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.

Law IN GRACE

The following is one of the entry from the web when googling on the subject of Grace, from https://www.gotquestions.org/law-vs-grace.html

Question: “Law vs. grace—why is there so much conflict among Christians on the issue?” Answer: One side says, “Salvation is by grace and grace alone.” The other side counters, “That idea leads to lawlessness. God’s righteous standard in the Law must be upheld.” And someone else chimes in with, “Salvation is by grace, but grace only comes to those who obey God’s Law.” At the root of the debate are differing views on the basis of salvation. The importance of the issue helps fuel the intensity of the discussion.

Somehow, probably unintentionally, the law is pitted against Grace, while others would approach this perennial issue as “Law and Grace”.  The image that comes to my mind is that of a see-saw, with Law and Grace placed on either ends, with each teaching / principle as having valid and justifiable claim in our faith, and the weightage accorded to teaching dependent on our denominational and traditional persuasion and preference.

Two nights ago, I attended a session titled “Law and Grace” conducted by a clergyman who also wrote a book of the same title. The introduction to his book stated

“Super or hyper grace teaching is gaining both adherents and detractors across continents and denominations. Those in support of this teaching find new liberty from guilt and condemnation in its emphasis on the grace of God; while others question the denigration of the law of God and the manner in which Scripture is interpreted. Without a doubt, the message has mass appeal; with the messengers who deliver the teaching being both charming and eloquent greatly aiding the cause. Is this a fresh revelation from God, or a deception of the devil? Why is Grace teaching so compelling, yet divisive? Are law and grace—both of God—truly opposed to each other? What is the root issue over which we are all concerned?”

The author was fair and factual to state that the debate on Law and Grace is not new, but has been on raging for centuries, delineating the drifts and swings as in a pendulum.  The guess is it might swing from the current popularity of Grace teaching to the demands of the Law in the future.

So this subject of Law and Grace has been observed as the opposite appeals of God’s truth, with each teaching having equal legitimacy and validity.  So now, we not only have the image of a see-saw, but that of a pendulum – “Law and Grace”.

The author upheld the biblical narrative that God dwelt with man in Grace before the Law was given – reaching out to man’s fall with Grace by providing the garments made out of the bloodied skins. He was sound in clarifying the scriptural intention of the law, and submitted that each has to form his own conclusion, from his own study of scriptures. He was very neutral, and accurately reported on the current developments in Singapore, the persuasions and preferences of believers drawn from the diverse institutional and denominational spectrum.

I just had to interject.  I noted that it has been inadequately (or even incorrectly termed) as  “Law and Grace”, “Law vs Grace”.  But from the dawn of world redemption, God has always been reaching out to us in Grace.  And the best way to understand the law in the OT would be to see what Jesus Christ and His apostles (ie the NT) has to say about the law.  I brought up how John understood in John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  And how Hebrews 3:1-6 tells us that Moses was a servant, while Jesus IS THE SON!

So I advocated that this subject of Law and Grace should be definitively be titled as Law in Grace

 

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

The ESSENCE of WORSHIP

Many years ago, I moved, and began to visit a few churches in the neighborhood to find one my family could settle in.  We ended up in a Pentecostal church just 4 blocks from our home. The only reason we chose this fellowship was the exuberance of worship which I was seeking. Why was worship the criteria rather than the doctrinal, ministry and teaching aspects? Somehow, worship is something I value and relish.  Not endowed with a wide vocabulary, my personal worship in prayer is so limited and short. Whereas worshiping in the church with the lyrics flowing on helped me to see God in his Glory and Greatness. One of the churches we visited was definitely sound and solid in the bible.  But when I thumbed through the church hymnal, I could literally count about 25 hymns / songs devoted entirely to the worship of God out of 600 songs in the hymnal! The other songs were all about our Christian lives – e.g. Onward Christian Soldier etc etc.

John Philips observed that Worship takes precedence over our walk and work before the Lord, as recounted in Hebrews 11!

Heb 11:4  Abel          Worship

Heb 11:5  Enoch       Walk

Heb 11:7  Noah         Work

Wanting to really worship and enjoy my Lord,  I listed down passages (25 years ago) on worship with the help of a concordance; and read books on the subject.  And the outcome is an outline which can be read in its entirety here.

Outline of The Essence of Worship with scriptural references

I read books which describe the worship services of various denominations, complete with the liturgy; while others speak of the value of worship.  I realized that believers expressed their worship in diverse ways, according to their culture, denominational creed and the conditioning (influence) of the group they identify and grow up with. Regardless of the outward expression of the worship, the experience of God is always personal; having been touched by His Holy Spirit and responding with awe and amazement.  And before I can even experience and express my worship, I believe I need to be convicted of what the Almighty God has to say about worship ie. The Essence of Worship.  Knowing the essence would definitely help me to come to Him, in season and out of season.

