Thursday, April 28, 2011

Did God create evil?

Preamble: For this article, I ask that readers do NOT put any of their comments on this blog. Instead, please email to me. The reasons are these: 1. This is a highly controversial topic. 2. It can be very confusing too. 3. There are various assumptions and definitions that people adopt to argue their cases, even though the short answer is either a “Yes” or a “No” 4. A “Yes” may be a correct answer, even as “No” can possibly be a right answer, too, depending on how you arrived at your conclusion; the Lord knows, and He shall weigh your thought processes.

Another point is that the view expressed in this article, does NOT represent the view of any body, church or otherwise, which the author is part of, or is affiliated to; it is solely a personal view of the author.

Article’s key verses – Isaiah 45:7 & Eze 28:15
I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things (Isaiah 45:7, KJV).

Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee (Eze 28:15, KJV).

Contexts of verses
The context of Isaiah 45:7 is this: This was a prophecy whereby God spoke, through prophet Isaiah, concerning His faithfulness that He would, in the exile to come (Judeans would be exiled to Babylon), He would be using King Cyrus of Persia as His shepherd (Isa 44:28), His anointed vessel (Isa 45:1) to capture Babylon and to allow the exiled Judeans to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple of God (subsequently to be destroyed by the Babylonians). This was despite Cyrus did NOT acknowledge Him, and God said He would be using Cyrus still, to free his people, and in the process, enabling him (Cyrus) to receive honors; it was all because His faithfulness towards corporate Israel, His servant, His chosen nation. In this foretelling, Isaiah spoke about how God was making revelation about Himself to Cyrus, and verse 45:7 was one such verse.

The context of Eze 28:15 is this: From Eze 28:11-12a, we know that it was to be a lament concerning the king of Tyre:

“The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says:”” (Eze 28:11-12a)

Of course, here, the words were given by the LORD Himself. But immediately, from verses 12b-14, the narration was definitely NOT referring to a man:

'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you:
ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. 14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones (Eze 28:12b-14).

He was a model of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. He was in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned him, ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. He was an anointed guardian (chief) angel ordained by God; he was on the holy mount of God; he walked among the fiery stones. Surely, he was NOT a man.

There are people who argue that the passage was a figurative description of King Tyre, but you can see for yourselves that even if one uses the beauty of a butterfly (just an example) as the metaphor for a man (ok, maybe a woman), the butterfly, in the first place must be, as described (with beautiful colored and patterned wings, and most elegant in its form, etc). Just as the butterfly was NOT imaginary or a fake, the creature of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, who was in the garden of Eden of God; most beautifully adorned with previous stones, anointed and ordained of God as a guardian angel, and walked on the holy mount of God, was NOT imaginary or a fake; I believe Lucifer (aka Satan) was being described.

Without going at length, the “fallen-ness” predicament, that all of men are facing, started with Lucifer; he set the precedent, and all fallen men are reckoned or counted with him, the fallen Lucifer or Satan. Lucifer fell first, and from that incidence, a precedent, demanded by holiness, kicked in. So, here, in this Ezekiel passage, King Tyre was reckoned with Satan, and so, in the lamentation by God, God spoke of the fall of Lucifer, first, before He connected it back to King Tyre (in vv 18 & 19; v20 onwards was about Sidon).

Expounding Isaiah 45:7
The phrase, “God created evil” can be seen in Isaiah 45:7.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and CREATE EVIL: I the LORD do all these things (Isaiah 45:7, KJV).

First, I believe people should NOT read too much into the present tense used. There are those who argue, because they see the tense used was in the present form, they conclude that God did, does and continue to do evil. If we apply it to “evil” then we must apply it to “light”, “darkness” and “peace” as well. We all know that light was already created. God said, “Let there be light”, and there was light (Gen 1:3-5). Are we to think that God is making more “light” every now and then?

Second, there are those who argue that we are NOT talking about “light” as in the “light” bulb or the “light” of the sun, nor “darkness” was referring to “darkness” as in pitch black dark room with no light. Arguably, they were saying, “light” means, just to quote a catch-all word, “goodness” or “good”. If it were the case, “darkness” must mean, all the “badness”, isn’t it? The issue with this argument is this, “Whatever that is good, pure, praiseworthy, they argued, it is covered in the “good” or “light”, but moral evil, sin or wrong are argued to be NOT in the “bad” or “darkness”. Extending it to “peace” or “prosperity” or “well-being” and the many other words one can chuck into the Hebrew word, “Shalom” (H7965), and “evil” or “disaster” or “calamity” or “distress” and again the many other words one can fit into the Hebrew word, “Ra” (H7451), the proponents argued moral evil, sin or wrong CANNOT be part of what we are talking about. Not many people can stomach this, arguing that, the proponents, without support, were simply insisting God could NOT do bad things, particularly morally wrong things and sins, and so, are simply substituting less offensive or mild words into the verse while insisting that the verse was in present tense (active particle). The point is that if one insists on interpreting the verse on the basis that God cannot do bad things, then one has to back it up with scriptures to show that indeed God cannot do bad things, in other words, letting scriptures to interpret scripture.

As I have said above, the context was, God was making a revelation of Himself to Cyrus, and verses 5 & 6, before this verse 7, both have this - “there is no other (God)”. In other words, God was stressing to Cyrus, despite he did NOT acknowledge Him, there was really no other (God).

I am the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me, (v5) so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the LORD, and there is no other (v6).

So, what God wanted to say to the Persian King, Cyrus, was that he shouldn’t be believing there was another (god). It is believed that, in those days, some, in Persia, believed, the “good” was controlled by one god, and the “bad”, another. God was saying, no, there were no separate gods. The LORD was and is the only God, author of the creation; and after that, He was and still is in charge, and so, He then said verse 7 –

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things (Isaiah 45:7, KJV).

So, we have now fully understood the intent of verse 7; the question still remain as to whether or not, verse 7 was pointing to “evil” was created by God, or God was, is and will be creating “evil”.

Now, it is one thing to say that God is an author of creation, and after that, He was and still is in charge, it is another to say that God is still forming (those arguing for active participle) the light, and creating darkness, making peace, and creating evil.

As a “statement of fact” about Himself, the latter (active participle), sure did NOT fit in, as least in my understanding of God. It is like now, here we are, in the sanctuary of my church, and I pray for a sick to be healed by God, and He heals him, and, for another person nearby, God just inflicts him with a sickness; or God grants one with wisdom, and zap another’s mind and made him stupid. Similarly, God grants shalom to one, and for another, torments him with distress or disaster (all are His people or children)? Also, this interpretation makes the verse sounded like saying, “I kill people, you-know!” without qualifying that you are the death-convict executioner; you will frighten the hell out of people! I do NOT think God intended it to mean he is habitually doing all of that.

I submit to you that it was because God was saying, after creation, He was and is still in charge, and was/is the only one in charge, that the present tense was used. This means that one can simply read the verse in the past tense. One can just go a little further in the same Isaiah passage to verse 18, and find that for the same Hebrew words, such as yatsar (form), bara' (create), `asah (make, do), even with same tense guidelines given in the Strong’s Lexicon, Bible translators simply translated them in the past tense. Why? Just because they saw the presence of the words, “heavens” and “earth”!

For this is what the LORD says — he who created (bara') the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned (yatsar) and made (`asah) the earth, he founded it; he did not create (bara') it to be empty, but formed (yatsar) it to be inhabited — he says: (Isaiah 45:18).

