributes and the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. In short, you need to read the OT in the light of the NT. In front of the tent of meeting, there were two altars, the brazen altar on which the sacrifices were offered and from where the authorized fire was taken from. The second altar is the altar of incense where only authorized incense is offered on. This is done every morning and every evening continually forever and blood from the sin offering is sprinkled on it once a year. The incense that was offered on it was made of four distinct ingredients(which speaks of different attributes of Jesus), beaten into very fine powder and mixed in equal proportions. This incense is only to be used as an offering on the altar and no one is allowed to use this particular formula for personal reasons on pain of death! Now let’s look closely at the types that these items represent:

  • 1- Brazen altar: This is where the sacrifice for sin was made. This speaks of and represents Jesus’ perfect sacrifice on the cross for our sins and where the fire of God’s judgement has been fully spent on the body of Jesus Christ.
  • 2- Golden altar of incense: This altar symbolizes the prayers and intercessions of the people going up as a sweet aroma before the Lord. (See Ps 141:2 , Rev 8: 3-4). The altar further represents Jesus Christ as our intercessor and mediator before God. Only fire from the brazen altar could be used with the incense that was offered on this altar.
  • 3- Incense: This very special incense was made only for the purpose of which the golden altar was built for. Also, it had to be burnt only with fire from the brazen altar. The components of this incense was
    • – Stacte: a kind of myrrh and this speaks of Jesus’ sacrifice. Also, the root word for this ingredient is natap, which also means to prophesy or proclaim the will of the Lord.
    • – Onycha: this ingredient was made from a white sea shell found on the shores of the Red Sea. This may speak of God’s deliverance for His people.
    • – Galbanum: This word is translated from the Hebrew word for Fat, which speaks of the worshipper’s energy. It can also symbolize God’s richness and goodness.
    • – Frankincense: This final ingredient speaks of Jesus’ purity and holiness.

So you can see each of these ingredients speaks of a different aspect of our Lord Jesus and they are beaten and mixed together in precise proportions. This very fine powder speaks of the nature of Jesus who is perfectly poised and perfectly balanced at all times. So when used on the Golden altar of incense, the result is a sweet smelling aroma going up before the Lord! This speaks of the person and work of Jesus Christ and God is reminded of His Son every time the incense is offered on the Golden altar with fire from the Brazen altar of judgement. Now I have not come across anyone who has tried to teach on this so I will try my best to give an explanation.

The punishment given to Aaron’s two sons may seem to be harsh and serious but if you understand what all of this means, you would also understand why God views their sin so seriously. By offering ‘Strange fire’, which probably was either fire not from the brazen altar or incense not of the type prescribed by God, was tantamount to coming to God without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the shedding of His blood! Jesus Says “ I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) That is, you cannot come to God by any other means except through the Cross of Christ, His blood and sacrifice for you! Coming to God by any other means is tantamount to offering “Strange Fire”. This is the reason why God viewed the crime of offering strange fire so seriously. He will not allow anyone to misrepresent the work of His Son on the cross and of His finished work.

It may also be noted that as believers, we are “..the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” (2 Cor 2:15) The very nature and work of Christ in us is a pleasing fragrance before God! That is, God is pleased with us because God is pleased with ALL that His Son has done in and through us! Now having explained the reason and existence of the altar of incense, brazen altar and the particular practice of offering incense, one may come to the conclusion that in the light of the New testament, only true believers and true worshippers can come to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to offer ‘incense’ to God. Only true believers can come to God without fear and condemnation. Thus offering “Strange Fire”, although linked to the worship of God, really had nothing to do with the kind of worship that Charismatics are practicing. So the question is, are Charismatics really non-believers?? In other words, offering strange fire in the context of the conference is actually a criticism of the practices and beliefs of charismatics and is not about whether you are a believer or non-believer. If you are a believer and born again Christian, you are already accepted in the eyes of God. You will never offer stranger fire because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross. To speak of anything less of a brother or sister is a direct affront to the grace and mercy of God.

Lastly, I need to stress that we all need to walk in the spirit, in truth and in love. For that is what true worshippers are, and what our aim has to ultimately be.