And the experience of worship flows from us in expressions and forms consistent with our conviction, our culture, the circumstances and context of the gathering, our exposure and upbringing (conditioning) and our character and temperament.  The various expressions of worship as in the various churches and cultures must be seen in this light.  We do not have to be twins to be brothers and sisters. We only need to love, adore and worship our Heavenly Father to be brothers and sisters

 

“Where was Moses bringing the children of Israel when they left Egypt?”  The normal response is “the promised land.”  Yet that’s not true.  He was headed for Mount Horeb, or Sinai.  Remember God’s words to Pharaoh, through Moses, “let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert.”  (Ex 7:16)  John Bevere in ‘Drawing Near’

Worship 1

THE ESSENCE OF WORSHIP

  1. THE WORSHIP WHICH GOD DESERVES
    1. He is the Sovereign   – worship Him for Who He Is
    2. He is my Saviour    –     worship Him for what He has done

     2.  THE WORSHIP WHICH GOD DESIRES

      3.  THE WORSHIP WHICH GOD DELIGHTS

      4.  THE WORSHIP WHICH GOD DEMANDS

“Worship is to be exercised now or it will be enforced later”

“In commanding us to worship Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

 

Worship 2

THE EXPERIENCE OF WORSHIP

My soul yearns, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God…”  Ps 84

  1. OUR WORSHIP MUST BE SPIRITUAL
  2. OUR WORSHIP MUST BE SCRIPTURAL

“… the context of our worship is the doctrinal system of the Bible.  Whether in preaching or praise or prayer, every activity will be governed by the truths of the Bible.  The first question to be asked is not whether some aspect of our worship is helpful or stimulating or enjoyable, but whether it is true. … It is the ultimate criterion, namely the self-disclosure of God who has spoken clearly and decisively to men.”   (in ‘Christian Worship’ by Herbert M. Carson.)

  1. OUR WORSHIP MUST BE SINCERE

Hos 6:6      “I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.”

Matt 9:13

Matt 12:1-8        (What our Lord emphasized here was that the act of sacrificing and offering must ever be accompanied by the consistent life and sincere attitude of the offerer, if his worship is to be acceptable.  If the choice is between strict observance of ritual, and goodness and sincerity of life; then the latter must always take the precedence.)

 

Worship 3

THE EXPRESSION OF WORSHIP

” … Declare the praise of Him who called you …”  I Pet 2:9

  1. WORSHIP IS VERBAL

            In Praise

   In Songs 

  1. WORSHIP IS VISIBLE

Gen 24:26         “Then the man bowed down and worshipped the LORD,”

From the book “Worship” by R. Allen pg 132 :-

“We are not simply spirit beings.  We are more that hearts or souls or ‘inner beings.’  We are persons possessing an intricate complex or physical and spiritual realities.  We who worship God truly with the heart, do so with our physical bodies as well.

We err if we think that by merely doing an act we will necessarily be different, posture being a means to the end or worship.  We may often find that the outward act might well lead to an inward reality.  Eugene H. Peterson explains this in commenting on Psalm 134 with its command to lift up one’s hands.

We are invited to bless the Lord; we are commanded to bless the Lord.  And then someone say, “But I don’t feel like it.  And I won’t be a hypocrite.  I can’t bless the Lord if I don’t feel like blessing the Lord.  It wouldn’t be honest.”

The biblical response to that is, “Lift up your hands to the holy place, and bless the Lord!”  You can lift up your hands regardless of how you feel; it is a simple motor movement.  You may not be able to command your heart, but you can command your arms.  Lift your arms in blessing, just maybe your heart will get the message and be lifted up also in praise.  We are psychosomatic beings; body and spirit are intricately interrelated.  Go through the motions of blessing God and your spirit will pick up the cue and follow along.  “For why do men lift their hands when they pray?  Is it not that their hearts may be raised at the same time to God?”

If we always waited until we felt like worshipping, we might not worship at all.  We simply do not jump out of bed every Sunday morning shouting “Hallelujah, today we get to worship the living God!”  There are likely some Sunday mornings in which we barely make it to church at all.  But there are times among those “down” mornings when we are surprised by the grace of God and we find ourselves worshipping in spirit in truth.  That would not have happened if we had not first got our bodies (to church) in motion.

