Monday, August 30, 2010

Judges series - Judges 14

The way to read this article is that the orange underlined texts are the verses of the Bible (NIV, unless otherwise stated). The black texts following the Bible verses (and enclosed by square brackets) are my commentaries. At the end of these Bible texts and commentaries, I have inserted a section on "Points to take note/What we have learnt/can learn".
{For full listing of all articles in this series, click here}

Samson's Marriage

1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When he returned, he said to his father and mother, "I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife." 3 His father and mother replied, "Isn't there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?" But Samson said to his father, "Get her for me. She's the right one for me." 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) [The stirring referred to in the last verse of previous chapter was this – go and get a particular Philistine woman as wife. This stirring was of the Lord.]5 Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. 6 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. 7 Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her. [This part of the story speaks of the first occasion that Samson realized he had special strength. It occurred on his way to meet the Philistine woman he wanted to marry.] 8 Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion's carcass. In it was a swarm of bees and some honey, 9 which he scooped out with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion's carcass. [After some time, Samson went back to the Philistine woman again, this time to marry her. His parents again accompanied him on the journey. Because they used the same route, Samson went back to the carcass of the lion he killed the previous time he passed by the place. It said here that he took the honey from the carcass, ate it, and even gave some to his parents who ate them as well. It was a strange thing, lion carcass, bees and honey. And it became Samson’s riddle which you will read later on.] 10 Now his father went down to see the woman. And Samson made a feast there, as was customary for bridegrooms. 11 When he appeared, he was given thirty companions. [It seemed it was customary for the town folks to assign 30 male companions to the bridegroom. Samson got 30 men companions.] 12 "Let me tell you a riddle," Samson said to them. "If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. 13 If you can't tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes." "Tell us your riddle," they said. "Let's hear it." 14 He replied, "Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet." For three days they could not give the answer. [Samson gave the 30 men a riddle for them to guess within the 7 days of feast. Samson was to make a 7 days feast before taking the hand of the bride. The bet was 30 set of linen garments and 30 set of clothes.] 15 On the fourth day, they said to Samson's wife, "Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father's household to death. Did you invite us here to rob us?" [For 3 days, the 30 men could not give the answer, so on the fourth day, they went to threaten Samson’s bride for the answer of the riddle.] 16 Then Samson's wife threw herself on him, sobbing, "You hate me! You don't really love me. You've given my people a riddle, but you haven't told me the answer." "I haven't even explained it to my father or mother," he replied, "so why should I explain it to you?" 17 She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people. [Samson’s bride pestered him for the answer, and finally on the 7th day, Samson told her the answer.] 18 Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him, "What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?" Samson said to them, "If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle." [When the 30 men finally got the answer correctly, Samson realized that his bride gave him away.] 19 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of their belongings and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he went up to his father's house. 20 And Samson's wife was given to the friend who had attended him at his wedding. [Ashkelon, one of the 5 city-states of Philistines, commentators put it as 24 miles away from Timmah, was where Samson went to get the clothing he had promised the 30 men. It was far enough not to create any commotion at the wedding place. Samson was really angry that his bride gave him away, but apparently not enough for him to remember he could be tricked again by a woman, which we will later learn in Chapter 16.]

What we can learn here:

1. If the Lord wants it done, it is not foolishness. The Philistines were a great enemy of the Israelites. At the opening of the previous chapter, we read that the Philistines oppressed the Israelites for 40 years. Pure thoroughbred Jews would not marry a pagan and enemy woman as wife. Generally speaking, the Jews understood that God frowned upon the Jews inter-marrying the non-Jews, because God did not want the non-Jews to mislead the Jews into worshipping other gods, and practising their religious practices. We should not speak of this as foolishness on Samson’s part, because the Word is clear that it was a stirring by the Lord (Judges 13:25 & v4 above).

2. God will show hand, so to speak, when the time comes; we need to wait patiently for that day, and recognize it when it comes.

For example, God did not show hand to Moses until Moses was 80 years old, at a time that Moses was probably thinking that he was going to be a shepherd of his father-in-law’s flock for life.