What is my point? My point is that Isaiah 45:7 should be interpreted literally, to mean God was saying He formed the day (light), and created the night (darkness); He made peace, which was that which was agreeable to Him (divine peace means that), and created that which was NOT agreeable to Him (evil); He, the LORD, did all those things, and He was and still is in charge. It is only in the sense that all of creation is still sustained by God, that, at all, active participle tense can be said to be applying to Isaiah 45:7, but it is NOT in the sense that God is forming more light every now and then.

Yes, by the above paragraph, I have ascribed my meanings to the various key words: light, darkness, peace and evil. I have chosen the physical darkness meaning, instead of the metaphorical meaning (“bad”), for “darkness” (choshek, H2822). Accordingly, the light was also the physical light, and NOT “good”; the opposite of “light” is “darkness”.

What is shalom? Peace, yes, but when does one truly get shalom? We get shalom when we are in full agreement with God. Just think about it; was there NOT shalom when creation was done (by God); there was shalom, not just for Man but for entire creation, until Satan came along, and successfully tempted Man in the Garden of Eden. If shalom or divine peace comes with full agreement with God, then righteousness was implied. In other words, God made “righteousness” even as we said He made “peace”. What is the opposite of “righteousness”? Yes, it is “unrighteousness”. How would one describe “unrighteousness”? NOT in agreement with God; and what is that? An iniquity or disobedience or sin. When did God first create righteousness and iniquity? Was it in the Garden of Eden? No, I believe it was earlier! This is where Ezekiel 28 must be brought in.

Relevance of Ezekiel 28:15
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee (Eze 28:15, KJV).

Remember, we have, in the earlier part of this article, established that Lucifer (aka Satan) was being referred to, in this verse 15. Satan was perfect in all his ways from the day he was created, meaning Satan was created righteous.

The Godhead, Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, must be in perfect agreement with one another, and therefore, each is righteous relative to one another. Righteousness, apart from that within the Godhead, without created creatures has no meaning, for righteousness is about in agreement with God; when there is no creature, there is none to agree to God. In this way, we can understand that righteousness, apart from that within the Godhead, came into being on creation of creatures by God, and since we know NOT other knowledge other than angels were created before Man, righteousness can be said to come into being with the creation of angels, and if we take the creation of Lucifer (I believe Lucifer was NOT just a chief angel, but THE chief angel) as representing the creation of angels, righteousness with God acquired meaning with the creation of Lucifer.

Now the verse said that Lucifer was perfect in his ways from the day he was created; this means that he was created righteous, and continued to be righteous, and in full agreement with God – there was no unrighteousness or no iniquity or evil ever existed. By the way, evil, ra`(H7451) of Isaiah 45:7, can mean that which is in vicious disposition against God (or God’s holiness); in simple terms, a wrong, iniquity or evil can give rise to that disposition. I am NOT saying that evil is a person or being, in the same way, we do NOT say the holiness (of God) is a person or being, but it is something so much integrated into the nature, that holiness is inseparable from God, and evil, from Satan. This evil or the term used in Ezekiel 28:15, “iniquity” (`evel, H5766; meaning unrighteousness, wrong or injustice), God said, came into being, and become inseparable from Satan, the moment Lucifer turned unrighteous against God. How did it happen, how did Lucifer turn unrighteous? Verse 17 of the same Ezekiel passage gave us the answer; God said this, of Satan:

Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings (Ezekiel 28:17).

With this understanding, righteousness and iniquity (or evil) were NOT created at the same time, although the stage was set at the same time, when free-will was given at creation by God. In a sense, it is NOT wrong to say that evil was created by God; but it did NOT come in the manner that God created the good camp, and God created the evil camp. It is NOT even the case of God created an evil angel, Satan, in the first place; when God created Satan as Lucifer, the latter was created perfect in all his ways, completely righteous. It was Satan turning from agreeing with God (righteousness), and becoming proud before God that evil was born or got created. Alright, it was relative to holiness of God that evil was of meaning, and so, it was also NOT wrong to say that it was the very opposition to God’s very nature that created evil. But was God to be blamed for His very nature, and decision to grant free-will to His creatures? I do NOT blame God for that, do you? Is God morally culpable if a man abuse his choice? Or would you rather be a robot?

Even as God was speaking to Cyrus, who was going to be raised by Him as a redeemer, a kind of shadow Messiah (Isaiah 44:28 – 45:1), God was probably remembering how iniquity entered his creation in the first place, for these verses, subsequent to Isaiah 45:7, were so pointing to the circumstance of how Lucifer fell:

8 “You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it. 9 “Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd {pottery piece (fragment)} among the potsherds {pottery pieces} on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has no hands’? (Isaiah 45:8-9).

It was unrighteousness that brought about the creation of iniquity or evil, and it was Lucifer NOT wanting to do as God desired, “quarrelling with his Maker”, that iniquity or evil was given life through Satan. Here, God was expressing his desire even as He was “commissioning” Cyrus to be His redeemer. God was lamenting on those who had gone astray. God’s prescription was righteousness; righteousness to rain down from heavens, righteousness to grow on earth; salvation could only come through that. God’s warning was the same, quarrel NOT with your Maker, God Himself, agree with Him, and agree to His ways. He is God, we are His creation, He is the potter, we are the clay; we do NOT go against His wishes, thinking that we know better. That would be pride and that would corrupt any wisdom that we might have, and we would be guilty of the same that Lucifer was guilty of.

1. Can this NIV version of Isaiah 45:7 – “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things,” be allowed to stand? If you subscribe to this (including it being in the present tense), you have to be sure in yourself, that despite God’s creating darkness and disasters against you, He still has your best interest at heart. You have to believe those darkness and disasters (against you) are for a good reason. There are scriptures, and some are scattered all over in this article, that give us assurances of God’s goodness towards His children.

2. In any case, Isaiah 45:7 should NOT be taken to mean God is going round doing good AND bad; granting peace AND creating disaster to His children. Please do NOT use this verse to support good and evil that we are experiencing are ALL coming from God.

3. Isaiah 45:7 was meant to say to Cyrus that there was no other god, beside the LORD; there were no separate gods for the good and the bad (Please, Satan is NOT a god, he is a spiritual being, a fallen angel, but NOT a god). Creation was by the LORD, and He is still in charge. And so, very simply, ONE way of interpreting Isaiah 45:7 was to say that God formed the day (light) and created the night (darkness), and He created with shalom given through righteousness, and He created evil through lapse of righteousness, on exercise of free-will, on the part of His creation.

4. Ezekiel 28:15 clarified that God indeed created Satan righteous (and other angels and Man, too). Evil or Iniquity (I prefer to capitalize the “i” to differentiate it from subsequent mere iniquities or wrongs) was created with Satan refusing to agree with God’s wishes. Pride and the consequent corrupted wisdom became the downfall of Satan (Eze 28:17). Evil was given life in Satan (and in Man, with the Fall of Man). – this is the important thing to take away with this article.

5. The creation of evil by God was NOT a direct one. Evil or Iniquity became found in Satan, on his first going against the desire of God (Eze 28:15, 17). Evil or Iniquity also got “ingrained” into Man when Man similarly, first, went against the wish of God, by eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, on the instigation of the fallen Lucifer or Satan.

6. Now, it is true that, just as holiness is the very nature of God, evil had become the very nature of Satan. What Satan had done subsequently was he had replicated the evil nature of his, into Man, at the Garden of Eden. The unregenerate man is therefore counted or reckoned with Satan.

