Sunday, December 30, 2012

Do Believers Need Christ To Obey On Their Behalf?

Do We Need Christ to Obey On Our Behalf?

By Albert Kang

Some people claim that once they are saved and justified, they are also simultaneously sanctified. They do not see the difference between Justification and Sanctification. In fact, in their belief, they can do away with Sanctification all together.

They believe that it is purely the one-sided work of God without the need for man to respond or be accountable. This is because of the misunderstanding that if man is made responsible then it means ‘work’is involved. "Work" is a bad word in spite of what James stated, "But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:18).

There is confusion between the "works of the flesh" and the "works of faith". The first one depicts that we have to work for our salvation. The second means that because we have been saved by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior through faith, then the result of this redeemed life is receiving the empowerment to obey God and unto good works. These 'works' mentioned here have nothing to do with our salvation. In our justification, it was Jesus plus nothing. No amount of human efforts or works can bring forth our salvation. 

James was very clear when he said that 'HE' will show 'HIS' faith by HIS “works". He was declaring that he was fully responsible for how he serve God. So whatever works that James did, it was his own works and not that of Christ. Christ did not do for what James was supposed to do. Christ did His works so that we now can do our works. That was why Paul said that a workman needed not be ashamed. Of course, he was being empowered and helped by the Holy Spirit but those works were still his own.

There is a personal responsibility and personal obedience involved here. Our good works are the result of God's power working in and through us. We cannot blame God if we do not obey and do good works. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10). In Ephesians 6:8, Paul added, “… because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” Here we learn that after our salvation, our good works are important and that God does reward those who are faithful in carrying out His instruction.

The new teaching states that whether we produce good works or not, it does not matter to God. There is no condemnation and there is no reward. Therefore, no matter what man does, God does not care or at least He is not concerned. Why? That, according to them, is because God only looks at the obedience and works of Christ and not that of the believers. This misconception totally absolves all believers of any need for personal obedience and holiness. 

One adherent of such belief told me that because of the 'obedience of Christ' - that is Christ obeying on his behalf, it subsequently resulted in this man being grateful to God and so now he does not live in sin.  That, I said, also happened to all us when we first encountered Christ and believed in Him. We have been 'Born-Again' and are also very grateful and do not live in sin too. A sense of gratitude is great but ultimately it is the Holy Spirit who helps and empowers us to overcome all temptations.

We should know that even though during our conversion, God accepted us as who and what we were, but He still wanted to change us by the Holy Spirit to become more and more like Christ. Paul wrote, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Why are the adherents of this belief asked to go back to the cross again and again? Why do they need Christ to obey for them when they can now do so? This understanding has come about because such group teaches indirectly that all believers are totally depraved and have no ability or capacity to obey. Even if they were to obey, their obedience is tarnished and thus cannot be acceptable to God. Ultimately, the under-lying understanding is that since the believers have to be ‘justified by obeying the law’, and they are never able to do so, they then have to perpetually depend upon Christ to obey for them. 

This belief is absolutely against justification by faith which is ‘apart from the law’. Paul said, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”. (Romans 3:28). Are we, the believers, still under the law so much so that Christ has to keep obeying for us? If not, then why is this group constantly referring back to the finished work of Christ whenever they sin? The finished work of Christ is ‘Gospel’ or ‘Good News’! If you have preach the Gospel to yourself every time you sin, then are you really free from the law?

We believe that by faith we are saved and law got nothing to do with our salvation. Once we are being set free we are ‘free indeed’ (John 8:36). Then after being set free, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to produce good works – just like what is found in James 2:17-18 - it is not possible to have faith without producing good works. God has given us the Holy Spirit who in turn grant us the capacity to obey because He has made us new creatures in Christ, totally Born Again, free from the condemnation of the law, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Our emphasis now as redeemed people of God is not to keep running back to the cross but move forward by the Holy Spirit promised by our Lord. Calvary cross is meant for justification but the Holy Spirit is given for the work of sanctification.

Paul emphasized in 2 Corinthians 3:18 – “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit enables all believers to lead holy lives, dedicated to the service of God and conformed to the likeness of Christ.

We can now personally relate and talk to God because He is our Father in heaven. We can also please God as an individual. We can offer ourselves as ‘living sacrifice” ( Romans 12:1-2). We can love God as a true child of His. And God will reward our obedience and also our efforts to serve Him faithfully (Matthew 19:29). And daily, through the sanctifying process, we are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory. Yes, we have Jesus. It is His obedience that saved our souls and now He has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can be like Him, living in the obedience to God.

According to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1:2).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The tragedy that shook Newtown, Connecticut, and indeed the entire nation, defies analysis. What must have gone on in the mind of this young man for him to walk into a school of little children and wreak such devastating carnage numbs the soul. At the same time this was happening, I was under the surgeon’s blade for minor surgery. When I left the recovery room and returned home, among the first pieces of news on my phone was the news of this mass killing. Something within me hoped that I was still not clear-headed, but I knew deep inside that I was reading an unfolding story of horror and tragedy. What does one say? What is even appropriate without violating somebody’s sacred space and their right to scream in protest?

I am a father and a grandfather. I simply cannot fathom the unbearable weight within a parent’s or grandparent’s heart at such a personal loss. It has often been said that the loss of a child is the heaviest loss to bear. I have no doubt that those parents and grandparents must wonder if this is real or simply a terrifying nightmare. My heart and my prayers are for them and, indeed, for the family of the assassin. How his father will navigate through this will be a lifelong journey.

When a mass-killer like this ends by taking his own life, there is an even deeper sense of loss. Everyone wants to know, “Why?” Not that the answer would soften the blow but it would at least give some clue, some release to speak, to hear, to try to work through. But all we are left with is twenty-eight funerals and lifelong grief. To all of those who have suffered such loss, may the Lord carry you in His strength and bear you in your grief. You will be in our thoughts and prayers.

My own attempt at saying something here is feeble but carries a hope that somebody listening will make this world a better place. My heart goes back to Angola Prison in Baton Rouge where I met such people whose savagery took them to that destination. It was interesting to see a Bible in every cell and to hear many talk of how it had become their only means of life and hope. Someone with me said, “If we had more Bibles in our schools maybe we would need less of them here.” To the skeptic and the despiser of belief in God, I know what they will respond. I am quite convinced that the one who argues against this ends up playing God and is ultimately unable to defend any absolutes. Hate is the opposite of love and while one breathes death, the other breathes life. That is what we need to be addressing here. The seeds of hate sooner or later bear fruit in murder and destruction. Killers are not born in a moment. Deep beneath brews thinking and the animus that in a moment is uncorked. We are living in a society that nurtures hate on many sides with the result that lawlessness triumphs.

Even in ideal settings, killing can take place. Murder began in the first family when a brother could not stand the success of his sibling. The entire history of the Middle East–five millennia–is a tale of two brothers. Centuries of killing has not settled the score. Maybe in Adam Lanza’s case we will find a deep psychological reason behind what he did. But that does not diminish the reality that there lurks many a killer whose moment will come and the nation will be brought to tears again. We can almost be certain of that. Yes, we can discuss all the symptomatic issues—security, gun control, early detection signs, and so on. These are all worthy of discussion. But it’s always easier to deal with the symptoms rather than with the cause.

I wish to share what I think we must address or we head down the slope to a precipitous edge of brutality. The fiscal cliff is tame by comparison to the moral devastation ahead if we do not recognize the malady for what it is. Hate is the precursor to murder. Jesus made that very clear. Playing God is the dangerous second step where we feel we are the ultimate judge of all things and that we have the right to level the score.

Here, I would like to address our political leaders and media elite: You may personally have the moral strength to restrict your ideas to mere words but many who listen to you do not. To take the most sacred privilege of democracy and transform it into the language of aggression plays right into the hands of hate-mongers. This is not the language of a civil society or of wise leadership. It is not the ethos of a culture of co-existence. It is not the verbal coinage with which we can spend our way into the future. Our political rhetoric is fraught with division, hate, blame, and verbal murder. Our young are listening. Remember that what you win them with is what you win them to.

As for the entertainment world, what does one even say at a time like this? Calling for gun control and then entertaining the masses with bloodshed is only shifting the locus from law to entertainment. Do our entertainers ever pause to ask what debased values emerge from their stories? The death of decency is audible and visible in what passes as movie entertainment and political speech. This is the same culture that wishes to take away Nativity scenes and Christmas carols from our children. God is evicted from our culture and then He is blamed for our carnages. America is lost on the high seas of time, without chart or compass. The storms that await us will sink this nation beyond recognition if we do not awaken to the rapid repudiation of the values that shaped this nation. The handwriting is on the wall. Freedom is not just destroyed by its retraction. It is destroyed even more painfully by its abuse.

There is one more thing. It is so obvious but is seldom ever addressed. All these recent mass murders have been done by men. Many of them young men, yes, even mere boys. Jonesboro, Columbine, Virginia Tech, now Newtown. Is there something within our culture that doesn’t know how to raise strength with dignity and respect? Is this how boys are meant to be? From bloodletting in hockey games while thousands cheer to savagery in school shootings while thousands weep, we must ask ourselves what has gone wrong with us men? Where are the role models in the home? Is knocking somebody down the only test left for strength? Is there no demonstration now of kindness, gentleness, courtesy, and respect for our fellow human beings? One young man on death row in Angola Prison told me that he started his carnage as a teenager. Now in his thirties with the end of the road in sight, he reached his hand out to me and asked me to pray with him. Life was lost at the altar of power and strength.

The Bible only speaks of one remedy for this: the transformation of the heart by making Christ the center. Those who mock the simplicity of the remedy have made evil more complex and unexplainable. Every heart has the potential for murder. Every heart needs a redeemer. That is the message of Christmas. The world took that child and crucified Him. But by his triumph over death He brings life to our dead souls and begins the transformation within. Unto us a child is born and He shall save us from our sins.

Before the first murder was committed, the Lord said to Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” To gain mastery over sin there is only one way. Just as Victoria Soto put herself in the way so that the children in her class might live, Jesus Christ put himself in the way that we all might live. That is the beginning of the cure for us as individuals and as a nation. All the laws in the world will never change the heart. Only God is big enough for that.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


In this day of two-working-parent families, time constraints make it easier for us to automatically respond with a "no" when our children ask for little things. Solution: In an article published in Better Families, Dr. Kay Kuzma offers some practical approaches we can use. She suggests we can say "yes" on many occasions, and it's more effective because it also teaches valuable lessons.

For example, your child might ask, "Am I going to get to watch my favorite television show tonight?" You have a chance to say, "Yes, as soon as you have dried the dishes and put them away," or "Yes, as soon as you have called Sally and apologized for your behavior this afternoon."

This approach changes you in the child's eyes from being a person who wants to deny him or her a pleasure to a parent who is interested in helping the child perform in a better, more mature way.

Your teenager might ask to use the car to run a few errands. You can say, "Yes, as soon as you wash it and if you will stop by the service station and fill it with gas on your way home." This way you're teaching your child responsibility.

Dr. Kuzma also points out that when a child asks, "May I have dessert?" you can say, "Yes, as soon as you have finished your salad or vegetables." This way you are attaching a small reward to a fulfilled responsibility. The child ends up with the temporary pleasure and some long-term benefits.

Practice Dr. Kuzma's suggestions and you will have taken a giant step toward raising a positive, courteous, responsible child.
by Zig Ziglar

Saturday, December 1, 2012

In the Valleys We Grow

In the Valleys We Grow

Sometimes life seems hard to bear,
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It's then we have to remember
That it's in the valleys we grow.

If we always stayed on the mountain top
And never experienced pain,
We would never appreciate God's love
And would be living in vain.

We have so much to learn
And our growth is very slow,
Sometimes we need the mountain tops,
But it's in the valleys we grow.

We do not always understand
Why things happen as they do,
But I am very sure of one thing.
My Lord will see me through.

The little valleys are nothing
When we picture Christ on the cross
He went through the valley of death;
His victory was Satan's loss.

Forgive me Lord, for complaining
When I'm feeling so very low.
Just give me a gentle reminder
That it's in the valleys I grow.

Continue to strengthen me, Lord
And use my life each day
To share Your love with others
And help them find their way.

Thank You for the valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountain tops are glorious
But it's in the valleys I grow!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Learn To Express, Not Impress!

Better understated than overstated. Let people be surprised that it was more than you promised and easier than you said.

For effective communication, use brevity. Jesus said, "Follow me." Now that's brief! He could be brief because of all that he was that he didn't have to say.

You cannot speak that which you do not know. You cannot share that which you do not feel. You cannot translate that which you do not have. And you cannot give that which you do not possess. To give it and to share it, and for it to be effective, you first need to have it. Good communication starts with good preparation.

The goal of effective communication should be for listeners to say, "Me, too!" verses "So what?"

Learn to express, not impress.

Effective communication is 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.

Jim Rohn

Friday, November 23, 2012

It's Only Two Words!


Peter denied that he knew Jesus

by Max Lucado

It was small enough to overlook. Only two words. I know I’d read that passage a hundred times. But I’d never seen it.

But I won’t miss it again. It’s highlighted in yellow and underlined in red. You might want to do the same. Look in Mark, chapter 16. Get your pencil ready and enjoy this jewel in the seventh verse (here it comes). The verse reads like this: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.

Did you see it? Read it again. (This time I italicized the words.)

“But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee.”

Now tell me if that’s not a hidden treasure.

If I might paraphrase the words, “Don’t stay here, go tell the disciples,” a pause, then a smile, “and especially tell Peter, that he is going before you to Galilee.”

What a line. It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall—and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again. “Be sure and tell Peter that he’s not left out. Tell him that one failure doesn’t make a flop.”


No wonder they call it the gospel of the second chance.

Those who know these types of things say that the Gospel of Mark is really the transcribed notes and dictated thoughts of Peter. If this is true, then it was Peter himself who included these two words! And if these really are his words, I can’t help but imagine that the old fisherman had to brush away a tear and swallow a lump when he got to this point in the story.

It’s not every day that you get a second chance. Peter must have known that. The next time he saw Jesus, he got so excited that he barely got his britches on before he jumped into the cold water of the Sea of Galilee. It was also enough, so they say, to cause this backwoods Galilean to carry the gospel of the second chance all the way to Rome where they killed him. If you’ve ever wondered what would cause a man to be willing to be crucified upside down, maybe now you know.

It’s not every day that you find someone who will give you a second chance—much less someone who will give you a second chance every day.

But in Jesus, Peter found both.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Revealing Your True Self To Be Loved And To Share Love?

Growing in Love

"We love him because he first loved us."1

"How many feel they would like to have more love in their life?" is a question I have asked many times to seminar attendees. Many, if not most, hands are raised. When I ask the same folk how many feel all of their love needs are being met, very few hands are raised.

Some years ago there was a popular song by Jackie Deshannon that stated, "What the world needs now is love / Sweet love / It's the only thing / That there's just too little of / What the world needs now / Is love, sweet love / No, not just for some / But for everyone."

Those words still ring true because so many of our human problems are caused by a breakdown or failure in love. And when I ask people how we get more love in our life, inevitably almost all say by giving love. Sounds good, but that isn't always true because we can't give what we don't have. In fact, unless I have learned to love and accept myself in a healthy way, I am not able to love or accept anyone else in a healthy way. My love will be contaminated by need.

Thus, love is an action/feeling to be learned. We didn't come into the world knowing how to love—only with the ability to learn how to love. So how do we learn to love? John stated that we love God because he first loved us. The same principle holds true for human love. We love others because others (or another) first loved us. If they didn't, and we didn't receive sufficient unconditional love as a child and learned how to love then, we need to receive it now and learn how to love maturely now.

Furthermore, I can only be fully loved to the degree that I am known. Thus, the way we grow in and learn to love is by becoming vulnerable and allowing at least one or two safe, accepting, and non-judgmental persons see and know us as we really are—warts and all. And as they love and accept us as we are, little by little we learn to love and accept ourselves. And as we learn to love and accept ourselves, we are then freed both to give and receive love without strings attached. But as long as we hide our inner or secret self (our dark side) behind any kind of a mask (no matter how sophisticated that mask may be), we will never feel fully loved, nor will we be able to fully love. I repeat … we can only ever feel fully loved to the degree that we are fully known.

Risky? Yes. But not to learn to love is the greatest risk of all.

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to find a loving, safe, nonjudgmental, accepting person that I can trust, so I can share my total self with this person and be truly accepted and loved by this person for who I am (and not for what I do or don't do), so that I, in turn, can learn to accept and love others more fully. And help me to experience your love more and more so that I will also be able to love others more and more. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. 1 John 4:19.

Article by Rev Richard Innes

Is the God of the Old Testament the same One in the New Testament?

An Eye for an Eye:
Basic Biblical Interpretation for a Skeptical Culture, Part 1 
One of the most common cultural objections to the Bible, and specifically to ethical stands based on the Bible’s teachings, is the Old Testament.
You bring up Paul’s teachings on, say, homosexuality, and the counter punch is the plethora of laws in Leviticus that advocate stoning for…well, things we don’t usually want to stone people for.
The attempted point is that if you are going to buy into the New Testament ethic, you have to buy into the Old Testament ethic.  And since no one wants to buy into the Old Testament ethic – not even Christians – then let’s not be hypocrites.  Drop the cherry-picked New Testament stuff and realize that morals change with the times.
Heard this a few times?  Of course you have.  This argument is brought out so frequently, one is led to believe it’s the ultimate slam dunk against Christianity.
But is it?
The word testament simply means "agreement," or "covenant."  The Old Testament is the covenant God made with men and women about how to be in relationship with Him before Christ came.  The New Testament is the new agreement God made with men and women about how to be in a relationship with God after the coming of Christ.
But the New Testament didn't replace the old covenants - it fulfilled them.  The better way to think of them is the first covenant, and then the final, or fulfilled covenant.  All along, God's intention was to bring forth the Messiah, the Savior of the world.  The very purpose of the Old covenant was to prepare the people for the coming, complete covenant that would arrive with the Messiah.
Yet here is the caricature: we have two testaments with two radically different theologies - even two radically different “gods.”  In the Old Testament you get a God of wrath and judgment, but in the New Testament, you get a God of love.
Um, no.
The only way to reach that conclusion would be through a superficial reading of the texts themselves.  In truth, there isn't a difference between how the two testaments picture God at all.
For example, there is enormous love and grace and mercy in the Old Testament pictures of God.  The first thirty-nine books of the Bible are more marked by God’s incredible restraint, His unbelievable patience, His undying love, than any manifestations of His wrath.
The truth is that God is a God of love and justice, grace and judgment, mercy and accountability.  Together, they form a single picture, for the story of the two testaments is one story.  It tells the progressive, unfolding drama of the wild pursuit of God of those He created.  From creation through to Abraham, Moses to the prophets, a relentless love was being poured out that was growing, building, revealing itself until it reached its climax in the most radical moment in all of cosmic history:
God Himself shed His glory, assumed human form, and took the place of sacrifice in order to save us.
So is it “an eye for an eye” or “turn the other cheek”?  Understanding the two testaments as a single story, we now know the answer:
It’s “yes.”
Because it’s a singular story, we interpret the Old Testament in light of its fulfillment in the New Testament.  Jesus Himself said that He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.  We all deserve an eye for an eye.  We all deserve death for our sins.  But Christ on the cross took on the penalty for our sin as a grace-gift to all who would receive it.  The Old Testament remains the yardstick, but not the pathway.
So does the law in the Old Testament apply to us today at all?
The law provides us with a paradigm of timeless ethical, moral and theological principles.  It’s just that some laws no longer have validity because they have been completely fulfilled in Christ, such as the sacrificial system.
Here's the principle:  all of the Old Testament applies to Christians, but none of it applies apart from its fulfillment in Christ.
We obey the laws of sacrifice by trusting in Christ as our once-for-all sacrifice, not by bringing sheep or goats to be slain each weekend in church.
The kosher laws were designed to set the Israelites apart from the other nations, so we obey this principle when we morally separate ourselves from sin.
And on it goes.
This is why so many misinterpret the “eye for an eye” and “turn the other cheek” passages.  The “eye for an eye” passage in Deuteronomy 21 was about whether you could pursue private vendettas, to retaliate when they had been wronged.
The answer was “no.”
That was for the judges to decide.  They were to follow a principle based on an eye for an eye, meaning compensation and restitution in direct proportion to the crime.  They were to match the damages inflicted – and no more.  You were not to have blood feuds, or private wars.
So “eye for an eye” was just a literary device intended to give the principle for a formula for compensation.
In the New Testament, we can paraphrase Jesus’ teaching as saying, “You have heard of ‘eye for eye’ – and that’s good – but I tell you to go farther!”
“Don’t retaliate at all!”
“Don’t harbor a spirit of resentment.  If someone does you wrong, meet it by doing them something right!”
This was a pattern throughout the teaching of Jesus such as “You have heard not to commit adultery – I tell you, don’t lust in your heart!”
Jesus wanted to take the law and put it in people’s hearts.  He wanted to take what was civically established, and have it burn in their souls as an internal compass.  So there’s no contradiction – just an expansion, an application, a personalizing of the Kingdom of God in every human heart.
Now, some might say, “Fine.  But what about the New Testament stuff that’s a bit sketchy – like headdresses for women – if it’s the fulfillment of the Old Testament, how do you deal with that?  Aren’t we right back to cherry-picking what we want to follow?"
Um, again, no.
But we’ll make that part 2.
James Emery White
Christopher J.H. Wright, An Eye for An Eye: The Place of Old Testament Ethics Today.
Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard, An Introduction to Biblical Interpretation.
Henrietta Mears, What the Bible is All About.
Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Peter H. Davids, F.F. Bruce, and Manfred T. Brauch, The Hard Sayings of the Bible.
Editor’s Note
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president.  His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press).  To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world.  Follow Dr. White on twitter@JamesEmeryWhite.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Not Everything Under My Control

I have this constant fear about giving the impression that as a pastor, I have everything under control. I am afraid that those who hear me preached might think that I have such a connection to heaven so much so that I have all the answers. Nothing is further from the truth. 

There are days when my faith got shaken. Time and time again, I am placed in a waiting mode that I wonder what God is going to do. Yes, I do get impatient with God and if I had my way, I would have taken off running. But I have learned that it would be absolutely foolish and futile if I were to do that. 

Like every child of God, I am making my fair shares of mistakes, using my fair shares of doubt, and letting the Lord down more regularly than I like. However, one thing I lean heavily upon, in spite of my weakness, is the abundance of God's grace and mercy. His hands of restoration are always there to put me back on my feet whenever I cry out to Him. I am forever grateful that when I am weak, I have One who is strong. Thank you, Jesus, for loving me, in spite of me. 

Pastor Albert Kang

Sunday, November 4, 2012

You Are Complete

Jesus is the Redeemer
You are rescued!
Jesus is the Bread of Life
You are fed!
Jesus is the Light of the World
You are guided!
Jesus is the Door of the sheep
You are accepted!
Jesus is the Good Shepherd
You are cared for!
Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life
You are filled with hope!
Jesus is the Mighty God - You are safe!
Jesus is the Way - You are secure!
Jesus is the Life - You are whole!
Jesus is the Truth - You are certain!
Jesus is the True Vine - You have everything you need!
You are complete in Him. Colossians 2:10 NKJV

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Water That Makes The Difference!

This is an article written by my wife, Grace Kang, who is a Nutritionist by training but a Health Editor and Writer by profession.
Did you know that God has put healing properties within our reach to keep us healthy and fit? One of them is water
Our body is made up of more than 70% water. Water is a universal medium that plays many roles in the body. It helps to detoxify and flushes out the acidic wastes in the body. In fact, acidicity is shown to be associated with many types of chronic diseases liked high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, etc. Other inflammatory diseases are gout, eczema, skin diseases, psoriasis, heartburn, etc. 

The problem with our water is it is not as pure as how it was created by God in the beginning. The water today has been polluted by us, mankind - and needs go through different stages of chemical treatment
Our water is no longer 'alive' and no longer nourishing and cleansing our cells. Whenever there is living water like from Yangmingshan in Taiwan, a village in China, etc, people will rush to collect the water. Scientists found out that this type of water is usually richer in ions, minerals and alkaline in nature. 

I came across Kangen water in August 2012 and have since been consuming it. This water is used in Japanese hospitals to balance pH level in the body to help patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, skin problems, gout, cancer, etc. 
I'm attaching an e-book by Dr Robert Wright, director of American Anti-Cancer Institute, entitled 'Killing Cancer, not People'. In his book, you will learn that most lifestyle-related diseases, including cancers, do not just appear overnight. And all these have the same nature: low in oxygen, high in free radicals, and extremely acidic!

Here are some relevant videos for your quick viewing: 

My 36-year-old friend who is on insulin injection every day has no need for insulin since he started consuming Kangen water. His blood glucose level has dropped and stabilised! This is coming to his 4th week off insulin. ;-) Don't worry, his Endocrinologist (a specialist in diabetes and hormones) has been informed and is monitoring his progress

Last week, my husband was suffering from gout on his left wrist as he was feasting on satay lembu, perut, hati and bak kut teh - all on the same day! Believe me, I couldn't help but lectured him when he had gout... Well, he was in pain and he needed to flush out the uric acid crystals fast. Since Kangen water is made up of small water molecules, he started guzzling down Kangen water, litre after litre! Lo and behold, the swelling subsided and the gout disappeared in just two days! Thanks to Kangen, he's back on his daily routine pain-free!

Today, our house is like a water station. Our friends come with ten-litre containers to fill up with Kangen water. We do not charge anything for that. In some instances, we actually deliver the water to them. God has blessed us with the Kangen machine and we are happy to share the blessings. After seeing positive health results, we rejoice that we can help in getting our friends and relatives back to health.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trusted Acceptance of God's Way

During the recent funeral of a 72 year-old brother, I observed many things. One of them was hope in the midst of loss. 

The family grieved because they missed their loved one. But in the midst of weeping and tears, I saw strong and steady faith. 

The adult children comforted their grieving mother with the promises of God. "He is in heaven! Jesus says so! God promises that!" They claimed all these without doubt or wavering. 

I saw dignity in the midst of bereavement, respect in the midst of sadness, and a trusted acceptance of God's will. 

The family had understood fully that God's way is much higher than their way. 

They had learned to release their loved one to the loving embrace of their precious Lord and Savior and shalom is now in that family. 

Pastor Albert Kang
24 October 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What’s in the Word, ‘Obedience?’

Introduction to the Book of Romans: “What’s in the Word, ‘Obedience?’” Romans 1:5

Once again, in Paul’s opening portion of his letter to the Christian’s in Rome, we have a powerful, and astounding sentence in chapter one, and verse 5:
Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.
Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. The fact that he was a Jew’s Jew and greatly respected among the Pharisees factors into that in a big way. We must remember that the “church” was predominantly Jewish for several years after Pentecost. The “church” was a splinter group from historic Judaism that recognized Christ as the Messiah. One of the greatest myths of our day is the idea that the “church” is uniquely Gentile and replaced Judaism. Nothing is further from the truth, and the Reformers are mostly responsible for eradicating Jewish heritage from the “called out ones” translated “church” in the New Testament.
Paul delves into this issue in great detail in his gospel treatise to the Romans, and further along in this study, as free Bereans, we will see for ourselves what God would have us to know about it. The Gentiles were the outcasts in the church; as can be seen clearly in Acts chapters 10 and 11, they were received into the church with much consternation. Therefore, Paul’s introduction to them begs their understanding of why he didn’t come to them sooner, and the fact that he was obligated to them before God:
1:5 – Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Yes, the Gentiles were called to the gospel as well, but there is a dire need in our day to note what Paul calls the gospel in Romans 1:5; “the obedience.” This designation, as well as many others, is used interchangeably throughout the Scriptures in referring to the gospel and tenets of the gospel. The death, burial, and resurrection is a wonderful tenet of the gospel, but “the gospel” is also a designation for the full counsel and callings of God to man. Hence, man is called on to “obey the gospel”:
2 Thessalonians 1:8
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
Hebrews 4:2
For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.
1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
John 8:51
Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
John 14:23
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
John 14:24
Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
I think God has taught me something new in this study. In our 2012 TANC conference, there was much discussion about how the “first gospel wave (circa 1950-1970)” emphasized getting people saved and deemphasized discipleship. Of course, people were saved by believing in “the gospel”; ie, that Jesus died for our sins and rose again on the third day, and that we are saved by faith alone in this truth.
However, as you know, I am a why guy. Why did this happen? Whatever happened to discipleship? Why are troubled Christians sent en masse to the secular world to solve their problems? Do we really worship a God that saves our souls, but can’t save us from trouble in this life? I have been haunted by the why since the conference. The reason this happened is one of those truths that is missed because it isn’t hiding. Basically, two reasons. The gospel was (and still is) presented as, “Christ died for our sins”; ie, the infamous five word gospel.
But that’s not the whole gospel. The gospel that was preached, and still preached today, yields the results of the message. We are saved, Jesus is therefore wonderful, please pass the fish. That gospel is a calling to be saved, not a calling to obey the whole counsel of God. It is a calling to salvation only, not a calling to discipleship. When you call people to be saved, all you get is saved people and not disciples. This point is driven home in our minds when we consider Christ’s very own official mandate to the church to proclaim the gospel:
Matthew 28:18 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (emphasis added).
The gospel call MUST be a call to discipleship if we want disciples. If we only call people to be saved, that’s all we will get, and frankly, is what we have accordingly.
Secondly, the other reason is also clarified via two additional words in Romans 1:5; “from faith.”  Not only was Paul’s apostleship designed specifically to “bring about the obedience,” the obedience is faith. The two can’t be separated. Faith is obedience. If faith is alive, and it is, its inclination is to be concerned with obedience. The gospel call is to believe and demonstrate that belief; first by baptism, which is also recognizing the call to the full counsel of God. Obedience to baptism is our first declaration of the heart that we have also answered the call to be Christ’s disciples. Like marriage, it is a public proclamation of love and commitment in the unseen heart. Why we don’t do that perfectly—why it is our direction and not our perfection, is explained by Paul in other parts of his gospel treatise to the Romans.
This second point is driven home by the Lord Himself:
John 3:36
Whoever believes (pisteuo) in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey (apeitheo) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Therefore, the cursed mantra from the five word gospel, “The same gospel that saved you also sanctifies you,” must be traded in for, “The same obedience to the gospel that saved you, also sanctifies you.” A partial gospel leads to a partial spiritual life. This is the power of God’s word: the world lays crippled because of a disregard for a few of God’s sentences.
But what is the nature of this obedience from faith that saves us? The commitment of faith saves us. One is not married by being committed and carrying out the commitment as a spouse. The commitment determines whether one is married or not. The wedding ceremony announces the commitment, or covenant, and calls on the gathered friends and family to help the couple stay faithful to the commitment. Of course, in our culture, that aspect of the marriage ceremony has been completely lost in both secular and Christian circles. But moreover, what we do in our marriage doesn’t make us married, the heart commitment is what married us, and the ceremony was the public proclamation thereof.
Though this example breaks down at some point—its close. As we shall see in our study of Romans, our spirit of obedience to the gospel saves us, but not the obedience in our Christian life because God separates the two. The commitment is a settled issue and announced by the ceremony, but the carrying out of the commitment is separate. The ceremony is the first act of an already settled issue in the heart. A married couple doesn’t get remarried every day, but rather invests effort in the commitment. That investment doesn’t make them any less or more married. Whether good or bad, they are still married.
Married life can have an element of overemphasizing romance over commitment. Initially, God infuses the couple with an emotional jump-start in the same way that He does in our salvation:
1Thess. 1:5
Insomuch as our message of good news came to you not only in the form of discourse but also in the sphere of power and of the Holy Spirit and in much certainty and assurance (Wuest: New Testament Expanded Translation).
That’s the marriage. That’s our initial infusion of power when we are saved. But in our Christian life, we are exhorted to add things to our faith/commitment/ obedience to the gospel that make our calling and election sure (2Peter 1:5-11), stir up our gifts (2Tim. 1:6), beat our bodies into subjection (1Cor. 9:27), do “more and more” in the way of obedience (1Thess. 4:1), and not lacking in zeal (Romans 12:11).  Adding love to our marriage (investment and often hard work) does not make us married, it determines how we experience marriage, and obedience in salvation does not save us, but likewise, determines how we experience our salvation—whether in power and assurance, or in weakness and doubt.
This flies in the face of today’s gospel that seeks a honeymoon every day; a romantic gospel that equates feelings with every act of “sincere love.” Since our love for Jesus should be easy for us it must flow from a contemplation regarding how wonderful His personhood is. Searching the Scriptures for an understanding of who Jesus is rather than what He commands us to do makes our “obedience” flow from our appreciation for Him. Supposedly. Since we often recoil in response to biblical commands, jumping from the imperative to action could not be true loving obedience; it must come from knowing more of Jesus. As one reader of my blog commented:
It’s not what the word supposedly tells us to do, Jesus is the word….It’s not a precept—it’s a person.
Problem there would be, in Luke 11:28, we have Jesus calling Himself, “it”:
But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
This was Jesus’ reply to a person who was in the midst of worshiping who he was.
The nature of biblical obedience is to die to self. The very word “obedience” itself implies necessity. Often, the level of disdain determines the level and depth of self-sacrifice; a denial of self in exchange for pleasing God. Christ was “obedient” to the cross (Phil.2:8)—“despising its shame”(Heb.12:2). This was the paramount act of love in all human history. The Hebrew writer encouraged the saints that they had not resisted sin to the point of blood (Heb.12:4). Biblical obedience indeed hears the word of God and “puts it into practice” (Matthew 7:24).
The fact that God gives us the will to obey isn’t the point here (Philippians 2:12,13); that just means we have no excuse. God working in us doesn’t equal let go and let God. Sanctification is like traveling around the world in a rowboat. We will experience all of the exertion and fears associated it: the giant waves in the midst of storms and huge sea creatures harassing the small vessel. And if we give up, the trip will not be completed. But at the end of the trip we know full well that no person can completely circle the world in a rowboat. God obviously enabled us, but we are no less fully involved in the experience. Let us also remember that God expects a return on His gifts. Those who think they enter the kingdom life as “lazy wicked” servants are no true servants at all (Matthew 25:14-30).
Another thing I think I am learning here is that applying God’s word to our own lives and teaching others to do the same is really the essence of what we think of as “biblical counseling”:
Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Having a life built upon a rock by learning God’s word and “putting into practice,” and teaching others to do the same has great reward. It is interesting that throughout the New Testament incentives are given for our obedience to the full-orbed gospel—God’s truth; the word.
This brings us full circle to a major theme of Romans that will require the determined obedience of the gospel that Paul calls for: there was a formidable caste mentality between the Jews and the Gentiles. Caste systems dissect the bodies various parts in their contribution to the whole (1Cor. 12:12-26), thus crippling the body. We are naturally inclined to be uncomfortable with those who are different. Left unchecked, those feelings will lead to intentional preferences. This is another area where feelings must yield to the will of God leading to true love from the heart:
Romans 1:14, 15
I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
Romans 12:9-16
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor…. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality….Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Genuine love follows right doing. Through our obedience to the gospel, we can choose what God calls good and shun what is evil. This is learn and practice in what we think, say, and do. By this our love is genuine, and we have peace with God (Phil. 4:9).
This completes the introduction to our study in Romans. Next week we begin Paul’s gospel presentation to the Romans.
Paul Dohse