Christ the Foundation – When Truth becomes a Lie

A Vision of a Woman in a Basket (Zecharia ch 5)

Then the angel who talked with me came forward and said to me, “Lift your eyes and see what this is that is going out.” And I said, “What is it?” He said, “This is the basket that is going out.” And he said, “This is their iniquity in all the land.” And behold, the leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting in the basket! And he said, “This is Wickedness.” And he thrust her back into the basket, and thrust down the leaden weight on its opening.

Then I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, two women coming forward! The wind was in their wings. They had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. 10 Then I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they taking the basket?” 11 He said to me, “To the land of Shinar, to build a house for it. And when this is prepared, they will set the basket down there on its base.”

Since watching Jacob Prasch sermon on the “Birds of the Air” (; (see posting on 16 June 2015) I began to wonder the place of the ‘leaden cover’.  If it was a glass cover, one who easily see the content of the food basket. If it was a normal cover, one would easily lift it open and uncover to see the content.  The vision was of a cover made of heavy lead and I told my daughter, even Superman would not be able to see inside with his penetrating vision.

Indeed, it is not easy to uncover and discern ‘poison’ and false teaching which distort the scriptures, distract the believers from the truth, with the plan to deceive and seduce the bride of Christ and the intent to destroy all that Christ stands for.

Confession for the forgiveness of sins is one such text, which could cause great distress and distraction to believers who seek to love God more dearly and walk with Him more nearly. Knowing the text without grasping the intent and context cloud and confound the imputed permanent positional righteousness as a legacy and anchor for the soul. The text of 1 John 1:9, wrestled out of the contextual intent becomes a lie which robs believers of the blessed assurance and amazing grace in our sure foundation and salvation.

Teachings on prosperity is another attempt to present it as part of the spread of food menu from the pulpit, twisting scriptures, or hijacking it from the intent and context.  I must be a Berean, and develop strong muscles to lift up the leaden cover to discern real food from poison.

Jacob Prasch has another teaching video on Christ the Foundation – When Truth becomes a Lie  –

The entire bible previews and reveals Jesus (John 5:39), that in everything he might be pre-eminent. (Col 1:18).

Our faith, our lives – purpose, pre-occupations and priorities is all about Jesus, and not about ourselves.

Yes, the first testament speaks of Jesus, and when Jer 33:9 mentioned about the prosperity God has prepared, it is about the King and the Kingdom, how He will provide for worshippers on that day.  It is about Him, not about me. (posting on 14 June 2015)

Frank Viola is one of my favourite teachers.  His insights into the eternal plan and purposes of God helps me to keep my bearings, and remind me to major on the major issues in my faith, and not to major on the minor issues no matter how popular, current or attractive they are.  In the following articles, one can sense his input, if we are not careful how Jesus could be replaced, misplaced and displaced.  It is not about me, it is about Jesus only.

A Truth can become a lie, when I deviate from Jesus, and perceive that our faith is about me, about my prosperity.


The Grace of Giving or the Grace of Prosperity? (part 2)

After the church service as we were having our lunch with two others at the “Kitchen” food court, another man with a walking aid joined us when he saw an acquaintance at our table.  I was told that this gentleman has many metal implants inside his body.  So I joked “Oh, you are the Iron Man!”.

We all laughed.

He was born without bones in the lower part of his body, had never worked throughout his life.  I marvelled that he still looked good at age 52. I found out that his parents, now deceased, sacrificed much for his welfare and well-being, and he is now on welfare (S$500 per month), and lives in subsidised flat (<> S$35 per month).  But since his latest heart surgery, the $500 which used to be sufficient is hardly adequate.  Though his medical procedures and standard medicine are free, he has to pay for the special heart medication and special gloves consumable for the bone cancer in his hands. Upon our questions, he related that he has been attending NCC from the early days of NCC’s history, and church leaders have been following up on him.  He took a cab to the church that morning, and was grateful that the cab driver, being a believer, gave him a free ride; but then wondered aloud how he was going to get home as he has insufficient fare. Immediately, one of our fellow diners (actually not working retiree) took out $100 to bless him, which he initially refused. (He had applied for assistance from NCC last year, and NCC has just approved to give him $200 every month).

Wow, this is fleshing out of the teaching about Christian giving and sharing, in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, even though this part on sharing and giving was not the actual delivery in the sermon.

