Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Mat 22:1-14)

1Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: [This is a parable and therefore requires to be interpreted as such.]

2"The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. 3He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. [First object of parable: Kingdom of Heaven – this is the one that we want to know more about what it is like.  Second object, the metaphor: a wedding banquet.  The Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a wedding banquet.  A king is preparing a wedding banquet for his son.

For this particular wedding banquet, the king sent out his servants to those who had been invited to come, but the invited ones refused to come.

From the text, we note that the king had already, before the sending out the servants, already invited those he wanted, to come to the banquet.  In the Kingdom of Heaven, these people can be interpreted as the Jews/Israelites – the original chosen people of God.  Just like the invitees who did not want to come to the banquet (after which the bridegroom and bride enter into their blissful enjoined lives {that is what it is supposed to, anyway}), some of the Jews did not want to come to Jesus; (through Him, and only through Him, could they enter into Heaven, for blissful living).]

 4"Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'

 5"But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. 6The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. 7The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. [The king sent out some more servants to tell the invitees to come, saying that everything was ready.  Still the invitees paid no attention to the king’s call; they just went about, each, to his own business. Some even seized the servants, mistreated them and killed them.

In times gone by, not only did some of the Jews not heed God’s calling of them to come back to Him, they had seized the prophets and other servants of God, mistreated them and even killed them.  These Jews just went about, each, his own business, including turning to other gods, and engaged in practices not prescribed by the Lord.  Many, at most, saw Jesus as a prophet; and even Jesus, they mistreated and killed (crucified).  God could be seen enraged in the past, in OT time.  God allowed Israel and Judah to be run over by the Assyrians and the Babylonians, respectively, for example.  After Jesus, around AD 70, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple of God were even allowed to be destroyed.]

8"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. 9Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' 10So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. [The king said that the dinner was prepared, all was ready (v4, v8); the equivalent in the Kingdom of Heaven scenario can be taken as Jesus’ 1st coming.  The coming of Jesus, his death and resurrection, has made everything ready; ready for our salvation journey to Heaven.

The wedding banquet was ready, again the king sent his servants out, this time saying to them to call to anyone they can find (from the streets/street corners), since the (previous) invitees did not want to come; to the king those who turned him down had become undeserving to come.

The “wedding banquet is ready” is pointing to Jesus completed His work on earth, died and resurrected back to Heaven.  We read from Scripture that, post-Jesus’ resurrection, the Apostle Peter was given the vision of God would be gathering in, of the Gentiles, for many Jews/Israelites rejected coming (into salvation through Jesus our Lord and Saviour).

All the preparation was for a big gathering but since there were those previously invited and yet not only did not want to come but even mistreated and killed God’s servants (including the Lord Himself), God now has opened up the Kingdom of Heaven (or Heaven) to non-Jews, collectively called Gentiles.  With this, all peoples could be ushered in (into the banquet/into the church).]

11"But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 12'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless. 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.' [When the king came to see, he saw some people were not properly attired; he told his attendants to throw them out.

A time will come when God will come to the saints {in my view, NOT just any persons/peoples} who want to go into Heaven.  Only persons properly clothed will be admitted into Heaven; those not so, would be thrown out, into Hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth – Hell is a terrible place of constant suffering.

Much of the variations in the interpretation of this parable lie with the interpretation of what is “properly clothed”. 

One interpretation puts it as the robe of righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross and shed His blood for us, to cleanse us and justify us before God – we who are saved are clothed with the righteous blood of Jesus – robe of imputed righteousness of Christ. 

Another interpretation takes in, a more comprehensive inclination, which I share since I believe, unless the situation is extenuating (like we die immediate, upon entry into salvation), we need more than just a sinner’s prayer and the imputed righteousness of Christ, to get us into Heaven (or Kingdom of Heaven). 

So, accordingly, the proper clothing here comprises the righteousness from justification (a must, a sonship), and the righteousness from the sanctification (a sanctified heart) coming from practicing of righteousness which includes righteous acts/deeds of the saints.

We first of all, need to be born again, at which time, we are forgiven of all our sins, become justified and become a son of God.  If we die immediately after born again, I believe we have the proper clothing (God is fair; since you die immediate; you have no time to practice righteousness). 

Ambiguity comes in when we continue to live on, in this fallen world.  Broadly speaking, we need to do 2 things.  Firstly, when we sin, we need to repent and ask for forgiveness, and be cleansed again (i.e. be cleansed again whenever we sinned).  This would be a repeated affair for us all.

Sorry, I believe the cleansing by Jesus is NOT like the anti-virus software we are familiar with; there is auto-detection, but NO auto-clean. If it does, Jesus would not have taught us to pray for God’s forgiveness for our sins. Do you want to count on a stained garment to get you in? In Revelation, in the message to the 7 churches, in particular to the church in Sardis, we read this:

4Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. (Rev 3:4-5)

I will ask Jesus to wash it clean every time it is stained.

Secondly, unless we die immediately upon born again, we have a chance to bear fruits or do righteous acts.  This we have to do; it is part of the adorning of the garment.  In Revelation 19:7-9, there is an account of the wedding of the Lamb by the Apostle John.  In v8 (KJV), this is what we read - And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

It said there, the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.  Yet what is the righteousness of saints?  If you look up the standard Bible Commentaries, you will find some said, it is the imputed righteousness of Christ Jesus.