I, too, am waiting and learning to recognize such. Perhaps, the Lord has shown hand, and I am still not quite recognizing it. Samson’s supernatural strength was later to be so powerful that he could pull down a pagan temple proper, but at the moment when God first manifest that power to show him, it was relatively mild; here, we read of the comparison, tearing apart with his bare hands of a lion contrasted with what a normal person of that time was capable of doing, tearing apart of a young goat, but nevertheless, it was exceptional, it was supernatural. Did God show you something exceptional or supernatural that you would otherwise not able to do? God might be showing hand to you!

3. Do not worry if you have missed it, i.e. you have not recognized it. Our God is a God of second chance. How exactly God is going to remind you of his specific anointing for your life, I cannot say for sure, will he show a similar “fighting” episode for you to overcome again? Maybe, maybe not; in the case of Samson, God reminded him of the specific anointing on him by having him passed by the same track, having the lion carcass still left there with bees having made a home in the carcass, producing honey for Samson to come along to scoop it out with his hands and ate it as he went along. Now, this episode had seated well in the heart and mind of Samson, because later when he had to give a riddle for his 7 days marriage feast ritual, he used it as the riddle. So, still watch for yours (God’s reminder, I mean)!

4. Sometimes, we slip, and we slip! Samson slipped here; he should not have told his bride the answer to his riddle, and we see later, in chapter 16, he made the same type of mistake all over again. In that sense, God has always picked one of us, mere men, as his servants. Some of us just made God’s job a little “harder” but nothing is too hard for God. He will still work out all things for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

5. When we continue in His will, God continues to grow the specific anointing upon us. Despite his parents’ original objection, not only that, I am sure, other Israelites around, friends and relatives, must have objected and frowned upon what was intended to be done, yet Samson persisted to want to marry a Philistine woman. I believe, even the giving of the riddle, “Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.” was prophetic, i.e. it was the Lord’s idea to give the riddle. Its contemporaneous answer was the lion, but the prophetic answer was another! Perhaps, at the end of my expositions on the 4 chapters of the Bible devoted to Samson, I will make an attempt to answer the riddle!

Anthony Chia – Lord, I pray when you show your hand, we will recognize it. Amen.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Psalm 16 –King David’s profession of faith

The way to read this article is that the orange underlined texts are the verses of the Bible (NIV, unless otherwise stated). The black texts following the Bible verses (and enclosed by square brackets) are my commentaries. At the end of these Bible texts and commentaries, I have inserted a section on "Points to take note/What we have learnt/can learn or a conclusion".

[Before we look at the psalm proper, let me say that it is unnecessary to dig and expound on whether or not, psalm 16 was authored by King David. The fact that the Apostles, Peter and Paul, referred to it (in Acts 2:25-31, and Acts 13:35-37 respectively), and mentioned David was the one, i.e. the author, that should settle it.

My premise is precisely that, that psalm 16 was authored by King David, and it represented King David’s profession of faith in the LORD (Jehovah) as well as in the Lord (Jesus Christ). The word “LORD” {all capitalized, in the Old Testament was referring to Jehovah, which, in the Triune God, should be the same as Father God. The “Lord” {capitalization only on “L”} is commonly referring to Jesus Christ; and of course, the word, “lord” means master. Of course, while the Lord, Jesus, is our Lord or Master, it is also true that the LORD or Jehovah or Father God is also our Master. We know scholars have identified many scriptures of the Old Testament as being prophetic, and were talking about the Lord, Jesus Christ. However, it is not common knowledge for one to think that David was aware of the Lord’s coming, after him, and would deliver him, David, out of death. I strongly believe that King David, being a prophet, had had received revelation from God concerning Jesus, from his lineage, coming to be the Lord. This prophetic psalm of David is the proof of that, and so I titled this psalm as “David’s profession of faith”.

To fully appreciate David’s heart, we need to appreciate that in the Old Testament, God of the Jews was notably the LORD or Jehovah. I believe, also, it is correct understanding that Old Testament Jews did note the coming of the Holy Spirit upon individuals, but not indwelling. The indwelling came about only with Jesus’ death and resurrection. But Jesus, Himself, did not quite feature in the lives of the Old Testament Jews, except what the prophets revealed about the Messiah, prophetically. And so, here, we should find David firstly addressing the LORD as the Lord or his Lord, and then also recognized that there would be a Holy One coming as the Lord over him, even as he, David, was the servant of the LORD, Jehovah.