14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”      (2 Cor 8:14-16)

Indeed, this grace of sharing and giving and generosity is the intended exhortation in 2 Corinthians 8 & 9, and NOT the grace of abundance as in the sermon.  It is possible to hijack some passages in the scriptures and “twist” and distort the original intent for another agenda.  Churches with good teaching need to affirm and assist and train members to study the scriptures in small groups and on their own, to be like the Bereans, to know Him in the scriptures, and not just in the pulpit.  (see posting “A Berean or a Bible Policeman” on June 2014) 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.  (Acts 17:11)

Last week, over lunch, my sister-in-law uttered her frustration with my brother-in-law who kept on asking for prayers, saying that “He just wants to be a millionaire!”.  So I said that the church might have a part to play in his misdirected aspiration, as with the sermon earlier that morning.  My sister in law then remarked “You really hate Joseph Prince!”.  I replied, no, I defended him to others, I said that he is the greatest preacher of the true gospel of grace.” In fact I told others that he is the new Watchman Nee. No, I don’t hate Joseph Prince.  I am thankful to God for raising Joseph Prince.  I love NCC. And I love Jesus and give the scripture pre-eminence. (see “I love NCC” posted in Sept 2014) Pastors use scriptures to teach.

But scriptures must be exegeted in context, and applied with proper hermeneutics for relevance in for our lives. Scriptural truth, when taken out of its context and intent or relevance and importance can become a lie (I will next post on ‘When a truth can become a lie’).

The Grace of Giving or the Grace of Prosperity?

Today, my pastor focused on the 2 Corithians 9:8,9 at length, switching between the NKJV version and the Amplified paraphrase, to prop up the argument that prosperity is within God’s ambit of blessings :-­

And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and ­­whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. (Amplified paraphrase)

I just wonder why this theme of prosperity is stretched to such an extent, over four Sundays?

Could it be that in labouring on with this point, there is 1) the conviction that this topic is extremely important and relevant to members, or 2) to defend this teaching against detractors with real or perceived scriptural  passages for support.

My misgivings are

  • {Added on 23rd June} In the context of 2 Cor 8&9, the key thought / intent of the author is to
    • Highlight that though the Macedonian believers were poor, having experienced God’s Grace, they excelled in sharing this unmerited grace in giving and generosity (8:1-7)
    • Corinthians are reminded of the unmerited grace and favor of Christ ALL received, though not in a circumstantially and earthly equal material manner; and reminded of their previous commitment to share.
    • It happens that the Corinthians have RELATIVE abundance, compared to others who lack. In the event that the Corinthians feel that they would be divested and dispossessed by their giving and sowing, God will enlarge the harvest of their righteousness as God is able to continue to bless the Corinthians by grace in abundance (9:12), just as He did to the poor Macedonians with a spirit of rich generosity (8:2) – “see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
    • The text in 9:18 IS NOT a promise and teaching about material prosperity for all believers. It is about the abundant grace of God which all experienced in diverse ways always.  For those who experienced more material blessings, this unmerited grace of abundant material blessings is to be shared in the grace of giving and generosity!
  • The key intent, content and context of the passages in 2 Cor 8 & 9 is to seek the generosity of the Corinthians, and not a proposition that God wills believers to be prosperous – as taught by WOF followers
  • The Amplified Bible, which is also one of my favourites for reading and meditation, is not a transliteration or a translation. It is actually a paraphrase, amplification of the text with synonyms upon synonyms and implied meanings as against explicit intent of the contextual content (see point 1 above).
  • One should form convictions and conclusions on clear direct intent and teachings of the scripture. We should not clutch at every unintended proof text to support our preferences. Scriptures are definitely not bankrupt of clear and sound explicit teaching for major and important issues.  Rather, the use of proof texts often reveals the bankruptcy and sustainability of this belief.
  • The Apostle Paul never bemoan the poverty and privation of the saints (2 Cor 8:2,14; 9:12); only the absence of generosity of the Corinthians who benefited from the grace and provision of God had not kept faith with their commitment to share (see point 1).

There may be those who espouse that the blessings of God is evidenced in prosperity of the Old Testament Jewish characters (Abraham, David, Solomon), implying that it is not the lot of believers to be poor. Yet I find the wisdom of James, supposedly a minister to Jewish believers rather eloquent and coherent.  The spiritual legacy and asset of the poor are upheld while the rich are derided and disparaged.

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. (James 1:9-11)

Came across Julian Lukins write-up on Gordon Fee, and on how Fee believes that the theology of prosperity fits more into the American dream rather than to scriptural doctrinal teaching. Gordon, as a pentecostal is well aware that biblical theology is relegated to experiential theology amongst many Pentecostals and WOF followers.