Some others said it is the righteous acts of the saints.  Some understand the righteousness there, was in the plural in the original text; which can explain the righteous acts interpretation, or it could also support another interpretation, that it is both, righteousness from entry into salvation (justification), and righteousness from sanctification.  The last bit (the both) is the same, actually, with the interpretation of the fine linen as the righteous acts of the saints, for no acts can be counted righteous for NT persons, unless he first, has been justified.  In terms of our part to play, my view is that the fine linen is referring to the righteous living and acts of the saint (saint, by definition has the imputed righteousness of Christ). 

Note that various translations, including NIV, has the fine linen is the righteous acts of saints.

These 2 verses help to support the understanding that righteous acts were referred to:

Rev 14:13 - And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

1 Tim 5:25 - In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever.

I deduce the good works or righteous acts surfaced ultimately as part of the fine linen (the adorning and “glow”, perhaps).  Also, if you read the messages to the 7 churches in first section of the Book of Revelation, you see this, for 5 out of the 7 churches, said of, by the Lord: “I know thy works”.

The Word, in Matt 7:19, says every tree not bearing good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire; and in Matt 7:21, only those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

The meaning of this Parable of the Wedding Banquet is also very close to that of the Parable of the Net (Matt 13:47-52), whereby good fish (righteous men) will be kept (of men, enter Heaven) and bad fish (wicked men) will be thrown away (of men, into the fiery furnace, of Hell).  Depending on how one interprets righteous man, you will again have the similar first (imputed righteousness only is required) and second (practice of righteousness, which includes righteous acts/deeds/works, needed, on top of imputed righteousness) interpretations.

We should NOT forget that there is also the Parable of “Who are the sheep, and who are the goats” which is telling us that good works (which are righteous acts) is required, although how much is sufficient, is NOT apparent.]

14"For many are invited {called - KJV}, but few are chosen." [The invitation to Heaven was originally an exclusive invitation (NOT all are invited; only the Israelites were invited); subsequently, the invitation was turned into an open invitation (now all can avail themselves to the invitation, or in other words, it no longer serves its purpose; now all can come when he/she responds affirmatively to God’s call.  We no longer need the invitation that was extended, in the first place, to the Israelites/Jews.

As far as I am concerned, the KJ version is having the correct translation of v14, i.e. “For many are called, but few are chosen. Calling is of specific meaning – God calls, and one who responds affirmatively, becomes a called.  In other words, v14 could also be read as: “For many are the called, but few are the chosen”.  Invitation was used on the Jews/Israelites, and when it was “done away with” or “thrown open”, calling is what took over.

The call of God can go out universally; now to all, Jews and Gentiles.  One becomes a called one, NOT by virtue of him having heard the call, but he responded affirmatively to the call.  Ones that come into the church, and be part of the gathering or the Bride, they are all called, meaning they have had responded affirmatively to the call.  Those who have NOT responded affirmatively, may be in the church physically, but they are NOT part of the church or the Bride. Using the metaphor of the Banquet, the latter (those who had NOT responded affirmatively) are NOT in the Banquet at all; those who are in the Banquet are those who had responded (affirmatively) to the servant beckoning them to come. It is common sense that if the Jews/Israelites could, for example say, “I am NOT coming”, and the servants would NOT drag them to the Banquet, likewise, those in the streets (Gentiles) were NOT dragged in, but had, for example, said, “I will go with you”. 

In the spiritual sense, only the called (defined as ones who have responded to the call, affirmatively), are gathered together, through the spiritual eyes of God.  You may be in your home in US, and I, in mine in Singapore, but we are both seen by God as “gathered together” or one, the Church (together with other believers).  If your younger brother was NOT a believer but physically with you, God sees you and me, but NOT him, as the church, despite he was there with you, physically!  In other words, the person without the wedding garment in the parable is a called one, but without righteousness of saint, which is the righteous acts of saint, and NOT the imputed righteousness of Christ ALONE.  Without the imputed righteousness from being a called one, he cannot even be at the Banquet.

Now if you take my view, it is therefore, many are the called, i.e. many did enter into salvation, but few would eventually be chosen, for reason that they are going to be found to be short of righteous deeds - lack of righteous deeds in keeping with their righteousness, imputed from Christ Jesus or from justification. 

Many failed to see that we are to model after Jesus; that the Father expected it, of Jesus when He walked the earth, i.e. being righteous, yet had to live and act righteous; we are to be righteous just as He is righteous, said 1 John 3:7.  In fact, the verse reads: “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness {practises righteousness} is righteous, even as he {Jesus} is righteous.” (be righteous in the same manner that Jesus was righteous, which was that He still needed to be practising righteousness).

We have to choose to practise righteousness, and that of course, included doing righteous acts or deeds, so that we have the fine linen to adorn ourselves with, when we are in the Banquet, and be chosen (that is our hope) of the Lord (reasonable to assume if you get to stay in the Banquet, after the celebration, you are chosen of God, into Heaven)

This parable, I believe, points to, God already opened up his invitation (invitation was originally reserved for the Jews/Israelites), to come into His Kingdom of Heaven (or Heaven), to all people, i.e. we are in the “call dispensation”; there is no general individual predestination for salvation. There was and still is corporate pre-destination for the nation of Israel to be entering the Kingdom of Heaven, but there is no general individual predestination for salvation.

Just to repeat, there are variations in interpretation of what the wedding garment is or what fine linen is.  My view is that it is more than just the imputed righteousness of Christ; Imputed righteousness is given, you have to have it (from justification), and then you have to be having righteousness from sanctification, from practicing righteousness, doing the will of God (including righteous acts and deeds), as like Jesus did, even when he was righteous; He had to live righteous, on earth (1 John 3:7).]

Anthony Chia, high.expresssions
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why Cain’s offering was rejected, and Abel’s accepted

I was in a fellowship meeting, and was sharing about we need to love God back (and we need to absolutely love Him back), even as He first loved us and has continued to love us; a brethren then said that he had a question to ask.  Because I deferred to the “speaker” of the meeting, I did NOT answer this brother, as I was only sharing in connection to the message shared by the speaker which was centered on “God knows” as in He is omniscience. 

I shared about love, because there is the “God knows” as in He knows everything (omniscience), and there is the “God knows” as in He ginosko-knows (If you want to gain greater understanding of the different “know” words used in NT Scripture, go read this: “I don’t know you – Part I”).  I quoted 2 scriptures on the importance of the “God knowing us grounded from personal experience (with us)”; that is what ginosko (a Greek word for “know”) means.  They are John 10:14 – I am the good shepherd; I ginosko (know) my sheep, and my sheep ginosko (know) me; and 1 Cor 8:3 – And he who loves God is ginosko (known) by God.

This brother had the issue as spelt out in the title of this entry, bothering him, and so, took the chance to ask if there is an answer to the question posed – Why Cain’s offering was rejected, and Abel’s accepted; purportedly he was asking how does God love, and so, how are we to love Him back?  In other words, at the back of his mind, he was puzzled by how come, the love of God manifested forth as rejecting one and accepting the other.  It was indeed serious, for, subsequent to that rejection, Cain ended up killing Abel, and Cain got banished by God.

So, here, I would like to put down my thoughts.  Now, why did I say it as such (my thoughts); it is because there are different ideas expressed by interpreters of this Cain and Abel’s account, a very brief account.  Brief account generally poses difficulty to exegesis, for the lack of details mentioned; and some filling in the gaps and assumptions often become necessary.  The cautions are these: 1. Whatever filling in, of the gaps, and assumptions, they must be reasonable AND they must NOT in any way contradict what was plainly stated already in the account; 2. Interpretation must NOT be inconsistent with other scriptures and the overall counsel of the Word.  3.  Don’t manipulate to fit self-made doctrines/theology of the faith.

These are the relevant texts, from Scripture:

Genesis 4:1-10 (NIV) - 1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, "With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man." 2a Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

2b Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD.4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let's go out to the field." And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?" "I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?" 10 The LORD said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.

Heb 11:4 (KJV) - By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

1 John 3:12 (NIV) - Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.

Jude 1:10-11 - 10 Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals--these are the very things that destroy them. 11 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.

Is it plainly just the sovereignty of God at work? Now, this is one proposition.  The proponents argued that God accepted one and rejected another; no reason needed to be given, and it is NOT fruitful to try to find out the reason.  Is it really solely due to the sovereignty of God?  Is the sovereignty of God quite correctly portrayed, when we attribute this case to reason of sovereignty?  Is there NOT another or other key attributes of God working together?

No doubt the key personhood attribute of God is “God is God”, and that means sovereignty is His and His alone, but at the same time, God is God firstly, also means He is the most wise or Wisdom, and so, things aren’t expected to be haphazard or decisions made for no realm or reason.  Furthermore, the key nature-hood attribute of God is Holiness; this definitely defines how God would make decisions and act.  We have to be careful if we too easily assign sovereignty as in there is no reason for a thing done, to explain issues. God has reasons, it is just we do NOT know; and when it is so, that we do NOT know, we have to accept that or pursue revelation, and NOT to be too presumptuous.  I, of course, hope I am NOT being too presumptuous here, for, later on, we will see, another proposition for the rejection, is that Cain was being presumptuous!

A little analogy:  Suppose I am the King, and I want to eat papaya, and I don’t want to eat durian, the king of fruits.  I want my papaya, and you are to give me papaya; I am exercising my sovereignty, for I am the King. 

If it were the other way round, I have been demanding for durians, and have been having durians for a while now, and NOT papaya; and now Mr Can and Mr Able come to me, and Mr Can gives me durians (that which I have been eating), and Mr Able, papaya, can I just say to Mr Can (durians), “you evildoer”, and Mr Able (papaya), “you done well”, and throw Mr Can into the dungeon and throw away the key!  Mr Can did wrong?! This is NOT God’s kinda of sovereignty, as far as I know.  It is more of tyranny!  So, don’t make God out to be the evil tyrant.  Or God faulting people out of whims and fancy!

Is it Cain’s offer was from cursed ground, and Abel, NOT? Now, this too, is a common proposition, but is it quite acceptable?  In my view, no!  What is meant by the secondary punishment that God cursed the ground that men would have to toil much to meet their needs?  No, it does NOT mean just the ground, as in the ground where we grow crops on!  If it were, if you go fishing, you need to toil NOT, and you would get loads of fish easily?  Today, if you are an agent taking booking for seats of spacecraft to go to the moon, for example, you are NOT doing anything that get to do with the ground, and you are NOT under the curse?  Or you are a stockbroker, buying and selling stocks and shares on the stock exchanges for your clients, you are excluded?  No.  And so, too, one who breeds livestock is NOT excluded from it.  For one thing, what do sheep and cattle feed on? Grass of the ground!  So, it is NOT Cain brought something from the ground, and Abel, NOT, per se, the reason for one being rejected and the other, accepted.

Is it one was a gardener, Cain, and the other, a flock keeper, Abel; occupation the issue?  Yes, it is written in Gen 4:2 that Cain worked the soil, and Abel, kept flocks, but there weren't others in the first family, apart from the parents, Adam and Eve; someone got to be working on the ground, to grow something for the vegetable side of the diet.  God, we know, did NOT ostracise or gave farmers a miss; Gideon was believed to be a wheat farmer before he was raised by God to be a Judge (Judges 6:11).  Good and honest occupations were (and are) never a problem to God – Moses was a shepherd (flock keeper); Gideon, a farmer; a few of the disciple-apostles of Jesus, fishermen.

Is it quality of the offerings, the problem?  Now, if we mean Cain brought in, NOT the best of the fruits, maybe there was a case to talk about, but if we are comparing fruits with fats portion in terms of quality, I think that is comparing apple with orange, so to speak.

So, did Cain bring in, NOT the best of the fruits, and Abel, brought in the best of the flocks?  What was said there, was that Cain brought in some fruits as the offering, and Abel, the fats portion from some of his firstborns of the flocks.  It is possible to say, Cain just took some fruits, NOT carefully picking the best of the fruits, to include in his offering.  Abel, could be argued to have taken the trouble to select the firstborns, and took the fats portion thereof. 

One question to ask would be, “Had Abel also just brought in fats portion of some other borns (borns other than firstborns) and offered it up, would it make the 2 offerings, Cain and Abel’s equivalent?”  The point is that “firstborn” was recorded for us, for a reason, even if we may or may NOT know the reason.  Otherwise, it could have been recorded for us, as simply, Abel brought in some fats portion or fats portion from the flocks.  Perhaps, there was even significance to the “fats portion”; otherwise, it could have just said, Abel brought in some meat or brought in a sheep or a goat as offering.  The reasonable deduction is that Cain missed something, maybe more than one, while Abel got enough thing(s) right.

If quality was the issue, I submit to you, it would be best if we define quality; and it should be: “a quality offering is one that would meet the requirement”.  We will talk about requirement, in our next section.

Is it one meeting requirement and the other, NOT?  I have already hinted before, above, and I will say it again, I do NOT believe God is whimsical or our God is a capricious God.  When the person is whimsical or capricious, and He is God, that would be a formula for a very evil tyrant!  I don’t believe my God is such; if you do, your God, then what’s the point of following after such a god!  “Boy, you will NOT even know how or when, you would get hacked to death!” goes a colloquial saying, here, over this part of the world. 

No, God is NOT like that; He is God, first of all; He is Holiness, first of all, also!  And, He is Wisdom, and He is righteousness.  Scripture, in Ps 89:14a and Ps 97:2, said that the foundation of God throne or rule is justice and righteousness.  It is NOT anyhow, and without order, for God is order.  Our God, as portrayed in Scripture, is a God of demand and order.  How can God have no demand; how can Holiness have no demand; how can Wisdom have no demand; and how can it be righteousness, if there is no demand.  I think people are engaging in self-deluding fantasy in painting to us, God is without demand and order.  Chaos is what you will get if God is chaotic!

Remember the durian-guy (Mr Can) and the papaya-guy (Mr Able), I talked about above.  In the example above, had the King NOT given any clue as to what He wanted, durians or papaya or whatever fruit, how in the world are these 2 fellows to know what to bring before the King.  If the King left them no choice, Mr Can and Mr Able would look for clue(s) to bet their lives on.  Despite the absence of mention, it is therefore reasonable to assume some clues had been given, as to what God would be happy with, as offerings, the children of the first family could bring to Him.

Perhaps, Adam and Eve had had on occasions brought offerings to God, and the children were aware, or even witnessed them.  Or perhaps, the parents had told them about such things as offerings to be made to God.  Or perhaps, God Himself revealed certain hints or clues to the children directly or indirectly.  Or maybe, even, God had been specific and laid down some requirements, in the past.  The Word of God, His communications (NOT just words, but included others, like signs and wonders, signals, etc.) and testimonies of Him, they are knowledge of Him that we are to take note of.  These are what I meant as “clues” given.

Before I bring an important key from the Book of Hosea to bear on this account, let me say that, some revelation was available; but what exactly, was the revelation, was beside the point!  In other words, it matters NOT, if for Cain, it was pointing to the best pulp from the “firstborn” fruits (or firstfruits), and for Abel, fats portion from the firstborn flocks, or it was a case of a one “type” of offering for both, like it was to be fats portion, or blood sacrifice, as some have suggested (In my view, there was nothing to suggest the offering MUST be blood sacrifice. The Hebrew used for the offering word was NOT indicative of such, also).

What is this important key from the Book of Hosea?  This is what we read in Hosea 4:6 and 6:6 –

Hosea 4:6 (KJV) - My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Hosea 6:6 (KJV) - For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

We can see (from Hosea 6:6), the knowledge of Hosea 4:6 is in fact referring more, to the knowledge of God (or the faith), and NOT any knowledge.  God’s people can get destroyed for lack of knowledge of God or the faith.  And often, it is that people have rejected such knowledge, or they could have been NOT bothered with such.

I submit to you, both Cain and Abel were surrounded by the same presence of knowledge of God; there were only 4 persons in the first household then – Adam and Eve, and these 2 sons, Cain and Abel.  It is reasonable to assume both Cain and Abel had equal access opportunities as to the knowledge of God; the sources of which, I had elaborated above, including the lives of their parents, Adam and Eve.

Hosea 4:6 said if you reject knowledge, which could mean you could NOT be bothered with it, God could reject you, saying “thou shall be no priest to me”.  What is one of the things that priests do?  Make offerings.  What happened at the Genesis 4 account?  Cain was rejected of his offering.

I want to draw our attention to the author of the Book of Hebrew’s mention of the account, in Heb 11:4 (KJV) - By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

It said “By faith Abel offered”; it means that Abel exercised faith in his offering to God.  Faith is NOT spelt “F A C T S”, it is “F A I T H” (or you have seen it said – “R I S K”).  People give various opposites to faith; but I have NOT seen one putting it as facts.  When it is a fact, there is no faith involved.  It is just like, it is either you SEE or you are BLIND, “see” and “blind” don’t go together.   So, if it is a fact, no more question of exercising faith, and if it is faith, it is NOT yet a fact.  And so, for faith there is theoretically an element of risk; that is why some say, faith is spelt as “risk”. 

We deal with God always in FAITH, if we choose to.  It is NOT, “in FACT”, as a whole, for we have yet the full mind of God directly (No, the one verse in Scripture, where it said we have the mind of Christ, it does NOT mean directly we have the mind of God – I will NOT explain here; it is a separate exposition). We are expected to deal with God in faith, for Scripture said in Heb 11:6, without faith it is impossible to please God; in Rom 14:23, it is said that, that which proceeded NOT from faith, is sin.

Pertaining to the account of Genesis 4, although NOT mentioned, like I said and elaborated, it is NOT unreasonable to assume, there was knowledge of God accessible in the setting, and this is very important, for faith is of two components - a right belief and a conviction thereof.  

What is a right belief?  A right belief is a belief in the knowledge of God - a truth of God, a word of God, a communication of God, a will of God or an instruction of God.  A right belief is NOT what you think; it is your believing what God said or His truths. 

Remember, I said earlier that one of the propositions is that Cain had been presumptuous.  Now, when we think or say (and so, accordingly do), “God doesn’t mind”, and there is no support for that, from the knowledge of God, we are being presumptuous.  Perhaps, Cain had thought, “God doesn’t mind, I will just give Him some fruits, any fruits; after all He could just speak the word, and He could get whatever fruits He wants; I  will just give Him some fruits, that’s it.”  If against the backdrop of the knowledge of God then, there was no support of that, and I believe there was no such support, then Cain had been presumptuous.  We can say Cain was being presumptuous, but I prefer to say the more sufficient answer is to connect the presumptuousness back to faith.

How is faith and presumptuousness connected?  If want another opposite of faith, it is being presumptuous.  To be with faith, is NOT to be presumptuous; and to be presumptuous is to be, NOT with faith (or without faith).  At the centre of faith is the knowledge of God; at the centre of presumptuousness is the ignoring of the knowledge of God or without the knowledge of God.  In other words, Abel was making the offering by faith; Cain, NOT by faith or by presumption.

King David understood the peril of presumptuousness.  We read this in Ps 19:13 (KJV) - Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

We come back to what I have said as “A right belief is NOT what you think; it is your believing what God said or His truths.”  For example, you may think all you want, that it is alright to steal; that cannot be a right belief, for God said, “Thou shall NOT steal” (one of the 10 Commandments). 

Faith is right belief with conviction.  If the conviction is NOT strong, your belief in the matter is NOT strong, and it is likely you will NOT launch into the action consistent with that belief; we say the faith is NOT yet operative.  When the conviction has busted the inaction threshold, you go into action, and we have a faith in action or operative faith or a living faith (and NOT a dead faith). 

When you could easily put off doing the thing consistent with the right belief, it means the belief conviction is NOT strong; your faith is weak or you have ineffective faith or in the extreme, you are in unbelief or without faith in the matter.  Many people let a little inconvenience and a little cost put them off, from doing what faith calls for; their faith in the matter is just too weak.

Some may argue that even if Cain, by faith, trusted that God had wanted fats portion as offering, he could NOT give it, for he was a farmer; the brother, Abel had the flocks.  My answer is that, still that does NOT mean he could NOT come up with the offering.  He could have barter-traded with Abel for the required animal offering; or he could have offered some form of payment to Abel for it.  It was NOT excuse enough, I would say.  Talking about this, King David said, “I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing”, and had insisted to pay for the Araunah threshing floor (to build the altar on) and the oxen (for the burnt offering) (2 Sam 24:24).

I submit to you, Cain did NOT come close to the requirement of the offering because he had NOT come close to the requirement of “by faith”; Abel did.  The issue is the faith of Cain; one or both components of the faith unit was faulty; it was either the belief was wrong, because he lacked the knowledge (for example, that fats portion was called for) or rejected it or couldn’t be bothered with it, or his belief was right, but the conviction thereof was weak, and he allowed excuses for himself for NOT doing the right thing.  God actually explained it to Cain, in verse 7 of Genesis 4: - If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it."

I submit to you, it is reasonable to assume both Cain and Able was able to come to the faith, NOT fact, that fats portion was called for (or even if, for Cain, it was something else).  Cain did NOT reach that faith, and it was his fault; Abel did. 

It could even have been a much earlier and so, more serious fault of Cain of NOT wanting to pay attention to the matter of knowledge of God, and so, missed or could NOT reach the belief that fats portion was called for (or the something else, for Cain’s part).  This need to pay attention to the matter of knowledge of God, in itself is a faith subject matter, and if Cain or us, did (do) NOT build up our conviction, and allow excuses to prevent us from paying attention, our disinterested attitude, it too, is subject to the same warning words of God as in verse 7 of Genesis 4.  Abel did come to the “fats portion” called for, by FAITH (NOT by facts), as said in Heb 11:4. 

Actually, Cain was NOT punished by God for his offering; it was just that God rejected it (did NOT look upon it with favour).  The stress was NOT the burnt offering (fats offerings were burnt to give the aroma as incense unto God), per se, for that occasion; that was why no punishment was meted out except the rejection of the offering, for God was, as in Hosea 6:6 pointed out - more wanting to teach this: “For I desired ….. the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

Next, I feel it is necessary to talk a little more, on the Heb 11:4 text on the account - By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

Going by faith, will any time, leads to more excellent sacrifice or offering or works for God.  You should be able to understand this, as you have noted how faith is comprised (I explained above).  Knowledge of God is in faith; action by faith is action with the knowledge of God.  Prov 29:18a said to us that without (vision) revelation from God, the people perish (vision here is NOT necessarily goal, some people mis-preached this; it is revelation).  We need revelation from God, for revelation from God gives us knowledge of God, the substance of belief (or what I called right belief), and so, the vital component of faith; without which we cannot please God (Heb 11:6); and we would be in sin, quite easily (Gen 4:7; Rom 14:23), which can lead to our destruction. 

The author of Hebrew, in that Heb 11:4 text ,said that Abel was counted righteous.  What is the simple definition of righteous?  It is this: being right on, as to what God wants done, and being right on, as to when God wants it done.  Being counted righteous or even righteousness always goes with operative faith (NOT non-operative faith or dead faith; faith without works is dead).  It is faith, NOT fact, leading to being counted righteous; when it is fact, it is already over.  To take note is that, it said there, it was God who was the witness; in other words, righteous or NOT righteous, is weighed against God’s will and desires (NOT men's or another).

What about the last bit “and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”  The “it” there was referring to “he (Abel) being counted as righteous by God”.  God does NOT forsake the righteous; and so, the dead righteous Abel "spoke", and God gave ear.  The psalmist, King David, said this, in Ps 37:25 – “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.”  Not only does this able to hold true in our mortal lives, it holds true past death.  God gave ear to Abel’s (spirited) soul, after death (murdered by Cain).

There is also this 1 John 3:12 text, put up there, at the beginning of this article, that has the account referred to. 1 John 3:12 (NIV) - Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.

Why did Cain murder Abel?  It said there because Cain’s own actions were evil, and those of Abel were righteous.  The actions of both, included that particular action of making the offering to God as depicted in Genesis 4 were referred to.  Those of Cain were evil and those of Abel were righteous. 

God said in Genesis 4:7, that if we do not do what is right, sin is crouching at our door; it desires to have us.  That was precisely what happened, Cain’s NOT doing what were right (probably NOT just that occasion) made him vulnerable to be had by sin; eventually sin had him and he became belonging to the evil one, and he ended up murdering Abel who went about living by faith (leading to righteous actions, and so, as the offering incident showed, was counted righteous by God). 

The evil one is Satan; in John 10:10a, it is said Satan came to steal, kill and destroy.  And in 1 Pet 5:8, we read that Satan is like a roaring lion roaming and seeking to devour whom he may devour.  If we do NOT do what is right, he can be crouching at our door!

Now, this account is interesting for the reason that all of these, the offering incident and the subsequent murdering of Abel by Cain, happened so very early in the genealogy of Man, in the very first family, between the first natural children of the Adam and Eve after the Fall. I submit to you, we can be targeted by the evil one; even as a believer with the imputed righteousness of Christ Jesus, and so, we are still to live and act righteous.  Genesis 4:7 is a reminder for us all to live righteous for if we don’t, sin is crouching at our door; it desires to have us, and if we do NOT master it, it will master us once again. 

In 1 John 3:7, the Apostle John reminded us, in this regard: “Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he {Jesus} is righteous.” Jesus was (and is) righteous yet He too had to live righteous (when He walked the earth). We likewise have to do the same.  That is what this 1 John 3:7 is saying.

Now, instead of heeding God’s warning in Genesis 4:7 to master over sin, sin mastered Cain, and he ended up murdering his brother, Abel, and he was unrepentant when confronted by God.  God punished Cain; banished Cain, and put a further curse of hardship on him in terms of toiling for his needs.  The refusal of Cain to live by faith, which necessitated the pursuing of the knowledge of God, had led to Cain being banished, and that too, put the descendants of Cain away from God.  Even Hosea 4:6, the last bit of the verse, had the warning – “I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” So, let this be a warning – we have to live by faith.  The righteous shall live by faith, said Heb 10:38.

Since there is still one last text having mention of Cain - Jude 1:11, I will address that too, before we end.  Jude 1:10-11, you can re-read it above; Cain’s way is only mentioned as one of the 3, and so, its link to the preceding verses of Jude 1, is NOT so strong; in other words, Cain’s way was NOT meant to explain all of what was said, preceding to the citation of the 3 incidents/happenings (Cain’s way; Balaam’s way; and Korah’s way).  Elements of Cain’s way applying was that Cain was NOT with knowledge of God (and so, faith), either he rejected it or couldn’t be bothered with it. 

Knowledge of God needs to be laid hold of, and that means exercised in operative faith, which Cain failed to do.  Absence or ignoring of the knowledge of God, and so, would NOT be operating in faith, men (such men as Cain) default to going by knowledge from carnal instinct, that they would end up being presumptuous, and this very presumptuousness is what would destroy them.

With all of the above, what have we said as to why Cain’s offering was rejected, while Abel’s, accepted?  It was due to Cain NOT living and acting by faith, which necessitated pursuing the knowledge of God, which is an essential element or component of faith, and without faith, he could NOT be righteous, and could NOT meet the requirement of the offering in question.  Abel, on the other hand, by faith, offered the offering that is right on, with what God wanted. 

How does this speak of how God’s love was, in the incident, or is, to us all?  Here is NOT the place to expound at length, on this subject of God’s love, but I will briefly lay it down: 

The love of God for men, is `ahab love, and an important essence of it, is  “love unto righteousness”.  It means God cannot anyhow love you and I; He can only ultimately love us unto righteousness.  He can only move to love us in line with His righteousness; or we say His love can promote only, righteousness in us; if it does NOT, he moves NOT.  Cain was NOT righteous, and so, God could NOT approve of him and his offering, in love.  Abel, on the other hand, was righteous, for he lived and acted by faith, and so, God could approve of him and his offering, in love. God is firstly holiness, and His love is subjugated to His holiness. He cannot love evil and he cannot approve in love, you and I, when we are evil or doing evil.   When we continue in evil, it is we making ourselves out of range of God’s love, and it is NOT God does NOT want to love us.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

I don’t know you (you evildoer) – Part I

This will be a 3-part series; in PART I, we will look at the meanings of “know”, and how they are used.  In PART II & III, we will then look at a few of the “I don’t know you (you evildoer)” in Scripture.


There are multiple “know” used in Scripture, and the Greek words (NT written largely in Greek) for “know” included these:

1.   G1097 (ginōskō)  - knowledge grounded on personal experience

2.   G1492 (eido) – knowledge from mental perception

3.   G1987 (epistamai) – knowledge from proximity

4.   G4920 (suniemi) – knowledge from native insight or 5 senses
Today, we want to look at 2 of them, eido-know and ginosko-know, in some details, and the rest, in passing. Then we will look at some of the “I don’t know you (you evildoer)” in Scripture.

Two “know” words, in one verse
We will start with John 13:7 (KJV) - Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

There are 2 “know” in the verse above.  The context was that it was just before the Passover Feast, and Jesus had started to wash the feet of the Disciples; and He had come to Peter, and the latter asked in a protesting manner if Jesus was about to wash his feet.

Jesus answered Peter saying what He was about to do (wash the feet of the Disciples), Peter would NOT know then, but Peter would know later.

Essentially, Jesus was saying Peter would NOT understand what He was doing through the washing of the feet, but that Peter would know later.  The first “know”, as in “What I do thou knowest not now;”, is the eido-know (G1492); and the second “know” as in “but thou shalt know hereafter.”, is the ginosko-know (G1097) – two knows in one verse or sentence!

Jesus did NOT use the same Greek word in the one verse.  What is the difference between the two?

If you look up the short-form Lexicon, you get something along what I have given above - eido-know is knowing or knowledge from mental perception; and ginosko-know is knowing or knowledge from personal experience.

Eido-know (G1492)
What does eido-know (G1492) cover or what is meant by mental perception?  Maybe the best is to give examples of how eido-know is used:

1.   I do NOT know (eido) he was coming. The connotation is this: I “check my mind” and I found I have no knowledge of him was coming; meaning, my mind did NOT yield any knowledge of him coming.  It could be no one told me, or I have not heard or read anything (about him coming); the processing of my mind yielded nothing of him coming.

2.   I don’t know (eido) why he crossed the road, and so, was knocked down by the car.  The connotation is this: My mind tried to figure it out as to why he crossed the road, but yielded nothing.  It could be: I saw him dashed across the road, but I don’t know why; I suniemi-know (G4920) [another “know” – see above] he crossed the road but I don’t know why.

3.   Even though you worked 5 years in this American MNC of 5,000 employees where I too worked for 5 years, at the same; but I don’t know (eido) you.  The connotation is this: Despite you were there, my mind did NOT register you; my mind did NOT associate you to any meaningful things that my mind would have kept memory of.