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Confession of sins-is it for the believer? Part 2

In order to explain this passage, I will be drawing upon two papers by Gary Gulan and Andrew Spink and attempt to study the underlying greek grammar and words. You may like to read them at : http://www.beyondthepulpit.org/articles/cat_view/61-bible-book-of-1-john

And

https://www.academia.edu/1933265/1_John_1_9_An_Exegetical_Study

 

I will try to summarise the findings given in both articles on this subject matter.

 

  • 1) 1Jn 1:6-2:1 contains 6 third class conditional statements.

 

  • – 1:6 If we say.
  • – 1: 7 If we walk
  • – 1: 8 If we say
  • – 1: 9 If we confess
  • – 1: 10 If we say
  • – 2:1 If we sin

 

Third class conditions in the greek are words that contain the word “If” and a verb with contingency. Also, not all the third class conditions are translated in the same way depending on the accompanying verbs.

Verbs that Accompany the Third-Class Condition

Notice the two different verbs that accompany the third-class condition clauses.

1:6 “if we say” (“eipomen” second aorist subjunctive act. 1st. pl.)

1:7 “if we walk” (“peripatomen” present subjunctive 1st. pl.)

1:8 “if we say” (“eipomen” second aorist subjunctive act. 1st. pl.)

1:9 “if we confess” (“homologomen” present subjunctive act. 1st. pl.)

1:10 “if we say” (“eipomen” second aorist subjunctive act. 1st. pl)

2:1 “if we sin” (“ean”+“tis homarte”)

 

The aorist verbs are punctiliar or tend to look at a particular point in time whereas the present tense verbs are progressive or tend to look at continual action.

 

We also need to bear in mind that third class conditions assumes doubt or uncertainty. That is, a statement may or may not be true or may or may not be false.

 

Also to note, the word ‘Confess’ (homologomen) does not mean the same thing that we in English would take it to mean, The greek word confess comes from two Greek words, “homos” meaning alike or same, and the word, “logos”, meaning word or speech. So the actual meaning of the word is to “speak in accordance with” or “to say the same thing”

 

In 1:9, the word “to” is a clause and should be translated as “so that”. Whatever follows the word “to” is the result of the previous words. That is, forgiveness and cleansing are the result of God being faithful and just, and not the other way around! Also note that the word ‘forgive’ comes from the root word which means ‘to send away’ and the underlying tense shows that it is a point in time and not continually. This tense also accompanies the word ‘cleanse’ and looks at a point in time( When the believer’s sins have been nailed to the cross) and is not a continual action.

Therefore in conclusion, we need to re-examine the passage of 1Jn 1: 9 again as it has caused much confusion and controversy in the past as well as the present because of the poor translation. In essence, it says the following:

 

  • 1) Sin is a reality that is present and indwelling in the non-believer and we cannot say we do not have sin present in our lives.
  • 2) We need to say the same thing or agree on the fact of sin as God would have us to believe.
  • 3) Our sins have all been dealt with at the cross and we should not be ‘confessing our sins’ again to obtain forgiveness and cleansing.
  • 4) God has forgiven us of all our sins so when we do sin, we are affected or changed by it, not God. We need to acknowledge that our sins have been done away with at the cross and thank God for it.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Confession of sins-is it for the believer? (Part 1)

Due to the length of this article, i have decided to break it into parts for your easy reading.

(Again, in order to fully understand this series of articles, please obtain a copy of the sermons so that you can appreciate and follow the articles)

To confess or not to confess, that is the question and also one of the most contentious issue of the day. However, this particular sermon does not start off by going straight into 1Jn 1:9. Rather, it starts off by confronting and attacking the idea of conditional salvation and reiterating the “Once saved, not always saved” doctrine.

Now this debate between the two sides has been raging for a long, long time and I don’t suppose my post here will do much to advance the truth of the matter. Nevertheless, this is an important issue and one that concerns nothing less than your very soul! Therefore, i will proceed very cautiously and try to dispel some of the doubts and questions that some of you may have with regards to salvation and in particular, personal and eternal salvation. Some ideas that I will be putting forth may come as a surprise to you.

My main focus and the main title of this sermon is taken from the first book of John chapters 1-2:9

Chapter 1

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— 2 the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you that your[a] joy may be full.

