Thursday, June 30, 2011

They call it the view of Hell

Recently, I read a long write-up of an interview between a distinguished Post and a Bible scholar on the subject of the view of Hell. The scholar has a view of Hell which differs from the traditional view of the same. This article I am putting up here, is in defense of the traditionalist view of Hell, and in the process, expresses views contrary to the followers of the so-called conditionalist view of Hell. With a view to give understanding, I also elaborated on a number of peripheral, but connected issues to the view of Hell.

View expressed here are my own
The views expressed in this article, as well as those in the various articles of mine, which I will give reference to, are solely my own, and do NOT necessarily represent the church or any Christian organization which I am a part of, or have associations with. Of course, who we sit under over the years, does shape our belief in matters relating to the faith.

Also, as far as possible, I try my best (I am human, too) NOT to attack a person per se; rather I do speak out against questionable teachings. If you teach wrong teaching on the core theologies of the faith, I will NOT hesitate to write against that teaching.

On exegesis
Talking about Hell is like talking about Heaven when one has NOT been to either. So, there is no facts to talk about, no evidence to study, except for expressions of Man (inspired by the Holy Spirit) in the Word, and various writings throughout times, including ancient times, before and during the Bible authoring. For me, it has always been that we give the strongest weightage to the Word. Any data, information or views expressed in extra-biblical writings, if admitted, must NOT contradict existing ones (however incomplete, they might seem) in Scriptures. In other words, filling in the gaps must NOT contradict existing information as stated in Scriptures.

It is also NOT acceptable to hide behind bombastic words such as perspicuity when one contradicts existing facts of the Word. Yes, what does that word, “perspicuity” mean? Acuteness of judgment! Whatever acuteness of judgment that one may have, it cannot contradict the revealed facts of the Word, for the Holy Spirit does NOT contradict the Word of God.

Anything with NO link to information in Scriptures, is pure speculation, and must be recognized as such. I am NOT saying we cannot speculate but we must note the difference between speculation and correct adoption of filling in the gaps, as a manner of interpreting Scriptures (I expressed in some of my articles, also, my stand on experiences, which in this case, is NOT relevant {experience of Hell, anyone?}, that people should NOT form theology out of their experiences, but to view experiences as testifying to theology derived solely from the Word).

My caution, to even distinguished pastors and ministers, is that we must all be very careful when we are inclined to “borrow” explanations in ex-biblical writings to explain the Word. In the same way, it is also absolutely critical we translate the Bible correctly, that we are careful NOT to add or subtract from it, or color the translation with our own “slant” in theological beliefs. (I am aware that inevitably a view is sometimes adopted, for pure lack of data or information. Having the correct overall counsel of the Word is of utmost importance in translation of Scriptures).

Three views mentioned
Three views are mentioned in the interview, of Hell, and are as follows:

1. The traditionalist view - hell as the fire that torments forever.
2. Universalist view - hell as the fire that purifies and refines.
3. Conditionalist view (the scholar's view) - hell as the fire that consumes.

This, I take serious issue with!
In the interview, the scholar expressed his agreement with the interviewer that he (the scholar) and the universalists agree on one thing, and that one thing is that our God is a loving God and so cannot be sending someone to Hell to be burned and tormented forever.

The conditionalists and the universalists cannot accept that our God is a loving God and at the same time, can still be sending {this of course, is understood by all as consequence of our sinning} some to Hell to be burned and tortured forever. Now, they cannot accept; that is their position, but that does NOT mean anything! They cannot accept, but that does NOT mean that it cannot be! I am NOT saying that the conditionalists are apostates, but there are Christians who teaches that everyone will go to Heaven, because they erroneously argue that sending people to Hell is incongruent with the character of God.

The point is that there are many people in the world who subscribe to this view: “I do NOT want a God who will send me to Hell because I refuse to listen to Him”. The Gospel is that we have to accept God’s plan of salvation through Christ Jesus; we have to subscribe to that Gospel; that is what the Word said. Anything to the effect of, “No-lah, since God is so loving, that He even sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, surely He cannot be sending us to Hell to be burned and tortured.”, is heretic, if NOT apostate. Like I said, I am NOT saying the conditionalists are apostates, but more inclination towards a loving God cannot be sending people to Hell or to Hell to be tormented for long stretch of time is likely to fuel more false “theologies” to be spun out to paint an incorrect will of God for Man, as portrayed in Scriptures.

I once read over the internet of a teacher who taught that everyone will get to Heaven to be with God, regardless of whether or not, in the person’s life-time, he accepts the Lord as his personal Lord and Savior. Many concerned Christians wrote against that teaching, and one of the things expressed was this: “You mean I have been interceding for my family members to receive Jesus into their lives for nothing!”. One of the verses cited in support for such argument that all men will be included is this:

1 Tim 2:4 (KJV) – “{God} Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Well, the verse said that God “will have”, thelō (G2309), desires, all men be saved, but it does NOT say that it is God MUST save all men.

We really must be very careful when we import extra-biblical views into our faith. Another example of unacceptable portrayal that our God is a loving God who will be willing to give 2nd chances to people, is that there are teachers that went round teaching that we can intercede for the dead to be admitted to Heaven, giving rise to ridiculous “passing the buck” to children of reluctant parents who did NOT want to give their lives over to Jesus while they are alive. A friend of mine was so tempted by that erroneous “loop-hole” that he asked me if it is indeed possible that his children can, in the future, intercede for him to enter into Heaven when he, in his life-time, is NOT going (NOT willing) to accept Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.

Then, along the line of man-centred (instead of God-centred) reasoning expressed in the interview, there are teachers who expressed that over the history of mankind, millions and millions of people have died without entry into salvation; how can it be that “entry into salvation” is an essential criteria, too many would be lost?! True, over the years, millions if not billions, have died that way, but that does NOT negate the Gospel or the Word of God, for Jesus Himself has expressed:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matt 7:13-14).

If God’s love MUST absolutely see us in Heaven, why the need to send Jesus? The Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be ignored.

Then, there are those who taught, based on, “Who are the sheep and who are the goats”, a narrative by our Lord, Jesus, and concluded that entry into salvation is NOT the essential criteria to get to Heaven, but works (good works) solely, is the essential criteria. Their central argument was that works (good works) evidenced the love of such a “good works” person, and because God is love, God will recognize those good works, and the person will be granted entry into Heaven, and he is able to avoid being sent to the burning fire of Hell. This, in my view, is apostate, for it is incongruent with the revealed will of God for Man, as written in the Gospel. My definition of being an apostate is one holding onto core theology incongruent to the REVEALED will of God, as written in the Word. If you want my interpretation of the same narrative of our Lord, read this separate article of mine: “Who are the sheep and who are the goats”.