7. Therefore, if at all, God could be said to have created evil, it was when Lucifer fell; even then, I will argue that God did NO evil. God NEVER do evil, NOT so much as the definition of evil is relative to God, but indeed God is good, and is good all the time. What this means is that His thoughts and actions towards us are NEVER evil; the KJV version of Jer 29:11 said it well - For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Some more scriptures to show indeed God is NOT evil, are given at my sign-off below) We may NOT understand some of the things that happened to us, but that does NOT mean that God intended evil for us, his children. Frankly speaking, many of us do NOT know what is important to us, but the Lord does, and it is NOT even necessarily tied to this earthly life. We often have limited knowledge and understanding of the good intentions of God.

8. Judgments and chastisements of God are NOT evil in the eyes of God. If you cannot accept that, it is most likely that you may think that God can be evil at times. Lam 3:33 said that God does NOT inflict willingly. Please seek to accept that.

9. Can God use evil? Yes, God can use anything under the sun, on earth, above the sky, under the seas or in Heaven. God can use evil spirits, evil or wicked people, even bad things, but for His children, He uses them only according to Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

10.Ultimately, God is holy; this means that evil is opposed to God, and one cannot expect God’s longsuffering to continue for all eternity. A time will come when judgment is made, and those failing to pass the judgment will have to live apart from God, in the burning lake of fire in Hell, where Satan, and all those reckoned or counted with him will go.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – God is holy (Rev 4:8; Isa 6:3); He is NOT evil; there is NO evil whatsoever in Him (Ps 5:4); He cannot think evil or act evil (Job 34:10, Ps 89:14a {NIV},Deu 32:4); He may make use of evil but He uses it for our good, never evil; evil cannot even tempt God (Jas 1:13); He chastises, but it is NOT evil, BUT there is eventually a punishment-in-finality from His righteous judgment, and we have to face that. We are to live our lives to pass that final judgment if we indeed do love our God, in return, for He already first loved us.

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: ... {click on it to reveal complete address}
Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sickness, good? Nay

In my separate article, “Sickness and God”, I expounded on my understanding on, whether or not, sickness is from God, and expressed that, the stand to take is this:

“Sickness can be from God {as in, it can be possible}, but ALMOST ALWAYS, sickness is NOT from God.” Or

“Sickness GENERALLY does NOT come from God. If you are sick, and if God does NOT answer you, saying the sickness you are suffering, is from Him, you can take it that it is NOT from Him.”

This being the case, can sickness be good? How come there are Christians attributing goodness to sickness?

Distinction between true and truth!
Was Miriam, Moses’ sister, made leprous by God? Yes, that was true. Does that mean that sickness comes from God? No, to say whether or not, sickness is coming from God is stating a matter of truth; and it is NOT truth that sickness comes from God. God chastises His children is a truth. God chastises with sickness is NOT truth, but God chastises with sickness sometimes, is true. A truth is always true, but a true incident does not make a truth. God is good, is a truth, and it is always true; and because of that, God’s chastisement is good, is a truth, a chastisement by God, with sickness, is good, is also a truth. But sickness is good, is NOT truth.

Look beyond what is used
Is “sickness, as chastisement (from God), is good”, a truth? No! The chastisement is good, but sickness is NOT good! God uses something, NOT good, to bring about good; God uses sickness, something NOT good, to bring about a good.

Romans 8:28 says, in all things, God works them for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose. The “all things” here, obviously included good things, neutral things, and bad things as well!

Also, we read in 1 Cor 1:27-29, these:

27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor 1:27-29)

There are many examples of such actions of God in Scripture; God used a piece of wood to make water drinkable in the desert (Ex 15:22-25), a prostitute (she lied) to save Israelite spies in Jericho, a little shepherd boy with a sling to slain a giant, even Satan to inflict Job, etc. Did God use sickness on His children before? Yes (some examples are in the article, “Sickness and God”). Can God use sickness on present day Christians? Yes. Must He use sickness? No.

Well, a piece of wood is neutral, but we did NOT read of God saying prostitution or lie is good, or boy better than man (suggesting we stay as a boy, and NOT grow up) or Satan is good; No, no way. Sickness itself is NOT good, it is bad. We should call a spade, a spade. So, sickness is NOT good, and we say sickness is NOT good. We should NOT go round, saying sickness is NOT bad; chastisement of God is NOT bad; it is good, but NOT sickness! We should be very clear in our mind on this.

Inflict and allow, NOT the same
In the article, “Sickness and God”, the discussion was confined to direct infliction of sickness by God on an individual. Now, if I am overseeing a couple of kids in a room, and I take out a knife and thrust it into the tummy of one of the kids, it means I inflict the kid with a knife. But, if I see a kid taking a knife and wanting to thrust it into the tummy of another kid, and I do NOT stop the former, I am allowing the infliction to take place. Still, I did NOT inflict, the kid did. Now, in the sense that God is omnipresence and omniscient, we can say that He allows everything that goes on, to go on - He is omnipotent, all powerful, if He wants to stop or prevent anything, He can. But we do NOT say God inflicted it or caused it, when He merely did NOT intervene in what was going on.

So, almost always, when someone is sick, it is NOT that God inflicted him with sickness, but it is God allowed it; He did NOT intervene to prevent it or stop it. What is allowed to happen, taken to the broadest dimension, included everything under the sun, so to speak, and therefore, we really cannot say, since it (sickness) happened, it is allowed by God, and since God allowed it, it (sickness) MUST be good, since God is good, is correct. Please, what He does NOT intervene, and so it happens, does NOT mean it is good, be it sickness, accident or calamity, it is NOT necessarily the will of God.

OK, but what if He inflicted it?
First, God is NOT a lunatic (and that is a truth), and so, He does NOT, for no realm or reason, inflict His children. From the article on “Sickness and God”, we know, almost always, sickness if inflicted by God, it was for chastisement, and chastisement is either to reform or punish. Whether it is to reform, or to punish (punish itself, can be argued still further, to reform, or punish, in finality, as in physical death {man’s perspective, no reform possible when one is dead}, or eternal death {God’s perspective, punishment-in-finality – be thrown into the burning fire of Hell}), punishment itself, is NOT good, be it sickness or 13 strokes of the cane. God’s reforming us is good, but sickness is NOT good; 13 strokes of the cane are NOT good, either!

Do you ever wonder why we pray?
How many people’s lives are contorted because someone carelessly said, the bad thing that happened to them was the intended will of God (just because it happened, and is equated to God’s intending it)? If we tell a kid of 6 years old, whose his father has just died of a tragic road accident or cancer, that, it is all the will of God, we are going to distort the image of God in the heart of that kid terribly; he probably hates God for a long time, if not, for life!

If your thinking is this, “If a bad thing happened to us, that it happened, it meant God intended it or inflicted it, and so, it MUST be good, for God is good”, why do you pray? You might as well NOT pray, for based on the logic, NOT praying is good, for, purportedly, it is in line with the will of God. It is, by NOT confusing the “bad thing”, whether it is sickness or accident, with the chastisement of God, that, we can lift up any meaningful prayer to God. We thank God IN our hard circumstances, we do NOT thank God FOR our hard circumstances – think about that, there is a difference! (The common rendering of Eph 5:20 as “giving thanks always FOR all things …” is NOT quite the correct rendering, even though I am NOT expounding it here).

