Friday, May 22, 2009

Wrath and anger for those under law...

I was driving to work this morning when I received this.
My usual morning drives would consist of listening to the usual sermons I have from Pastor Joseph Prince from New Creation Church.

However, there was a clear cut ringing of this message in my head this morning.
And as I dwell upon the message, the clearer it got.

"Wrath and anger are only for those under law"

Here, I'm gonna expound more about this topic.

1. We are saved by grace through faith.
Ephesians 2:3

All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
[a] Or our flesh

The Bible says with authority that Christians WERE ONCE living among the world with a purpose to gratify the sinful nature and its desires. We WERE at that point (and by that nature), OBJECTS of wrath. Wrath set its eyes on us, to condemn us.

Ephesians 2:4-5
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:9
not by works, so that no one can boast.

This verses shows that:
1. It is ALL God's doing through Christ
2. We were saved because of God's great love for us
3. It is not by works
4. God’s wrath has passed from you to the cross – hence, God is no longer angry with you

The works in vs9 refers to the human effort to attain God’s approval.

Law - the use of human effort to attain a goal (that is also why in terminology, it's called a contract – each parties are obligated to do something)
Grace - the unmerited and undeserved favour from God (that is why under a grace covenant, man has no role to play)

If EVER a man has an active role to play in grace, it is to acknowledge the presence of this grace through faith. In the same way, he acknowledges and proclaims Jesus is Lord.
If a man needs a physical role in working for this grace, he/she falls under law, because it is then a contract, not a grace covenant.

Now some here might say -

i) then we are not obliged to obey God to live in holiness
ii) we don't have to serve Him in ministry
iii) or that we not accountable to live right
iv) go into sinful living since we’re under grace.

Romans 3:8
Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.
Romans 6:15
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!

If you have in mind here to say - randy is saying we can sin because we have grace.
Then your condemnation is deserved! - You have missed the point...
Sin is still sin! It is detestable, evil and deserved condemnation.
But we have been provided a way out of it – That is grace!
Hence, we cannot be saved if we opt for self-righteousness, because Christ did not come for the righteous (self-righteous), but for sinners.
Now we have grace to overcome sin! To live victorious life, to live glorifying lives!

Romans 7:19-25
For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

When Paul describes the man who does not do the things he want to do, he describes THAT man as having sin living in him. That is the natural state before Christ. That is the nature that is the object of God's wrath. This verse is about NON-BELIEVERS! [How many times have this been quoted wrongly?]

Christians have been given the power for RIGHT LIVING.

Paul says - Christ rescues us from THAT body of death!
And because we have been rescued from the body of death, we can come boldly.
For it is no longer sin who is living in us, but Christ that lives in us!

Hebrews 10:19-22
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

2. Mixture of Law and Grace
The question is - can a Christian under grace come under law?

The Bible’s answer – Yes
Read Matthew 11 & Revelations 3:14:22
It’s a picture of Law and Grace
John the Baptist and Jesus Christ
Cold and Hot

When Jesus speaks of the crowd in the marketplace who wouldn’t dance to the song, nor mourn to the dirge, it’s a picture of people stuck between law and grace. A lukewarm state.
If you meditate on that chapter, you’ll realise John the Baptist is the picture of the law, while Jesus is grace.
John was in prison – which is the ultimate showing of bondage. Law condemns and brings death (as John would also died later).
But out of Jesus, come sight, healing, life. And blessed are those who do not fall away from grace – back to law (on account of Jesus)!
Yet, Jesus explains – the law was meant to reveal grace = John was the messenger to prepare the way for grace/Jesus.
At the end of Matthew 11, Jesus invites the people to rest from religion (go check greek translation), and not physical rest as per what some churches may teach.
Jesus wants us to come out of Law, and enter Grace.

In Revelations, Jesus said, he will spit those under both law and grace out of His mouth.
Those who mix law and grace will think they are richly awarded. But God says they are not. And he beckons them to buy the white clothes to cover their nakedness.
What does this mean?
It means that Christians who are under both law and grace, have missed the point when it comes to the righteousness of Christ, they are also spiritually blinded. The fact that they need to buy white clothes to clothe their nakedness, shows that they are not righteous in God’s eyes!