It is NOT so much the concept (here, expressed as “view”) of Hell that is of issue, it is the saying that a loving God cannot be sending some to Hell to be burned and tormented (torment or torture itself carries connotation of significant length of time of suffering), that I seriously take issue with.

Which is more vindictive; putting people to fire to burn to purify and refine (universalist view), or putting people to fire to consume (conditionalist view)? Obviously, conditionalists are no more portraying a loving God than the universalists or the traditionalists. They are saying that one sent there, is consumed, which means that he is NO more, absolutely or final or irreversible. Let’s say for a moment, that the conditionalist is right, but is the picture he painted, one of a more loving God than the other scenarios? I do NOT know about you, when there is NO more of me, in absolute, how can it be more loving! To me, it is an oxymoron, to say that this conditionalist view is more acceptable over the traditionalist view because it paints a more loving God.

It is NOT the intention of this article to dwell on the universalist view of hell as fire that purifies and refines, but I will just state, as far as I am concerned, that view of Hell is undisputedly incorrect based on the revealed will of God, as written in the Bible.

Man bipartite or tripartite?
The scholar spoke about Man as being with soul and body. Although it is NOT very clear from the interview whether or not, he is of the view that both the soul and body are both physical and mortal, such is the view held by other conditionalists, and they and scholar made no reference to the spirit of Man. So, it is either they are viewing the spirit and soul of Man as synonymous or they do NOT believe Man is tripartite. The soul {psychē, G5590} and spirit {pneuma, G4151} of Man is NOT synonymous – Heb 4:12.

Whether or NOT a conditionalist believes that Man is tripartite, the correct biblical view is that Man is tripartite, i.e. Man is body, soul and spirit. For understanding of this, please read my separate article, “Man is body, soul and spirit”. In it, NOT without reference to Scriptures, is the view expressed. It is based on interpretation of Scriptures (of course, one can dispute my interpretations, but, I believe they are NOT incorrect, although my article explained the tripartite nature most simplistically, compared with the common articles you find on the internet). If you follow my argument there, the potential for immortality is present right from the beginning, in God’s creation of Man (meaning if Adam did NOT sin, he would be living forever by just taking in of the fruit from the Tree of Life). This is contrary to the belief of the conditionalists who believe that it is an entirely afterward issue, with immortality coming in view only when resurrection takes place. My article explains it is in the creation of Man, that Man was granted the potential for immortality, compared with animals and plants. Man was given a spirit by God, and it is the spirit of Man which has the capacity of eternal life or immortality that gave the soul of Man the potential of immortality.

Man is with a spirited soul, animals and plants are without, that is why I also hold on to the view that animals (and plants) do NOT go to Heaven. You can read about this in my separate article, “Animals do NOT go to Heaven”. Our belief of spirits being capable of living forever, is that, which will make a lot of difference in how we make sense of some of the deep things of God. For example, angels are spirit (of course, we know God is spirit, The Spirit), and so, angels do NOT expire, become nothingness! When Man was created, he was NOT meant to expire, too! If you believe in the story of Lucifer, of his creation, his fall, the pronouncement against him, and his destiny, which you can read about it as part of my separate article, “It is a tug of war”, you will be able to more clearly see the link between the immortal spirit, Satan (aka or pka Lucifer), and Man’s predicament.

The scholar said that it was the Greek philosophers who colored the lenses of the early fathers of the faith to embrace immortality of the soul. Well, Greek philosopher, Tertullian, or Swiss scholar, Oscar Cullmann or NOT, I know of him NOT (only because the scholar mentioned them), but like I say, “I believe in the immortality of the spirit, but NOT the soul, per se”. Now, in my understanding, the body is physical, the soul is the life participle or the being {psychē, G5590}, and the spirit of Man is spirit. The soul is NOT physical, the spirited soul is definitely NOT physical.

For a Christian, it is his spirited soul that lives on, in Heaven, meaning, he does NOT go to Heaven as a blank sheet, without soul, contrary to the belief of some Christians, partly, I supposed, they are influenced by the saying that the soul is mortal and physical (Now, the soul of animals and plants are mortal, but NOT that of Man, because of the spirit of Man).

As I have pointed out, among other things, in my separate article, “God is gender-neutral, He is Spirit”, one in Heaven does know who his earthly father and mother were or who were once their children on earth, although people are no longer given in marriage in Heaven; you will know, because your soul (or at least aspects of your soul) is NOT gone! {This separate article of mine will make an interesting read. By the way, the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix June 14-15, 2011, took issue with the adopting of the latest translation of the NIV Bible (2011 Translation) with one reason being the new translation adopted gender-neutrality in the translation. For example, where it appeared “brothers” it would now read “brothers and sisters” or “sons”, “sons and daughters”; such insertion is really NOT required}.

Hell and “new heaven and new earth” incompatible!
Satan (aka or pka Lucifer) and angels are immortal, based on understanding that can be derived from Scriptures, for the latter speaks no death or expiry of The Devil or angels, except that Satan and his minions would end up in the burning lake of fire. It is pure speculation on the part of the scholar in the interview to think that there cannot exist, Hell or a part thereof – the burning lake of fire, when the new heaven and new earth come into being. Scriptures speaks of NO destruction of Hell or the burning lake of fire, and it specifically talked about Hades and Death being thrown into Hell (Rev 20:14) at the closure of this current world.

Either it is a chapter to added, of its destruction, in the distant, distant future, for reason that it touches on a separate frame of distant time, or it will NOT be destroyed, Hell, that is, we really do NOT know; and frankly, to the extent that it is revealed of Hell, its character of being a tormenting place, it is sufficient as a warning to all. Please choose to fear God!

Torment may or may NOT be forever, absolutely, but we are NOT consumed instantly
Perhaps, there is no one verse in Scriptures that can be interpreted undisputedly as indicating tormenting in Hell is forever, absolutely, but there is also NO verse that indicates that burning in the burning lake of fire is short-lived. The conditionalist’s idea suggests we get “fried” like fish in fire is without scriptural support. Look, if it is all to be viewed in the physical, how long can we be fried in the burning lake of fire. In physical-humanistic view, of course, if the conditionalist is NOT consumed, he must be superman, from the Planet, Krytonite, or something!

The scholar in the interview said the Bible teaches us that it is that the fire consumes; yah, but Bible also teaches us that, it is that the “fire” refines; so, the universalists are correct - hell as the fire that purifies and refines? No, distinction must be made between “fires” in our current lives, and the burning lake of fire of Hell. As far as dealing of God with Man as revealed in His will, as written in the Word, there are chastisements and there is a punishment-in-finality (By the way, do you know why the 2 sections of the Bible are called testaments? Because they are the wills of God for men {testament = will}! So, don’t say, God revealed nothing of His will; some of them, are there in the Bible). Being thrown into the lake of fire of Hell for torment is the punishment-in-finality for Satan and his minions and all men counted with Satan. Beyond that, the Bible does NOT say, and views are pure speculations.