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

Chapter 2

My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

 

7 Brethren,[a] I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.[b] 8 Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.

 

9 He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. 10 He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11 But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

The main points of Pastor Prince’s argument over 1 John are:

  • 1- Chapter 1 and in particular verses 8-9, was written to non-believing Gnostics who did not believe in sin and believed that all material existence was essentially evil and only the spirit was good.
  • 2- Confession of sins to receive forgiveness is therefore not for believers as this would contradict the idea of ‘Once saved always saved’ as espoused by Pastor Prince and many others.
  • 3- So instead of confessing your sins, you are to confess the righteousness of God that is given to you through Christ. (This is not mentioned in the sermon but I have taken it from past sermons.) As the Christian is already saved and forgiven once and for all, there is no need to continually ask for forgiveness and cleansing.

To digress, the opponents of the “once saved, always save” (or as I like to quote the critics’ term, “Hypergrace”) doctrine would like to point out that verse 9 clearly states you need to confess your sins so that God will forgive and cleanse us. The surface rendering of this verse may seem to support this idea especially when presented as such. However, when one reads it in the context of first John, one gets the feeling that this may not be what John really is saying.

Getting back to the main points of the sermon again, I would like to put forth the following theses:

  • 1- The first book of John was not written to non-believers and gnostics (although some of the verses do imply this).
  • 2- Confession of sins is for believers, but NOT as a pre-requisite for obtaining forgiveness and cleansing.
  • 3- Tying in to point 2 above, the believer is saved once and for all! However, when we sin, it is the believer who is changed and not God. Confessing your sins is not to seek for forgiveness again but to agree with God on the sin and to repent of it.

So let’s look at point one, is 1 John written to non-believers and gnostics? Now if you read 1John chapters 1 and 2, you can clearly see that in the context of these two chapters, John is writing to his “brethren”, his “Little children” Now the term children in the greek is teknion, which means infant or little children, an affectionate word used by John the elder. The word brethren in greek means ‘agapetos’ or beloved. Both are endearing terms used for people that John holds dearly to his heart. Also, in other parts of chapters 1 and 2, John clearly shows he is writing of things that the disciples have heard from the beginning (2: 7). So if we ignore the chapter divisions that were not in the original text, and read the entire book as a seamless whole, it will make sense to you that John is writing to his own and not to outsiders. It would be quite sad to know that 1 John is written to non-believers only.

Coming back to 1Jn 1:9, we can see that John seems to be telling the reader that if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. Then again, we need to remind ourselves of the following:

  • 1) There are no doctrinal contradictions in the bible. Eternal salvation is promised in many passages of the NT and they do not contradict 1Jn 1:9
  • 2) Pastor Prince is only looking at the surface rendering of the verse and thus in order to reconcile the belief in eternal salvation with confession of sins, has consigned this verse to the questionable idea that John was writing specifically to non-believing Gnostics. (How this verse can be reconciled with other verses like v1-5 is quite difficult for me to understand. Would the gnostics’ joy be full after reading this?)
  • 3)Verse 9 is tied in to the idea of sin consciousness which Pastor Prince strongly opposes. With the confession of sins that this verse supposes, it is quite easy to see how one can easily misinterpret it to be being reminded of sins. The verse that we will examine here will be Heb 10:2.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

30 Jun 2013- Speak out by faith and win

This particular sermon can also be entitled “ The God kind of faith” as mentioned by Pastor Prince in his opening to the sermon. However, this teaching did not actually originate from Hagin, but from E W Kenyon, the great grandfather of the WOF movement( Kenyon, Two kinds of Faith p 103). Hagin then took this teaching and developed it into his ‘God kind of faith” teaching (Hagin, New Thresholds, p 74)

This faith is a combination of positive confession and creative faith, which is distinguished from the “Man kind of faith” that is dependent on the physical senses. PP also mentions this as well when he talks about the devil trying to keep us in the sense realm as opposed to the faith realm. The teaching on the sense and faith realm is beyond the scope of this article but you can find it in Kenyon’s works. However, the part where PP departs from the norm is when he states that “ Who you believe in is important.” This goes against the previous statement about the God kind of faith as proposed by Hagin and other WOF teachers. The God kind of faith is faith in itself alone and apart from God. With the God kind of faith, you can believe, and speak! However, do note there is no mention of God’s will nor is there any mention of belief in God’s providence alone. There is some quasi-spiritual belief in one’s positive confession to overcome any and all problems and difficulties.