Sickness, NOT a gift from God
Suppose you are sick, and let’s say for a moment, your sickness was directly inflicted by God, do you say, “Thank you God, for this sickness; what you give me must be good, so I shall not ‘complain’ about this sickness, but love it, because it is from you.”? No, do NOT confuse sickness or any other bad thing as a gift from God. Scripture said that a gift from God is always good. Sickness is NOT good; it is NOT a gift from God. A gift from God is always something good God gives you without you meriting it (or having worked for it); so how can sickness be a gift, do NOT thank God for the sickness; thank God for chastising you.

For Rev 21:4, many interpret it to say there is no sickness in Heaven, why? It is NOT written in there as such, but by “like association” we believe sickness was included there. What is the “like association” there? In brief, it is the “NOT being good or NOT good”; sickness gives rise to pain, sorrow, crying, even death, these elements were all listed there in the verse.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away (Rev 21:4, KJV).

If at all, sickness is inflicted to you by God to reform you, do you think the purpose is so that you settle into the pain, sorrow, and crying all the time? Such an infliction, is the case, only in punishment-in-finality, but we are NOT there yet, we are NOT at the End Time judgment.

If it is not punishment-in-finality, how should we view it?
Sickness as punishment (rather than reformation) was already rare in Old Testament time (there were, you can read from the article, “Sickness and God”, but few); it, in New Testament time, would be even rarer, for New Testament era is the era of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:19). So, if it were to reform you, you are NOT to settle into your pain and sorrow, and thank God for it, rather you are to seek God concerning the reformation; be reformed, and be willing to seek the Lord to heal you. Do NOT settle into your sickness (do NOT acquiesce to sickness), that does NOT glorify God at all (but of course, we are talking about the rare instance of you, if ever, been inflicted by God as chastisement).

Case of sickness NOT from God (which is almost always, the case)
If you are sick, and if you think your sickness is inflicted by God, pray, and ask Him. When that is done sufficiently, and He does NOT answer you that your sickness is from Him, you just take it that it is NOT from Him, and when it is NOT from Him, of course, you can ask Him to intervene, and to remove the sickness from you.

A basis for asking
The redemptive works of Jesus did include (apart from spiritual and works redemptions) a physical redemption or redemption of the body, albeit NOT necessarily both immediately full and effectual (Those desiring understanding in the redemptive works of Jesus, can read my separate article, “The works of redemption by our Lord”).

Even though Jesus had NOT come to do away with the secondary punishments on Man nor to grant eternality to our CURRENT physical body, while He has become the propitiation for sins for all men, He has also demonstratively announced through His workings of signs and wonders and miracles, including healings and deliverances, that God does care about the earthly living of His people, including if they are in afflictions, whether in sicknesses or otherwise.

FULL redemption of the body, although, will NOT manifest in this earthly life, we can still ask for God to bless our body and heal our sicknesses. Although God has NOT made any UNCONDITIONAL promises, ensuring our good health and long life, we can still ask God to heal us and grant us long life, as we live out the redemption that He is doing in our lives; only perhaps, we should ask ourselves what we are doing with our lives and bodies, which are no longer ours (1 Cor 6:19-20).

Sickness, glorifying God? No
This is clear to me:

1. We do NOT glorify God, when a sickness is NOT from Him, and we say it is.

2. We do NOT glorify God, when we thank Him for any sickness (whether from Him or NOT).

3. We do NOT glorify God, when we settle into the sickness if indeed (rare) He inflicted the sickness.

4. Any infliction of sickness on us (unless we are God’s enemy), does NOT glorify God; His healing of us, after our reformation, does, when we are a testimony to His healing.

5. That we are sick does NOT glorify God, but His healing of us does, when we are a testimony to His healing.

It is a misconception to regard sickness as bringing glory to God (unless the afflicted is God’s enemy!). People misinterpret such Scripture passages like John 9:1-3 – Jesus healed man, blind from birth, and John 11:3-4 – Lazarus’ sickness.

Firstly, nowhere in these NT passages on sickness and healing, was there mentioned God inflicted the sicknesses to the individuals, at best, the sicknesses were allowed to happen in the individuals; at best, the sicknesses provided the opportunities for God to glorify Himself. God is good, and therefore, CANNOT be a sadist. Secondly, since the sicknesses were NOT inflicted by God directly, what credit or glory could there be had, for God, in they being sick or remain in sickness? None. Rather, it is their healings by the power of God that brought glory to God, when they became testimonies of God’s divine healing (Luke 5:24-26, Luke 13:12-17, Luke 18:35-43, Acts 4:21-22).

Perseverance in sickness, doesn’t that glorify God?
What about perseverance in sickness; does it NOT glorify God? Sure, perseverance, longsuffering or patience is a fruit of the Spirit which we are to bear, and that is a good thing, and does glorify God, but it is the perseverance that glorified God, NOT sickness. As a fruit, perseverance is to be developed over a believer’s experiences of all sorts, including trials, crises, hunger, and persecutions, etc. It is how the believer carries himself and handles things in all such circumstances of life that determine whether or NOT he glorifies the Lord; it is NOT any of those circumstances themselves glorifying God. For example, persecutions of Christians, is NOT good, it does NOT glorify God when wicked men chopped off the hands and legs of Christians. Do stricken poverty and hunger glorify God? Of course, not. Just as we do NOT welcome persecutions, and the rest, we do NOT welcome sicknesses; we should want to come out of persecutions, and likewise, sicknesses. If we can function still in our persecutions or sicknesses, imagine how much more we can move towards works redemption, the Lord is working in us, when persecutions and sicknesses are lifted. A relevant question to ask ourselves is, “Will we do more, when we are no more afflicted?”

[Added 31 May 2011: There is a valid point that persecution and sickness are to be handled differently. Still I do not think it is right to tell people to welcome persecution, but if it does befall you, you have to face it with a different attitude to that of facing sickness. Very briefly, for sickness, the Apostle James' call reflected the attitude:

14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; (James 5:14-15a)

For sufferings for Christ or the Gospel, we are to persevere and rejoice:

12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (1 Peter 4:12-14)

Other scriptures on sufferrings from persecution, saying of the same attitude, included Col 1:24 (of Paul's suffering for the Gospel),Matt 5:11-13 (of believers, because of Christ), Rom 5:3-4 (produces perseverance, character and hope).]

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – Sure, God, IN all things, including bad ones, works them for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose, but we do NOT thank God FOR the bad things, we thank Him for working them for our good. We thank God IN all things, we do NOT thank God FOR all things, for NOT all things are gifts of God! {Over and above all things, be thankful always, to God the Father, in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ (Eph 5:20) – this is the proper rendering for this verse}.

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: ... {click on it to reveal complete address}
Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sickness and God

Is sickness from God? If so, why does God make people sick? Does God still do that?

Sickness can be from God {as in, it can be possible}, but I believe, ALMOST ALWAYS, sickness is NOT from God. The reason why it is so, is because, in the first place, with rare exceptions, it is only in chastisement that, possibly a sickness comes directly from God. Secondly, we are in the era of the Lord’s favor. Thirdly, He probably would tell you, if it were from Him. Of course, here, we are referring to direct infliction of sickness by God on a person.

God’s chastisement
The word, “chastisement”, H3256 – yacar (in Hebrew) can be of 2 main meanings: one, to reform (to correct, to instruct, to teach, to discipline), and two, to punish. The word is roughly the same as chastisement which is also of the 2 sets of meanings.

Examples of chastisement as punishment: Lev 26:28 and Lev 26:18.

Then I {the LORD} will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I {the LORD}, even I, will chastise {H3256} you seven times for your sins (Lev 26:28).

And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I {the LORD} will punish {H3256} you seven times more for your sins (Lev 26:18).