Excerpted below are Lukins write-up:

Another area of contention for Fee is the prosperity gospel, or what he calls “health and wealth” teachings. His book The Disease of the Health and Wealth Gospels is a blistering rebuke of prosperity and perfect health teachings, which he claims have no basis in Scripture. What he describes as the “false gospel” of health and wealth has caused “immense damage” to the charismatic movement, he says.

“Fight over tongues and prophecy if you have to, but don’t fight over something as unbiblical as [health and wealth theology],” he observes. Fee notes in the book that the theology of this gospel seems far more to fit the American dream than the teaching of Him who had “nowhere to lay His head.”

“We shouldn’t reconstruct the Christian faith into an advancement of the American way of life, which I feel is the great sin of the American church today,” he says.

The problem with health and wealth teaching, Fee says, is one of hermeneutics, or “interpretation of Scripture.” He believes much of the prosperity teaching is dressed “in biblical garb” but “flies full in the face of the whole New Testament.”

Twisting certain scriptural passages to fit their theology, proponents of health and wealth are “guilty of selectivity,” Fee says, and then they “avoid … texts that stand squarely in opposition to their teaching.”

He highlights 3 John 2 as a key example: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (KJV). Fee says prosperity teachers interpret this verse as saying, in effect: “We should prosper and be in good health.”

He contends, however, that the Greek word translated as “prosper” in the King James Version means “to go well with someone.” The equivalent of it today would be if someone wrote: “I pray this letter finds you all well.”

He concludes: “The 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. To extend [John’s greeting] to refer to financial and material prosperity for all Christians of all times is totally foreign to the text.”

Fee also questions the prosperity movement’s interpretation of the term “abundant life” in John 10:10. The meaning has nothing to do with material abundance, he says, adding that “life” literally means the “life of the Age to come.” The Greek word perrison, translated “more abundantly” in the KJV, means “simply that believers are to enjoy this gift of life to the full,” he says. “Material abundance is not implied either in the word ‘life’ or ‘to the full.’”

The teaching of perfect health is a distortion of the Bible’s teaching on healing, he claims: “Gifts of healing belong in the church, but [perfect health theology] has created … neurotic believers, because they don’t seem to be able to muster up ‘enough faith’ [to be healed].” Again, proponents of perfect health theology “simply fail to do adequate exegesis, which has to do with determining the meaning of a text in its original context,” he says.

He cites Galatians 3:13, a favorite verse of perfect health advocates, in which Paul states that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law” (NIV). Proponents link this verse with Deuteronomy 28:21-22, he says, in which disease is named as one of the curses of disobedience to the law.

“There is not even the remotest possibility that Paul was referring to the curses of Deuteronomy 28 when he spoke of the ‘curse of the law,’” Fee states. “And ‘redemption’ in Galatians has to do with one thing only—how does one have right standing with God.”

The real issue, Fee says, is not how to get the biblical text “to work for us” but how to understand the text in the light of the full biblical revelation. He acknowledges that his sympathies lie with those who want to see God perform miracles of healing.

“One must ruefully admit that evangelical Christianity by and large does not expect much from God,” he notes. “Most Christians’ expectation level when it comes to the miraculous is somewhere between zero and minus five. Even though evangelicals often pray, ‘If it be Thy will, please heal so-and-so,’ they would probably … faint if God actually answered.”

Clearly Fee loves the Word, noting that heresies are creeping into the church because of lack of theological understanding and misinterpretation of Scripture. What’s needed, he emphasizes, is Spirit-filled living and sound scriptural interpretation. “If I could say one thing to the American church,” he cautions, “it would be this: Keep integrity with Scripture and spiritual experience.”

Content With What I Have

Since my posting on the Sunday sermon on the 14th June, the issue weighs heavily on mind and heart. Since then, the word “contentment” infused and lingers in my mind. Evidently, there isn’t any passage in the NT which exhorts us to seek after prosperity (see my other postings “Health and Wealth – 3 John 2” (11/06/13) and “As your soul prospers” (11/06/13).

Yet, for three Sundays, the pulpit reached out to the congregation to pray for prosperity, drawing audible amens and agreement. The following scriptures negate the suggestion to pray for our prosperity. (see previous postings on “What the Bible Says About Money” (22/11/14)

“….be content with your wages.” (Jesus in Luke 3:14)

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, … (Phil 4:11,12)

…. imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (1 Tim 6:5-10)
5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Heb 13:5)


If the scriptures are so clear, why would the pulpit convince, commend and compel believers to seek prosperity from the Lord?
Satan used scriptures to tempt and to seduce – first to cast doubt on clear teachings, then to distort by alluding to secular human wisdom (James 3:13-16) and then to deceive with satanic values and doctrines (1 Tim 4:1)

When the Sower went out to sow (Mark 4:1-20), the birds (satan) came to take the seeds away. (see posting on “Birds of the Air” (25/06/13)

And where the seeds sprouted and grew, the birds return (Mark 4:31-32). While the pulpit is expected to teach and uphold sound doctrine, the birds, within the church, would seek to introduce doubt, distort and deceive, displacing and replacing spiritual truth with secular and satanic values – to tempt and turn legitimate needs into lust, inconsistent with the heart and mind of Christ, and to seduce the bride of Christ.