And so, the earlier parts (verses 1 – 9) of the psalm, David dealt with his recognition of the LORD as his Lord or God. In the latter or ending part (verses 10 – 11), David revealed the insight that the LORD had given him concerning his salvation, concerning the Lord, Jesus.

There are those who argue, for this psalm 16, David was speaking about deliverance from death, and not deliverance out of death. If one views this psalm as a profession of faith in the LORD and in the Lord, the answer is clear, it is deliverance out of death, and not the more commonly held, deliverance from death. In any case, my own view, even without this revelation, that this psalm was a profession of faith in the LORD and the Lord, is that one should not jumped to the conclusion that David was thinking that he would not die, as was Enoch who did not see death, or Elijah, who was taken up, and did not die as such. Apart from Enoch and Elijah, great men of God died, and I am sure David knew that. Come on, we all pray for ourselves, our loved ones, and others, for health and longevity, blessings, fullness of life, etc, etc, but we all know that we will die (physical death) one day. Maybe, you think you are exceptional, you can be an “Enoch” or an “Elijah”; I don’t.]

Psalm 16 (A miktam of David)

1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.
[God, I take refuge in you, said the psalmist, David. Indeed, in God, we will find the safest refuge or hideout.]
2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."
[David recognized that Jehovah (”the existing one”) was his Lord, and that the LORD was the one who held together every good thing in his life, apart from the LORD, he had no good thing.]
3 As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.
[David said, the saints of the LORD were the ones he was happy to associate with, they were the glorious ones, but those who ran after other gods, he would not want to have anything to do with them. David would not join them in any way to honor any of the other gods or profess or proclaim their names; the lot of those who ran after such gods was only increasing sorrows.]
5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.
[David recognized the LORD had assigned him his portion and his cup, had made his lot secure.]
6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
[David declared that the LORD had blessed him much, a delightful inheritance.]
7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
[Not only that, David said he would praise the LORD for He counseled him; even at night, the LORD impressed upon his heart what to do.]
8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
[David said he had set the LORD always before him. He knew the LORD was at his right hand. As such, David said he would refuse to be shaken, whatever the situation.]
9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
[Because he knew that the LORD was at his side, and that he always gave the LORD the honor due His name, David could say his heart was glad and his tongue rejoiced, and his body rested secure.]
10 because you will not abandon me {my soul} to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
11 You have made [e] known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
[David was full of faith and trust in the LORD that he declared that the LORD would not abandon him to Sheol, nor would Jehovah let the Holy One (Jesus, the Messiah) see decay, meaning Jesus would not stay bound in Sheol. The LORD had made known to David the path of life. David had had revelation of Jesus, the Messiah and Savior, that Jesus would come and die, and to go to Sheol but He would not be bound in Sheol (This interpretation is consistent with Apostle Peter’s interpretation given in Acts 2:25-31). Jesus would come to Sheol and free him, David, from Sheol (v10). Afterwards, the LORD would fill him, David, with joy in His presence, with eternal pleasures at His right hand, together with the Messiah after the latter’s resurrection into Heaven.]

King David knew who his God was - the LORD or Jehovah. He knew what he had, all good things, were from the LORD, and he knew where his allegiance should lie, and for his earthly life, he knew where to put his trust, and where his help would come from, and who he should honor and worship; but he also knew that the LORD had shown him the path of life (eternal life), that in time to come, he would be delivered out of his death, and he would not remain in Sheol. Indeed, Jesus went to Sheol after his death on the Cross, and Sheol could not hold Him, and he was resurrected by the LORD. The Lord, Jesus, as was professed here, by King David, delivered him, David, out of death, and now David is filled with joy in the LORD’s presence, sharing the eternal pleasures of the LORD, together with our Lord, Jesus Christ who is also now at the right hand of the LORD. If you like, I believe you can even say the Lord, Jesus Christ, is the eternal pleasures at the right hand of the LORD, Father God.

Anthony Chia – Now, for me, the LORD, the Father, coming as the Son, the Lord, is my shepherd, I shall not be in want {from Ps 23:1}

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Peter's call to holiness

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)

The interpretation of the above is straightforward: Peter said God is holy and we are to be holy in all we do because it was written, “Be holy, because I am holy”. This is despite the phrase “Be holy, because I am holy” was first quoted in the Old Testament in the Book of Leviticus.