But who say, we are to view the burning in the lake of fire in our physical-humanistic perspective. Now, there was such a thing as a burning bush (like that encountered by Moses); the bush did NOT get burnt (Ex 3:2-3, Acts 7:30), why can’t there be a fire where we are being “roasted”, but we do NOT die or disappear or no more!

While conditionalists claimed there are no definitive verses to say in uncertain term, that the tormenting in Hell is eternal, there are many verses collectively SUGGEST that we do NOT get dropped into the fire of Hell and become instantly or quickly consumed. Below are some verses about Hell, and I have classified them under captions to make it easier to see the points I am making (I have excluded Luke 16 verses, as the Greek word used there, was “Hades” rather than Hell or its part thereof – the burning lake of fire. Hades will be destroyed, that I agree, for it is stated in Scriptures – Rev 20:14. But Hades and Hell are different.):

The fire is eternal:
Matt 18:8 - If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

Matt 25:41 - “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Mark 9:43 - If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out

Mark 9:48 - where “‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Jude 1:7 - In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

My point: The above speaks of a fire that is eternal or everlasting. As used in Matt 18:8 above, for example, it is the same word as used in eternal life or everlasting life. So, what do these verses tell us? There is an eternal fire or everlasting fire. So, it is unlikely it is a fire that was up for a brief moment that all of the unsaved are thrown into, including Satan and his minions, and then put out, and then God will have the new heaven and new earth come into place, as is suggested by the scholar in the interview.

There is the argument by conditionalists that, it is the result of punishment that is eternal NOT the punishment itself or process of punishment. But clearly, the “eternal” is attached to the fire, as used in the above verses.

Eternal punishment:
Matt 25:46 - “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV84). And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (KJV).

My point: The above is a good example of same meaning use, for “eternal” or “everlasting”; the same Greek word was used in the verse at the 2 different places, “aiōnios” (G166), which means “everlasting”. How long is everlasting as applied to life, and how long is everlasting as applied to punishment, be my guest? It is also clear, the eternality is attached to the word, “punishment” just as it is attached to the word, “life”. I really do NOT appreciate how people can insist that it is NOT about the punishment, but the result of punishment. Let me explain.

Frankly speaking, if it were referring to the result of punishment, i.e. the person is consumed, no more, “apa pun tak ada” {a Malay phrase for “no more), no more Anthony, or no more John, how NOT eternal can one understand the result of that punishment be, if the word, “eternal” is NOT used? Of course, when you are “no more” it is eternal, it goes without saying! – no need to say “eternal”. Therefore, it is intentional for using “eternal” there, against “punishment”, to give an idea of the length of time of the punishment, just as it is to explain to men, how long is the life that we are going into, for we all know, the life that we know and are living in, currently, is one of several tens of years. In other words, eternal, against “life”, is similarly to explain we are NOT entering into another life-span that is only another several tens of years.

Be thrown into Hell:
Matt 18:8 - If your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire.

Matt 18:9 - And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Mark 9:45 - And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.

Mark 9:47 - And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.

Matt 13:42,50 - They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Rev 20:15 - If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

My point: Why say “be thrown into the fire” or “be cast into the fire” by so many different authors, why NOT just say, “be consumed by the fire” or “killed or destroyed” by the fire? Because it was meant to portray there is still life after being put into the fire. It is NOT instant or quick annihilation, if it were so, at least one of them, the authors, might have said it, but NO, none of them said it.

Go into Hell:
Mark 9:43 - If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out

Matt 25:41 - “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

My point: Yes, the above 2 verses, did NOT use “be thrown into”, but, for Mark 9:43, “go into hell” could very much be intended as the same as “be thrown into”, for while still on the same topic, a few verses down (Mark 9:47), the Apostle Mark used “be thrown into”.

We have seen from Matt 25:46 above, that the Apostle Matthew was speaking of “eternal punishment”, and so, the “depart to go into” eternal fire, is NO different from the interpretation of “being cast into” the eternal fire.

There will be weeping/wailing and gnashing of teeth:
Matt 13:42,50 - They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matt 18:12 - But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matt 22:13 - “Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matt 25:30 - And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

My point: What do wailing, weeping and gnashing of teeth signify? Untold anguish and suffering, and it meant to portray a picture of, at least a period of suffering, surely NOT any sort of quick annihilation. I can drop you into a pit of fire, you tell me do you have time to weep or gnash your teeth in the fire; talking about physical!

Into Darkness:
Matt 18:12 - But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jude 1:11-13 - Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

My point: Both the above verses implied length of time through the use of weeping and gnashing of teeth, and “reserved forever”. It is interesting here that “darkness” was used for Hell. On the surface, fire and darkness do NOT seem to go together, but, I believe the darkness referred to, was NOT the absence of the literal light that a fire would give out; rather it was darkness as in “bad”.

Conclusion: The above verses, collectively, can be reasonably be taken to have painted a picture of NOT an instantaneous or quick annihilation of our spirited souls, but a torment of the same, in the burning lake of fire in Hell.

Definition of “death” or “die”
On the issue of definition for “death” or “die”, I beg to differ from the scholar of the interview. His view is that “death” or “die” has to be referring to the same, in the physical sense. No, sometimes, those two words, referred to physical death, sometimes they referred to non-physical death.

In the Book of Hebrews, we can see an instance of it being used as physical death. Heb 9:27 – “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,” As physical death, Man dies ONCE, NOT twice, as implied by the scholar in the interview, in his physical rendering of the second death.

A second time death for a person, and there is such a thing (but NOT for the saved ones), but it is NOT referring to physical death. Rev 20:14 – “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” Yes, the second death always is referring to the same {death} in the lake of fire of Hell.

Whether or NOT, the non-believers will be raised with an incorruptible body, is NOT that relevant, for that body is NOT of the same “physical nature” as we understand it to be, although, it is NOT wrong to view that body to be given us, as “physical”, for it is the final part of our physical redemption, one of the 3-fold redemptive works of our Lord (For understanding of the redemptive works of our Lord, read my separate article, “Works of redemptions of our Lord”). It is NOT physical like our flesh is! Just consider Lucifer, is he NOT with a body (read Eze 28, and know that he had a magnificent body), yet it is NOT physical like we are. The death in the burning lake of fire is NOT physical; for the body if there is one for the non-believers or any men, it is NOT physical like our flesh is; also the soul of Man is NOT physical, and the spirit of Man is NOT physical.