Many preachers TWIST the word of God in Revelations to mean lukewarm as in how passionate we are for Jesus. God forbid it means that! That is loosely translated without scriptural backing!
It’s the line God draws between law and grace!
[it also makes no sense that even if you are not as passionate about Jesus as you would be, yet living in grace, you can be unrighteous before God??? No! That’s because He imputes His righteousness on you – but it makes all the sense that if you attempt to attain you own righteousness by your own hands, you are unrighteous because you only have filthy rags!]

3. What does being under law mean?
I’ll answer this question with another question.
Why should God bless you or are you doing some activity today to be blessed by God?

Have you had the mentality – that God should bless you in your career/wealth/family/health because you serve in ministries or are a good steward, or just because you pay tithes, etc…?
Have you ever thought that God should help you because you have been obedient in serving?
Or when trials occur – you ask – why God, Why give me problems when I’ve done so much for the church, or how much you’ve given, etc…

Or have you possessed the reversed mentality:-
God is cursing me because of my sin?
God is withholding blessings because I did not serve Him?
I’m suffering now because I ignored His ministry?

Why do I give the above examples?
Because these people seek God’s approval/good life/blessings through what they did/do.
Only people under the law seek approval through ‘good works’.

That is the method of Cain, who sowed the cursed ground to offer the fruits of his labour – sad looking spoiled fruit. [Cain couldn’t offer the firstfruits because those were the worst, but by working the cursed ground through trial and error, he sought methods to obtain presentable ones to God.]

And that is the underlying difference.
If Christianity is about doing something good for God to bless you, how is that different from religion? (we’re not even talking salvation yet – coz the world doesn’t even bother with that to an extent)
It’s not a barter trade or bargaining chip with God.

2 Peter 1:3
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

There is no such thing as practical righteousness as some churches may preach. There is only life and godliness through our knowledge of him. It’s not your quiet time, nor your offerings that make you a better person. It’s not if you can resist temptation, or endure persecution. It’s not your passion not your doctrinal excellence.

You can donate the most in Church, be the most active, do your quiet time daily, climb up and be a leader, etc… and STILL BE A PHARISEE…
But it is your knowledge of Him that makes you godly and holy… [not the kind of puffed up knowledge ok…]

It’s when you come to the point of falling so deeply in love with Him that He walks with you every day. And that my friends, is the heart of Psalms 23 - The Lord is my shepherd.

This is what is revealed to me today.
May you be blessed and encouraged because of Grace.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Poiema With A Purpose...

Ephesians 2:10 is one of the most 'wrongly quoted' verse by Christians.
Often, it would be interpreted as, God saves you, hence you serve him back - or that God saved you for the purpose of service.

But if you read that verse in context with the whole of Ephesians 2, there are NO MENTION of human service back to God AT ALL...

But it is not by (human) works, so that no one can boast (ephesians 2:9).

Ephesians 2:10 begins with the word 'for' a continuous from verse 9.
For is also bearing the same meaning as because.
hence - because we are God's workmanship (poeima/poetry in greek)
created in Christ Jesus to do Good works (since, it is not human works, it means God's Good work in us), which God prepares in advance for us to do.

Here the Holy Spirit leads paul to mention - God's preparation in advance to do.
What are these works then? Then what does doing the good work then mean?

The Good Works
vs 11-13 - To remember how our lives without Christ is like and how we are brought near through the blood of Jesus Christ.
vs 14-18 - To receive the peace from our reconciliation with Him and come knowing that we have access to the Father by His Holy Spirit.
vs 19-22 - become a dwelling that people can testify God's presence, with Christ as your cornerstone.

And all these things ARE ALREADY GIVEN BY CHRIST, and given THROUGH THE CROSS.

The Message version of the Bible says - Ephesians 2:7-10
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

Zero human effort, but 100% the work of Jesus at the cross.

Hence - we should live as the Spirit ordained:
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. [Ephesians 3:20-21]

Let us glorify him through our lives, not through our works.
Let Go, Let Him.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Here I Come!

Singapore, Here I Come!

New Creation Church, Here I Come!

Will be going down south from 8th May till 10th May 2009...

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the 2 bros who were supposed to join me, could not make it.. One is attending a wedding, the other is money matters (which i'm still scratching my head why he agreed to go in the first place).

Going by faith...
Lord lead the way...