Pastor Prince in this case, does mention belief in God, but to what extent is unknown and not mentioned. Please note that such obfuscation is common in PP’s sermons as he tries to reconcile the fundamentals of Christianity with WOF beliefs.

Moving along, we come to the cusp of the sermon which is found in Mark 11: 12-14 and v 20-25. In this story, Jesus was passing by when he saw a fig tree without fruit. He then curses the fig tree. The following day, when He and his disciples passed by again, they saw that the fig tree had withered and Jesus begins to teach about prayer.

PP begins to talk about this passage and mentions examples of speaking in Faith with regards to healing. PP then says that exercising Faith is believing and speaking. (Does not matter if it is God’s will or not?) When you need healing, just speak to the disease in particular and curse it like Jesus! And how does Jesus accomplish this feat? Referring to v 22, He says, “ Have faith in God.” PP then goes onto say that in the original greek, it is “ have the God kind of faith”  Now, to clarify, what he is trying to say is that the original translation says “ have the faith OF God.” That is, the kind of faith God exercises in creating the world. PP then goes on to say that we should follow Jesus’ example in speaking and exercising that same kind of faith( Speaking to the weather, speaking to leprosy etc…) Jesus lived life by speaking and He shows us what man is to live like?

Now before I go now, let’s look again at the issues at hand:

 

1-     Have faith in God or have the “God” kind of faith

2-     God had faith when creating and speaking things into existence

3-     With God’s kind of faith, you can be like Jesus, speaking to the weather, casting demons out, healing the sick etc…

 

Okay, let’s look at point one. The God kind of faith was actually originally touted by Kenyon. (Two kinds of faith p 103 Kenyon). Kenyon actually accepts both translations of this verse but not so here in PP’s sermon. Hagin then took this teaching further to deduce that this kind of Faith is the same kind of faith that God exercised when He spoke the universe into existence and is dealt to in our hearts ( New Thresholds p 74, Hagin)

However, according to McConnell( quoted from A different gospel), this concept is based on an erroneous translation of Mark 11:22 as a subjective genitive. C E B Cranfield, a prominent NT scholar states that such a translation “is surely a monstrosity of exegesis.” In the original greek, Faith or pistis, is frequently followed by a genitive construction and is always translated as an objective genitive! That means, as all reliable translators and translations of the Bible would have it, we should translate Mk 11:22 as have faith IN God and not have faith of God! (see acts 3:16, Rom 3:22,26, Gal 2:16: 3:22 for some examples)

Secondly, did God have to have faith when he created the universe and spoke things into existence? According to the bible, Christ “ upholds all things by the word of His power( Heb 1:3), “ in Him all things hold together (Col 1:17) That is, God’s word has no power apart from God himself. God does not need faith to create anything and does not need faith to hold all things together. God’s word has power because God is all power.

Thirdly, can we really behave like Jesus in speaking to the weather and to diseases? I covered this briefly in my last article but I will reiterate again that Jesus could do the things He did because (This may come as a revelation to some of you)…He IS GOD! Referring to point two above, if Jesus is God, He does not need faith to make things happen because He is the source of all power and in Him, all things are made that was made!

PP continues to say that by believing and speaking, we are acting like out Father in heaven! Wow! Imagine you can be like GOD?!! Does this remind you of an incident in the garden of Eden?  Anyway, just to detract from the above, PP mentions that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Now this passage comes from Provb 18:21 and PP goes onto say “if you love talking about death, you will eat it, if you love life, you will eat its fruit.”  Now let’s look at this passage in context from v19-21:

 

19 A brother offended is harder to win than a strong city,

And contentions are like the bars of a castle.

 

20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;

From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.

 

21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,

And those who love it will eat its fruit.

 

Thus, in the context of the passages above, one may understand that the writer is not writing about words having power to create or destroy like God but that the words you say may affect yourself and others emotionally and can have dire consequences if not used correctly. This is the context when the writer starts with v19 where a brother is offended. (See Jer 17:9, Matt 15: 18-20, Matt 12: 34-36 for more details on this subject matter)

Coming back to the passage in Mark 11:

 

20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”

 

22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.