“Heart worship and body worship are not mutually exclusive, they complement each other.  “To tie it all together – we simply can’t be spiritual without being physical.  For man was never created to be either just a soul or just a body.  We are not one or the other, but both.”  -Peter E. Gillquist in ‘The Physical Side of Being Spiritual’

 

  1. WORSHIP IS VIBRANT

“The person and nature of God can be seen by the worship displayed by His people.”

Christianity Today ran a splendid article by J. Daniel Baumann on the importance of true worship.  Baumann argued in the article that “biblical worship … is celebration” … insisting that “the characteristic note of Old Testament worship is exhilaration.  He explains  ‘That is not to say we are to be flippant or careless (see Ps 89:7), nor that we gather in order to exchange emotional highs and get spiritual goose pimples.  When I was a child, I was given to occasional restlessness during church services.  I was admonished to “sit still, you’re in church.”  Somehow I got the wrong message.  My folks never intended it – but I was getting the impression that God was a grouch; I wasn’t convinced I could even enjoy him.  I’ve changed my mind, or, better yet, the Bible is changing my mind.’

Charles H. Spurgeon wrote :  “There are no people in the world who have such a right to be happy, nor have such cause to be joyful as the saints of the living God …  Why, brethren, true praise sets the heart ringing its bells, and hanging out its streamers.  Never hang your flag at half-mast when you praise God; no, run up every colour, let every banner wave in the breeze, and let all the powers and passions of your spirit exult and rejoice in God your Saviour.”

Herbert M. Carson in ‘Christian Worship’ :

“A healthy stirring of the emotions is produced by the truth of God applied by the Holy Spirit to the mind and conscience and will.  It is from that impact of the Word that the deepest emotional experiences emerge, and it is here that we find the secret of the depth of feeling associated in Scripture with true worship.  It was this appreciation of the truth which led the psalmist to tears of repentance.  It was truth also which stirred him to joy and gladness, and at times to exaltation of spirit.  A false emotionalism acts like a drug which dulls the sensitivities even while it seems to stimulate, so that the addict needs more frequent and stronger doses.  A true emotional stirring is one that not only stimulates us to worship, but deepens our spiritual zest and gives us a capacity as well as a passionate desire for deeper experiences of the fullness of God.

It is possible to err in this matter is different ways.  There are congregations where the stress is all on objective truth.   There is little scope for emotional release and the result is a people who are strong in doctrinal knowledge, but apparently dull in spirit.  The service of worship in such a situation can become frigid and lifeless.  At the other extreme are those who live in a state of constantly induced excitement.  The subjective element has taken over as the objective has receded.  The result is a sorry condition of superficiality where all too often people are ready to grasp at any new novelty, and to be led astray by all kinds of doctrinal aberrations.

 

Worship 4

Worship is far more rooted deep within our heart, mind and spirit than we can ever imagine.  It emanates from our knowledge of God, of Who He Is, What He Is to us, and what He has done in our lives.

Knowing His demand for our worship, His desire for our worship, His delight in our worship and His worthiness of our worship propels us to acknowledge His Supremacy and Lordship, adore His Highness and Majesty and appreciate His Mercy, Grace and Peace.  This conviction drives us to exalt His glory and to enjoy His greatness.

This experience of worship flows from us in expressions and forms consistent with our conviction, our culture, the circumstances and context of the gathering, our exposure and upbringing (conditioning) and our character and temperament.  The various expressions of worship as in the various churches and cultures must be seen in this light.  We do not have to be twins to be brothers and sisters. We only need to love, adore and worship our Heavenly Father to be brothers and sisters.

 

Living Sacrifices
The believer’s worship can now be found in Rom 12:1-2 – that which is spiritual, sincere and sanctified by obedience to scriptural truth.

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

 

REPENTANCE – the Hebraic Mindset

Having gain wide acceptance and appreciation for his Gospel of Grace messages through hundreds of TV broadcasts per week, and through his books, J Prince might feel undaunted by the negative comments towards his teachings. Staff might also have insulated him from being affected by blocking others from accessing his facebook pages etc so that he could focus on ministry matters.

Prayerfully, there would not be the boldness and brashness in attempting clever interpretations now that recognition has been attained.

Could this have been the case for his interpretation of Repentance as being a “change of mind“?  So many might be justified in observing that Prince’s understanding might be inadequate and incomplete, but still not false, and not flawed – only feeble (weak).

Prince is absolutely correct, as the original word for repentance is the Greek word “metanoia“. (What about the Hebraic equivalent?) This has brought much disquiet from detractors, whether theological academia or pastoral.

Personally I believe the understanding of scriptures is not just knowing what the single word means. Words have meanings only in the context of phrases and sentences, and in the milieu of the society and culture of the people. Or to put it in the context of Hermeneutics, the historical, grammatical, chronological, cultural, anthropological and EMOTIONAL context.