I am constrained to post this, and most of all to direct the reader to an excellent midrashic video teaching on Revelation 8:1,2 and Zechariah 5, – of how the birds with displace and misplace the scriptural truth with satanic doctrines.

Watch Jacob Prasch, a messianic Jew, gravely warning believers to be aware, ie beware of satanic seduction

Which Promises Are For Me?

As mentioned in the previous post, I am reposting Jen Wilkin’s article on “Which promises are for me?”

Not many things are more comforting than a promise made and kept. And not many things are more hurtful than a promise broken. Knowing we worship a God who keeps his promises is a source of deep joy. But misapplied, this knowledge can also lead us to treasure-hunt Scripture for promises in problematic ways.
How can we know which promises are for us? How can we lay claim to the promises of the Bible without overstepping their application? Here are some common pitfalls to keep in mind as you study.
Common Mistakes
Confusing a promise with a principle. Promises are always fulfilled 100 percent of the time. Principles state general truths. The book of Proverbs is often mistaken for a book of promises, when in fact it is a book of principles. The principle of “train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6) is generally true and wise to heed. But it is not a guarantee that every child raised with godly instruction will become a believer in Jesus.
Ignoring the context. We often apply a promise to ourselves before considering its original audience or its historical, cultural, or textual context. In some cases, a promise was made to a specific person for a specific reason and has no further application beyond its immediate context. In other cases, the application can only be properly made after the promise is understood in its original context. God’s promise to Abram of land and offspring (Gen. 12:1–3) cannot be taken to mean God will give me a house or children. It can, however, be applied to mean he will give me a spiritual inheritance through Christ.
Overlooking the “if.” Promises that contain an “If” require some form of obedience before we can expect them to come to pass in our lives. They are conditional. If we want to claim them, we had better be ready to act in obedience to what they require. God grants us wisdom if we ask (James 1:4). But we have to ask. Often “if” promises of blessing are accompanied by corresponding “if” warnings about disobedience. We tend to celebrate God’s promises of blessing and sideline his promises of chastisement, though both point to a faithful God. It’s tough to find a coffee mug that sports Hebrews 12:6. Which leads us to . . .
Choosing a promise selectively. We tend to favor those promises that appeal to our own best-case scenario. We quote Exodus 14:14 in a crisis: “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” But we neglect to note that three chapters later in Exodus, Israel was commanded not to stand still, but to fight her enemies. In spiritual battles, sometimes we should stand still and sometimes we should fight. Better to ask God for wisdom as to which response is called for than to claim a promise that is not universally applicable.
Using a promise manipulatively. Sometimes we employ a verse as a promise because we want God to act a certain way. Probably the most abused passage in this category is “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am with them” (Matt. 18:20). Not only do we use it out of context, we also use it to try to coerce God into doing what we ask simply because we have gathered the requisite number of people to ask it. God’s promises to us should help us submit to his will, not bend him to ours.
Limiting a promise to your own understanding. Even when we rightly recognize a promise as intended for us, we often impose our own understanding of exactly how it will be fulfilled. Or we are tempted to impose our own timeline on its fulfillment. Yes, God does have a plan to prosper you and not to harm you (Jer. 29:11), but as in the case of the people to whom those words were originally written, that “you” is more likely a collective reference to the body of believers, and that plan may play out across centuries in ways we can’t possibly predict. To recognize this intent does not diminish the beauty of the promise at all. It actually enhances it.
Avoiding the Pitfalls
So how can we avoid these promise-claiming pitfalls? Our long-term strategy must be to move from spot knowledge of the Bible to comprehensive knowledge. In the short term, try these helps.
Do your homework. Before you write it on a note card for your fridge, before you post it on Instagram or shop for it on a coffee mug or declare it your life verse, make a thorough study of where your promise lives in Scripture and in biblical history. Make sure it’s a general promise, not a specific promise to someone else or just a general principle to observe. Check for any “ifs” that might change its application.
Check your motive. If a promise in Scripture appeals to you, ask yourself why. What fear or need underlies your desire to claim that promise for yourself? What security are you looking for beyond the soul security guaranteed by Christ? Does claiming that promise help you submit to God’s rule? Are you defining its fulfillment in terms of your own limited understanding? Would its fulfillment help you grow in godliness and humility?
And remember, the Bible is full of unambiguous promises from our triune God that we can celebrate with certainty. Here is a smattering of my favorites:
He promises to give us wisdom if we ask (James 1:5).
He promises to provide a way out of temptation (1 Cor. 10:13).
He promises that our salvation is secure, no matter what (John 10:28–29).
He promises to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5).
He promises to finish the good work he has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).
He promises to come back (Luke 12:40)
These promises are sure and steadfast. Do you notice that they have much more to say about who God is or how he is sanctifying us than about a specific circumstance or outcome? We are not promised certainty in our circumstances, but we are promised certainty in the God of our circumstances. And that is an anchor for the soul.

Praying for Prosperity

For the third time consecutively in weeks, my pastor unapologetically dwelt on prosperity and said that he would pray for the members to prosper.

He used Jer 33:9 as his text

And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.

Somehow, I became worked up. After the church service I told my wife that I am both sad and angry. Since attending NCC, I have been extremely keyed up to know that my pastor has been at the forefront of preaching the gospel of grace, and according to him, bringing about a revolution of grace since the time of the reformation of the gospel of salvation by faith in God’s grace.  I had defended his teachings, enthused others to listen to him, and “marketed” and “promoted” him to others. When this revolution of grace has so much going, to reveal Jesus, to change lives, it has somehow been tainted by this streak of prosperity teaching.  I am saddened that this promised blessing of prosperity (not the prosperity gospel) has turned off many unbelievers, mainline denominations and believers from adopting the essence of grace message as preached by my pastor. Oh…., more would have considered this revolution of grace if not for the addition (adulteration?) in the teachings.

The legacy of the WOF persuasions remains. Don’t get me wrong. I am thankful, have personally been touched and received the Lord’s blessings in both these areas, but do not feel comfortable and convinced with the constant emphasis on health and wealth. There is so much our walk as pilgrims which we can learn about. (see previous posts eg “The Full Counsel of God”, 3 John 2, etc etc). But of course many like the prospect and promise of prosperity, not unlike the religious practices in seeking blessings from the idols, praying for success in career, lottery, life-partner, eg. Goddess of  Mercy temple in Waterloo Street.  But it is a distraction, a distortion of the present time message of the cross.

While the sermon did include a few preceding verses, I came home and read the preceding chapters.

When the book and the contextual circumstances of Jeremiah’s words are considered, I realise that the prosperity in Jer 33:9 makes more sense in terms of the context (relevance) and that prosperity is relative in and with different peoples and cultures.

How is this verse relevant to me?  The promise in v9 is directed for the return and restoration of people of Israel after their captivity and exile, and when the Messiah is revealed and begins to rule (in the millennium?)  To claim and proclaim that the prosperity is specifically for the congregation of believers today borders on presumption.

How do I define prosperity? WOF teachers would not deny that prosperity refers more to material and tangible quantitative possessions, as my pastor teased that if others do not want it, that’s ok, but he gladly wants this blessing.  But how much would be enough? Is it relevant at all to preach the blessing of prosperity to the average believer when Singapore and America ranks amongst the top ten countries in per capital income? And when our church building cost us about US$500M?  The local church indeed has prospered, and so have all believers, the moment we are in Christ.  Should we constantly get believers to be saved, to be “more saved”, or just remind them that they are saved, completely forgiven once for all and are righteous in Christ – saved by grace, standing in grace and strong in grace? So in truth, when believers are truly blessed in all ways always, isn’t the preaching on prosperity tantamount to tempting others to lust beyond what is needful? In the garden, mankind was tempted with legitimated concerns, and in the wilderness, Jesus was tempted – to stay alive (health), and with the glory and riches of the world (wealth).

While the WOF teachers have brought much to the church, there are aberrations. The pulpit can be a source of temptation – when scriptures are twisted, quoted out of context, manipulated to lure people to lust, and to be greedy for prosperity even when we are not destitute (at least not in America or Singapore).

How do I come to such conclusions? I have begun to read the Pentecostal theologian and scholar Gordon Fee’s classic on “How to Read the Bible” – in terms of exegesis and hermeneutics. I truly want to know Jesus, in Truth and Spirit.  I also want to be like a Berean.

Perhaps the following article in full in the next posting might also be of help.

In the article “Which promises are for me?” Jen Wilkin, cautioned that we can be presumptious and misled when promises in the bible are taken out of the context –