Wednesday, March 26, 2014

NOT just right standing, live right

Today, I want to latch onto a blog entry of a “long-distance friend” of mine, in the States, Ps Prentis.  The link to his article is this:

I do encourage brothers and sisters to follow his blog, for as far as I know his core theology is sound.  His entries are much shorter than mine, and easier to follow because mine are tended to be backed up by lots of scriptural supports.  In fact, I appreciated his allowing my “preachy” comments on his blog; no insecure person allows that.

This is the scripture text that Ps Prentis used, and I will start with it, John 3:19-21 (KJV) –

19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.  21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

The light here was Jesus (John 8:12) - When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. 

The light here was also God and holiness (1 John 1:5-8; v5 – God is light) - 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.  8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

The John 3 & 8 texts were the words of our Lord, Jesus.  The 1 John 1 was the writing of the apostle John who of course wrote the Gospel of John. 

The audience there, of Jesus, was largely the Jews; many of them were of the same inclinations as the Pharisees.  John 8 detailed out the exchanges between Jesus and those Jews.  I will put down a couple of verses from there (John 8), here:

19 Then they {the Pharisees} asked him, “Where is your father?” “You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.”

21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.

23 But he {Jesus} continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 34 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father {the devil; re v44}.”

What am I trying to tell here? God is light, Jesus is from God; He is God (Son of God); He came from above (v23).  Jesus has come; the light has come (John 3:19, 8:12).  Of course, non-believers, they are outside of the light; they have NOT come into the light.  John 3:20 actually said everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light.  Now, non-believers are in there, in the “everyone”.  But the “everyone” cannot be just be referring to the non-believers.  There is a teaching going round implying that (only non-believers); and it is WRONG.  The “everyone” can include the children of God or believers or Christians.  

The audience of Jesus was the Jews, we have established that, and from John 8, it was clear.  In fact, they (the Jews or Pharisees) insisted they were children or sons of God.  Were they not so?  Yes, there were people of God, children of God, sons of God, as a matter of standing.  But we got to understand that God looks at more than just standing or legality, God looks also at in reality whether or NOT you are one, a son or child of God.  

What does it mean “in reality”?  It is like someone has qualified himself as a medical doctor (and there are those letters behind his name!), but if he does NOT practise medicine, but are pursuing an artist career, painting or sculpturing, etc., he is no doctor in reality, in reality he is an artist. 

A good proverb applicable to this, is: The proof of the pudding is in the eating; and Jesus applied it here, in the exchanges in John 8.  Despite Jesus said in v35 (John 8:35), a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever, He actually concluded that those Jews who were not accepting Him and His teaching, were NO children or sons of God; rather they were sons of the devil (v38 & 44).  Jesus actually said to these people, they would go NOT to Heaven (John 8:21).  The people were sons, but not sons, in reality.

WHO THEN ARE THE TRUE SONS OF GOD?  I will answer that in a while, but let me stress that this teaching of Jesus was NOT just focussed on the non-believers who are obviously NOT living in the light for they never really entered the light; they might have “hopped in and hopped out”; they never really had any intention to linger at all, in the light. It was and is also speaking to the Jews (God’s people, by standing) and believers who hold NOT to his teachings (John 8:31). 

Jesus used the word, disciples, on those who would believe Him and hold to His teachings; what did it imply?  Disciples NOT only believe in their master; they embrace the master’s teaching, and live out the ethos of the master.  Now if the master is Jesus, and Jesus is light, then is it NOT believers or should I say, disciples, have to be living in the light? 

I like this word that I noted Ps Prentis used from time to time, “characterisation”.  So, what so characterises you?  For the non-believers, living in the dark, characterises them, they occasionally “hop in and hop out” of the light; they don’t live in it or “travel” in it.  For you and I, disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be characterised by our living in the light; occasionally, you found yourselves “hopping in and hopping out” of darkness; and that was when you and I sin, occasionally.  Living in the dark or sinning should no longer characterise us, disciples (believers necessarily be disciples, it is NOT an option), who should be characterised by our living in the light or obeying God and His commands and so, sinning NOT.

The 1 John 1:5-10 writing was, I believe, the Apostle John’s attempt to say the same.  It is that you have to get into or back into the light that you have true fellowship with other disciples and with God, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies you from all sin (1 John 1:7).  1 John 1:9 is the elaboration of how this, “the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies you from all sin” – you repent (turn back into the light), and confess to God your sins (for you committed sins when you are in the dark or darkness), and the Lord, Jesus, is just and faithful to forgive you and cleanse you of all unrighteousness (from the sins).  Once this is done, you are back in the light; you are NOT back in the light unless you are forgiven and cleansed (for greater understanding of 1 John 1:9, read these: 1 John 1:9 is for believers, and 1 John 1:9 - Q&As).

John 3:20 said that everyone who does wicked things hates the light, and does NOT come into it, lest his works should be exposed.  Why does he hate it?  It is because of fear.  Heb 10:26–29 reads,

“26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

Obviously, this Hebrews text was NOT talking to non-believers, but to believers.  Scripture is very consistent with a believer is having to live righteous.  Anyone who play-downs the call to live righteous, is against the Word, and against God, and has NOT, the right understanding of God’s kinda of love (For better understanding of God’s kinda of love, read this: ‘ahab love – love unto righteousness).