 23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.

24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.

 

After verse 23, comes verse 24 where Jesus tells His disciples to “Pray”! Strange that Jesus would say that and not just “Speak”!  Was it because WE are not as powerful with our words as Jesus? And if so, we need to pray to God to meet our needs??

 

Unfortunately, PP does not really talk about this, rather, he mentions that speaking has got to do with praying?! So whatever you desire, a house, healing for your body…What things so ever you desire?!!(Emphasis mine) Does this mean you can also wish for a million bucks, maybe a Ferari or a private jet? Or how about the death of your enemies? PP does not mention it here but maybe you might want to check with God on whether you can or should have such things??

With this, I leave you my friends to decide on the validity of speaking and believing as Pastor Prince does and whether there is any truth in the Bible about what PP says.

 

________________

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

9th Jun 2013-Actively possess your possessions

Sorry for not writing often enough. I have been quite busy of late and time seems to have flown by so quickly! In this article, I will be looking at one of the bug bears of the WOF teachings. If you can, please get the message preached on the 9th Jun entitled “Actively possess your possessions.”

In this particular sermon, there are two parts, the first speaks of 3 John 1:2 whereby God wants all of us to prosper and be in good health and in part two, PP speaks of the truth of grace and salvation and eternal life as well as forgiveness. So let’s look at the first part, which is the more contentious part.

The reading comes from 3 Jn 1:2:

“ Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” –KJV

 

or another translation states:

 

“ Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul” – ESV

PP starts the sermon by saying that …

 

“ what is the thing that he(John) prays for believers above all things? He says beloved, that is you and I, I pray that you may prosper in all things…God wants us to pray for each other that you prosper and not only prosper but be in health… even as your soul prospers!

Now let us look at the context and original plain meaning of the verse. In this letter, John the elder is writing a letter to his friend Gaius. He then starts by writing “beloved, I pray that all may go well with you…” or as the KJV states that thou mayest prosper.

So the question one may ask by just reading v2 is, does God want us all to prosper and be in health?? Oris it just, if you just plainly read it, John’s personal greeting to his friend Gaius?

According to Gordon Fee, ( Disease of the health and wealth gospels), this combination of wishing for things to go well and for the recipient’s ‘good health’ was the standard form of greeting in a personal letter in antiquity (pg 82). It is simply an opening greeting in any letter that we may write ourselves. It is like saying, “ Dear John, I hope everything is well with you.”

To over-spiritualise it and extend it to mean that God wants ALL of us to prosper is simply not the original intention of the writer! In addition, if you look up the greek word for prosper, it is euodoo. It is made up of two root words, Eu, which means “good” and “hodos”, which means a road or progress or a journey. Therefore, John may be simply wishing his friend a good, safe and healthy journey through life!  This same word, Euodoo, is also used in Rm 1:10 where Paul states:

“always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.” (NASB)

the word for succeed in greek is ALSO Euodoo! I do not think the apostle Paul meant that he wants to prosper by coming to the Romans!

The KJV translates this more clearly:

“Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” (KJV)

Clearly, the apostle Paul is not advocating getting wealth in Romans, nor should we assume that the apostle John, in his letter to his friend, is instructing all of us Christians that GOD wants us All to prosper!

Interestingly, PP does not speak of the original greek words but would rather study on the nouns and verbs instead. One would assume any study of greek would naturally talk about the words themselves but PP does not talk about this at all in this sermon.

So after using this verse to justify God’s wish for all Christians to be prosperous and be in health, PP, as if remembering what the bible says about prosperity (See James 5 and 1 Tim 6:9), says that in proverbs, “Prosperity destroys fools..” (Prov 1:32) So surely, this does mean that Christians are not fools because prosperity will not destroy us? If so, what does Paul mean to say in 1Tim 6:9 and to whom is he addressing it to?