Example of chastisement as reformation: Lev 26:23

And if ye will not be reformed {H3256} by me by these things, but will walk contrary unto me; (Lev 26:23)

God does reform, instruct, teach or discipline us almost all the time, although God does not punish us almost all or all the time. Some people think that God’s chastisement only existed in the Old Testament (OT) time. No, that is NOT true. God’s chastisement is on-going, from ancient of times, to New Testament (NT) times, and to End times.

We find this written in the Books of Proverbs:

11My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:
12For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth (Proverbs 3:11-12, KJV)

In the New Testament Book of Hebrews, we read this:

7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
10For they {earthly fathers} verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he {God} for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
12Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
13And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed (Heb 12:7-13, KJV).

We read this in the Book of Revelation:

As many as I {Jesus} love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent (Rev 3:19, KJV).

God loves you and I unto righteousness - 'ahab love
It is very clear from Scripture, if you are NOT disciplined {chastised, KJV} (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and NOT true sons (Heb 12:8, NIV). While God’s chastisement is there for sure, the purpose of which, is to reform us, to correct us, to teach us, to discipline us, and even to punish us, so that we might be partakers of His holiness (Heb 12:10), and bear fruit of righteousness (Heb 12:11), many people cannot accept this, saying this conflicts with the love character of God. I tell you the truth is that God loves Man unto righteousness ('ahab love; God’s love is `ahab love. In His highest form of love for you and I, He loves us unto righteousness). Because He does NOT JUST love you and I, but love you and I unto righteousness, there is always chastisement of God in our lives.

Sickness from God as chastisement
Of course, God’s means of chastisement do NOT necessarily have to be in the form of infliction with a sickness. The means can be many (frankly speaking, we cannot “box” God), and can include any of the followings: trial, hardship, injury or wound (even by sword), pain (physical, emotional), hunger (famine), beast attack (not just snake bites!), and sickness and plague; even accident and natural calamity are possible. But, please, do NOT say I say we have an evil God; no, I did NOT say anything of that sort. God is light, in Him is found NO darkness; God is good, NO evil whatsoever, in Him, but because He loves Man unto righteousness, He necessarily have to chastise the free-willed Man.

But whether it is to reform or punish, specific examples, in scriptures, of God’s afflictions in the form of sickness against individuals, were NOT that many:

Sickness as a punishment:

1. The plague of boil on Egyptians (Ex 9:10, KJV) –

So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on men and animals (Ex 9:10, KJV).

2. Lingering disease of the bowels of King Jehoram (of Judah), son of King Jehoshaphat for wicked ways (2 Ch 21:15, 18-19a) –

You yourself will be very ill with a lingering disease of the bowels, until the disease causes your bowels to come out.’” (2 Ch 21:15, {prophecy}). 18 After all this, the LORD afflicted Jehoram with an incurable disease of the bowels. 19 In the course of time, at the end of the second year, his bowels came out because of the disease, and he died in great pain (2 Ch 21:18-19a, {came to pass}).

Sickness as reformation (to discipline):

1. Prophetess Miriam (Moses’ sister) struck leprous by the LORD, when she and Aaron spoke against Moses (Num 12:8-15) –

8 With him {Moses} I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 9 The anger of the LORD burned against them {Miriam and Aaron}, and he {the LORD} left them. 10 When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy; 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.” 13 So Moses cried out to the LORD, “O God, please heal her!” 14 The LORD replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back (Num 12:8-15).

2. Zechariah (John the Baptist’s father) muted for unbelief (Luke 1:11-13, 19-20) –

11Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John (Luke 1:11-13). 19 The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.” (Luke 1:19-20).

NB: I have omitted venomous snake bites inflicted by God on Israelites (Num 21:4-9), solely on the ground that deadly snake bites generally are NOT considered as sickness, but it was an example of corporate chastisement (to reform or discipline) {Corporate, because many were too late to be saved by the installation of the bronze snake pole. In corporate scenario, some will end up being punished while others reformed.}.

Even though actual examples of God’s afflictions of sicknesses on specific individuals were few, there were, however, repeated recordings in the Old Testament of God’s threat of inflicting sicknesses as a threat of punishment. Arguably, they might be intended as corporate threats, yet a corporate body is made up of individuals.

58 If you do not carefully follow all the words of this law, which are written in this book, and do not revere this glorious and awesome name—the LORD your God— 59 the LORD will send fearful plagues on you and your descendants, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses. 60 He will bring upon you all the diseases of Egypt that you dreaded, and they will cling to you. 61 The LORD will also bring on you every kind of sickness and disaster not recorded in this Book of the Law, until you are destroyed (Deu 28:58-61, also Deu 7:15, Ex 15:26).

Also, Scripture clearly recorded for us that God’s 4 dreadful judgments are sword, famine, wild {bad} beasts and plague (Eze 14:21, Rev 6:8, Deu 32:23-25). Although a plague does not necessarily need to be a sickness or infirmity, it can be, just like out of the set of several plagues inflicted by the LORD on the Egyptians, one of them was the plague of boil. As plague (NOT necessarily a sickness), there were many examples of God’s inflictions, in the past (plagues against the Egyptians, for example), and in coming future, from the Book of Revelation; but I am NOT listing them because they are NOT generally considered as sickness. But we do need to note that God did and could punish in that way, using plague which can come in many forms. Also, we should know that God does NOT threaten in vain (Eze 6:10).

Confining our discussion to sicknesses, and NOT plagues generally, still, is the stand taken at the beginning of this article correct? What other pieces of knowledge do we have to have, in order to form a healthy perspective of God, in relation to us being sick? I believe there are 3 more pieces of knowledge we need to have, before we can come to that stand or conclusion.

Additional knowledge needed
One, as can be seen above, God chastises only when we are straying or being disobedient or getting from bad to worse, so to speak. To minimize the constant incurring of the wrath of God, God decided in the past to give out laws, and there were consequences for disobedience to the laws, but the punishments were NOT (necessarily) sicknesses. So, God was already using the laws to chastise His people; He therefore, did NOT necessarily need to resort to sicknesses directly to chastise His people. Today, even as the WHOLE of Law is NOT applicable to the NT believers, the spirit of the Law is still applicable, and we, believers, do well to note all (still) relevant laws (commands, precepts, decrees, and exhortations) need to be heeded.

Two, I strongly believe there is of course, a difference between the OT era and the NT era; it is NOT that, the God in NT and the God in OT are different. God is NEVER different; He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever more. What I am saying is consistent with understanding from Scripture, that there is such thing as seasons. Eccl 3:1 stated for us that there is a season for everything, and so, it is also NOT unreasonable to expect, in God’s dealings with Man, there can be different seasons.

The year of the Lord’s favor in Luke 4:19, as part of Jesus’ manifesto, did NOT refer to a time period of a year; it was alluding {only an allusion} to the Year of Jubilee, the year of “universal release”, but in giganticness of the version (of favor) that Jesus’ coming was signifying, it clearly was referring to an era of the Lord’s favor. Of course, the big ticket item in that favor is the redemption of Man, but it definitely included increased longsuffering or patience on the part of God, holding back His wrath against those who sin. These words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Tim 1:16 said it all:

But for that very reason I {Paul} was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life (1 Tim 1:16).

Therefore, if in the era of the Lord’s favor, which is currently, we can expect even greater {relative to OT time} restraint by God to mete out chastisements in the form of sicknesses. Now, of course, THIS {there can be other(s), later on} era of the Lord’s favor is NOT going to be forever, but for now and for many more years to come, the Lord’s favor is granted. Now, do NOT get carried away and think that God is now more accommodative of sins; no, nothing of this sort, it is just that God is holding back his wrath, wanting and giving people time and opportunities to repent and return (by grace). So, please do NOT quote me saying that we can sin more and can get away with it, I said NO such thing!