In Bible interpretation we first try to understand what the writer was trying to put across, or the theme of a particular passage(s). Often Biblical writers, Paul, particularly, wrote with great flow, meaning, their singular theme ran over many verses, even chapters (chapters, being put in there by us).

In more recent times, I have engaged some of the “overly” grace believers in discussions on the internet, I realised that their doctrines are very skewed indeed. I was “attacked” for exhorting effort to be holy by a mere signing off, with a prayer of asking God to help me to be holy in line with 1 Peter 1:16. This was how I signed off:

“God, help me to be holy as you are holy, in keeping with 1 Peter 1:16

Such overly grace believers’ tendency is to argue that we, the traditional institutional church (“ICs”, as they called us) use isolated and often singular verse to expound on the need for people to live right, be righteous and be holy in the things we do, to confess, and ask for forgiveness for our sins. Do not be taken in by their allegations that believers’ positions on such matters of right living, repentance, confession, and asking for forgiveness are based on isolated singular verses in the Bible; it is not like that. Before I expound on this passage of the Apostle Peter in this first epistle of his, let me quote that even the Apostle Paul, in 2 Cor 7:1 echoed the same:

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. (2 Cor 7:1)

[Added: 07/07/2011 - Another call by the Apostle Paul is found in his epistle, 2 Timothy, particularly in 2 Tim 2 & 3. The key text there being 2 Tim 2:21: - "If a man cleanses himself from the latter {ignoble, from v20}, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work."

You can hop over to this separate article,"You must choose to cleanse yourself from ignoble", to see the importance of our part to cleanse ourselves from ignoble (whole list of ignoble from the epistle was given in the article).]

The truth is that, often, there were singular themes running in the passages of Biblical authors, not singular verses; and when it is the former, it meant that the issue in the heart of the author was very important, and if we believe that the writings in the Bible were God-inspired, then, it meant it was also very important in the heart of God.

Sometimes, it makes one wonders what the overly grace believers were driving at. The overly grace believer has one, and only one belief in their entire theology – By grace, God has, through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, forgiven us for all our sins, past, current, and FUTURE, ALL DONE AT our born again, nothing for God to forgive anymore, no blemishes to talk about, no unrighteousness or un-holiness can ever be present in a believer regardless of the individual sinning subsequently. I do not want, in this article, to discuss what is amiss in this theology which has gained many followers among Christians, but for those who are curious enough, you may read my separate article, “1 John 1:9 is for believers”, to gain a better understanding of the danger in such a “grace, and nothing but grace” theology.

Back to the passage in discussion, the Apostle Peter was calling the children of God to be holy, and this singular theme ran all the way from 1 Peter 1:14 to 1 Peter 2:12, minimally. I will put down here, some of the relevant verses to illustrate the importance of seeing flow in biblical interpretation:

1 Peter 1:14-16 -
14As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."

1 Peter 1:21-22 -
21Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 22Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

Yes, there is recognition of purification of being born again in the above verses.

1 Peter 2:1-3 -
1Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

We are To GROW IN OUR SALVATION, and that is including growing in matter of holiness and righteousness.

1 Peter 2:5 -
5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

As we grow, we are BEING built to be a holy priesthood.

1 Peter 2:11-12 -
11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

There we have it, Peter made a "closure" with the call for us, BELIEVERS, to abstain from sinful desires which war against our soul, and to live right, and do good deeds so that we may glorify God. By the way, sinful desires come from the sinful nature that is still in us.

This is how I read (passages in the Bible), and may I encourage you to do likewise. If there is no need of us to work on righteousness and holiness, why do you think we have so many such passages in the New Testament? And please, they are addressing believers, more than they were addressing non-believers, if we are truly honest with ourselves.

For those who do not want to avoid, but want to face the fact that holiness and righteousness are top priority with God, you may want to read other articles under the “Holiness series” caption; recommended reading: Way of Holiness - Way of the Lord.

For those who ask, “But what if I sin again, and again? What am I going to do?” Go do 1 John 1:9. But will God forgive me again and again? Jesus was asked a similar question by Peter himself {Matt 18:21-22}. His answer gave us the assurance, if He had asked that we do that, to forgive, and forgive, and forgive, and …., forgive a brother, how much more would He not forgive us, when we confess and ask Him for forgiveness!