“Metanoia” cannot be explained in isolation.  The concept, not just the word is enveloped in a relational face-off with the Almighty Holy God, and a personal self-realization that one is wrong, and need changing.  This change would include many many dimensions, and is not limited to mental assent or agreement to fresh input or knowledge.  When I know I am lost, and am standing in the wrong spot, I don’t just turn my head, I change real-estate, and I move, or revamp and remove and overhaul any encumbrance that caused me to be lost!

So I believe the response and reactions generated from Prince’s teaching on “metanoia” is warranted.  Perhaps Prince should re-view this and examined how the people of the Bible understand the issue of repentance.

John Parsons have written extensively about Hebrew For Christians.  He wrote many articles on Teshuvah, the OT act of repenting and returning to Jehovah. Perhaps we may have a more comprehensive and complete teaching from the Hebraic perspective on Repentance. (I am appending snapshots of the article too, in case some cannot access the link)

Teshuvah, Metanoia and Strepho by John Parsons

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Confession of SIN 1 John 1:9

Confession of SIN, confession of sins.

NCC’s pastor KM was on the phone.  He told me that J Prince had a new book and would like to send one to me, though it was yet to be released officially.  But he cautioned that there might be some stuff difficult to comprehend and accept, and that JP was apprehensive whether it would go down well.  I asked what was the issue, and he said it was about confession of sins.

“Oh” I rejoined – “it’s not an issue with me.  Prince’s conviction is correct.”  And I went on to offer to send him a few articles from my personal reading and study.  I am not sure about how those articles had helped KM.  Much later, when Prince was preaching on this topic, he shared that he was aware of the ripples – no – more like tidal waves it would cause.  But something that he came across spurred him on.  And there is now no turning back!

Either the waves of this teaching has washed away the debris from the ‘sacred cows’ and Confirmation Bias in thousands of believers (like the washing of feet caked with dust, or the washing of the Word [Eph 5:26] or the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit [Tit 3:5] ) and illuminated our hearts and liberated us from legalistic shackles, OR the waves have crash against the bedrocks of various denominational creeds and convictions. The latter has been real and relentless. Collateral damage to holding on and handing on a truth that liberates and anchor us in our liberty and life of Christ! Romans 10:17 tells me that when Christ speaks, His Word to me engenders faith, not fear. Faith in believing when He says “I do not condemn you, you are forgiven  for I have justified you, redeemed you, and imputed to you My Righteousness. I will contend for your freedom, for I am your Advocate”  (1 John 2:1-2; 2:12)

 

When I was first exposed to Prince’s version of 1 John 1:9, I was skeptical and doubtful.  I had to check up for myself. And the delightful outcome were the following :-

 

1)  Total Forgiveness and the Confession of Sin, a study and message by John MacArthur on 1 John 1:8-10

https://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/62-8/total-forgiveness-and-the-confession-of-sin

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6GA4nPW4QDxRHN6ZjV6WFB4UzQ

2)   Confession – Truth or Chains, a study by James R Owen 2004.  (I can no longer find the original link, which seemed to have disappeared from cyber space, or trace this James Owen.  Let me know if anyone out there has the link.  Thank you.  However, if anyone care to read, one can read it from Pilgrim Sojourner’s Google Drive –

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6GA4nPW4QDxSlJlQV9HWkphOTA

3) “Should Christians Confess Their Sins” – a study by Dr Christian Pope of Sanctification.com.  I corresponded with him briefly years ago, and he said, yes, his name is really Christian Pope!  But his website has been revamped as he is now very much into the Hebraic Root of our Faith, and that study is no longer on his website.  However, I just wrote to him asking about it. Again, its on my Google Drive –

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B6GA4nPW4QDxSkVvZWp5aTdGbVU

 

I am more of an Ethiopian first, then a Berean.  Read and listen to what others have to teach, then study and verify.  I put on my parachute which only works when it is open, and hold my Confirmation Bias in abeyance.

 

In my own journey and pilgrimage of faith, I am learning along the way. A lifelong journey!

Acts 8: 31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

 

I invite you to come into my life and teach me, for how can I understand unless someone guides me

 

 

Denominational loyalties and Confirmation Bias

Many years ago, I read a sermon by a relative who was also a pastor in a local church.  Somehow, the message drifted into the scenario concerning mega-churches and charismatic pastors in Singapore.  He said that many pastors in mega churches were not accredited or ordained, and as such has no real legitimacy in teaching the scriptures, unlike his denomination, and obviously hinting that he was ordained, with a Rev. to his name.