Is riches only a snare to the unbeliever or is it also a snare to Christians? Again, PP does not expand upon this and goes on to say when your soul prospers, your prosperity becomes a servant. Of course, this is not the meaning of 3 John 1:2 here as I have explained above. At this point, PP suddenly changes the topic to the topic of truth and continues to speak about grace and truth and the forgiveness of sins. He never goes back to the above topic again. It is interesting to note how the main topic gets obscured by the main doctrines of Christianity which are more acceptable than the questionable one in 3 John. I will not go into the main points about the grace message here but will leave you at this point before coming back to it again at a later stage.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

24th Feb 2013-Impact the world with the Father’s lavish love

Welcome back dear brothers and sisters! In this segment, we will be looking at a particular message given on the 24th Feb. This message begins, like most messages, with a reading of Psalm 8:

 

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

you have established strength because of your foes,

to still the enemy and the avenger.

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

4 what is man that you are mindful of him,

and the son of man that you care for him?

5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

and crowned him with glory and honor.

6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under his feet,

7 all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9 O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!(ESV)

 

In this sermon, Pastor Prince(PP) explains that ‘Man’, that is us, was made a ‘little lower than the angels…” but was “Crowned with glory and honor.” PP then goes on to say what ‘crowned’ and ‘glory’ and ‘honor’ means in Hebrew. Now although the meanings of these words are correct and you can look them up in any good Hebrew dictionary, what follows bears further study.

 

PP then continues to explain that man was crowned with glory and honor (meaning Adam and Eve). As PP states; “ God crowned man, and made him a heavy weight.” Then he goes on to say something profound: “ in other words, whatever you say carry weight” Now does he mean whatever a normal man says? Or does he mean the Christian here? The context of the passage would seem to suggest fallen man in v4. Man, in his pre-fall state, was given the responsibility and care (Dominion) over the earth. After the fall, man lost what was given to him till the present day. So let’s just assume PP was talking about Christians here because no fallen man’s words today would carry weight and power.

PP continues to say that “When Jesus walked on earth, He is an example of a man crowned with glory and honor. The man that God meant for every man to be.”

Now before we examine the passage that this was taken from, we see PP going on to say: ‘…and when Jesus spoke to the fig tree, it died, Jesus spoke to leprosy, it departed, Jesus spoke to demons and they left, Jesus spoke to the storm and it was calm.Amen?! His words carry weight!”

 

PP then reiterates again that God has crowned man with glory and honor but that man forfeited it after the fall. PP then states that this honor and glory was not just for authority but also for protection( from the beasts and animals that God put under Adam’s dominion.) PP then stated that Adam just had to speak to the animals and they would obey him.

So how does man get back this so called ‘Glory and honor’? according to PP, when a man becomes a Christian, he get back this glory and honor which was lost after the fall!

 

 Ok now we need to pause here and examine the psalm again. The psalmist begins by exhorting and praising God, whose domain and majesty is high above all the earth and heavens. This glory which the psalmist speaks of means beauty, comeliness, excellency, honour and majesty. This rightfully belongs to God. The psalmist then goes on to praise God’s handiwork in the stars and moon and then, looks at man, also another of God’s creations. Now here we can see, two different Hebrew words used for man. “ What is man…” Here the word for man is Enosh, which means a mortal or frail man. This is a different word used for ‘Son of man’ in the next line. This phrase, son of man means Son of Adam, which means ‘red man’ or a human being. The Hebrew word enosh is more rich than the greek word for man( anthropos) for it is less dignified than the word Adam in a sense that is mean mortality and weakness.

Then in v 5, the psalmist then says that the Son of Man was made a little lower than the heavenly beings. In the Septuagint, it is translated as angelos or angels. However, in the Hebrew, it is Elohim or God. (The LXX refers to angels possibly to refrain from saying that man is a little god or gods). So we can actually translate this verse as ‘Yet you have made him(the son of man) a little lower than GOD’. In John Gill’s excellent commentary on this psalm, he also states that Jesus, who being equal to Him in the divine nature, was made inferior to God in the human nature.

So the question is, who is this man that the psalmist is talking about? This frail or mortal man is none other than Jesus Christ Himself, who took upon mortal flesh on earth to die for the sins of Adam and his progeny.

This is confirmed by the writer of Hebrews when in Heb 2:6-8, he quotes Ps 8:4-6 and identifies Jesus as the Son of Man mentioned in Ps 8. We can therefore say that it is Jesus that is ‘Crowned with glory and honor’ and not normal men as preached by PP. 