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - God, I know you hate profanity against your holiness, help me Lord, to refrain from that.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

What about propitiation, forgiveness, and appropriation?

Nicodemus’ question
In John 3, Nicodemus asked Jesus about how one can enter the Kingdom of God, and Jesus replied him, saying “no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

I have expounded on what was meant by being born of water, and being born of the Spirit, in my article, “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

Just as a recap, post-Jesus’ death and resurrection, both events, born of water and born of the Spirit happen at one go/one sitting, and it is when one gives his life over to Jesus (upon his salvation/born again/conversion).

Briefly, at conversion, 2 events take place: one is born of water, and one is born of the Spirit. To be born of water is referring to the cleansing work of the blood of Jesus upon the person. The blood of Christ cleanses the person of all his unrighteousness resulted from sins; the result is that a) the original righteousness of God given to Man (Adam), lost by Adam in the Fall of Man, in the Garden of Eden, gets restored or re-established back to the person, and b) all unrighteousness from the person’s own sins are also cleansed of him.

To be born of the Spirit is referring to the quickening of the spirit of man with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the adoption of the spirit of that man as son of God by the Holy Spirit.

No explicit mention of propitiation, and forgiveness
However, in the answer given by Jesus, in response to Nicodemus' question, Jesus only stated that one must be born of water, and born of the Spirit (John 3:5), and did NOT elaborate on issues of propitiation, and forgiveness by God, except to say to Nicodemus who was already puzzled by Jesus’ saying of the need to be born again, the following words, in John 3:14-15:

14Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)

This leaves me to say, it must be implied in the birthing of a man by water and by the Spirit, that God has forgiven the man who has come to acknowledge Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour. One may say, “But it is in the Sinner’s Prayer”, but the Sinner’s Prayer is a prayer coined by men, subsequently. The Sinner’s Prayer may have, and should have, elements of the person asking the Lord to forgive him of all his sins, and to acknowledge that the Lord will be the Lord of his life, but still it does not tell what actually will transpire in this appropriation by the reciting of the Sinner’s Prayer.

Appropriation, in brief
What is appropriation in the first place? Appropriation is the act of making something ours. To understand appropriation, and why appropriation is needed, in this context, we need to look at what Jesus did on the Cross. A good text from Scripture is 1 John 2:1-2. And I want to use the New King James Version (NKJV) because it still retains the word, “propitiation” in the text.

1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1-2 NKJV)

Propitiation, in general
With the above, we will now tackle all the 3 words, propitiation, appropriation, and forgiveness, starting with propitiation. I must, firstly, say that there are various schools of thoughts on what is comprised in propitiation or “atonement”. Atonement is the NIV equivalent of propitiation. Just for information sake, I put down as well, the NIV version of the 1 John 2:1-2:

1My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 1:1-2 NIV)

Now, I shan’t go, in any elaborate fashion, into the various shades of thoughts concerning propitiation or atonement, but I will point out the essence of my preferred interpretation of what is meant by “Jesus is the propitiation for our sins”.

Essentially, propitiation means to satisfy the demand of justice. There are those who argue on the words of demand or justice, including such preferences: moral demand, legal demand or penal demand, moral justice, legal justice, divine justice. Even the word, “to satisfy” is being argued, whether it should be “to appease”, “to pay for the penalty required”, “to ransom” or “to make good”, etc.

The general idea should be that Jesus became the satisfaction for what was required, and that which was required was resulted from the consequence of our sins. When a satisfaction is achieved or received, it means whatever the matter, it is now alright. In theological term we now say you are justified (with atonement, you are justified). If you can understand up to here, you are fine; although I am going to give my more precise take on what is meant by Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, next.

Propitiation, more precisely
Firstly, we must understand we are talking about God. I believe the understanding should be along the following lines: The very nature of God is holiness, or the number one nature-attribute of God is holiness. For those wanting to get a clear picture of why I hold this view, you can read my separate article, “Way of Holiness – the way of the Lord”, in which I showed where it showed in Scripture that holiness is the most fundamental attribute of God.