It is my belief that the spirited soul of Man cannot just die physically. Analogous to physical death, I can believe that the spirit can be weakened to a very weak state, well maybe even “coma equivalent”, but God can revive or quicken that spirit and it will come to life! Whether or not, one day, in the most distant, distant future, God will revive the spirits “trapped” in the burning lake of fire, we are NOT told; only God knows.

The death in Gen 2:17, the “you will surely die”, there 2 ways of interpreting it, but none is like that suggested by the conditionalists, although one of the two interpretations does amount to PHYSICAL death (ultimately), BUT it is the FIRST death! I shall explain.

Elsewhere (in other articles), I have only given one of the 2 interpretations, and it was this: The death was NOT referring to the physical death, rather it was referring to the second death, for clearly Adam did NOT die shortly after The Fall, but he lived to have Cain, Abel and Seth, and lived to an age over 900 years. This is NOT an incorrect interpretation, only that it is viewing the matter from the perspective of God - the first death, the physical death is only a “cross-over” or a transition. The relevant death from the perspective of God is the second death, the lake of fire in Hell.

The second interpretation, though it came to me earlier on, but it became clear, only most recently, is this: Indeed, the death referred to, was PHYSICAL death BUT it is the FIRST death, NOT the second death! This is viewing the matter from humanistic angle, emphasizing physical life, for truly from pure human point of view, if my life ends, what else is there to talk about! But conditionalists are still wrong, the second death is NEVER a physical death. It is said that the correct translation of the Hebrew text (OT, originally in Hebrew) is “dying you will die”. Well, the “dying” is referring to the second death (continuous tense implied “on the way to death {to the second death}), the “will die” is referring to the first death, the physical death that is common to all men. Adam would die (physically), and he did die, some 900 years later. The “dying” was referring to “spiritual decay” or weakening of the spirit of Man, together with his soul. With separation from God, the spirit of Man would get weaker, and so, the word, “dying”, and indeed it would be death (second death) for ones who do NOT receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. That is why Scriptures said that Jesus is the quickening spirit, coming to quicken or enliven the spirit of Man:

And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam {Jesus} was made a quickening spirit (1 Cor 15:45, KJV)

Therefore, to be comprehensive, both deaths were being referred to, in Gen 2:17. It is to be understood that in that time Man had no understanding of death, and God introduced it in that first prohibitive commandment. The nature of “death” is NEVER mixed up, first death is physical and second death is non-physical (culminating in the lake of burning fire of Hell, unless redeemed by the Lord). Also, the order is also NEVER mixed up, physical death must be entered into before non-physical one can culminate in the lake of burning fire of Hell, and that is why Adam was barred from (further!) eating from the Tree of Life, and be put out of the Garden of Eden.

By the way, the death in Romans 6:23 – “the wages of sin is death”, is to be similarly explained, following the principle of first mention. So, it is NOT entirely incorrect to say the death in Romans 6:23 is referring to the second death (from the perspective of God), and it is also NOT quite wrong to say that the same death was referring to first death, physical death (along the line of interpreting “dying you die” of Gen 2:17), but commonly I DO reference it to second death, solely because if we say it is the first death, much explanation, like what I have done above, needs to be given, for most people will argue back, saying experience is pointing to a man who commits a sin, is not necessarily going to die (physical, first death) from THAT sin. That is why, I always warn people, and I remind myself, NOT to form theology purely out of our experiences, but to regard our experiences as testifying to theology derived solely based on the Word. In the same light, it is worth mentioning that a number of true occurrences do NOT make a truth; people also need to be careful NOT to confuse true occurrences with truth.

It is also worth mentioning that because the lack of understanding of death in Gen 2:17, and the insistence of saying death of Romans 6:23 is the physical, first death, without understanding of the underlying explanation, coupled with human weakness of only wanting to recognize sight, some have even spun out their own theology of implying there is difference between the wages of sin before entry into salvation and the same, after entry into salvation. Nowhere in Scripture, is there mentioned such a notion that the same sin that one commits after entry into salvation is any different from that, before salvation. Also, do NOT listen to overly grace believers, and their teachers, who tell you Romans 6:23 is NOT referring to believers, because the author was referring to believers in that passage.

The scholar’s understanding of Romans 6:23 pointing to physical death did NOT comprise the correct underlying explanation; he just erroneously assigned the PHYSICAL attribute to the SECOND death.

The scholar’s argument that the famous John 3:16 verse should be taken at face value, suggesting the word, “perish” in it, be taken at face value to mean “consumed”. The Greek word there, “apollymi” (G622) does NOT just refer to physical death. It has non-physical death meanings which included the followings: to be put out of the way entirely, render useless, give over to eternal misery in Hell, to be lost, to be in ruin. In fact, it has NO less non-physical death connotations than physical ones!

Similar arguments can be said of Matt 10:28 – “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” The “destroy” in it, is the same Greek word, “apollymi” (G622), which I have just seen in John 3:16. The soul here, as referred to Man, is always the spirited soul, and is NOT physical. As to the issue of “soul and BODY” in Hell, like I said earlier, even if non-believers (or any men) are given a certain body after death, that body’s physical attribute is NOT the same as our flesh. The “destruction” in Hell even of the BODY (of those NOT going to Heaven) is NOT physical in the sense that we are quickly consumed, no more, vanished!

{Added 11 Oct 2011 - An Old Testament Professor's views
1. Only God is immortal (1 Tim 6:16) - Now, the scholar, as I have said above, is of the view that the soul or I prefer to called it, the spirited soul, is immortal only after receiving salvation.  The Professor views that the soul does NOT live on when we die.  He quoted 1 Tim 1:16 that only God is immortal, and he also said that the inhabitants of Shoel was never referred to as "nephesh" (soul).  But he admitted to Old Testament (OT) talking about both living nephesh and dead nephesh.  (My view is that "dead" does NOT mean "no more".  For example, a spiritually dead soul can be revived, by God!) My view is this:  We need to get the perspective right.  This is what 1Tim 6:13-16 reads:

13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

Now, the above was the Apostle Paul's charge to Timothy which started at verse 11.  Verse 16 was indeed a description of God, that God alone is immortal, and God lives in unapproachable light.  The professor is implying that because it was said that God ALONE is immortal it cannot be that man (or man's soul or spirit or spirited soul) can be immortal.  Is he then denying the eternality of his own life, a believer!  Is eternal life a fake!  No, God is immortal of His own, immortality is of Him; He is Life; He is the source of life, He is the Beginning and the End. We, believers, have immortality, our immortality is a derived immortality, an immortality sourced in God.  It is the same with concept of God lives in unapproachable light, so we cannot be walking in the light?  No, Scriptures talked about and exhorted us to walk in the light, and we will have fellowship with God and with fellow believers.  It said "unapproachable" light, right there, in 1 Tim 6:16, how then can we walk in the light, it is just like granted immortality, we are granted approach into light.  It is also self-contraditory of the Professor to say that the soul die on physical death, and then agree with the scholar's argument that the soul (and the body) can still be "perished" (killed) in Hell. As to when Man has the capacity for eternal life, I have expressed my view earlier on. 

2. God punished in the OT to the 3rd and 4th generation (Exodus 34:6-7), and since OT is shadow of the NT, consistently, the punishment in NT should have an end.  Again, it is an issue of perspective.  What is expressed in that Exodus text concerned "punishment while men live" which can even be called chastisement, while punishment in Hell is "punishment in finality".  Just because there is a stop to God's punishment for the living (earthly life) in the OT does NOT necessarily mean that there has to be a stop to the punishment post death (post physical death).

3. Professor's conclusion - "After comparing the teachings of the New Testament with what I knew about what the Old Testament teaches, it is obvious to me that what The Fire That Consumes teaches reflects the true Biblical teaching about the eternal destiny of the wicked." I say, while Scripture does NOT contradict itself, the NT does supersede certain (and certain only) positions of the OT, and there are clarifications and expansion of existing truths.  The position that the fire of Hell is the fire that torments also does NOT contradict the OT, and it does relfect the true Biblical teaching about the eternal destiny of the wicked."}

Minor or Major?
Whether or NOT the spirited soul is consumed or being tormented over time in the burning fire of Hell, is NOT a major point, but the refusal to accept the revealed will of God as written in the Word, that the loving God can send someone to be tormented in burning fire of Hell is NOT minor. It is a failure to appreciate the ultimate form of love of God for Man, is "loving Man unto righteousness" (a specific `ahab love). Ultimately, God can only love Man unto righteousness; meaning if you refused righteousness, you leave God no choice, but to have you away, eventually, in the burning lake of fire of Hell.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions – What God did NOT reveal at all (NOT even clue), any view is pure speculation; it means nothing even if you get it right, and it also means nothing when you get it wrong. Outside of the time frame revealed by God, what God will do with the spirited souls in burning fire of Hell, only He knows, if He chooses NOT to reveal it, I accept it as it is. I only need to be faithful to those that He has chosen to reveal.

PS: If the scholar (conditionalist) is arguing that after all the torment, God is going to annihilate the spirits trapped in the burning fire of Hell, he has to be clear about that, but my post-reading of his arguments (his own writings), did NOT reveal that picture; they picture more of accusations of erroneous interpretations of traditionalists of Scriptures and their blatant importing of heresies, which (both sets of accusations) I do NOT agree. I still insist if finally God annihilates the spirits there, that picture is NOT yet apparent from the counsel of the Word, and yet to be seen.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good works explained (PART II)

Unto God
In PART I of this series, I have said that we must consider works from the perspective of God. Some time back I wrote an article on Keeping Christmas; you may access this article, here: Keeping Christmas. In the writing of that article, I believed the inspiration for the story there, of the 3 men (friends) came from the Spirit of God. That story, as well as whether or not, Christmas is of any significance depends on whether Romans 14:6 is being subscribed to.

He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God (Romans 14:6).

Things we do which we regard them NOT unto the Lord, chances are that they are NOT good works. This is, of course, a “big picture” guidance.

Going fishing!
Is going for a weekend fishing at the seaside, a good works? Now, looking at the activity per se, perhaps, it is NOT a good works; what does fishing at the seaside got to do with the Lord? Of course, directly, the activity per se, does NOT have anything to do with the Lord.

Let us twist it a little bit; if the Lord says to you in a dream or a vision to go to such and such a seaside, at such and such a time, to fish there, and He will show you what to do when you are there, it will be a completely different thing; your going to fish at that seaside that weekend is a good works, in accordance to the will of God.

What if there is no such vision or dream, can it still be a good works? Well, it depends, and many different scenarios can come into the picture, but I will just mention 2 more to illustrate at the end of day, above all else, wisdom and judgment must be applied, with big pictures and certainties (what we know without ambiguity) kept in mind:

Let us say, now, you skip your weekend church services so that you can go fishing every weekend; that will NOT be a good works, will it? No, bad works more likely. Next, assuming you are NOT skipping church services, and you are going fishing, because you, too, need to take breaks and have some recreation, and fishing is something you would like to do, to unwind. In this case, maybe, that is a good works, if you believe with those unwinds, you are better able to cope with stresses of life and even more able to serve God because of your rested-ness, and God does NOT suggest to you otherwise. Is it unto God? You think about it! At the worst, it is perhaps, “no works”, but NOT bad works.

Not to be paranoia, but good works matters
I am NOT suggesting people be paranoia, always insisting everything we do must amount to good works. We should avoid bad works though. Doing much good works is good, but I cannot prescribe how much is enough or how much is NOT enough. I believe no one really knows, but the message of Romans 14:6 is NOT complete without me giving the next few verses following:

6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:6)

7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:7-9)

We can see from the above verses, a believer is NO longer supposed to live to himself alone; he cannot just do his own things only; he has to live to the Lord, meaning we belong to the Lord. 1 Cor 6:19-20 reads as follow:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20).

While I cannot tell you, how much good works are required of each of us, for even the words of Jesus on “Who are the sheep and goats” which spoke about the need of doing good works by believers, did NOT elaborate on the quantum required thereof, verse 9 above of Romans 14, clearly stated that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all believers. It is really heretic, in my view to teach, as it is being done by some Free Grace teachers, that Salvation and Lordship of Jesus are separate, that one can have salvation without submitting to His Lordship.

In my separate article, “Who are the sheep and who are the goats”, I suggested that readers should seriously consider that the sheep referred to by Jesus are believers with good works. You should read it.

In “Luke 6:46 - PART I – Salvation and Lordship are together”, I argued that salvation and Lordship are necessarily together, for I believe, at the end of day, God is only admitting to Heaven those whom He knows will come under his Lordship. True, He is the Lord of all (regardless our acceptance of Him), but He is after a kingdom in Heaven of men who would embrace His Lordship wholeheartedly (we know that angels who did not, were “kicked out”). If you are NOT, why should you be there? To oppose God, or to incur wrath in Him? Yes, I mentioned in that article, works per se, is NOT what God is after, but obedience to His Lordship is; however, it is also clear that good works is a product of a life of submission unto His Lordship.

Will I make the mark?
If what I said is of truth, how do we know if we would make the mark {on submission to His Lordship, and therefore, good works}, and God will admit us (to Heaven)? I cut paste this from my “Salvation and Lordship are together” article mentioned above:

“We live in faith, through faith, and by faith. And faith is spelled as “R I S K”. I used to want that it should be a clear-cut issue, yes or no (it is common human tendency), but you know what, that is being legalistic! There is one thing, we cannot miss when we study the ministry of Jesus when He walked the earth, and that is He was against legalism. If it were 100%, or God MUST do it, it is NOT faith, it is legalism.”

There is no clear-cut answer; that is what a life of faith is about, we try to know more of God’s ways and will, for us, put into practice, and obey as much as possible, and rest in our trust in God, in His justice and righteousness, in His love and faithfulness (Ps 89:14), and in His wisdom and judgment. A scripture that is close to what I am trying to portray is this:

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence (1 John 3:18-19).

Warning, nothing is hidden, though
Two set of verses pointed very clearly nothing, including sins, bad works, and good works, are hidden. 1 Timothy 5:24-25 read as follow:

24Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. 25Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid. (1 Tim 5:24-25).

As a side, verse 24 actually suggests that some people’s sins (including believers) are known and judged summarily (without delay), for some others, their sins would be known and judged later (but NOT ignored, or escape judgment). This, in my view, contradicts some overly grace teachers’ teaching that believers will NEVER be judged anymore when they had already been judged on entry into salvation; in line with their erroneous (in my view) notion that even the FUTURE sins of a believer had been forgiven him at his MOMENT of entry into salvation. Verse 25 clearly said that good works are treated by God likewise; some are noted summarily, and perhaps, even “rewarded”, but others that are NOT yet openly made known, they will be surfaced later, NOT hidden, NOT lost, NOT, not taken into account subsequently.

The other verse which confirms God knows everything concerning the believers is this:

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his [a],” (2 Tim 2:19a).

The footnote [a] to the NIV version of this verse actually references the verse back to Numbers 16:5 where a group of Levites was trying to usurp the powers and the sacred duties assigned to the High Priest. The incident and how it was finally settled, showed among others, 2 things: one, God knows who are His and who is supposed to do what, and what was done by who, nothing is hidden from God, and two, as was previously pointed by me in my separate article, “Don’t play, play, words from the mouths of favored men of God can be powerful”, God can just be listening to the words of His favored servants, and do as the servants pronounced!

Simply put, we cannot fool God, for God neither slumber nor sleep (Ps 121:4); whether or not our works are unto Him, He knows; whether or not, we are doing in submission to His Lordship, He knows. Those who read my Salvation and Lordship article mentioned above, would remember that I said this, “Submission is not blind or Lordship cannot be accidental. By submission is not blind, I mean one does not submit to nothingness, in other words, when one submits, one is submitting to someone or something, otherwise, it is not submission. Lordship is not accidental, is to mean you cannot say, “But, I also did that what, can’t you, God, just count it that I done it, in submission to you?” Good works is about works unto the Lord, and it is about submission unto the Lord, even as it is works from and of faith, the understanding we arrived at, from PART I of this article series.

Must submission necessarily implied works?
Not must, but it almost inevitably does. Very simply, being submissive to one, means we do as being told; yah, we do something. To me, even loving God is works! Love does NOT do nothing! We are told to love God. Does that tell us to do nothing? Or do our own things? No, loving God is NOT doing nothing. Still have doubts, read again 1 John 3:18-19 (given above). We do, do our own things, but that is NOT exactly connected to submission.

I have a son, and he does, do his own things (play computer games, etc, etc), but his doing such, per se, do NOT indicate his submission to me, his father. If I tell him NOT to do his own thing (say, play computer games) for an hour, and he obliges, that is submission. Sure, if I had not told him that he could NOT do his own things like playing computer games, he, by playing computer games does NOT indicate that he is NOT submissive to me, but it also does NOT indicate that he is submissive.

To be submissive to God, you are to do (or NOT to do) something; in other words, you effort or labor (well, to refrain is also effort-lah) in accordance to the desires of God. Of course, if God says, “Go, play some computer games, and have some fun”; then that too, is works. Love God and love people are works, worship God is works, even as such are acting in submission to God.

Jesus’ bringing us salvation through His works on the Cross, the redemptive works of our Lord, when we embrace that salvation, we have said, we also need necessarily embrace submission to His Lordship, for His redemptive works include redeeming our works or purpose aspect of our lives. If you read my separate article, “Works of redemption of our Lord”, you will realize that the Lord NOT only wanted to grant us eternal life (spiritual redemption), and give us, in our next life, an incorruptible body (final part of physical redemption), but also to give us back works or purpose of life (works/purpose redemption). All 3-fold redemptive works start immediately upon entry into salvation, but they are NOT FINISHED in the blink of an eye, despite Jesus’ saying, “It is finished” on the Cross.

Overly grace teachers who tell you that you are FINISHED, NOT work in progress in anyway, are creating their own theology. Just because Jesus said, “It is finished”, did NOT mean you are finished, perfected. Jesus was simply expressing He (NOT you) has finished the works His Father had wanted Him to do. Jesus knew what He must do and He did what He must do to complete the assignment God had given Him. Honestly, if I do what I WANT, going forward, I cannot be sure of my eternal life; and I have NOT my incorruptible body yet, physical redemption surely NOT finished for me yet; and directly in connection with what we discussed here (works), I have a long way to go, in learning submission, and do works pleasing unto God; I am a Christian of many years now, but still I am NOT fully aligned to God’s ways to function fully in the works/purposes He has for me, rather I am still spending a lot of time doing “my things” (Please, I am NOT suggesting you condemn yourself; that would NOT be what God would have intentioned, even if you are a lazy bum or a selfish fellow. You are exhorted to move in the right direction, and NOT to condemn yourself in the existing spot.) Seriously, to walk in the redemptive works of our Lord, we are to produce fruit from good works in our lives; it is NEVER JUST basking in grace, even though, you can bask in grace, and sometimes, and for some believers, some basking, indeed, would do them good, but that is another matter, altogether. Christians are to do good works (Eph 2:10).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt 3:10).

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why do you NOT want to pray for the sick?

Preamble: This is the sermon (notes) for my sermon at a Divine Healing Service, for 21 June 2014 (It flows like an article, and so, you should have no problem reading it through) [the underscorings are only to assist in my sermon delivery.  The “greyed out” portions may or may NOT be delivered in the sermon, depending on the time available].

There are Christians and local churches who prayed NOT, for the sick or do NOT believe in Divine Healing.

Have you wondered why?

Today, we are going to look at some of the reasons:

1. Not applicable anymore – Cessationists’ view
2. Healing can come from source other than God
3. Why bother God with it?
4. Sickness is good
5. Sickness is from God
6. No faith or lack thereof
7. Malu – this is a Malay word, for embarrassment

NOT applicable anymore?
The Cessationists said that signs and wonders and miracles, including Divine Healing ended with the completion of the foundation of the Church, with the completion of the written Word, with the founding of the early Church, and passing of the apostolic age (the Apostles have since passed on).  And so, they argue that praying for the sick is no longer applicable in our modern context.

Actually, there is no saying of that in Scripture, in any direct way of it.


1. We still have the Apostle James telling us to seek Divine Healing, in the Book of James. 

James 5:14 reads: 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.

2. We have Divine Healing in the on-going Great Commission.

Mark 16:15-18 reads: 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.

The Divine Healing ministry door is NOT shut; for more, you can read this: Divine Healing Ministry Door is NOT shut; where I concluded that some of us are barking at the wrong tree (foundation of the Church); the right tree should be the Great Commission. 

Since the Great Commission is still on-going, signs and wonders and miracles, including Divine Healing will still be applicable.

Healing can come from source other than God?
Here, people are referring to other spiritual source, NOT talking about doctors or medicine.

Some Christians believe that when we pray for the sick or ask for supernatural intervention, it is possible for some other gods, other than our Lord, or the Father God or the Holy Spirit, coming to perform the supernatural.

Yes, in the spirit realm, there is NOT only God and His angels, there is also Satan and his devils (minions), and Satan and his minions are NOT without some powers.

Is there also such thing as healing in other religious faiths? Yes, there is. Is it possible that it is genuine that one is healed in those other faiths? Yes, gods, in almost all religious faiths, are inevitably tied to spirits in spirit realm. Spirits can perform various degrees of supernatural, including healing of a sickness, depending on the “prowess” of the spirits.

But the matter is NOT confined to praying for the sick.  Anything we want spiritual help, is caught here.  Everything we pray for, and expect God to help, the help is spiritual help or supernatural intervention.  If we need no such, then we would have just done things by ourselves, without praying.

If Satan and his minions can be believed to come in place of God, when we pray for the sick, likewise, they can come in the answer of any prayer we make; even for someone to find a job, for example.

If one trusts that belief, then he should never pray, but strange enough, people who have this belief will pray for other things, but NOT for the sick.  Meaning?  It is just an excuse for NOT wanting to pray for the sick.

Is the belief possible? It will be exceptional that God will allow Satan or his minion to act in this manner - you call to God, Satan answers! (God can use anything, even Satan or his minions, but that is another matter/topic altogether).
Why bother God with it?
The grounds, I can give us, are these:

1. God CAN and DOES heal. This is a truth; for more, you can read my 2-part article on it, here: "It is God CAN heal and God DOES heal"'.  We bother Him, because He CAN, and He DOES heal; if He cannot or does NOT, we will NOT be bothered.

2. Scripture tells us that God is mindful of us, and He cares for us (Ps 8; 8:4). 
Ps 8 talked about the majesty of the Lord; including how He has set the heavenly bodies in place; yet in v4, it was said there, that God is mindful of us, and He cares for us; isn’t it awesome?!); on this ground alone, we can always pray to God concerning our sickness afflictions.

3. Scripture prescribed so,

(a) that when we are sick, we ask for prayer (James 5:14), and

            (b) we, be praying for the sick (including those demonised) (Mark 16:15-
             18 – Great Commission text).

4. Jesus showed us willingness on His part, and therefore, on God’s part.  We see it in

         a) Matt 8:2-3 – the “are you willing” leper healed by Jesus. 

         b) Matt 15:22-28 – demon-possessed daughter of Gentile healed
             by Jesus.  Here, because the Gentile woman kept calling after
             them, the disciples asked Jesus to send her away (v23), but after some
             exchanges, and saying “It is not right to throw the children’s bread to
             the dogs”, still Jesus was willing to heal.

5. Jesus did NOT ignore the smaller matter.  We see it in

         a) Matt 8:14 – Jesus healed the fever of Peter’s mother-in-law.

         b) John 2:1-11 – Jesus turned water into wine; although it is NOT
             a healing, it is still a miracle.

        Now, is fever a small matter? Turning water into wine, a frivolous
        miracle?  Who decides?  It is NOT for us to say-alright!

Hey, why bother God with aches and pains, small matter-le!  We have seen, even a fever, Jesus would heal; don’t decide for God.  Small or big matter is often NOT for the by-standers to decide; ache and pains can be big matter for the sufferers; in fact, this is one area doctors often cannot do very much; often, all they do is to give you pain-killers; pain-killers don’t heal! 

You will be surprised that many people are suffering silently with their aches and pains.  And that may NOT be quite life, life abundant, which we read Jesus had come, that we may have, recorded for us in John 10:10b. 

Also, we don’t know if the current small matter sickness may lead to a big problem, but God knows, and if He would nip the sickness in the bud, so to speak, what is it to you?!

How about, “But they can afford to pay the doctor-what?”  God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, KJV); it is NOT “the rich He will heal” nor “the rich He will NOT heal” (His healing is by grace; and we do NOT question His sovereignty);

Caveat 1: But don’t get me, wrong; I am NOT saying there is anything wrong with going to see the doctors for our sickness.  Doctors and medicine are part of the healing regime of God, but don’t ignore He can directly heal you, or heal you in combination with medicine and works of the doctors.

Caveat 2: As healing ministers, we should NOT tell people to “NOT see doctors for their sicknesses”, and we do NOT tell people to stop taking the medication that they have been prescribed by the doctors.  If the person wants to stop taking the medication, that is solely his decision; you and I do NOT get ourselves involved in that decision.

Seriously, we “bother” God with many things, one more, out of love and compassion for the sufferers, does NOT put God off; in fact, acting in love and compassion pleases God. Ministering to the sick, in my view, is a good way of loving people which we can all do.

Sickness is good?
No, sickness is NEVER good; even if it comes from chastisement of God.

Chastisement from God is good, but sickness is NEVER good.

Even if, and it would be rare, that your chastisement from God comes in the form of a sickness, it is still you are to try to understand the rationale of your chastisement, and learn from it, and have the chastisement ended (because you have learned from it), and NOT stay in sickness.

We should NOT believe sickness is good or we will have problem praying for the sick.

If sickness is good, we might as well tell the person NOT to seek medical treatment, since it would be oxymoron – why have it treated when it is good for the sufferer?!

If you want more on this, read my separate article, “Sickness any good? Nah”.

Sickness is from God?
The correct position I believe is this: a sick person’ sickness is NOT from God; that is the premise we will assume unless God reveals otherwise.

If you still think God gave you the sickness, you should ask Him.  If you have asked Him clearly enough, and HE does NOT say it is from Him directly, you just assume it is NOT from Him, and therefore, you should want it healed, even divinely, by Him.

Are there OT examples of God inflicting sickness on someone?  Yes, but uncommon.  E.g.  Miriam stricken with leprosy (Num 12:1-15) [She talked against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite wife].  But Miriam knew she was leprous from the chastisement from God.  Even for this case, with Moses’ pleading prayer, Miriam was healed by God in 7 days.

For more on this, read my separate article, “Sickness and God

No faith or lack thereof?
There is a verse in Scripture that led us to say, “to do thing within the measure of faith that we have”; but the faith in that verse (which we will look at shortly), is NOT referring to the gift of faith or supernatural faith, but to normal faith.

Why is this understanding of gift of faith or supernatural faith, and normal faith important?  Because some may have the gift of faith or supernatural faith, but NOT all; and so, some people use it as an excuse for NOT praying for the sick, purportedly saying, “I don’t have the gift of faith to pray for the sick, so, I don’t pray [for the sick]; or it is NOT within my measure of faith to pray for the sick”.

But the faith required for praying for the sick is normal faith, and all believers have normal faith, even though, NOT all have the gift of faith or supernatural faith.

However, my normal faith and your normal faith may differ; or we say we have differing measure of faith.  The “faith” in the “differing measure of faith” is the normal faith, NOT the supernatural faith of the gift of faith.

Rom 12:3 is the verse from which we get the “we are to operate within our measure of faith”.  Rom 12:3 reads: For by the grace given me I {Apostle Paul} say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.

The “faith God has given you” in the verse does NOT suggest, God MUST give you the faith you are to operate with.

For a fuller understanding of this Rom 12:3, read the section, “Romans 12:3 – faith is given by God?” of my separate article, “Correct understanding of salvation, and relationships between salvation, grace, faith and good works”.

Very briefly, it is the verse is exhorting us NOT to “run-ahead” or “run outside” of what God is doing or intending to do with us.

It is important to know that the onus of normal faith lies with us, NOT God; otherwise Heb 11:6a is meaningless!

Heb 11:6a said that without faith it is impossible to please God.  But if faith is to come from God, then it is possible for us to say to God, this – “God, I don’t please you, because I do NOT have faith, but I do NOT have faith is NOT my fault; it is your fault; you did NOT give it to me!”

So, if we have no faith or lack of it, to pray for the sick, for example, it is because we have NOT learned to develop our faith (in that same article, it was mentioned briefly how faith is developed, you should read it).

We have responsibility to develop our normal faith through exercising.  The exercising part cannot be stressed enough.

Scripture has many recordings of Jesus and His disciples, too, praying and ministering to the sick, with the result that God healed the sick.  Jesus did the ministering, and the disciples, too; if faith is NOT exercised, it is still very much a belief, at best, a non-operative faith or what is also called dead faith.  Dead faith is quite useless, don’t you agree?!

What kind of a measure of faith must we possess before we can pray for the sick?  We will NOT here, dwell into it, but the brief answer is: the mustard seed’s kinda of faith is needed for living; it is small, but to say smallness of the faith is all there is, for the mustard seed’s kinda of faith is over-simplication.

I am here, just stressing that we should NOT excuse ourselves simply on the ground of “no faith or lack of it”.

Malu or embarrassment?
It is of course, a common impediment to prayer.

Self-consciousness is another, but it is a lesser one, for no matter how non-elegance my prayer is, if it brings forth healing, soon enough all self-consciousness will disappear.  Trust me, I speak from experience!

But embarrassment from the lack of effectiveness of our prayer is altogether a different thing.  When we pray, and the result is NOT forthcoming, all kind of negative thoughts enter our mind:  “maybe I am NOT good enough, NOT righteous enough, NOT holy enough”; “people will think that I am without favour with God!”  Or “appeared holy but without power, or got form, no substance”; or “I should have sat tight, and did nothing; in that way nobody would know”, and so on and so on.

Healing, as the subject of prayer, of course, makes it worse, for often, instantaneous result is expected, and we have to face the result on the spot with the person we are praying for.

If you are praying for someone to get a job, it is NOT expected that instantly he secures a job; whereas, those in pain expect the pain to leave, and to be able to do the things they previously could NOT do, and instantly to feel a difference in their conditions. 

When the result isn’t showing, some ministers feel embarrassed.

Just for correct understanding, divine healing can be instantaneous or progressive.  We ask for instantaneous, but if God gives it, progressively, we take that, happily, too.

Also, sickness often falls under the category of “the sufferer can ‘effort not’”, unlike other conditions, like the need of a job or progression in career or business, where the person is expected to effort, and in due course, perhaps, by a combination of factors, no less, his effort, satisfactory outcome can be seen in the future, in another time, NOT at the prayer session or at the end of it.

Because of the greater possibility of embarrassment, many people do NOT want to pray for the sick.

You feel embarrassed, so how?  How do we overcome the sense of embarrassment?

First thing first; when you serve the Lord, you endeavour to serve Him well, and you do all that is necessary, and NOT do any that hinders.

Afterwards; even if there is no positive result, you are to understand that it is NOT you could have done anything supernatural, like it is you who heal the sick; rather it is the Lord who does/does NOT do any such things. 

Another very important thing is that we are clear that God can and does heal, NOT He MUST heal. 

When we are clear about these things, we should NOT be embarrassed if people are NOT healed.

And so, we should NEVER tell people that God MUST heal when God does NOT say it.

We will NOT here, dwell into how we arrive at “it is God can and does heal, and NOT He MUST heal”, but for more, you can read this - "It is God CAN heal and God DOES heal"'.

In a nutshell, we believe God can and does heal because of this:

“God CAN heal because

(a) He is the Omnipotent God who created us; and

(b) He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us (Eph 3:20).

He DOES heal because

(a) HE has healed before, and He has given promises (conditional) that He would heal;

(b) Scripture has accounts of Him doing as He promised;

(c) there were also prophecies in Scripture, saying the He would heal, and they came to pass;

(d) there were also many recordings in Scriptures of Him healing people by His compassion and mercy, NOT based on Man’s desires or effort;

(e) outside of Bible, in more contemporary times, and even presently, there were and are numerous undisputed testimonies of God’s healing for individuals.

(f) Finally, there is nothing recorded in Scriptures that says God’s healing was for a season, and would NOT be available anymore, and so, there is nothing to the contrary; we can expect God to continue to heal, and so, the stand of God DOES heal.”

But it is NOT God MUST heal, and so, we do NOT need to be embarrassed if nothing happens.

[I am going to draw to a close ….]

These reasons aren’t good enough
The above reasons are NOT good enough to justify us NOT praying for the sick.

Sure, we can conveniently say, sickness of others are NOT our business, but the same can be said for the hunger, poverty, joblessness, and other afflictions of others. But if you would be bothered with these other afflictions, why single out sickness-right?!

Some may say the more practical way is to give the sick, money to see doctors. Yes, that too, you can do, and maybe you should do or do more.

But we sure can do a combination of things, including praying for them to be healed.

The point is that we should love others, more. The well-to-do, could provide financial assistance, those with time on hand, can provide of their time, but every believer can pray for the sick.

                                         ooo End ooo

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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