Scripture said, “Perfect love casts out all fear”.  1 John 4:18 Amplified Bible: 18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].

Do we have fear?  Many of us, including myself, we have fear.  That is real.  But why?  It is because we are NOT in the fullness of God’s love.  The fullness of God’s love or perfect love is always there, like a never-ending beam of light.  We have to get into and stay inside, this beam of love which is inside the beam of light (holiness). 

In this light (holiness), there can be no fear, for there is no punishment, for there can be no sin, for everything done in the light has been carried out in God – John 3:21 (When one sins, it meant he has stepped outside of the light; he has to get back in). 

Everything done in the light is righteous.  Everything done in the light is done in love.  In here, you experience God’s love for you, which love unto righteousness (‘ahab love); in here, you love Him back with the same love; in here, you love one another with His love, again, love unto righteousness; in here there is fullness of love, perfect love.  In here, there is forgiveness and restoration, if you would come back in, if you would confess your sins to God who is just and faithful to forgive you and cleanse you of all your unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), from meandering in the dark.

There is no other way out of our fear, except to come or come back into the light.  Embrace 1 John 1:9, it is for the non-believers and it is for the believers.  Know this truth, and this truth will set you free, and yes, free from fear.

Oh! WHO THEN ARE THE TRUE SONS OF GOD?  I said I will let you know.  Romans 8:12-14 - 12 So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh {sinful nature}:  13 for if ye live after the flesh, ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye put to death the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  14 FOR AS MANY AS ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, THESE ARE THE SONS OF GOD.

Jesus is our master and model.  We have just looked at Jesus saying to those who believed Him that if they hold to His teachings, they would be His real disciples.  Disciples model after the master.  How did the Master live? 1 John 3:7 - Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he {Jesus} is righteous. 

Jesus was righteous, and He lived righteous or did what was right.  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in His ministry; He was baptised in water and Spirit, at the Jordan River, before He began His ministry.  Where did it say, in Scripture Jesus was led by the Spirit? After Jesus’ baptism, in Matt 4:1, we read it recorded for us that Jesus was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the Devil (Jesus was led to fast in the wilderness, first, before He was tempted).  Furthermore, we believed as Scripture said it, Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit (Matt 1:18).  Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit in His life, and especially so, when the Holy Spirit had come upon Him without measure upon His water baptism.

A Spirit-led life is a righteous living life, why?  Because the Holy Spirit knows the mind of God (1 Cor 2:11), and is always only speaking and doing from the Godhead.  The Holy Spirit is always righteous, and so, when we are being led by Him, we will be living right; we will be living as Jesus did – living righteous.

Therefore, those who live right, those are the sons of God.  They are also those who love God, for love and righteousness are bounded together.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Must God's love being seen in me?

Is God’s love being seen in me?  It is referring to whether or NOT people can see or NOT, God’s love in us (or me).  It is NOT primarily asking if God’s love for us (or me) is seen in us (or me).  It is whether God’s love for others is seen in us.  And so, it presupposes God has love for others, apart from us (or me).  Does God have love for others, apart from us (or me)?  We are crazy to think that God only love us (or me), and NOT others!

The love of God is for all men
John 3:16 said it all, that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, so that whoever believes in Him, may have eternal life.  The world is definitely NOT just us (or me)?  It is all men, in general.  There is another verse in Scripture paralleling this understanding.  1 Tim 2:4 – {God our Savior} who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Or this: 1 John 2:2 - And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

For the stubbornly unrighteous, God ultimately cannot love him
So, please, we should stop thinking we (or I) am so special that God loves only us (or me).  We are (or I am) special, but he is and she is, too.  God’s love for me and for you is the same.  God’s love for men is defined in the Hebrew love word, ‘ahab love, as love unto righteousness (For a more detailed exposition of this ‘ahab love, read: ‘ahab love – love unto righteousness).  The righteousness there, is His righteousness, and this love, is defined independently of who (men) we are referring to.  And so, it is about us, men, coming into this love of God.  Another way of putting it, if you are a man, and you are righteous, God cannot but love you.  And if one remains stubbornly unrighteous, God ultimately cannot love him.

The story of Job – a most righteous man
This is how God allowed Job to be spoken of (Job 1:1): In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.

In other words, Job was the most righteous man in the land.  If you meditate on this, with the knowledge and understanding of the story of Job as detailed in that Book, and believe, as it is defined for us, the love of God (‘ahab love), you will appreciate the love of God is so incongruent with the many ideas of love, from the world.  The love of God has one aim and only one aim in mind, to maintain and foster greater righteousness in us (or grow the holiness in us). 

All the ways and manners and even all the particular things that have been or will be allowed to happen in our lives, including (Job, an good example) loss of wealth, loved ones, and even health, God has NOT precluded Himself from employing (it does NOT necessarily mean God caused it), so long as it goes towards maintaining or growing in you, righteousness; the only condition is that He cannot be unholy or He cannot be evil in anyway.

Let your mind and understanding be expanded
I hope this exposition will expand readers’ understanding of the love of God.  One benefit is that we can get a better understanding of what is going on in our lives, when we are told we are having a God who loves us; and that God is NOT “playing favourite” in His love; it is to the degree you are righteous, you will experience the degree of His love, as the degree of your righteousness puts you into the degree of the fullness of God’s love.  The fullness of God’s love is there all the time, it is we have to step into that fullness, and we cannot do that, if we are NOT righteous.  Over and on top of that, the grace and mercy of God flow out to us to help us along, all subjugated to the demands of God’s own holiness.

It opens our spiritual eyes to see how far we are from the fullness of God’s love, and even as we journey greater into that fullness, we should want others to experience that love of God, too, and we should want also, to give understanding to others, about how God loves men, so that we encourage men to move towards and into the fullness of God’s love, which is the will of God.  You may say, “But why?”  As that Job story shows, God does NOT take His eyes off the one who is righteous, despite whatever afflictions have been allowed to hit him, and when the person’s righteousness stand, the love of God will bless most abundantly (you can read, in the end, how Job was doubly blessed by God).  The greater blessings, however, many somehow, often forget, are God, through the Holy Spirit, sheds His peace and joy abroad in our hearts, meanwhile, and at the appointed time, brings us to be with Him, in Heaven, as a consummation of the Love Story, the Gospel. 

It is NOT about you, and it is about you
“Bro Anthony, ok, I get what you saying here, but what does it got to do with whether or NOT God’s love is being seen in me or NOT?”  Firstly, I hope we are clear it is NOT about you and I, and it is about you and I! 

It is NOT about you and I, in the sense it is NOT about our love for another man.  It is about God’s love for another man.  And it is about you and I, for we have joined God in the Love Story, when (and only when) we have been justified; and that gets us, the imputed righteousness of Christ Jesus.  In simple terms, you and I entered into the Love Story on becoming a Christian (we been justified and adopted into the Story). 

The Love Story
The Story is about God loving men and men loving God back; it is NOT just God loving you (or me) and you (or I) loving Him back.  Yes, there is the personal dimension, and yet, the big picture or corporate dimension is that God is after men, NOT just you and I.  I repeat, it is NOT about your love or my love for another man. 

A US pastor, a “long-distance friend” of mine (his blog I followed regularly), Ps Prentis, wrote recently on the same theme. I commented on his blog that he was cute(!) when he expressed, “We think that [our] love produces love in others until we remember junior high.”  It is about His love, like the author of this song said it:

Oh, I love you with the love of the Lord,
Yes, I love you with the love of the Lord;
I can see in you the glory of my king,
Yes, I love you with the love of the Lord

It is all, to be truly righteous
Actually, how can one be truly righteous, if he loves another with his (own) love? The very 1st commandment, he fails, for that commandment calls for us to love God back with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  And when we are NOT truly righteous, we have NOT yet come into the fullness of God’s love.  To be truly righteous, we have to love God with all our love.

When we do love someone with our love, we do NOT love God with our all!  Some people actually would say the Scripture is self-contradicting or is oxymoron, arguing that the very 1st and 2nd commandments of God are oxymoron – God’s asking is in contradiction.  I say the author of the above song got it right, it is when we love another, NOT with our own love, but the love of the Lord, that there is no contradiction in the two love commandments. 

What is the “new” in Jesus’ saying
God knows the hearts of men (Acts 1:24) [thinking that there is contradiction], and Jesus shed some light on this:  Jesus said that he was giving the people a new command, but what He gave was the same 2 love commands as in Deu 6:5 and Lev 19:18.  But Jesus did say “new”; so what was new about the love commandments?  The 1st commandment was the same (Deu 6:5 did NOT have “mind”, explicitly), but we read this in John 13:34: “A new command I give you: Love one another. AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, so you must love one another.

Therein, is what was new about Jesus’ command: We are to love one another, in the same way He loved the disciples.  How did Jesus love the disciples?  He loved them with the love of the Father God.  Jesus’s love for the Father was a total sell-out, doing His will, even to die on the Cross, a cruel death; why?  Because that is the Father God’s love for us, men.  Jesus loved His disciples with the love of the Father God.

Jesus, our model
So? So, it is NOT about we love another man or whomever man, with our love; it is we love another with the love of the Lord.  Jesus is our model: He loved with the Father’s love; He did the will of the Father.  We? We to love with the love of the Lord; we to do His will (Of course, the Lord and the Father has once again, are one, and one with the Holy Spirit; For a season, the Lord laid down His deity, that was when he lived as a man).

Must I?
“Ok, bro Anthony, now I understand I am to love with the love of the Lord, just as Jesus loved, with the love of the Father God; but must I love, so that the Lord’s love can be seen in me?” Yes, you and I must. 

When we look at the Strong’s Lexicon on ‘ahab love (God’s kinda of love), we find our reciprocal love for God is also to be unto righteousness.  Love is bounded together with righteousness.  And so, we see in Scripture, Jesus defined loving God this way (John 14:15 & 21): He who loves me obeys my commands, and He who obeys my commands is the one who loves me. 