Three, when a reasonable earthly father chastises, will we know? Yes, when we are chastised by our earthly fathers, we often know; likewise, what is done to us or taken away from us, we can know if they are of our father’s actions, in chastisement. When one is NOT sure, and when he asks his earthly father, he will be told, whether or not, an affliction is from him. It is another thing, if the son does NOT want to accept he has done wrong or believe that his father can do that to him. The point is that we can expect God NOT to deny it, if He has indeed, inflicted one of us, with a sickness to chastise us. In the specific individual examples of the OT time cited above, the specific individuals knew or were told.

Although I have said 3 more pieces of knowledge, there is another that may bear on the issue, but which I do NOT want to say much on it, for I have NOT, much revelation of God’s ways in how He views and juggles the tension in the “corporate” versus “individual” well-being; what I am hinting is that there is still the corporate dimension of matter that sometimes would move God to act, including corporate chastisements, something quite more prevalent, at least, in OT time. In other words, if an infliction is on a massive scale, we have to sit up and ask if there is a spiritual dimension to the infliction, maybe, maybe NOT, from God, if NOT, maybe, it is the works of the Devil, if it is NOT physical or natural. Of course, the world we are in, is a fallen world.

The rare exceptions
Before I come to the conclusion part, it is only appropriate for me to address the “rare exceptions” I mentioned, at the start of the article concerning sicknesses coming only through chastisements. I only know of one case of sickness coming directly from God, NOT for chastisement, and it is that of Hannah, mother of the prophet and judge, Samuel, recorded in 1 Sam 1:5-7, 16 & 20 –

5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb. 6 And because the LORD had closed her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the LORD, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat (1 Sam 1:5-7). Do not take your servant for a wicked woman {in reply to Eli, the priest}; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” (v16). So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.” (v20).

The inability to conceive or barrenness, to me, can be considered as a sickness, and in Hannah’s case, it was clearly stated that the LORD shut up her womb (v5 & 6). Nowhere was it written the reason the LORD did that, but I would NOT fight anybody who want to insist the reason was still in the category of chastisement, for Hannah, of course, grew, with the affliction and the removal of the barrenness, but NOT without having suffered great anguish and grief.

Conclusion – our stand
Now, we must conclude on what is the healthy perspective that a believer should have concerning sickness and God, of whether sickness we experienced are coming from God. There are definitely examples, although NOT many, of God inflicting individuals with sicknesses in OT (Zechariah’s case, strictly speaking was in OT time (before Jesus), although recorded for us in NT).

I do NOT talk about the Apostle’s Paul’s affliction of thorn in the flesh here, for 2 reasons, one, “thorn in the flesh” could very well be referring to a person rather than a sickness or disease; and two, it is NOT clearly stated that it came directly from God. God allowed it to remain there, but Scripture did NOT say God put it there; there is a difference between the two, I hope everyone is clear about that.

In NT, there is NO recording of an individual being afflicted by God with a sickness, whether it is for chastisement or for other reason (the man blind from birth, healed by Jesus {John 9:1-3}, his blindness happened, but NOT necessarily inflicted by God). This is a strong case to say God does NOT currently inflict sickness, but I would NOT box God up and say He cannot inflict an individual with sickness, for He did before, in the OT. If God could engineer Jonah to be thrown overboard but also sent a “fish” to swallow him up and then vomited him or whatever that the fish did, on shore, surely God could make someone sick, and choose or choose NOT to heal him, personally or through a doctor.

We have also seen that any sickness affliction by God, it came because of chastisement, meaning sickness is NOT inflicted (by God) for no reason. The threat of sickness by God in OT era, also clearly had to do with disobedience or refusal to obey God’s laws or commandments, or lack of fear of God.

Therefore, isn’t there a simple answer, like, just have the fear of God, and obey ALL His commands? Yes, there is an answer there, but it is NOT simple, because none can achieve it, none can do it. It is like, sin NOT, is the answer, but who is without sin? But the perspective we must bear in mind is that sickness is NOT the only way open to God to chastise people, even in the OT. On top of that, with the arrival of the era of the Lord’s favor, as explained above, abundance of grace is promised in Christ Jesus, for this is what was written in Rom 5: 20b-21 –

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

As we have read, in the body of this article, 1 Tim 1:16 gave us the assurance of God’s increased longsuffering towards us in this era of the Lord’s favor. In this era of the Lord’s favor, we can take the stand that sickness GENERALLY does NOT come from God. If you are sick, and if God does NOT answer you, saying the sickness you are suffering is from Him, you can take it that it is NOT from Him.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jer 29:11, KJV).

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: ... {click on it to reveal complete address}
Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The works of redemption by Our Lord

Today, I am going to touch on a somewhat sensitive topic, but yet, a very significant one, which, I believe, more recently, the Holy Spirit has impressed upon me. More directly, it concerns a dimension of redemption which has not been properly emphasized as such, and indirectly de-emphasized by erroneous “overly grace” teachings.

Spiritual redemption
Many are of the view the redemption of our Lord, Jesus Christ, is simply a singular spiritual dimension, the giving of eternal life to our spirited soul (For understanding of why I used spirited soul instead of spirit or soul, read my separate article, Man is body, soul and spirit {Tripartite}). In other words, Jesus died on the Cross that we may have eternal life. Indeed, this is the common belief that is shared by all “legitimate” Christians.

Physical redemption
In addition to that spiritual dimension (of eternal life for our spirited soul), some believe the work of redemption included a redemption of the physical. In other words, in addition, there is also the redemption of the body. While at one extreme, there are those who believe not, any physical redemption; the other extreme is occupied by those who believe physical redemption is both immediately full and effectual. Such are also most likely to regard redemption of the spirited soul as being both immediately full and effectual. It is NOT the intention of this article to look at the issue of the redemption of the spirited soul being both immediately full and effectual or “already in possession”. It is however, my intention to cover the issue of whether or not physical redemption of the body is necessarily both immediately full and effectual. This, of course, is hinting that, there is a third class of believers who believe while there is physical redemption, i.e. redemption of the body, upon entering into salvation, such physical redemption is only partial, for the time being. This, I will expound further, after I have introduced the third dimension of the redemptive works of Jesus, which is the other purpose of this article.

Works redemption
So far, we have mentioned, firstly, spiritual redemption, redemption of the spirited soul, and secondly, physical redemption, redemption of the body of a person. The third dimension, though, is not uncommon to have been taught in “balanced” churches, but NOT so much as a dimension of the redemptive work of Jesus, is works redemption! Because of the over-emphasis by “overly grace” teachings, “works” has been de-emphasized by many. The over use of the saying, “We are not saved by works.” is partly responsible for the incorrect perspective we hold on the subject of works. I strongly believe that redemption should be taught to include works redemption, for it is only in this way, works is given the proper position that it should take, in the walk of a Christian.

Direct word on works redemption
Frankly, it is NOT that the Word of God had not been direct about this issue; I believe it has been that we have chosen to construe the word of God deferring to our desire to be free from accountability. As a direct word, God gave us Eph 2:10 -

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10, KJV).

Below is my own private commentary on the above verse of Eph 2:10:

“Because of its constant use, Christians tend to remember the preceding two verses (vv 8 & 9), or its appealing part – the “by grace” part; whereas verse 10 is so conveniently ignored because it is not appealing, because it calls for sacrifice on our part or it encroaches into our lives. Verse 10 implies that we are to see {“For” here, means “seeing that; pointing to another truth, often greater truth”; or means “more importantly”; “For” in v8, on the other hand, means “since”} or to understand that we are created by God for good works; works which He had prepared in advance for us to do. So, when you and I are saved, we are to step into our destiny and that redeemed destiny included doing good works. Many of us, also park away this verse because we choose to believe we do not know what the good works are.”

Let me expand on this: Verses 8-10 are on the issue of redemption by our Lord, not just verses 8 & 9; it is error on our part to read verses 8 & 9 as having to do with redemption, and NOT verse 10. If you think, that is the only isolated verse (on good works), then look at this verse from the Book of Titus:

Who gave himself for us, that he {Jesus} might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:14. KJV).

What does “redeem” mean?
When Scripture said that we are “redeemed” by the Lord, what does the word mean? It means to get back, or to regain, or to recover, and in the case of us, by the Lord, was with a payment which was termed as ransom; the Greek word used is lytroŇć (G3084). In other words, “redeem” implied there was a previous state or station, but that state or station had changed, and redemption would result in the state or station be changed back to the original state. For example, we read of this, in Lev 25:29, “And if a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold; within a full year may he redeem it.” What it simply meant was that if the owner of the house sold his house, his state of being the owner of the house ceased, but when he redeemed the house back, he would once again be the owner of the house. Therefore, redeem ALWAYS talks about a reversion to the previous.

Indirect picture
This brings me to talk about the indirect pictures portrayed in Scripture concerning original state or station of Man. What was the early state of Man, before the Fall of Man, like? He was with a body, and although he was already a soul, a life principal, yet he was made living forever by God’s giving to him, a spirit. Was that all? No, we are to understand that he was righteous, for God said that what He had created was good, and God freely fellowshipped with Man, in the early days. Was that all? No, we are told that Man was to do the bidding of God, in other words, Man was with works, and the works, then, was to tend the Garden of Eden.

It should be easy to appreciate the word, “good” here, has the meaning of being agreeable or being right, with God. That is why it is not unreasonable to say, when God said what He created was good or what He saw was good, He was saying the “object” was agreeable or being right with Him, or righteous. Therefore, to translate “good and evil” as in the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil as “…. tree of knowledge of being righteous and evil is NOT incorrect. Similarly, “good works” can be rendered as righteous works; both phrases we do encounter, in the New Testament (NT). Any works which is agreeable or right in God’s eyes is good works. In other words, works which God would like us to do is good works. The tending of the Garden of Eden was good works, so is the works of the Great Commission; and many more things can come under good works (including the worshiping of God).

Spiritual redemption explained
Now, when Jesus redeems us, what is He redeeming? As expounded by my separate article referred to above, on the Tripartite nature of Man, we know the spirited soul of Man lives forever (eternal life enabled), yet by The Fall, the spirited soul was cursed to live separate from God in Hell (eternal life “disabled”). Indeed, there was a change of state or station when Man first fell, for there was a law, NOT the Law of Moses, but a prohibitive law given by God to the first man, “You shall not eat of the …..” The breaking of a law is a curse (Gal 3:10, 3:13), and when Man broke that law, the curse, “You shall surely die.” kicked in. The death, here, must be understood NOT as the physical death, but death of the spirited soul as in its separation from God, although unless there is a physical death, final “death” of the spirited soul CANNOT be entered into. This understanding that physical death must precede final “death” of the spirited soul is significant, and we will return to it, in a little while. So, the very first redemption dimension is to revert Man back to eternal life enabled; in simple terms, we say we have once again eternal life (spiritual redemption), just as first Man, Adam, was originally with eternal life.

Physical redemption explained
Concerning redemption of the body, is there or is there not, redemption? To answer this, we need to have understanding of whether or not there was a change with regard to the body, when Man first fell. There are a few aspects to consider in addressing this issue of the body:

First, let me pose you a question; do you think Adam ever had (ate) the fruit from the Tree of Life? When I posed this question to Christians, most, if not all, were stunned; the reason being they were under the impression that Adam did not; and no one should have asked such a question, for to them, as far as they were taught, the only relevant question was whether or not, Adam ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Yes; the scriptures below, said that God stopped Adam from eating from the Tree of Life:

22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken (Gen 3:22-23, KJV).

But, people forgot that God had earlier, when He placed Adam in the Garden, said this:

16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:16-17, KJV)

Therefore, it is NOT unreasonable to deduce that, at the beginning, Man was eating the fruits from the Tree of Life. I believe, that was indeed the case, that Adam and Eve had the fruits from the Tree of Life as one of their diet! In Gen 3:22-23, it was stated God stopped that, and put Man out of the Garden; the reason being, to prevent Man from living forever. Have you wondered why Adam and Eve were prevented from living forever? I can think of 2 reasons: one, Man was NOT created with the capacity to handle the knowledge of good and evil independently, without further input from God, and two, Man must NOT be allowed to live forever physically, because if it were the case, it would negate God’s punishment, for God had said Adam and Eve shall surely die if they ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

Had Adam and Eve continued to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life, they would NOT die physically, and without physical death, they would NOT be able to enter into the 2nd death, which was to be “death” for the spirited soul. Those who insisted the death in Gen 2:16-17 was referring to 1st death or physical death is mistaken, for Adam and Eve did not die on the Fall; in fact, they lived on to procreate Abel, Cain and Seth, before Adam finally died at the age of 930 years old.

Without eating the fruit from the Tree of Life, Adam and Eve, and any man, for that matter, would die. Perhaps, with earlier consumption of the potent fruit, early men were able to live a very substantially longer life, but over time, with no more residual effect of the fruit left to pass down Man’s lineage, and with the fallen world’s effects, physical life on earth invariably became shorter and shorter. According to Scripture, we know the average age has settled to around 70 to 80 years (Ps 90:10).

One thing for sure, The Fall meant that Man would NOT have (or if you believe like I do, “no longer have”) the access to the fruit from the Tree of Life, and therefore, the body would NOT be able to live forever. For this aspect, does the redemption by our Lord take care of it? The short answer is “Yes”, but the picture is NOT sufficiently explained with just a “Yes” answer. Why?

This is why:

1. Jesus did not say that we would not die, physically.
2. Jesus talked about the incorruptible body for a believer as that which would be given after physical death or when we are raptured at End Time.
3. The fruit from the Tree of Life would be available for consumption for the believers, NOT in this earthly life (Rev 2:7, Rev 22:1-2).
4. The Tree of Life or the Garden of Eden just could NOT be found, no matter how hard men tried.
5. In reality, men die the physical death. According to Wikipedia (probably from the start of tracking), the CURRENT oldest “verified person” ever was a French woman, who died at the age of 122 years 164 days. Others died much younger.

From Scripture, our undisputable understanding is that the incorruptible body is given after our physical life has expired, and the fruit from the Tree of Life, also, can only be had, after our physical life has expired. While there are scriptures showing possible grant of full life span and long life by God, none, pointed to any hint of our physical body NOT giving way eventually or we would NOT die the physical death, at the hand of sicknesses or simply old age.