4.   Sir, do you know (ginosko/eido) this man; he is wearing your Company employee name-tag?  This name-tag is genuine, I know (eido) him; you can let him through. The connotation is this: By the name-tag, I know he is an employee of the Company, and so, you can let him through.  It is mental assent – he wears the Company employee name-tag, and so, he is an employee.

From the examples given, you can now understand why the first know, eido-know was used in the verse of John 13:7; Jesus was saying Peter would NOT understand (mental assent) why Jesus was wanting to do what he was about to do – to wash Peter’s feet.  Do you know (eido) the significance of what Jesus did?

Ginosko-know (G1097)
We now look at ginosko-know (G1097); knowing from personal experience.  What is knowing or knowledge from personal experience or grounded on personal experience?  Again, let’s look at some examples to get to know how it is used:

1.   He and I grew up together; and I know (ginosko) him to be an honest man.  The connotation is this:  Because of the direct interactions between us, for years as childhood friends, I have the personal experiences to back me in saying what I said, that he is an honest man.

2.   I know (ginosko) he goes to that park every Sunday morning, because I go with him to that park every Sunday morning to pray together, before we leave for Sunday church services.  The connotation is this:  I had been doing it with him, and so I know, from my personal experiences with him, as prayer buddies.

3.   Yah, magazines carried such stories of him; people in church talked about him being so, but I do NOT know (ginosko).  The connotation is this:  But I have no close association with him, and so, no personal experience with him to know if all these stories about him are true or NOT (negative statement, intent to stress absence of relation and personal experience).

4.   We have been divorced for years, and so, being living apart for a long time, I don’t know (ginosko) her anymore.  The connotation is this: I no longer know her personally or from personal experience with her.  I can only say, I eido-know her.

The point to note here, is that ginosko-know is used with another person.  It is not knowing or knowledge from an experience, but knowing or knowledge from PERSONAL experience.  There is usually a relation or close association involved ( friends, family relations, master-disciples, etc). When we have a personal experience; another is involved with us (personal here does NOT mean private, like private experience as in “I did it and it is a personal thing”, or no one knows about it).

From the above examples on the use of ginosko-know, we can appreciate why Jesus would use ginosko-know on the last part of the verse, that Jesus said Peter would later ginosko-know the significance of what He would be doing (washing of his feet).  Peter could subsequently claim he ginosko-ly-knew, for he experienced it with the Lord, as His disciple.  We cannot claim ginosko-ly-know, unless we get washed of our feet by Jesus.  We would eido-ly-know when someone explained to us, the significance of what Jesus did – the washing of the feet.

Another illustration – working with the Lord in miracle
I give us one more illustration before we end this part.  In part II and part III, we will look at the “I don’t know you (you evildoer)” of the Scripture:

I have read and have seen it, even seen it being demonstrated (yah, this minister with the special call, actually said she was going to demonstrate it, and she proceeded to demonstrate, and it happened as she said! Great mutual abiding between the Lord and her), that someone with unequal leg lengths can be healed by God through God supernaturally extending/shortening one of the legs, when the person was made to sit upright, and prayer was made in the name of Jesus. 

I used to know (eido) it, that such a healing could happen.  I eido-know, because my mind has had knowledge – knowledge from past reading and seeing.  More than 5 years ago, if someone asked me if I knew it could happen, I would say I eido-knew.  I could even say I suniemi-knew it, for I have seen it happened.  I was even right-up close, once, and so, I could even say I epistamai-knew.  But I could NOT say I ginosko-knew, until a few years back. 

In the last 5 years, I have twice prayed for such a miracle, as a (lay) minister of the Lord, and it happened, and now I can say I ginosko-know, for I have had personal experience with the Lord (as his minister); I have worked with the Lord when He did the healing by the lengthening of the shorter leg of the ministee (people with unequal leg lengths are commonly with persistent backaches; and so, would ask for healing prayer).

Significance of ginosko-knowing
What is the significance of this understanding of the ginosko-knowing?  Its significance is this: what is important is whether God ginosko-knows you; and when He ginosko-knows you, you too, would ginosko-know Him.  Ginosko-knowing is used in these:

1.   John 10:14 (NIV) - I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my
                                sheep know me.
                         (KJV) – I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and
                                    am known of mine.

2.   1 Cor 8:3 (NIV) -   But the man who loves God is known by God.
                                 (KJV) -  But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

3.   2 Tim 2:19 (NIV) -Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, 
                               sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those
                               who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name
                               of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."
                                  (KJV) - Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure,
                                   having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.
                                   And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ
                                   depart from iniquity.

God is omniscience, all knowing, yet, there is still a need to be known by God, because the knowing looked for, is ginosko-knowing, knowing or knowledge from personal experience shared by the parties, in a relation (God and you as his child, servant, disciple, friend, …).  The Christian faith is said as a relationship between one (man) with God, NOT for no realm or reason; and it is NOT just a nice thing to say; it is what it is – God ginosko-knows you, and you ginosko-know Him. 

Now, when God says He ginosko-knows you, He would even stand for you, when you are challenged (revolt/rebellion of Korah – Num 16; Apostle Paul’s exposition on 2 Tim 2:19), and so, it is great; on the other hand, when God says He don’t know you, it too, has great negative implication.  “I don’t know you; you evildoer”, this phrase or one close to it, is found in Scripture, and we will look at a few of them, in Part II & Part III, to come.

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