The righteousness of God (what God wants done and the time it is to be done) is explicit to us in His commands; that is why Jesus tied love to obeying His commands.  So, we ask: Is it His command we to love one another?  Yes, the John 14:34 made it explicit (“A new command I give you: Love one another. AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, so you must love one another).  When you and I don’t obey His commands, say, this “love one another” command, we are NOT being righteous (righteousness, simply, is being spot on with God, with what He wants), and that translates automatically to, we are NOT loving God fully, and we won’t be at the fullness of His love for us.

Love for God, righteousness, and love one another, altogether
1 John 3:10 (KJV) spells it out clearly: In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

We can see, NOT loving one another, being singled out as NOT practising righteousness.  Another angle to view this, is that righteousness of God necessarily includes God wanting us to love one another.  In other words, loving one another is always in the righteousness of God, NOT just sometimes.  Viewing in another way, we cannot go wrong when we practice loving one another; and it is consistent with this verse (Rom 13:10 KJV): “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

The righteousness of God cannot be working any ill; and love, being always in the righteousness of God, therefore, cannot be working any ill; and so, love is said to be fulfilling of the law, for the law is for righteousness and against ills.  In this way, too, we have the understanding of some of the similar verses in Scripture, like the ones below:

Gal 5:14 - For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
James 2:8 - If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right {practising righteousness}.

On top of 1 John 3:10, the apostle John also similarly linked loving God, keeping His commandments, and loving one another together, in 1 John 5:2 (KJV) – “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

The flow is very simple:  We are to love God with our all (the 1st commandment – love God commandment). We love God by obeying His prescription for us and doing His will, and His prescription and will are in His commandments, and foremost and always, in His righteousness (or what He wants), is we to love one another, and so, when we truly love God and so, keep His commandments, we would have kept this love thy neighbour commandment (2nd commandment), and so, we are loving one another or His children.

What does it mean when God’s love is NOT seen in us?
In matter of degree, these:
We are NOT practicing righteousness
We are NOT obeying His commands
We are NOT loving God, as we are NOT loving one another
We are NOT getting ourselves into the fullness of His love
We hinder our own sanctification
We have NOT identified with Him (borrowing Ps Prentis’ words)

The end for one who is righteous and so, is loving God, is being loved by God, and it is beautiful; and his journey on earth, meanwhile, will be with God’s cover over him, and he is at peace and with joy, in and of the Holy Spirit, as he is in alignment with the Spirit of God.  Be that one, and God will have His children, all like His Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Be led by the Holy Spirit - Part I

First of all, is there such an exhortation?  Yes, the closest ones are these:

Gal 5:16-17 - 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Amplified Bible - 16 But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). 17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do.

Romans 8:13-14 (KJV) - 13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify {put to death} the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Romans 8:1 (KJV) - There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

The above are New Testament (NT) passages, are there any from Old Testament (OT) on this?  Yes, but because in OT, the Holy Spirit did NOT function as the spiritual Emmanuel (God with us), like He is doing in the NT, we find instead, reference to be led by the LORD; to me, it is on the same theme.

We will NOT look at Moses, how he was led by the LORD, because he was in a unique season where the LORD travelled with the people, and he, Moses, could appear before the Tabernacle where God was, and had the LORD speak directly to him.  Rather, we will look at another character, David, and as a short contrast, his predecessor, King Saul.

In the OT, we find David, the man God said to be after His own heart, was always wanting to be led by the LORD.  We can see his expressions of this, in a number of his psalms (which we will see below).

One of the reasons King Saul was replaced by God with David was that the former turned away from being led by the LORD.  In those days (OT), the common way the LORD led was by the mouth of His prophets, who were well-schooled in the laws of God, have learnt the ways of God.  One such prophets, then was the prophet Samuel.  He was the one who anointed Saul as King over Israel (and later David, too), because the Israelites insisted on a man-king when the LORD was already their King.  We see the LORD’s anger when Samuel turned away.

1 Sam 15:1-3; 9-13; 19-23 - 1Samuel said to Saul, “I am the one the Lord sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the Lord. 2 This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt. 3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. 10 Then the word of the Lord came to Samuel: 11 “I regret {become grieved} that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” Samuel was angry, and he cried out to the Lord all that night. 12 Early in the morning Samuel got up and went to meet Saul, but he was told, “Saul has gone to Carmel. There he has set up a monument in his own honor and has turned and gone on down to Gilgal.” 13 When Samuel reached him, Saul said, “The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.”

19 Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?” {Samuel speaking, to Saul} 20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul said. “I went on the mission the Lord assigned me. I completely destroyed the Amalekites and brought back Agag their king. 21 The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the Lord your God at Gilgal.” 22 Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 …. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.

Acts 13:22 - After removing Saul, he {God} made David their king. God testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'

Ps 16:5 (by David) Amplified Bible - The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot.
As opposed to King Saul, David was humble, and had truly chosen the LORD as his Lord, chosen to have the LORD decide his fate all the time.  He believed in his LORD, and was ever defensive of the good name of the LORD. 

When the Philistine giant, Goliath, challenged the army of King Saul, David, then still a young lad, stood up against Goliath.  In 1 Sam 17:26, we read what David said,“….Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”  We know the story; David fought Goliath, in the name of the LORD, and killed Goliath with a sling and a few smooth stones.
To David, whatever the LORD decided as to his life, he would embrace it – “The Lord is my chosen and assigned portion, my cup; You hold and maintain my lot.  David was a shepherd boy, looking after his father’s flock, had to fight off wild animals which attacked the flock; later, he worked for King Saul, was his harpist, was the King’s commander; and then when he did extremely well in the army, King Saul persecuted him, and wanted to kill him; he had to run, and became fugitive even in the land of the enemy, the Philistines. 

David was careful to keep the LORD’s laws and commandments, although there were occasions of failure, but held no ill-feeling towards the LORD, even when the LORD decreed death to his first son from his adulterous affair with Bathsheba.  He, when convicted through the words of the prophet Nathan, waited upon the LORD to see if the LORD would relent from His decree, but when God did NOT, He accepted it, and moved on, after 7 days, letting NOT the “bad patch” which was a result of his own failure (a serious one, too – triple violations of the 10 Commandments), to affect his steadfastness towards the LORD.
Portion, cup and lot, they all speak about the same thing, David’s abandonment to the LORD; accepting whatever the LORD would decide for him: in little (shepherd boy or on the run) or in much (as king), in low position (shepherd boy) or in high position (as king), in troubles (pursued and persecuted; his own son, Absalom revolted against him, even) or in peaceful times (David did have peaceful times, as King), in failures (covetousness, adultery and murder from encounter with Bathsheba) or in successes (David could have killed King Saul when the latter came after him, but he did NOT [he understood Saul was King put up by God]).

We can see David’s steadfastness from this declaration of his, in Ps 16:8 – “I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  David said (Ps 16:7), “I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.  He said he praised God who counselled him, his heart instructed him in the night seasons; what did he mean; how was he counselled or what was this “his heart instructed him in the nights”?  In the OT, counsel from God came through the written laws of God and the prophets of God (additionally, in Moses’ time, from enquiry before the Tabernacle, from God).  Ps 119:9-16 (which I believe the author was David), gave us the clue:

9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord; teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

David took the laws and words of God to heart, and have himself constantly be reminded of them, to that He would NOT sin against God, even in the dark or difficult seasons of his life.

David, we could read from the psalms, he had this posture of wanting only God’s ways, even when he was in troubles or afflictions of life:

Ps 5:8 - Lead me, O Lord, in Your righteousness because of my enemies; make Your way level (straight and right) before my face.
Ps 27:11 - Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain and even path because of my enemies [those who lie in wait for me].

David took God’s words and laws to heart, and was completely given to them, and so, lived a righteous life (albeit, with some failures). David made another declaration:

Ps 37:23-25 Amplified Bible - 23 The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. 24 Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him. 25 I have been young and now am old, yet have I not seen the [uncompromisingly] righteous forsaken or their seed begging bread.

David said a righteous (v25) man, the LORD delights in his ways.  The Amplified Bible said God busies Himself with the man’s every step! [Note: the NIV translated this wrongly as “the man delights in God’s way”] For such a man, his steps are ordered (directed and established) by God.

We now come back to our times, NT times.  Today, as given at the outset of this article, NT scriptures exhort us to be led by the Holy Spirit.

Except for Jesus, all the other significant characters in Scripture, put in, by God, as examples for our benefit were NOT perfect at all.  Secondly, from our own life, and from day to day dealing with fellow believers, really, I cannot see how it can be that any preacher could claim that upon (entry into) salvation, one attains perfection.  I hope these preachers are NOT suggesting they are themselves the perfect ones, the Jesuses!

Some believers do enjoy higher favour in certain areas of their lives, compared with some others.  For example, one may have an example of a sin bondage that he once had, but has completely been broken by the Lord, and he has no more struggle with the sin, even when he comes into temptation.  But is he completely free from all allures of the fallen world?  I doubt there are any believers who managed to live a completely sinless and struggle-free life all the time.  Scriptures are showing that the draw to go back to the “vomit or mud” is very real. 

Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.” 2 Pet 2:22

The Apostle Paul also gave us the picture of the struggle, tug-of-war, that still goes on, in the life of a believer.  The sinful nature or carnal flesh (or just called flesh, even) or what I called Iniquity or Sin (or agency of Satan), on the one hand, is still trying to get us to go back into the fallen world ways, when on the other hand, the Holy Spirit whom God has put to indwell us, trying to have us to work with Him on our sanctification.  As can be read from the NT scriptures (given at the outset), the desires of the flesh and those of the Spirit are opposing.

We have seen for the OT people of God, what they had to do, to be led by God, in righteousness – hid the words and laws in their hearts, meditated on them, obeyed them and lived by them; and then on top of that, they would heed the prophets’ words for them. 

How different is it for us, NT believers?  Do we have to treat the Word and commandments of God like David did? My answer is yes.  We still need to take in the Word and commandments of God into our hearts, meditate on them, obey them, and live by them.  What about this verse:

Heb 8:10 - This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

This verse does NOT mean 1) now, we just do NOT need to hear, read, or study the Word; 2) God will take a pen and write it all down for us (the entire Bible) into our mind and heart, so that it is all there, ready for use by us; 3) it obviously does not mean you don’t have to listen to the teachers standing behind the pulpits or that you don’t have to go to church anymore, to hear from anybody anymore; and 4) the New Covenant is without laws and commandments.