Secondly, PP mentioned that man, in the garden of Eden, was crowned with glory and honor according to Ps 8. However, the problem arises when firstly, there is no mention of this fact in Gen nor the entire bible itself except for Ps 8. Secondly, although man in the garden of Eden had some glory, in particular as its caretaker and was commanded to have dominion over the earth, this is to say that man was appointed as the representative of God on the earth and governing the earth on God’s behalf. There is no indication that Adam had any power over the beast of the earth as such nor did he needed protection from them. Also, man did not have the power to command nature like Jesus did. The fact that Jesus could perform healing miracles, command the wind and the waves etc..is not because, as PP states, he is a Glorified man. Jesus could do the things he did simply because He is GOD in human form! His words carried weight because He is the Lord God! Unfortunately, by error or by design, PP fails to state this fact and we are left with the impression that Ps 8 applies to us.

 

Moving on again, we come to the next part whereby PP states that not everyone is walking in this Glory and honor. He then says that we need to get this glory and honor so that we can command diseases to flee and healing to come on us. Now there is a contradiction here. Do we get this Glory and honor upon receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour or do we get it back when, if PP is correct, we believe in God’s love for us? Again, there is no Biblical support for this as this glory and honor is only given to Jesus Christ ( Heb 2:6-8, 2 Peter 1:16-18). Also, there is no biblical basis for believers commanding sickness to flee nor commanding things into existence.

Of course, PP then quotes Mark 11:23 to back up his claim:

 

20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, j

“Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received3 it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”4

 

However, if you look at the context of this verse, it is talking about prayer and praying for holy Christian things, not commanding things into existence nor commanding sickness to leave.

The rest of the sermon continues to talk about the gospel of grace and that will not be discussed here but at a later stage.

Finally, I will need to say a note about ‘Sin consciousness’ or being conscious of sin. This is an idea that did not originate with PP but actually with E W Kenyon. (More on that later) To be conscious of sin, as Kenyon teaches, is to be always mindful of the sin in the believer and to be thus under the condemnation of the law. So in order not to be conscious of sin, some writers tell us not to talk about sin or even confess sin as this would bring us under the condemnation of the law. This I have seen from some writers on this, especially writers writing from the viewpoint of the Grace gospel. But does 1Jn 1:9 really teaches this? Let’s look at 1 Jn 1 in a wider context:

 

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[b] sin.

 

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.(KIV)

 

Here, the apostle John is writing to believers who have ‘remained’ and ‘not gone out’ (1 Jn 2:19). He is writing against the teachings of the agnostics who did not believe in Sin and its reality. Here, the verse 8 states ‘if we claim to be without Sin.” In the greek, it is Jamartian ouk ecomen, “we do not bear the guilt of sin”; literally, “sin we do not have”. In W. Hall Harris III’s study on this passage, he states that this refers to a state of sin. Also that “The author is addressing people who have sinned (resulting in a state of sin), warning them that they cannot claim to be free from the guilt of that sin..” Therefore, if we say we are without consciousness of Sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Here also, as the passage is addressing believers who are ‘Walking in the light, as He is in the light’, we find that confessing sin to God is also an ongoing process and by doing that, we can be assured that God will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That is, although we are justified once and for all by the blood of Christ, we cannot deny the guilt and burden of sin whenever it may come. We should therefore, confess and admit to God who is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins.

Therefore, being conscious of Sin, as Kenyon and others like him would assume, is not about being unforgiven or being under the judgement or curse of God. Rather, it is to be in a state of acceptance of the reality of sin in our lives and to be dependent on God’s grace and mercy in forgiving and cleansing us from the guilt associated with sin. We must avoid the mistake that the Israelites made in Hosea 7:2 who ‘… consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness.’(KJV) This is a charge against those who would deny sin in their lives and yet continue in sin as though it does not matter to GOD?! We need to remember that God is light, in Him there is no darkness(1 Jn 1:5). The only solution for a guilty conscience is not to deny it nor even to confess that, ‘We are the righteousness of God in Christ’ (of which we most certainly are) but to humbly confess it as John states above.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized