Thursday, May 23, 2013

Who are the overcomers?

For this series, we want to dwell in some depth, the subject of overcoming and overcomers.  In Scriptures, such overcoming may at times be translated as conquering and conquerors.
Part I – Overcomers are the ones pursuing a life of overcoming to the end
There are many things we may face, to overcome or conquer.  Examples, included a) physical things like lack of resources – money, materials needed, even workers or labourers; b) afflictions and calamities like there has been a tsunami disaster, a hurricane strike, a disease epidemic outbreak; c) negative or devastating emotions like depression, overwhelming sorrow, feeling of unloved, and aimlessness; d) combination of any of the above and more; e) the world, as a catch all; and last but NOT the least, f) death!

Yes, you read it right: f) reads death!  Are you surprised to see such a thing that we are to overcome or conquer? 

You are surprised when you are thinking of physical death.  I am NOT referring to physical death, for although one may be able to overcome physical death for a season, there is just no way for one to overcome that, forever. 

Even if it were possible to go into repeated suspended animation (go into long sleep), what kind of life is that,  every time you are not in it, you still age; no one can escape that.  All of us will die, physically. 

Now, I minister in the area of divine healing, and I have seen miracles, and God healed people, yet, all will die one day (unless you are translated or taken up; and even that, you are no longer living physically on the earth), that I know – that all will die one day, and I accept that.

So, the death here, is NOT referring to physical death, but the eventual death or the death after physical death.  In the Christian’s faith terminology, the physical death is known as the 1st death, and the 2nd one, the eternal death or final spiritual death (I add the word, final, although some people don’t, because some also use spiritual death on the unregenerate men (those not yet entered into salvation). 

Scripture does refer to the unregenerate man as dead (John 5:24 for e.g.); what does it mean?  The first thing that we have to believe, is that a man’s spirit lives forever, in the sense that it (or he or she) does NOT become nothingness.  It means the spirit does NOT die into nothingness like in the case of the physical man (dies a physical death).  The physical man dies into nothingness (we are NOT talking about His soul or spirit (Man is tripartite, body (physical), soul and spirit – to understand this, you have to read my Tripartite Man article, here).  The physical man (body) is from dust, and Scripture tells us, upon death, the physical man (body) becomes nothingness, for it returns to the ground (or dust).  But the spirit of a man does NOT vanish into thin air, so to speak.  It will always exist; when one dies physically, the spirited soul (spirit and soul), either goes to Heaven to continue with eternal life, or goes to Hell, and continue to exist (still eternal, but we normally no longer refer to the existence as eternal life but as eternal death). 

Some people use (it is acceptable, I suppose) the word, “legal” to describe these states.  The unregenerate man is “legally” dead, in the sense that he is already damned (or condemned to Hell).  It is to be noted that the man is NOT really dead, in the physical sense of nothingness, but that he is as good as dead, in the sense that unless his status is changed, he is going there, death, and that death is the eternal death or to exist in the lake of fire of Hell.  So, we need to know that there is, that dead, that has just been explained, and there is the condition of the spirit. 

As a condition of the spirit which exists forever, for the unregenerate man, his spirit is very weak indeed, due to its separation from the source of life, God; but the spirit of the unregenerate man is NOT completely dead, like the person is without a spirit anymore.  We won’t object to the saying that the unregenerate man is spiritually dead, for indeed the spirit of the man is no longer capable of discerning spiritual thing or matter, and needed the Spirit of God to come into the picture. 

When the unregenerate man is regenerated or born again, the Holy Spirit or Spirit of Christ quickens the man’s spirit – from “like dead”, very weak, it is vivified; also to note is that, quickening is on the same existing spirit of the man, NOT a new spirit is given him.  And it is NOT before entry into salvation, a man (or the unregenerate man) is without a spirit, or that the man was NOT Tripartite until he becomes a believer or is born-again.  

So when a man is born again, 3 things changed: 1. The person’s spirit is quickened (at the least, given the capacity to discern spiritual matter, enough to understand the Gospel basic message, of Jesus was sent by the Father God for salvation), his spirit understood the basic Gospel message, and he chose to believe; 2. The damned status of the spirit-man is lifted, and that is what John 5:24 was referring to – from (legal) death to life; and 3. God puts His Spirit (or {the same} the Holy Spirit or {the same} Spirit of Christ) to indwell the man.

Many of us are consumed by this, and rightly so, that we overcome the long-run eternal death.  However, to reach that, our faith need to be found to have overcome all the onslaught of what the world we are still living in, may throw at us, including all the above listed items, including the catch all, “world”. 

Many, under heretic teachings, are adopting the stance of: all it is needed to overcome eternal death, and so, able to live forever – eternal life, is simply to accept Jesus Christ as one’s Savior, FULLSTOP.  Such believers have received in, the fallacy of “when you have believed, you are a believer with the meaning that you have overcome and you are an overcomer; that is all there is, to salvation”.  Yes, you become a believer, but that is NOT all there is, to salvation. Such believe that once you are saved, you are always saved, regardless.  So, to such, there is no such issue of overcoming being of any spiritual significance in connection to issue of eternal life or avoidance of eternal death. 

Some even simply adopt the idea that “to those who overcome, …”, in Scripture, like in the various texts in the Book of Revelation, is just another way of saying “a believer”!  Such over-simplification only leads to heretic belief system.

I am NOT saying “legally” a believer is NOT an overcomer, just like we do NOT normally say a believer is NOT alive but still dead (that would be inconsistent with John 5:24).  From being ”legally dead”, upon entry into salvation, your status changed to “legally alive”.  This is one moment of reckoning, but Scripture gives more than one moment of reckoning.  There is the time of physical death or 1st death, and there is the Judgment Day.  Similarly, we call a believer, a saint, and a non-believer, a sinner, for using the same terminology, there is a change of “legal status” from being a sinner to a saint, upon entry into salvation.  Leaving the final judgment to God, I would only call a saint who sins, a dirty saint; I would not call him a sinner all over again.  God can call him a sinner, but I should NOT, unless I hear from God.

Is “legal status” enough?
No, the simple reason is that there is more than one moment of reckoning.  Because we live on (unless you die immediately after entry into salvation), our critical moment of reckoning is the moment of death (physical death or 1st death).  And so, we have to live out our “legal status” until death.  The Father God applied it to Jesus, and the same we are subject to.  Jesus was righteous and sinless, and He had to live it out, living a life of overcoming, before He got back to Heaven, into fullness of glory the Father God has prepared for Him.

I give us a simple metaphor: Suppose US of A would admit any man to be her residents, except one found guilty of a crime on a list, and topping the list is murder.  You are a man outside of US of A, and there came a time, you were accused of murder.  You were innocent, and indeed you were found innocent, after investigation.  Were you still eligible to go and stay in US of A, upon being acquitted?  Yes.  Are you now, still eligible to be a resident of US of A?  Yes.  Next month, are you still eligible?  Depends!  How come depends?  If tomorrow you murder someone, you will be a murderer, and that will make you no longer eligible.  Because you are NOT yet going into US of A today when you are innocent, you need still to be innocent when it is time for you to go into US of A to take up residence.   In other words, you need to live out your innocent status until the time of reckoning; meaning you need to pursue a life of overcoming, of NOT committing crimes on the list (Of course, I am NOT saying a believer would never sin, but there is “remedy” for that, in 1 John 1:9).

I know I have NOT quoted many scriptures in this part I of this series.  We will look at many scriptures pointing to “we have to live out what we are, to be who we are” in subsequent parts of this series. 

Have you wondered where people get this idea that once you are a believer, you have already overcome the world, and life of overcoming is non-issue?!  Or what scripture was used to support the saying that “to those who overcome, …” was just another way of saying “a believer”? 

It is from 1 John 5, and more specifically, 1 John 5:4-5; and we will look into this, in the next part, Part II.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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Monday, May 6, 2013

The Holy Spirit is the peace – John 14:26-27

John 14:26-27 (NIV) - 26 But the Advocate {G3875 – paraklētos = Counsellor, Helper, Intercessor, Strengthener, Advocate, Pleader}, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Different translations use different word for G3875 – parakletos.  In the above passage, my own preference is that, Counsellor is the more appropriate word.
What does this passage teach us?
1.            After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the era that we are all in, He no longer would walk the earth like He used to, as a man; in His place, the Father God would send the Holy Spirit to us.

2.            So, the God with us - Emmanuel, did NOT end in that era when Jesus lived and died; God with us, continues through the giving of the Holy Spirit, to be with us.  The Holy Spirit is also the Spirit of Christ or Jesus, so, in actual fact, although Jesus was no longer with us, as a man, He continues to be with us, by His Spirit – the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit. 
3.            Jesus was the Helper/Counsellor for the disciples of that era when Jesus walked the earth.  In the same way, the Holy Spirit is the Helper/Counsellor to us all; only that this Helper/Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, is NOT in the form of a man, but of spirit.

4.            We have to listen to the Holy Spirit.  In those days, the disciples had to listen to who?  Jesus, their Helper or Counsellor.  For us, who do we have to listen to?  The Holy Spirit.  Jesus made it clear that the Holy Spirit would be the one to teach us all things (of the Faith), and would remind us (of the same). 
Listen to the Word or the Holy Spirit?  The Holy Spirit is always in agreement with the Godhead, and so, He does NOT contradict the Word or Jesus. He would also never contradict God the Father.  John 16:12-15 said this:

12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
The Holy Spirit does NOT invent truths on His own; He hears from the Godhead and tells it to us; He takes from Jesus, and reveals it to us; He knows the mind of God (1 Cor 2:11), and so, can accordingly, instruct or help us.  He would only speak the truths.  The truths are always the same, the truths of the Holy Spirit are the truths of Jesus, and are the truths of the Father God.

5.            The Holy Spirit is given or sent in the name of Jesus.  Jesus made it clear that the Holy Spirit would be sent by the Father God (upon His [Jesus] leaving [resurrection]) in the name of Jesus.  In other words, one goes, another comes, but the latter comes in the name of the former.  What does it mean?  It means you don’t get the Holy Spirit unless you have embraced Jesus.  We have to accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour (enter into salvation, we say), before, and at which point, the Holy Spirit is given to indwell us (Eph 1:13-14).  All believers have a deposit of the Holy Spirit in them.  It is NOT some has, and some has NOT. 
The disciples then, had Jesus; the difference was that some of the disciples listened to Jesus more than the others (one, Judas Iscariot, was often NOT listening).  Just as Jesus did NOT then disown Judas Iscariot, and cast him off, the Holy Spirit is still with those who did NOT always listen to Him; only that those who do NOT always listen, may be more vulnerable to be ensnared than those who listen (it does NOT mean a believer cannot be apostate, but one does NOT get disowned easily).

6.            The Holy Spirit is the peace Jesus gives to us. 
Now, there are those who interpret v27 in such a way as to say, Jesus took His peace and gave it to the disciples; and for us, He has done the same – took His peace and given it to us. Such then went on, to say, if you do NOT feel the peace, it is you have let your heart be troubled or you are afraid – that is the trouble (with you)!  Such also said, if you failed both – let your heart be troubled and you are afraid, you are “dead meat” – no peace-lo!  Support citations included these verses: we are to guard our heart (Pro 4:23); we are NOT given a spirit of timidity (2 Tim 1:7) (these 2 texts are of themselves, no problem, of course).

On the contrary, the revelation I have, is peace is NOT had, that way.  Peace is NOT had like: You are troubled, and you are afraid, for you have, say, did something wrong, like you bribed a government official, and the entire process was video-recorded by someone with a smart phone, and I now, give my peace to you, and you can be at peace.  Neither is it that, the day before, I met you and I gave my peace to you, and so, despite what you have done (wrong), you can never be out of sort (NOT at peace), and never be afraid. 
On the surface, such a preacher purportedly said that it is NOT God’s fault - that it is NOT that, the peace God gave, does NOT work; but such has wrongly taught the ways of God, insulted God even (that, God’s righteousness is that way).  In addition, such also introduced unwarranted mystery into the ways of God, bringing confusion even, to people – “imagine, he can still stay at peace and NOT be afraid (having done a wrong); ah, how come I can’t!”  Please-lah, if you have done wrong, you are supposed to be out of sort, or lose peace, and be afraid, until …… 

It is funny when such teaching comes from the mouth of overly grace preachers who kept banging on grace and no works, and then, said  things do NOT work out for you because you have NOT done this (NOT let your heart NOT be troubled) or have done that - be afraid).  There is a part we have to play, alright, but it is NOT simply you NOT let your heart be troubled or be NOT afraid, regardless!
When we, and it is right for us to, read vv26 & 27 together, the peace, Jesus was referring to (that He said He was giving to the disciples then, and also to us, now), is the Holy Spirit.  The peace of Jesus is the Holy Spirit, which is also His Spirit (Spirit of Christ), and so, it was correct for Jesus to say, “Peace I leave with you (after introducing the Holy Spirit in the preceding verse [v26]).  My peace I give you (Holy Spirit is Jesus’ peace, and is His Spirit).”  Was it wrong for Jesus to say, “I do NOT give you as the world gives.”? Jesus was absolutely justified to say that, because (1) the world cannot give you the Holy Spirit; (2) the world does NOT give by grace, which Jesus did and does; the world demands merit (the Holy Spirit is given us, by grace); and (3) the world does NOT give peace by following the desires of the Spirit, for desires of the world (flesh-gratifying), and the desires of the Spirit are contrary (Gal 5:17).

The desires of the Spirit are to please God, and the Spirit is already given us, indwelling every believer; and if we listen to the Spirit (or be led by Him), we will have the peace – the peace, in and of the Spirit.  Now, the Holy Spirit is indwelling every believer, but the question is whether each of us is allowing Him to live through us, working His desires, which are to please God, through us.  Only when that happens, that the peace, in and of the Spirit, becomes ours.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).  Through Him we are reconciled with God.  Yes, with reconciliation with God, we have peace.  Yes, Jesus gave us peace that way, if we believe and trust in Him that His works wrought us reconciliation with God.  When we were yet reconciled, we have NOT true peace, because we were “out of sort” with God, and we are out of sort with God, firstly because we were NOT cleansed of our state – the sinner state, and secondly, the propensity to sin, got the better of us, and we had sinned, and those (filth)needed to be dealt with, and thirdly, our mind and heart were NOT set to resist sins, and be inclined to embrace holiness, and thus, the righteousness of God.  In other words, having been reconciled with God, moving forward, we need to be in agreement with God, still. No one can give you true peace if you want NOT to be in agreement with God, even when you are a believer.

In His earthly ministry, Jesus was always with peace; how do explain that peace of Jesus?  Consistent with what is explained here concerning the Holy Spirit is the peace, Jesus’ peace comes from the Holy Spirit, comes from agreement with God, and comes from a life of wanting to please God – doing God’s will.  Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (at His water baptism), before His earthly ministry.  The Holy Spirit is the one who knows the mind of God (1 Cor 2:11), and Jesus was full of the Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father God, and consistent with what Jesus said - that all that belongs to the Father has been given Him (John 16:15; John 3:32-35), the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) was given Him, Jesus; and so, it was correct to say that the Spirit of Christ is the same Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit  (For full exposition of this, read “Are these the same, the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit of Christ?). The Holy Spirit is peace, for He is always in agreement with the Godhead and He always acts to please the Godhead, and so, when we listen to the Holy Spirit (or be led by Him), we too, would be in agreement with God, and please God, and have peace.
7.            To stay in the state of peace, we have to listen to the Holy Spirit or be led by Him.  This is already explained above  - point 6.  When 1 Cor 2:16 said that “We have the mind of Christ”, where is this mind of Christ?  No, it is NOT our mind is now replaced by the mind of Christ; the mind of Christ is in the person of the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit.

8.            Know the right thing, do the right thing, and then rest in Him, and you need NOT be troubled, of heart or be afraid.  Jesus was telling His disciples ahead of time, so that with right knowledge, understanding, and doing the right things, His disciples could rise above the fleshy tendency to be insecure and afraid, when uncertainties would confront them subsequently. 
This “NOT let your heart be troubled, and be NOT afraid” is as simple as that; NOT to be expounded to the tune of “I am superior to you-le, I can maintain peace and NOT be afraid, regardless; you cannot-le!” or “I told you so-what, you let your heart be troubled, and be afraid – that is the problem (with you), you got to tell yourself, NOT to be troubled, of heart, and be NOT afraid, regardless.  I told you many times-right, why can’t you just do it – don’t let your heart be troubled and don’t be afraid!”

Through these words of Jesus, we are to understand that despite Jesus is NOT with us, in person, as a man, we are NOT without His counsel through the Holy Spirit or His Spirit, which the Father would give to indwell anyone who would come into salvation.  Jesus has lived as a man, and He can empathize with us, and knows what is that which is precious to the well-being of a man – peace.  Jesus would give the means to that (peace), and that means is the indwelling Holy Spirit.  When we be led by the Holy Spirit (no wonder He is called our Helper/Counsellor), we will have the peace, in and of the Holy Spirit.  When we have knowledge of this, and do the right things (practise righteousness) and then rest in Him, we need NOT be troubled, of heart, and need NOT be afraid.
In simple terms, it is heretic teaching to tell people they can get the state of their heart NOT be troubled and be NOT afraid, simply by “psycho-ing” themselves with “My heart is NOT troubled, and I am NOT afraid”, when they are NOT doing or going to do what is/are consistent with the desires of the Holy Spirit (which is the same as the desires of God or the Lord or the Word).

Peace (G1515 – eirēnē) is having shades of meaning; and one of it, is this - felicity.  What is felicity? It is the state of blissfulness or blessedness.  This state obviously includes tranquillity (or peace) and joy.  So, in Scripture, peace could include joy; and we also find joy being associated with the Holy Spirit or that both words were used together with the Holy Spirit.  For example, Romans 14:17 – 18 … the kingdom of God is about righteousness, and peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, and those who serve God in this way, please God, and find agreement with men.  This text of the Book of Romans is therefore, one of the most important indications of how a Christian life is to be lived. 
Matt 6:33 gives us the saying to seek first, God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and this Romans text further tells us who is the bearer of (having) God’s righteousness, and how we live out that righteousness.  The Holy Spirit holds the key; when we let Him, the Holy Spirit, lives through us, have His ways in us, His peace and His joy will be ours, and our lives would be pleasing to God. 

What about the Word?  Yes, the Word is key, too, but the Word turns rhema by the Holy Spirit.  I venture to say, the difference between general legalistic OT obeying of the laws and commandments of God, and the NT obeying of the laws and commandments, which is still commanded, is that the latter is heeding the Word, in and through the Holy Spirit.  The contrast is that the motive of the Holy Spirit is always the same – loving and pleasing God (there is always love of the Holy Spirit for God, for within the Triune God, there is perfect love of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit in manifest).  The NT call of obedience to laws and commandments is “loving and pleasing God” based.
A simple metaphor – felicity is had when one is loving and pleasing another.  In fact, felicity is had for both the giver and the receiver of such manifest affection.  Isn’t right, when you love someone and manage to please the person, you (the giver) are very happy, and the person (the receiver) would be very happy too! It is “no sweat to live on bread and water alone”, in such a state, goes the common love-saying, is it not?  What more, your lover is the El Shaddai!

Before we end, let me talk a little more about the scenario of “But I am in a difficult situation, with uncertainty, trial and tribulation even, can I still be with peace?”  The point is that Jesus was telling the Disciples ahead of such.  In other words, it was so that the Disciples would be of peace when the time (bad time) came.  So, what was said was NOT just meant for swell circumstance!
There are those who argue there is NOT a single thing a believer need be bothered about (well, the same people could still be telling, you should NOT let your heart be trouble or be afraid! Is that NOT doing something; how contradictory!); God would automatically take care of everything, and voila, you have peace (if you believe it so – automatic and voila!).  Just say your Sinner’s Prayer (to enter into salvation), and just bask all the way, in grace, and peace (and joy) is yours and NOT leave you!?  No.

You will NOT get caught in lousy circumstances, bad times, difficult times, afflictions, trials, persecutions?  No, there is no such promise of easy and swell life all the way, till you pass on.  Live life as you like?  No, you cannot; please, liberty in Christ Jesus, does NOT mean you can do what you like!  We can get into nasty situation due to our fault, including sinning, or we can get into the same, through no fault of ours (someone stabbed you in the back, for example); what do you do, in difficult situation and in the uncertainty of the situation?  You begin to be trouble of heart, and afraid; losing peace, what do you do?  Do nothing, like they tell you?  No.
When you have walked into a deep quick-sand (as a metaphor), do you do nothing?  No.  Yah-what, people say, to do nothing, don’t move.  You can do that, do nothing; given enough time, you will still go under, under your own weight!  I am NOT going to teach people how to get out of a real deep quick-sand, but there are things you could do and should do to get yourself out (shift to buoyancy posture for example, is one thing to do; you don’t know what that is, just ignore!).  Now, can you do nothing?  You can, if you know someone is on hand to help you or you are expecting someone to come by. So, what must you do when you are in deep shit!  Call on God (or Jesus) or the Holy Spirit.  It is NOT you do nothing, there is a thing all of us can do, and that is we pray, and ask for Divine Help.  Phil 4:6 reads:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil 4:6).
You need to do that.   And if you get into the deep shit, because you are in disagreement with God, His Word or His ways, you got to reflect on that; repent, confess, and ask God for forgiveness, and with a humble and contrite heart, ask God for help.  One just cannot demand God to help while insisting he is right and God is wrong; and that he would still do whatever that had caused him to be in the deep shit, in first place, when he gets out!  People like to claim verse 7, without taking verse 6 above.  Phil 4:7 reads:

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7).
If you don’t get right with God, that peace of God which you received at your conversion, just is NOT sustained.  Can it be refreshed? Yes, but if you are NOT going to get back right with God, or NOT wanting to be led by the Holy Spirit, you are hampering it.  Sure, God is love, and there is grace of God, but God cannot be mocked, the love of God for men is love unto righteousness (`ahab love), and the grace of God is NOT for us to profane, and men’s volition is NOT meant to be over-written by God all time.  For all of these, one needs to gain understanding, and meditate on them to appreciate how they all bear on our living on earth.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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