Prosperity, Posterity and Pilgrimage (pt 1)

It has been more that a decade since the teachings of health and wealth have been a vexation. Knowing the caution of the evangelicals, and yet immersed in a church that boldly, unflinchingly and persuasively proclaim the WOF tenets. The quest for truth was kept simmering, and my ears and mental radar was ever turned on for all the arguments for and against.

I read widely, often intensively. The sermons, and testimonies on health and wealth in my church (and to the world) were hard to shake off or ignored. Somehow wanting to agree, but yet very much unconvinced.

Now it is clear.

Derek Vreeland in responding to critics of the WOF proponents wrote in RECONSTRUCTING WORD OF FAITH THEOLOGY: A Defense, Analysis and Refinement of the Theology of the Word of Faith Movement
He quoted Hagin – and then quoted Walter Kaiser, the renowned evangelical.

Abraham’s blessing is ours!… Abraham’s blessing was a threefold blessing. The first thing God promised Abraham was that He was going to make him rich. “Do you mean God is going to make us all rich?” Yes, that’s what I mean. “Do you mean He’s going to make us all millionaires?” No, I didn’t say that. But He is going to make us rich. You may not understand what the word “rich” means. The dictionary says it means “a full supply” or “abundantly provided for.” Praise God, there is a full supply in Christ! (Kenneth E. Hagin, Redeemed from Poverty, Sickness, and Spiritual Death, (Tulsa: Faith Library Publications, 1983),

The eulogia tou Abraam – blessing of Abraham – recorded in Galatians 3:14 (a) (my comment below) is a singular blessing (i.e. the justification of Abraham by faith) however the undeniable result of covenant blessing in Old Testament theology is material prosperity.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. observes, “Material blessings in the Old Testament were used by God for various ends. First of all they were given that God might confirm his covenant promise to build a mighty nation.” (b)

God glorified himself in his covenant(s) with Israel by blessing them materially for specific purposes. The provisions of Yahweh were not only spiritual/ceremonial, but material/physical. The Psalmist declares, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” In Word of Faith theology, these material blessing are conferred upon the Christian as the child of Abraham in Christ.

(a) But what about Hebrews 8? “v13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (I still need to be definite and sound in interpreting this). Has the covenant with Abraham been made obsolete? I am still wondering. It is no longer the blessings of Abraham being transmitted to us. It is through Abraham (progeny) that we are blessed in Jesus – “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ ….” (Eph 1:17-23).

(b) It is hard to doubt the reality of material blessings when Walter Kaiser was referenced. But then Kaiser pointed to the grounds for “His covenant promise – to build a mighty nation”! = For a purpose, ie. God’s purpose in Jesus! It is never for the elevation of Abraham or his descendants in the flesh or in the faith. Neither is it for the individualistic or personal gratification of our earthly needs and passions that distract our pilgrimage to Christ and eternity. Primarily it is for the glorification of His Son, and through His Son, we are blessed, having obtained the inheritance of our King and His kingdom.

Yes, we need to move on in God’s program in the land to His purpose in our Lord Jesus!
I can’t delineate the details and development for my fresh convictions about H&W. Progressively and slowly in fuzzy focus (oxymoron), but definitely now, as never before – sound and sensible and significant and satisfying to me personally with conviction. I tended to being a reductionist, so am not meticulous to show biblical evidence exhaustively. But it has fortified my convictions on this matter.

God has a Purpose in Jesus (Eph 1:3-14; Col 1:15-20). When men failed and fell, God being sovereign, already had a Plan (still in the context of His Purpose in Christ) that cannot be thwarted. Fallen men became fearful (Gen 3:10), but God reached out with a Promise to assuage and assure. His Plan would roll out progressively via a Program using people to repossess land judiciously till Jesus personally comes with full and final redemption.

The program began first with reclaiming earthly land for a Messiah to tabernacle in our midst. Then the program would be with our eternal LORD!

The promise tapered from the human race to the Hebraic race in the person of Abraham. Abraham would have a people (Gen 12:2,3;) and he will have a land (Gen 12:7) ie. posterity and property.

It makes sense to me now. To preserve and sustain the posterity and property, God promised health and wealth, so that the land remains in possession for Jesus to be tabernacled in our midst. Why did God expend so much ink to write about genealogies in the OT? It is posterity of the chosen race.  And health and wealth? – To ensure the fulfillment of His program and that His chosen race is resilient and enduring.

With the advent of Jesus, God’s program progresses on, no longer with the transient channel of the land, but with the LORD Himself!

Col 3: 3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

So I am to be preoccupied with the LORD, not with posterity and prosperity in this earthly abode, but with eternal kingdom values and goals.

With the Lord in our hearts, it is no longer prosperity (wealth) and posterity (health), but pilgrimage to the new earth and new heavens.

And Abraham was looking forward to the city that has eternal foundations … not the earthly possessions.

Heb 11: 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

1 Peter 2: 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

The WOF teaching on health and wealth can lead to dire preoccupations that distort the kingdom truth and values, distract us from truly seeking the kingdom of God, and seeking for His will to be done. (Matt 6:10)

But I needed to validate my fresh understanding of God’s Purpose, Plan and Program in Jesus. Health and Wealth – posterity and prosperity are blessings and empowerment in the land for the first coming of Jesus. With Christ having tabernacled in the land, and having finished His work on the cross, it is now about my LORD and my pilgrimage to the eternal realm. I am merely a sojourner waiting for my eternal inheritance in the LORD – an alien and stranger here, better not be too comfortable and attached to things that are earthly, temporal and transient.

I needed to validate my thoughts. I prayed, searched, and was led to dive into biblical theology. Not being a pastor or bible college student with much reference materials, my task was inadequate and imperfect. I could only resort to whatever I had accumulated (Wordsearch, Logos, etc) and Google, and then use “cheat sheets’ of book reviews, synopsis, the ‘look inside’ within Amazon books etc. It has been satisfying.

More of this in the next post.

Shalom.

Phil 3:
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

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The Red Apple Syndrome

Andrew Goh is more than wise, and witty.  He is also a wordsmith!  His editorial is always my first read whenever the Impact Magazine comes in the mail. In the latest edition, (https://www.impact.com.sg/single-post/2017/01/23/Words-And-Even-More-Words)  he quoted M. Slozberg, and added on with his usual uncanny insights –

 Miriam Slozberg cautions: “We know that the benefits of using Social Media are profound. Through social networking, many businesses have grown, and individual users have blossomed many great friendships and found support when needed. Social Media can be a huge blessing. However, at the same time, if you are not careful with how you use it, Social Media can be a huge curse.”

Apparently what we post on Social Media is never lost (shades of “once saved, always saved”?) She adds: “What you put out in your social networks is out there forever. Just imagine a potential employer or collaborator reading a Facebook post of you ranting about how you hate life or using every curse word in the book – you can kiss your opportunity goodbye.”

The “Delete” button is misleading once “Send” has been pressed.

Truly, here’s the gift that keeps on giving … even when we don’t want any more of it, thank you. But as the British say so well, “in for a penny, in for a pound”. And what a pounding it has been.

Matthew 12:36 (KJV): “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”

Idle words? Hmmm. Hitting the nail, right on the head. No exaggeration. Enough said.

 

Indeed, “what we post on Social Media is never lost” and how it reminds me of timeless words of James Chapter 3

“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

 

Social norms and civility has probably curbed gossips uttered or passed on to the few we come in contact.  But words, through social media as comments, critiques, criticisms, opinions, observations – has a life of its own, far beyond the reaches of our tongues – reaching to people and groups we hardly envisage or imagine!

So what do people blog or babble about?  Anything and everything!

And it is becoming a syndrome (google – a characteristic combination of opinions, emotions, or behaviour)

 

THE RED APPLE

There was a group a boys, wandering, – and wondering, at an apple tree, with one red apple and ninety nine green apples. One of them challenged – yes you guessed it – ‘who can bring down the red apple with a stone’.

Why the red apple? Why did the world’s press and news columns pick on LKY or Singapore?  You get the idea.  There’s more glory and glee than hitting a green apple

Many years ago, I hosted two Swiss scientists at the China Town Hawker Center.  One of them said, “Oh, where are the policemen?”  He had read that Singapore was a police state.  I teased in return “Not so loud, they are all around us, in plain clothes”.  Or the occasion when my UBC professors who came here twenty years ago realised that what they read in Canada about Singapore were not factual, but fabricated!  (e.g. http://honestreporting.com/)

Comments are free.  But they must be factual and fair.

Why do so many blog about my pastor Joseph Prince? Because he’s like the red apple – too prominent and prodigious.  The film star / celebrity portrait on his bestselling books. The outstanding (architecturally I mean or is it outlandish?) church he pastors. The thousands (millions via TV) who eagerly and enthusiastically watch and listen to him. The testimonies that extol the impact and influence of his Grace sermons.

 

No it can’t be.  How can a tiny nation Singapore pull off so many achievements that elude even Western (better?) countries? How can an Asian LKY be respected and consulted even by world (western) statesman?  No, it can’t be – and so those who hold the pen would bring forth their searchlights and scour all that comes forth from LKY, and even resort to tarnish our beloved founder statesman and our nation. There’s glory and glee in blogging about a red apple.

 

W Safire definitely wasn’t a fan, and writing about Singapore and LKY probably garnered more mileage than writing about a green apple.

I found a transcript of a 1999 interview – LKY faced off with Safire, – speechwriter for US president, NYT renowned columnist. His views and writings were as free as the US could be, and LKY was more than a match when giving him an audience. And in his usual style, LKY was sharper, faster. Factual, fair-handed. In comparison, WS was out of his depth.

 

LKY to William Safire : [Laughs] I am not saying that. You are reducing it. You are caricaturing what I am saying.

WS: Here comes a prickly question. You mentioned corruption and nepotism earlier today. What about Singapore? Would your son be Deputy Prime Minister if he were not your son?

LKY: If he were not my son, he would be the Prime Minister. I’ll tell you honestly, I stopped him, because he can run faster than any of the others. But I told him it would do him no good. Just stay out of this race. And his generation, his peers, know that I am not boasting when I tell you this.

WS: So you don’t foresee a dynasty?

LKY: I am not that bereft of satisfaction with my life that I need to live vicariously through him. In fact, if he doesn’t measure up, it is better that he does not show up, because he’ll just besmirch the family reputation.

WS: About your book. You just wrote a book; I bought the book.

LKY: Where did you buy the book?

WS: In Washington, D.C. It wasn’t easy, but I found it. Have there been any negative reviews of your book in Singapore?

LKY: A few. Not written by Singaporeans.

WS: But published in Singapore?

A: Oh, yes. By xxxxxxx. Condemning it day by day. It’s dutifully published. It gives me publicity. [Laughs] Look. I can stand that. Not to worry.

 

“It gives me publicity”!  Yes that’s something.  I found out one local blogger having 19 postings on Joseph Prince. (I’ve yet to find out how many postings he made on those in his fellowships. OK, I understand, they have to be red apples).

Indeed comments on social media are free.  But are they factual and fair-handed?  I do my due diligence – for myself. Its life and death!  Have I been listening to a false teacher? Well, I always tell myself, my mind and senses must be like a parachute – it only works when it is open.  And I don’t think I am superficial.  I too scour words and precepts that are preached and proclaimed, “in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain” (Galatians 2)  But my conclusions are definitely not final and conclusive.  As Paul wrote “I know whom I believe” (2 Tim 1) and “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3).  So I rather spend my time truly knowing Him, and making Him known, rather than spend my time focusing on things, ideas, concepts, opinions, people   –  writing about what and where I ate for breakfast, or my observation and opinion on this and that, and who and who. Oops sorry, I am now guilty of being free with my opinions.  I better watch out, or I end up having policemen, psychiatrists and social workers (from Andrew Goh’s editorial mentioned earlier) ticking to follow me in my blogs  .  If anyone, I rather that I’m being followed by the Companion, the Comforter, the Covering, the Captain, the Counsellor Whom my Lord Jesus sent to guide my in my pilgrimage.

If you came this far reading, thank you for reading. My opinions, observations, conclusions are far from final.  Only Jesus is real and true.  May you know HIM, for this is eternal life, that you know HIM.

What Is the Full Counsel of God – revisited

In June 2016 I mused on “What is the Full Counsel of God?”

https://wwwpilgrim.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/what-is-the-full-counsel-of-god/

When I read J.D. Greear’s recent article this afternoon, I remarked to my wife – it appears that God, during these last days is dispensing His Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Eph 1:15-23) extensively to His people, that His bride may be enlightened and dive deeper into His plan, purpose and program in Jesus!

http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2017/01/jesus-from-genesis-to-revelation.html#more-20149

If there is any seemingly “fresh” or “original” or “unprecedented clarification” of scriptures, we can only attribute it to the SOLE initiative of our Sovereign God to dispense His wisdom to enlighten and equip His people. No one can take glory or credit for His truth that originated in eternity before time “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth”.

Even when man did goofed, God’s plan and purpose could no and never be thwarted, and in His wise and awesome style and panache, already had in place a program to redeem, cleanse, sanctify and perfect us in Christ !!!!! (Eph chap 1)

This was covered in J.D. Greear’s article, which I quote in part below.  Do refer to it and read the entire article – I am sure it will warm your soul and spirit to know that God’s Full Counsel is the Fullness of His Son in saving us, in cleansing us so that He could then dwell in us sinful people.  Thank you Jesus, thank you.  May my vision of You be ever fresh each day.

“Just after his resurrection, Jesus appeared to a couple of his disciples on the road to Emmaus, and began to explain to them—from Moses and all the prophets, how every story in the Old Testament had been about him. He was trying to give them confidence that he really was who he had told them he was.

You might think that the resurrection itself was enough proof. But evidently Jesus believed it would be even more convincing to show them that every single page of a book written by more than 30 different authors over the space of 1,500 years had consistently told one story, and it was all about him.”

 

http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2017/01/jesus-from-genesis-to-revelation.html#more-20149

What is the Full Counsel of God?

Of late, I have been pondering the meaning and significance of the full counsel of God that many allude to when discussing or deliberating on the primary mission and message of churches.  Would those who postulate this know for certainty?  I searched, and the closest was from John Piper (still incomplete, in my opinion) The scant reference in Acts 20 can be rather vague and hard to pin down.  It was an issue I had to settle for myself.  And then the impression came, Jesus would have definitely revealed the full counsel of God.  But did He do so during His 3 years of teaching ministry?  It was a daunting task, as His ministry, messages and manifestations of power and authority in towns and shores of Judea and Galilee, and in Jerusalem do not hint of a coherent full central counsel or plan and purpose for His kingdom!

But what about His teachings after His death, in the short span of 40 days?  Like Paul, I pray that the Lord will open my heart and mind by giving me a spirit of wisdom and revelation – to know Him (Eph 1:17-21)

 

Luke 24 13 Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

17 And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”

18 Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

19 And He said to them, “What things?”

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

28 Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. 29 But they constrained Him, saying, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” And He went in to stay with them.

30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.

 

Cleopas and his companion were deep in discussion about the One who died. (some suggest that the companion was his wife – man and woman – a pattern of Adam and Eve  – whose eyes were also opened to see and know and choose the new creation in the True Tree of Life). They thought they knew the One whom they were talking about, and even asked Jesus – “Huh, everyone knows what happened, are you the only one who is ignorant?”

18 “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”

19 And He said to them, “What things?”

So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. 21 But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. 22 Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. 23 When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. 24 And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”

 

So Cleopas and wife appear to know about Jesus, His Words, His Works, His Death, and even His Resurrection!  No no, they did not and could not recognize or know Him (v16)

25 Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

 

With their natural spirit and sight, they could not accept, appreciate or adore Jesus. So Jesus in this short passing encounter, unveiled Himself from the scriptures, beginning with Moses, and all the Prophets; and their spiritual eyes were opened and they knew Him.  Jesus had to chide them for their ignorance of the scriptures and the slowness of heart to believe (for faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ – Rom 10:17).

At Emmaus, Jesus only had time to unveil the books of Moses and the Prophets – and that was sufficient at that moment to open their spiritual eyes of faith to know Him.  But it would get better.  When He met the rest, He continued where he left off and opened their minds to understand and believe the whole counsel in Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (writings)

 

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations

 

So I believe that the teachings and clarifications and exposition of Jesus after His resurrection give us a clue to the central focus and the core foundation of God’s plan, purpose and program – for the very reason the scriptures are “written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations …”.

The central focus and the core foundation of God’s plan, purpose and program is Jesus, Who came Grace upon Grace so that men may repent, and be forgiven of their sins.  It’s all about Jesus and His message and His mission.