And recently I read something similar in a blog on Ecclesiology and the lack of it.

…. A group of Christians coming together at a member’s home for worship and bible study, is not a Church. A group of Christians coming together to have a memorial “Lord’s Supper” is not a Church. A Church is where God rules and reigns through the ordained ministers, elders and deacons He gave to His Church! No ordination, no Church! God may be present of course, since God is always present where two or three Christians come together for prayer (Mt. 18:20), but that is not the Church. God after all is omnipresent, so just because God works salvation through sharing of testimony does not make the gathering where the testimony is shared is the Church.

….. They have no real offices and no ordained ministers, thus they are not real churches. Since they are not churches, their baptisms are invalid and their “Lord’s Supper” sacrilegious, a mockery of the true sacrament instituted by Christ. To partake in such “Lord’s Suppers” therefore is sin.

(http://puritanreformed.blogspot.sg/2016/04/ecclesiology-and-lack-of-it.html)

 Wow! Wait a minute!  Sacrilegious?  Mockery?  Sin? Am I reading correctly from the last para above?

The above do not sync with my own Confirmation Bias, but definitely are minor issues that do not  disturb or distract me, even when it involves people I know.  Only when issues are critical or essential would I examine the different views against orthodoxy, my own interpretation of scriptures and deliberate which is more convincing, defensible and sound. Denominational or institutional bias related to interpretations of scriptures, and unconscious and subconscious opinions which bothers on preferences for certain principles, and practices, could lead to prejudgment towards alternatives which might even be more substantiated and demonstrated.

It happens all the time. And Confirmation Bias within institutions with the GroupThink consensus and coherence phenomena prevents us from fidelity and adherence to truth.

My senior pastor Joseph Prince openly acknowledged his indebtedness to Hagins and the WOF teachings – which many evangelicals would raise alarm bells. Yet his signature emphasis on the Gospel of Grace is refreshing and radical.

While Prince’s adoption and adherence to the WOF aspect of prosperity is devoid of guile and / for gain (attributing it to be part of our legacy and inheritance in Christ to be blessed), very few outside NCC perceive and discern the distinction and difference.  With a broad brush, NCC and Prince has been painted as “birds of the same feather” with the shady aspects of the WOF.  This unfortunate Collateral Damage brings unwanted and unwarranted discredit to Prince’s Gospel of Radical Grace!  I suppose his Confirmation Bias along denominational loyalties and legacy has blindsided Prince to some degree, or he is just echoing the cultural societal preference of American believers towards wealth and health.

Even though Prince’s version of prosperity is not out of guile or gain, his teaching is flawed, in my opinion.  This is where my own Confirmation Bias pops up, and prompted me to dig further and deeper into the scriptures and the experience of the body of Christ. Hence, my blogs on the matter to share my own opinions. My profile picture is a call to discernment against distortion from the pulpit.

One Sunday, Pastor Prince spoke on tithing, which was a position the church used to hold.  I was prompted to write to him via another pastor about Prince’s incomplete treatment of a passage which was used to imply that God has a high regard for tithing. A few weeks later, he alluded to giving, in two separate sessions in New York and Dallas; and in both occasions, appeared to have come round that tithing is not mandatory. Initially I had wrestled much whether I should write.  So it appeared that indeed, it was a prompting from the Holy Spirit.  Since then, the term tithing is absent whenever the offering bag is passed around, though there were attempts to be creative in the use of phrases lest members are tempted to license in not honoring God with our substance! Salute to my church for using their parachutes! And for tweaking and rebooting this confirmation bias!

At least NCC is bold to change when faced with strong scriptural exposition and explanation. (NCC also instituted weekly Communion in accordance with NT evidences, from monthly routines.) Someone had commented that I am a rare breed, to comment on NCC’s sermons. And I hope I can continue to do so. As a son of my heavenly Father, I’ve become a brother to His other children, and I am also my brother’s keeper.

It is daunting and unpleasant, and could be misunderstood and misinterpreted as being disloyal. But I love my Lord more, and the unchanging truth of His Word! Once, Pastor Prince spoke out to the bible policeman and fault finders in the church, telling them (me?) that the pew is not meant for such people! (see my blog titled Bible Policeman). And once, Pastor admitted that the pulpit is not always right, and there are specks and spots (was it in acknowledgement and response to people holding up the mirror of the Word?)

Indeed, the Word is a mirror to each of us. And the Body of Believers can also hold up the mirror FOR each other, and especially for the church workers, lest we miss or misinterpret His purpose, plan, precepts and program for us all.

So I need to check whether my Confirmation Bias squares and sync with scriptural truth and teachings, and are not according to denominational traditions or mere opinions.