God being Holiness, necessarily, demands holiness, righteousness, and justice. In a manner of speaking, it is in Him, He can’t help it; there can be no lies, no evil, no wickedness, no unrighteousness, no un-holiness, no darkness, no sin, in God. Such things just do NOT go with God. There has to be judgment, righteous judgment with God. I would NOT follow an unrighteous God, would you? If there is no righteous judgment, what we get is chaos! Our God is a God of order, a God of peace, NOT chaos.

Unrighteousness must separate from righteousness, they cannot be together any more than 2 like-pole ends of 2 magnets are pushed together; the weaker magnet will be pushed away. Sin brings on unrighteousness, and so, sin causes the separation. Satan, formerly Lucifer, an arch-angel, sinned, and he had to separate from God (you can read of this in Eze 28 - dual contexts text); NOT only that, the righteous judgment of God already meted out (NOT fully carried out) the punishment required (for Satan) - be put far away from Holiness (God), in the burning lake of fire in Hell. In other words, Holiness demanded satisfaction. The satisfaction required is NOT for angels or men to decide, Holiness Himself decides {added 16/08/2010: Jude, in Jude 1:6, stated that for angels who disobeyed God, God has kept them in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day}.

If such (be thrown into the burning lake of fire of Hell) was the punishment required, then when men sin, and brought on unrighteousness, such is also to be the punishment for men. And so, when Adam sinned, he brought on unrighteousness unto men, in other words, he lost the righteousness of God which God put into men. And his punishment was the same, death, 2nd death – to go to where Satan was scheduled to go, the burning lake of fire of Hell. This is how I view the need for propitiation, the need to satisfy the demand of justice, it is being due to the very nature of God, Holiness.

Ransom, not to Satan
Yes, Bible has references containing the word “ransom”, giving the suggestion that Jesus was/is the ransom, but I personally think that, it is NOT the right interpretation to say that Jesus was/is the ransom to satisfy Satan. Yes, God is getting you and I back, so that we will NOT be counted {reckoned} with Satan, for Satan is destined for Hell. It is for that reason of NOT wanting us to be counted with Satan, and NOT that God is being held ransom by Satan, that Jesus died for us. Ransom, in context, should be referring to “that which is needed to appease the demand of Holiness, NOT Satan, so that when Holiness is satisfied, it no longer requires a man to go to Hell.

Curse, brought on by Satan
I have elsewhere referred to the penalty tied to God’s commandment for Adam NOT to eat of the fruit from the Tree of knowledge of good and evil as a curse. It is a curse because it is a consequence of NOT keeping a law (a commandment is a law), but it is also a curse because there was a precedent set, and set by Satan, and Satan was and is bent on pulling men along with him to Hell.

John 10:10 says that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy; that is the expressed wish of Satan, to bring harm/calamity/misfortune to men, and that is the definition of a curse.  Why would God want to pay tribute or ransom to Satan?! Obviously, NOT. When we say that Jesus became the “curse” for us, it is because there was a precedent set by Satan, and the same had to be meted out (for men when they sin), and Jesus had become, of His own will, that satisfaction which was required by righteous judgment which was first meted out to Satan, and which had become the precedent for men.  Put in simple layman terms, Jesus took on the "misfortune" (curse), in our place.

Propitiation AVAILABLE for all men, the whole world
Now back to 1 John 2:1-2; in verse 2, it is said that Jesus Himself is the propitiation for sins, NOT just for ours (believers) but also for the whole world. What does it mean? It means Jesus’ death, the giving of His life and the shedding of blood is good satisfaction for what is demanded by righteous judgment of Holiness, due to all the sins of every man of the world.

Does it then mean every man is no longer destined to Hell? There are people who think that is correct, based on their assumption that the very nature of God is love. The problem with that is that the very nature or most fundamental nature or the number one nature-attribute of God is NOT love, but holiness. Love side of God would say, “Yes”, but if the holiness of God cannot agree to it, and so, a conflict, holiness prevails. (Such was the scenario, I believe, concerning The Flood recorded for us in the Old Testament where only Noah and his family were the only ones spared to re-populate the earth).

Appropriation must come into the picture
If it does NOT mean everyone is saved from Hell, then what does it mean? Verse 2 should be taken to mean that Jesus has already done all that is required; he has made Himself available as the satisfaction of what is demanded by righteous judgment; He is good for all sins, and for everyone, but one must claim it, make it his. In other words, you have to appropriate it.