We should also note that punishments for Man {for the serpent, there are separate punishments}, for the Fall of Man, were of 2 sets, one, contained in Gen 2:16-17, and another, in Gen 3:16-19. The first set, I termed it as the primary or the spiritual punishment, as it pertains to the spirited soul, the second, the secondary or physical punishments, as they were meted out by God when by His grace, He allowed Man to live on physically, out from Garden of Eden. Those wanting a full understanding of The Fall of Man could read my series of articles on “The Fall of Man”. From my understanding of Scripture, the secondary punishments, exacted more, on the body of Men, were NOT bored by Jesus, meaning we cannot say Jesus has taken the fall for us, that we, for the man {gender}, he no longer need to toil for his food, and for the woman, she no longer have any childbearing pain, or her desire will no longer be for her husband or that her husband no longer to rule over her.

The correct understanding, I believe, is this: That Man was allowed to live physically (for Adam and Eve were NOT put to death upon their fall), was already mercy and grace granted on the part of God; secondary punishments, and as well as the lack of protection of the body of Man against eventual giving away (no longer the body was able to continue forever, as was initially possible for Adam and Eve, before the Fall), were NOT what Jesus had come to do away with. Yes, there will be the full redemption of the body, soul and spirit of Man, eventually, but there is NOT the UNCONDITIONAL promise of perpetual physical life or earthly life. The possibility of earthly life or physical life in itself was and is already a mercy and grace of God at work.

We read from Scripture, God did not just abandon Adam and Eve, on discovery of their fall, and even after that. Scripture revealed that, out of love, mercy, grace and compassion, God still cared for Man; God made covering for the naked Man, from animal skin, replacing the flimsy covering Man made out of leaves; God was pictured in Scripture to have been continuing his close fellowship with the first family (Adam and Eve, and their children, Abel, Cain and Seth). God’s love, mercy, grace and compassion continued on with the chosen people of God, then, the Israelites; and then, when Jesus came (his 1st coming), He continued to demonstrate the Father God’s love, mercy, grace and compassion to those living in His time, and through His disciples, began to make available salvation to even the Gentiles, extending the people of God to include any and everyone, who would believe in the Gospel. Jesus’ own manifesto included the declaration of the era {year; more than just a year, it is an era} of favor of God (Luke 4:19). So, even though Jesus had NOT come to do away with the secondary punishments on Man nor to grant eternality to our current physical body, while He has become the propitiation for sins for all men, He has also demonstratively announced through His workings of signs and wonders and miracles, including healings and deliverances, that God does care about the earthly living of His people, including if they are in afflictions, whether in sicknesses or otherwise. Scripture is clear, as believers, we are no longer of this world, although we are still in this world, therefore, physical life and health would continue to be transient or temporal. Any interpretation of any scriptures contrary to this truth is NOT of God.

This brings me to conclude for physical redemption, that while our body can be well for a season, FULL redemption of the body will NOT manifest in this earthly life. While we can ask for God to bless our body and heal our sicknesses, God has NOT made any UNCONDITIONAL promises ensuring our good health and long life. Perhaps, we should ask what we are doing with our life, before we ask how long we can live in good health and die not, yet.

[Added: 16/09/2011 - As to whether or NOT, what were accomplished by the 1st coming of Jesus, complete with His earthly ministry, and culminating in His sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection, included healing for such things as physical, emotional, psychological and demonic conditions/ailments, it must be said that, although it is NOT in the form of an unconditional promise, the authority and powers of divine healing have provided for, as a relief and temporal solution to Man's fallen body, pending the incorruptible body.  But this relief is continuation of the same God's grace, mercy, compassion and love of God for men while they lived, which could be seen even from immediately after the Fall.  However, it is right for us to believe that, through the coming of Jesus, there has been a heightening of this favor of God, for in Isaiah 61, as well as in Luke 4:18-19, of the "manifesto" of Jesus, the latter was tasked by God to declare the era {year here equates era} of favor of the LORD.

It is something that God had planned in, and it can also be seen in Isaiah 53:4, which, through the interpretation given by the Apostle Matthew (Matt 8:16-17), it was NOT necessarily to have been directly attributed to the suffering ON the body of Jesus, although it can (be linked to His bodily, emotional and pyschological sufferings), for one of the main reasons for His having to suffer those sufferings was because He did what He did, performing healings and miracles, in compassion and in the love of God.]

Works redemption explained
Now, I will expound further on the last dimension of redemption, works redemption. I have explained redemption implied a reversion to the previous state or station, and Man was with works from the LORD. Adam and Eve were to tend the Garden of Eden; that was their good works or righteous works for God. Upon the Fall of Man, Man lost the works, for God had to put Man out of the Garden of Eden. Therefore, it is NOT unreasonable to expect, in God’s redemption, this aspect is also redeemed. Of course, it is NOT that we must now find the Garden of Eden and tend that garden, rather we are to do the works God has intentioned that we do (Eph 2:10, Titus 2:14).

God did NOT create Man to do nothing except to bask in grace; He also did not create angels to do nothing. Doing God’s bidding or His works is fundamental in God’s creation of spirited beings, be it, Man or angels or any other heavenly creatures. It is amazing that so many believe in GENERAL predestination of PERSONAL salvation (which I do NOT subscribe to), yet people do NOT believe that Man is pre-destined to do good works when verses such as Eph 2:10 clearly pointed to that. When there is pre-destination of works, necessarily in redemption, there is a redemption in this aspect.

Not really a digression, I would like to point out that Satan, previously known as Lucifer (bearer or bringer of light), the once guardian angel of God, was created with works assignment, and his assignments possibly included leading worship in Heaven (Eze 28:13-14, Isaiah 14:11-12), but when he fell, he lost his works assignments, and became known as Satan, the adversary, deceiver or accuser. When Lucifer fell, he lost his works assignments; when Man fell, he too, lost his works assignment. Satan has NOT the chance to be redeemed, but we have, and are redeemed (for believers, that is), and so, don’t just do your own thing or just bask in grace!

The redemption of Man does not just involve a restoration or re-establishment of eternal life, eternal body, NOT on current body, though, but also works, even though, we may yet be fully assigned in our current life. It is NOT without reason, Jesus spoke about a number of parables on works and fruitfulness using the metaphors of trees or plants {Vine and the branches (John 15:1-6), The barren fig tree (Luke 13:6-9), and The sower and the seeds (Luke 8:5-15)} and gave the narrative in Matt 25 on the Sheep and the Goats (Matt 25:31-46). Works (good works or righteous works) is part of redemption, and when we look at works in its proper perspective, we can then begin to sort out what we must do to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phi 2:12).

There are connections between the 3 dimensions of redemption discussed here, but for this article, I shan’t go into it in details except to say 2 more things: one, to underscore that, indeed, works is an integral part of redemption, may I encourage you to read my separate article, “Who are the sheep, and who are the goats?”; two, does it NOT make sense God will have an interest in your good health and length of life, if you are doing His works, even if in truth, both good health and physical life have to be transient or temporal? What are we doing with our body or earthly life; do we do his works?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known (1 Cor 13:11-2). Lord, I cannot refuse to grow in your redemption of me, and I cannot say since the Kingdom of Heaven is NOT fully manifest in earthly living, I shall NOT walk out the redemption that you have ransomed with your own life. May I work out my salvation with fear and trembling, including be warned that I should NOT be found as goats, but as your sheep. Lord, may you bless me in good health and long life as I do (some of) the works you have intended me to do, in my earthly life. Forgive me, Lord, for where I fall short. Lead me by your Spirit that I may truly grow in your redemption of me. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Comments are welcome here. Alternatively, email them to me @: ... {click on it to reveal complete address}
Or just email me your email address so that I can put you on my blog (new entry) notification list. To go back to blog main page, click here.