 IT IS THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL OF GRACE!   Romans 1:16,17

IT IS THE INDICATIVES and INHERITANCE OF our LIFE AND LEGACY IN CHRIST!

Acts 10:43

So Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20

26 “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all , 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

 

He only spent 3 years with the Ephesian believers.  He would not be guilty if he could not complete instructions for the Levitical feasts and festivals, or the wanderings and wars of the Davidic and Divided kings, or the poetry and prose of the writings.  But Paul would not be innocent of the blood of all if he did not preach Christ and His redemptive plan, purpose and program as typified in all the scriptures, from Genesis to Malachi, and from the accounts of those who were with Jesus, and from what Jesus taught him personally!

Ezekiel 33:6-9  – not innocent of blood!

Paul told the Colossians

 

“I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

 

Ephesians 1

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons  to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His willby Jesus Christ to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. 11 In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, 12 that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.

13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

Matthew 21:42; 26:56;

Mark 14:49b

John 5:

… the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

 

 

#Emphasis in bold in scriptural passages is by this blogger

 

P/S  added on 11th Jan 2017  –  a fresh post “What is the Full Counsel of God – revisited” which refers to J.D. Greear’s article on 10 Jan 2017 on “Every Book of the Bible Is About Jesus”  http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2017/01/jesus-from-genesis-to-revelation.html#more-20149

 

 

 

 

Motives and methods in ministry

1 Thessalonians 2 paints a picture of Paul as Christ’s minister, model and mentor.

1 Thessalonians 2:But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.10 You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”

The Master, His Mandate, His Message. The minister, his motive and methods

v4 – Paul is so captivated and riveted by the Master Who saved and sent him that his sole purpose in life and ministry was to please HIM (see blog on “Jesus cannot be displaced or misplaced”).  And God could attest to Paul (v4, 5, 10) as a minister, to the message Paul delivered, and to the ministry he was involved in and methods he employed.  He was devout, just and blameless.

Paul was transparent in his motive – only to please his Master Who tests his heart.  Paul not only declared his motive verbally, his motivations and methods were also visible (v10 ‘you are witnesses’).  Other people are great mirrors, especially those close to us.  For those who have leadership roles and responsibilities, then it would be the members and followers.  On the other hand, members could be so enamoured by the leaders and become short-sighhted and deluded, especially when the motives, message and methods are rationalized, justified, distorted and explained away (‘flattering words’).  When followers or observers comment, the tendency is to shut off those who defer, and to disparage the feedback.  Or to use the false authority invested upon leadership to control and intimidate – “made demands as apostles of Christ“ or twisting the scripture – ‘Touch not the Lord’s annointed’.  I deem feedback to be positive as it can spur me on to re-think / review my position, and to search deep to surface issues to the light.  A parachute will only work when it is open.

It is possible for me to promote a noble motive, more so when I need others out there to support me, to work with or for my vision and objective. (I am reminded of what Walt Henricksen said – to serve is to help the other person fulfil what God has placed in his heart, not to get the other to serve the leader’s vision). Paul knew this too, he said “For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness” (v5).  Paul went on – “Nor did we seek glory from men”.  Even starting out sincerely to serve Jesus, I could be distracted, duped and deceived by self and satan (birds of the air) in my service.  It begins with a man whom the Lord calls, and blesses with a ministry which grew into a movement, but could become a monument.

Paul served His Master, and sacrificially ministered to others (v4, vv7-12)

He was a mother – nourishing them with the milk of the word when they were babes in Christ, nursing them when they were hurt and harmed, and nurturing – protecting and perfecting them to grow to full maturity.

He was a father – modelling the life of Christ in all His attributes, working out the fruit of the Spirit, mentoring them as they grow and glow in the new creation life, and maturing them into the fullness of Christ.

I guess that the mandate Jesus gave Peter was also delivered to Paul.  Feed my lambs (like a mother), feed my sheep (like a father).  Feed, not fleece (‘covetousness’}.  Minister, not manipulate (‘cloak’).

Who Is Speaking the Truth

This morning a newspaper report pointed me to the blog above. Within, the blogger had an entry “Deception, Witchcraft & Sorcery” and appended material from Derek Prince.  (There was another sad entry – that’s how I came across this blog – about a dear brother leaving his church.  It is also about other dear brothers who are covered and cleansed by the blood of Jesus.)

My take on this – we must be vigilant not to let the ‘birds’ infiltrate into the church, influence our thinking and teaching, our values (next blog on ‘The minister, his motives and methods’).  This dear brother wrote –

‘what I’ve been seeing and tolerating – wrongful labelling, quick to take credit and to pass the buck, betrayal, slander, ingratitude, denial and lies, manipulation and control, greed, pride, hypocrisy, abuse of authority, practice of favoritism and different standards.  it is exacerbated when it is perpetrated by top leaders, including those who taught us that the Word is supreme and that obedience to the Word equals loving God.  Leadership cannot be measured by words but by action.  Nobody qualifies to lead, or to preach what he cannot practise in real life.  More than anything, these are foremost issues of spiritual and moral significance. I realize these are strong words, but nevertheless I do believe no one has to be afraid of speaking the truth.  Otherwise we are in bondage to man and their man-made rules.’

I further googled and found 4 pdf by Derek Prince on the same subject.  Deception comes from within the church! It is so easy for us to be naive and gullible when scriptures are quoted by qualified, gifted and dedicated believers.  I don’t doubt that there is truth spoken by all, but I just need to be discerning.  (This reminds me of a 3 part sermon in print given by D Prince warning his fellow workers in 1996 on ‘Protection From Deception – Navigating Through The Minefield Of Signs And Wonders”.  I can forward it to any who writes in to Pilgrimgoinghome@gmail.com)

The birds of the air

I have heard and read (even from foremost theologians) that the “birds’ which came to rest in the mustard tree (parable of Jesus) are needy people who take shelter within the church.  It was not until I read from a Messianic Jew that the key to understand this parable had already been given by Jesus in the first parable of the Sower, the seed, the soil, and the serpent (deceiver).  The birds have come into the church!!  People who make decisions for the believers can be the source of doubting God (not of faith), distraction (anything else apart from Jesus), distortion (of God’s true teaching in His words), and deception.

Once, someone said that his church pastor felt that people might get jaded if they partake of the Communion memorial of bread and wine weekly.  Hence they do it monthly, and because of the packed program list for the Sunday Service (worship singing, announcement, message etc).   So I asked “How often does your pastor speak?”; “How often does the church pass the offering bag?”  I wondered aloud “It would be great then if the offering is made once in a while, people will definitely give wholeheartedly and not grudgingly, and if the pastor speaks once in many weeks, people would always look forward eagerly to the freshness of the sermon, instead of feeling jaded by the same speaker.”

No, when we keep Christ central in our church life, He brings freshness in all ways, always.  His life and death, His imputed righteousness, His abundance of inheritance etc is for us to remember and appropriate.  That is why He only spoke about this (in the first person, directly) many many years after he ascended, to the Corinthians about remembering Him in the memorial feast.

Keep the birds out.  Beware of distortion and deception from within the community of God’s people.

JESUS cannot be replaced, displaced or misplaced

“… all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”  (Col 1:16,17)

Many years ago, I attended the launch of a book on Israel.  The author pointed out that Israelology is often excluded from bible schools and seminaries, and supported the inclusion of Israelology  as part of Systematic Theology as advocated by Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum.  He inserted Israelology in a list on the board, giving equal weightage to all the topics

During the break, I recalled what Frank Viola had wrote ( http://frankviola.org/2009/10/07/deep-ecclesiology/ ) and wondered whether we could categorise systematic theology thus ..

CHRISTOLOGY

Bibliology         Theology Proper

Pneumatology   Angelology

Anthropology    Hamartiology

Soteriology       Ecclesiology

Eschatology     Israelology      Etc

Since then, Frank Viola (also with Leonard Sweet) put out other articles along the same vein

http://frankviola.org/2010/07/26/losing-track-of-jesus-plus-news/

http://frankviola.org/2009/06/22/a-jesus-manifesto-by-leonard-sweet-and-frank-viola/

And for the past fortnight, I watched Jacob Prasch speaking on “Christ the Foundation, When Truth Becomes A Lie”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TyZuLExjb8

I am glad that the Lord brings modern day ‘Philips’ into my life, and just unveil Jesus in the scriptures –

Acts 8: 35 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus …”

John 5:39  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me