This Heb 8:10 scripture text, a re-quote of Jer 31:33, is a dual context prophecy, and so, the author of Hebrews used it as the “far prophecy” (the “near prophecy” referred specifically to the house of Israel). 

Now, as used in OT, it (God writing laws into hearts and minds) can be said as almost metaphorical, and there many verses in OT alluring to this metaphorical use.  For the NT, although my belief is that it is no longer metaphorical in its use, the bringing about of the laws of God into our mind and heart, is NOT to be understood, literally like “God to write them in, nothing to do with us”; in fact, it is on top of what OT people, like David, would do with the laws; it added a dimension which previously was largely from external, today, is internal; and by that I mean, the function of the indwelling Holy Spirit, in this area.

What I am saying is therefore, we still have to take in the Word and commandments of God into our hearts (through hearing, reading and studying the Word), meditate on them, obey them, and live by them.  It is on top of that, we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who is “The Tutor”.  Now, the understanding of how it all works is this:

Consider the metaphor of you, the knowledge in Science text books (for e.g.), and your tutor.  When you have NOT the tutor, you do all the reading and understanding on your own; you get all of those knowledge with understanding into your mind (and heart).  Now, that you have a tutor, it does NOT mean you do NOT have to read and understand the knowledge from the books, but it is that you still do all of that, read and understand; but if you are in doubt, you have the tutor who has better knowledge and understanding then you (that is why he is your tutor-right?!), to help you. 

The tutor does NOT read for you and understand for you; the onus is on you to read and understand, even though the tutor, and if he is good one, he will guide you along, correct you when your understanding is off; and he will teach you when you ask him.  If you ignore him, then he cannot really help you, can he?  Say, you have to take an exam, your tutor is NOT the one taking the exam; you are.  He won’t take the exam for you.

The idea of a tutor tutoring you is so that you are able to get what is outside of you, the knowledge in the books, and the understanding that is NOT yet had, into you, better; so that you can do what you have to do with them, subsequently.  Of course, a tutor’s role included briefing you on how to use what you have gotten into your mind, properly, like examination-taking.  And so, he would test you, too; give you some test papers to do.  And then at the end of the day, what you gotten into your mind (and heart) is yours to keep, and to use.  When the tutor is satisfied with you for specific areas, it indicates you have mastered it; he would leave you to “operate” those.  If you are humble, you still know that you could err, and you would humbly go by the tutor to check if what you intend to do, is the best thing to do.

What I am trying to say is that the indwelling Holy Spirit helps us to do the job of “hiding God’s word in our hearts, so that we may NOT sin against God” (Ps 119:11), better, more excellently.  But it is still we have to work with the Holy Spirit on this.  This Holy Spirit is NOT just our particular subject tutor, but is the Tutor of our life.

We are the product of God’s creation.  The Holy Spirit came from the “manufacturer of us” (God).  The Word or Scripture is the manufacturer’s manual on us; how we are to operate.  In the OT times, the Holy Spirit made visits, but in NT, the Holy Spirit is with us, indwelling us.  It is now a more intimate setting, yet, you and I have to work with the Holy Spirit, be led by Him.  He knows best, for He is from the manufacturer, part of the manufacturer, and is the manufacturer, God.

Satan, too, had put “a tutor” of his own, in men; this, according to how the apostle Paul said of “him”, he resides in the flesh.  He is, who I called, Iniquity (or Sin); scripture referred to “him” as flesh or sinful nature.  This Satan, he came from the house of our manufacturer (God), too; but he was driven out, and he has come to create havoc with us.  He knows what is in the manufacturer’s manual, the Bible, and he would try to get us to operate outside of the true prescription by the Bible.  He would even exploit and twist and turn what is written in the manual, to deceive us. What he wanted of us, is the corruption of us, the pinnacle of God’s creation, and if possible, our destruction.

That is why the scriptures given at the outset of this article, all talked about the flesh or sinful nature or Iniquity (agency of Satan, and therefore, of Satan)’s desires are antagonistic to those of the Holy Spirit.  So, the exhortation is that we are to listen to and be led by the Holy Spirit, and NOT to the flesh.

John 10:10 gave us the contrast: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The thief in the verse is referring to Satan or “typing” (type for) Satan.  The “I” there, is Jesus.

To sum it all, it is necessary we be led by the Holy Spirit; we must want to be led by the Holy Spirit, so that we are NOT led by the flesh.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Salvation as Justification and Sanctification

I have NOT often used the word, sanctification, because some Christian factions used that same word, but gave it very different meaning; today I will use it.

Salvation is to be understood as comprising Justification and Sanctification. 

You get justified at the time that you enter into Salvation (or get converted or said the Sinner’s Prayer).  What that means is that you are forgiven of all your past sins, including the Original Sin.  Technically, I don’t favour talking about present sin, although it is common to read it used, and I ended up sometimes, putting it in, too.  It is either one has sinned or one has NOT.  When one has sinned, it is past. 

Scripture did talk about all our sins are forgiven us, at our entry into salvation.  My understanding is that as stated above, the all does NOT cover FUTURE sins.  FUTURE sins have NOT happened and so, could NOT have been forgiven by God at your entry into salvation, which could be some donkey years ago.  We can expect that post-entry (into salvation) when we confess the sins we have committed, to God, He is just and faithful to forgive us, and cleanse us of all our unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

John 3:16 said that God so loved us that He gave His one and only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, so that we may have eternal life.  The Gospel is God’s love for men.  He loved you and He acted by giving His Son to die for us.  Why His Son had to do that, die for us, essentially explains what Justification is all about. 

Scripture said the penalty for sin is death.  In other word, a sinful man is already on a death-row; and he cannot say, “I will die for another; say, spare Anthony, I will die in his place”.  He cannot, because he, himself, is supposed to die, anyway, being on the death-row.  Everyone is a sinful man.  Why?  Because everyone has “inherited” the Original Sin, and so, everyone is born sinful, and so, none can pay for the penalty of sin, for another.  Only a sinless life can do that, using his life to pay for another, so that, that another, can be free. 

Jesus Christ being the Son of God in Heaven was sinless, and He was holy, for God and the Godhead is holy.  No one can say God have NOT loved him; God has loved him, for God had given, and the Son, Jesus, had agreed, to come to die to atone for the sins of him; and we know Jesus did come and did die crucified, for the Salvation of men. 

God has loved; He sent His Son.  The Gospel is a love story.  Now, you have loved Him back when you came into salvation.  Your entry into salvation was the very first act of love on your part; you have loved Him back, by obeying God, to receive the Justification.  I will NOT elaborate here, but the kinda of love of God is love unto righteousness.  To understand this God’s kinda of love, read: ‘Ahab love – love unto righteousness

So, the very first thing God did, to have you and I able to come into the love story, loving, was to have us justified.  When you are justified, you are once again righteous.  Men were created righteous, but men became unrighteous, because of the Fall in the Garden of Eden.  When you were unrighteous, you could NOT love God rightly, and you really could NOT do any works, pleasing God (short of Him still counting righteousness to you, despite you NOT meeting up to the righteousness and holiness of God.  The concept of God counting righteousness to people was found in the OT, because the people then had NOT, the kind of justification that we are now [since Christ’s death and resurrection] having).  That was why, generally speaking, it would be as Isaiah put it down, that all the works of the people were as filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). 

I, however, if I can, I will discourage pastors hitting their congregation with such harsh words like “ALL their works or deeds are as filthy rags”.  No, with Justification by Christ Jesus, it is NOT necessarily that ALL the works of a believer is as filthy rag to God.  It is however right to highlight that if we get ourselves into all kinds of sins and bondages, our works may NOT please God; for one thing, our motive of works could be no longer pure.  For one thing, God wants you and I to work on our problem with sins and bondages, even as we serve.  If we ignore our sinful condition, he is NOT pleased. 

It is NOT that you and I cannot serve at all.  God NEVER expects perfect ones, or He will have no one to serve or to do the works.  God is after the heart-condition of a believer.  But please, you cannot argue “my heart-condition is alright with God”, when you want NOT at all, to be of good works, and want NOT to resist sins and the Devil.

Is that all, just Justification will do?  After Justification, can I just ignore God, and then when the time comes, God comes to bring me to Heaven to live with Him (the people without Justification, to Hell)?  No, you can’t.  You and I cannot ignore the Sanctification portion. 

For in-depth discussion of atonement (when atoned you are justified), read under propitiation heading in this article: What about propitiation, forgiveness, and appropriation?

Before the Heaven, there is the Sanctification portion, and that is the Salvation Journey, or what Isaiah called it as Way or Highway of Holiness, which we have to journey on (Isaiah 35:8-10; this, a dual context prophecy). Yes, when you were justified, you entered into the Kingdom of God, but that phase of the Kingdom is the earthly phrase.  Sanctification is the will of God for believers.  1 Th 4:3a – “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified”.

Sanctification is about this earthly phase of the Kingdom.  The Kingdom of God has invaded the world, and when you were justified, you became part of the contingent living out and perpetuating the Kingdom here, in the world.  The Greek word for sanctification is G38 – hagiasmos.  G38 is often translated as holiness (Rom 6:22 [KJV], 1 Th 4:7 [KJV], Heb 12:14 [KJV]).  The word, saint, comes from the Greek word, hagios - G40.  When a sinner enters into salvation and is justified, he is called a saint; and a saint is to undergo sanctification.  If one does NOT want to be sanctified, he has to ask himself if effectively he is wanting to be back as a sinner.

You and I were from the world (fallen world) and therefore, were once sinners; and there are 2 things upon our justification that we are committed to do:

1) We to go through the sanctification process before we are ready to go the motherland, Heaven, to live with God.  The world is NOT the motherland, it is a “conquered land”, and we are the army of God in this conquered land.

2) We as active soldiers of the Kingdom are to expand, and as well as citizens of the Kingdom by our living, to influence others to embrace, the rulership of our God.  No physical violence, however.  In this respect, we have to understand that just like one country conquered another country, the conquered country is NOT fully “kingdomised” until all the people accept and embrace the laws and prescription from the Victor King.

Both the items above are proceeded by God in parallel, meaning at the same time.  We are being sanctified and we are to be engaged in the “kingdomization”.  So, in sanctification, we are being prepared for going to the motherland, Heaven, to live with God, and at the same time, serving God engaging in good works, in Kingdom expansion in the world.  So, sanctification is about being made holy, and sanctification is about being set apart in service for God.

Many preachers argue that sanctification is by God.  I am NOT saying it is NOT, yet it is when we are in step with God (that means we have to follow and so, obey), operating within His will and desires, that we can be sanctified, by God.  It is NOT that there is no part on the part of men, being all God’s part.  The correct perspective is given us in Phil 2:12-13.

Phil 2:12-13 - 12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

It is clear from this Philippians text that we have to work out our salvation; and it is also clear that we are to work with God, for it is God who, through His Holy Spirit, works in us to will and act in such a way or in things, that will go towards fulfilling His good purpose (the use of conjunctive “for” was meant to link what came after it, to the fear and trembling; the notion is that wow, God [The God] wanting to carry out His purpose through you, and therefore it expressed the truth of it is God making initiations in us to will and act to bring about good to us and to others). Eph 2:8-10 stated that we are saved by grace for good works. 

How are we being sanctified?  In brief, it is when we living according God’s ways as prescribed by the Word and being led by the Holy Spirit.  The ways of God include both the prohibitive prescription/commands as well as directive prescription/commands.  One may NOT see the prohibitive commands as leading to good works, but they collectively do works for our sanctification.  By that, I mean, we are, for example, asked NOT to lie; NOT to lie may NOT be seen as a good works, but in abstaining from it, we are learning to live righteously and it works towards our holiness.  Prohibitive prescription/commands generally go towards “to righteousness unto holiness”, like it is being used in this text (Romans 6:19):

Amplified Bible - 19 I am speaking in familiar human terms because of your natural limitations. For as you yielded your bodily members [and faculties] as servants to impurity and ever increasing lawlessness, so now yield your bodily members [and faculties] once for all as servants to righteousness (right being and doing) [which leads] to sanctification.

KJV - 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

Directive commands generally go towards good works, and when we work with God on them, we produce fruit unto holiness.  Romans 6:22 (KJV) reads “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

In Scripture, there are actually 2 classes of fruit, NOT one, as is wrongly understood and preached by some preachers (especially the overly grace ones, for they shunned works); there is the fruit of the Spirit which we are to develop, and these are given us in Gal 5; and there is the fruit from our good works.  Sanctification should result in both, but you and I have to work with God.  But why; why NOT God just zap us holy?

It is because you and I are still with our volition.  God does NOT remove our volition even after we have entered into salvation and are justified and technically speaking, we belong to God; Scripture said God has bought us already with the life of His Son, Jesus Christ.  So, why NOT the removal of our volition so that we cannot but obey Him, cannot but obey all commands, prohibitive or directive prescriptions and all?

It is because if God does that, we will NOT be capable of true love towards God.  Is it NOT true, when you have no choice, there can be no love to talk about.  Those who truly know love, understand that first of all, love is a choice (and it is a commitment).  You and I have made that choice, to love God, at our entry into salvation (if you still have NOT realised that, today, realise this, and today, ratify this choice, that you are committed to love God).  We have to continue to love Him, even as we would like Him to continue to love us and so, we have to continue to choose to be sanctified.  But why?

Because we are loving God in sanctification, for prime moulding “tool” in sanctification is obedience. Truth is NEVER passé; “The ones who love me, obey my commands (John 14:15), and the ones who obey me, are the ones who love me (John 14:21a)”.  What God wants is NOT just you have loved Him (have entered into Salvation), what God wants include you continue to love Him.  Wanting to continue to love God is wanting Sanctification, and wanting Sanctification is wanting to continue to love God, for Sanctification prepares us to go to live with Him, eventually, in Heaven. 

Imagine with me, remembering that the Gospel is a love story, is this right?: Say, “I love you” and kiss, and then go away into the “no music no sound” mode, and still hope to “wed” successfully and live happily ever-after, in the forever blissed place.  Another way of looking at it: I say, she is a mermaid, you are man, you must learn how to swim.  God is holy, you and I got to acquire holiness.

I will say as I often said of, 1 Pet 1:15-16, the text is NOT directed at God Himself, but at us; it is that we are called to be holy.

Amplified Bible - 15 But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. 16 For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy.

We are being called to be holy IN OUR CONDUCT AND MANNER OF LIVING.  It really isn’t referring to imputed righteousness or holiness.  It is about how we live.  Is there a part on the part of men?  Of course. If there isn’t, and that would mean it is all God’s part, and that would mean God is saying a thing that is superfluous (God telling Himself what He is to do!).  We have a part, and that part is that we have to work with God to be sanctified, so that we grow in holiness. 

Heb 12:14 Amplified Bible - Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord.  Don’t you love God, and so, want to see God?  Don’t you think going Heaven will lead to you seeing God?  Therefore, don’t you think you need to work on your holiness, with God, so that, as Romans 6:22 (quoted above) said, “the end everlasting life”?

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.