You have to recognize what Jesus did, He did NOT die for His own sin, He was without sin, He died for men’s sins; He died so that He can be satisfaction of what is demanded by righteousness, so that with satisfaction, you and I need NOT go to Hell for unrighteousness from sins. Jesus has done it and intended it as a free gift for all men, but you have to know what He did, and appropriate it, i.e. make it yours, meaning Jesus satisfies for you. The Apostle Paul put it this way in Romans 1:16b – it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” That settles the connection between propitiation and appropriation.

Now, for forgiveness
Ok, where and how does forgiveness comes in, or what about the claim, "I only hear people talk about forgiveness, nothing of such propitiation, etc, etc"? The answer is that forgiveness and propitiation have everything to do with one another.

Forgiveness and propitiation – an illustration
When one is forgiven, what does it mean? Let us look at a simple illustration: I wear a new $500.00 branded white shirt, and you spilled a bottle of blue ink you are holding, over my shirt. And I yell, “That is a brand new $500.00 shirt!” You then apologise, and say that it was accidental.

If I insist, and you pay me $500.00, have you received forgiveness? No, you paid for your mistake or action, and I got my $500.00 as satisfaction.

Now, let say, you then walk over to your manager, my son, and told him that you cannot afford to pay me, and my son then yells from his room, “Dad, I will pay for him. Just come in and take it.” He (my son) then turns to you and say, “Just be more careful, the next time.” I yell back, “Son, ok.” Have you received forgiveness?

You did NOT pay for the mistake you made; I let you off without you paying for it. Did I get my $500.00 as satisfaction? Yes, my son paid for it. Everyone knows I am the boss of the company, and my son gets his money from me, so did you or did you NOT receive forgiveness?

The fact is that on the account of the payment by my son, you do NOT have to pay; you can look at it from one angle or another, but the fact is fact, my son paid so that you do NOT have to pay. My son’s payment has been your propitiation, and I consider I have forgiven you, and honestly, you did NOT pay for your mistake or action, you have received forgiveness from me. We receive forgiveness for our sins from God because the Son has been the propitiation for our sins.

Appropriation of propitiation, forgiveness, born of water, and of the Spirit, all rolled into one
Now we return to issue of appropriation again; do we appropriate only one time or should we appropriate whenever there is a need?

Some people are of the view that a person can only appropriate one time, and need only to appropriate one time. When is this one time? It is the time you decide to give your life to Jesus or upon your salvation or born again or conversion (they all mean the same thing). Yes, at this time, you are indeed appropriating the propitiation of Jesus for all your sins. For you, for the first time, the Son yells, “Abba Father, I pay for him. He should no longer be counted {reckoned} with Satan, for Satan is destined to Hell” This, I call as our Primary Appropriation; and the justification resulted from it, our Primary Justification.

NOT only that, Jesus says, “I NOT only pay for him, I am cleansing him now of all unrighteousness, from the Original Sin of Adam, and from all the sins he has committed THUS FAR. When I finish cleansing him, he will be righteous all over again, just like Adam was before he fell. Abba, you will be able to fellowship with him, like you previously did with Adam.” You are no longer destined for Hell (Jesus has satisfied that), and therefore, you are no more a sinner, you have become born of water (Jesus has cleansed you).

The moment you are born of water, you are forgiven by God because Jesus has applied Himself as the propitiation for all your sins, as explained in the above paragraph, at your appropriation. The Holiness, God, gives up all claims connected with your offense. In fact, God remembers no more (counts it no more), your offense.

Not only that, God puts His Holy Spirit in you, who quickens your spirit, and adopts your spirit to be a son of God, and in this way you become born of the Spirit.

So you see, the propitiation of Jesus for your sins and the forgiveness of God for you, are had, in your being born of the water. The cleansing by the blood of Jesus removes the unrighteousness and restores or re-establishes righteousness of God in you. Your being born of the Spirit makes you a son of God. These, I believe, are what happen at your appropriation at born again.

Is there other times of appropriation? We will look at this, separately, in another article to come.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Lord Jesus, may every man appropriates your propitiation for his sins, and come into salvation, be born again – be born of water, and be born of the Spirit. Amen.

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