Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Spiritual Person

“The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?'  But we have the mind of Christ.”          - 1 Corinthians 2:15-16

The spiritual person is not the one in position or holding an office in a church, nor a perfect believer without sin - for if that would be the case, then there will be no ‘spiritual person’ here on earth because his place would be in heaven.  The spiritual person is someone who was born of the Spirit (John 3), his being regenerated through the gospel of Christ and he lives the truth and walks in faith.

He judges all things, not that he has knowledge of all things in nature but things that are spiritual. He discerns the foolishness of this world, the truth from error, the voice of God from the voice of strangers. He knows when the gospel is preached and when it is distorted.  He never compromises the truth with unwarranted claims.

The greatest mystery that the world cannot understand is the greatness of the divine salvation that Christ provided for many. Thus the verse,

"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared for those who love him" 
1 Corinthian 2:9

The world proves the Scripture right when it says, "the message of the cross is foolishness to them" (1 Corinthians 1:18).  Through the suffering of Christ and the ransom He paid for our sins, we were freed from the slavery of darkness and has come to His light where we see everything in His love and mercy and grace.

He has the mind of Christ… for the Word which is Christ and the Spirit who illuminates the Word are in him.  He is humbled by the truth so does not fear to speak out the truth... for the sake of love and for the glory of God.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Paul's Ambition

“And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” Romans 15:20-21.

If we claim to follow Christ, then Paul's ambition should be ours as well. The root of the great commission in Matthew 28 is to become witnesses of Christ. To be a witness of Christ is to preach His gospel through the power of the Spirit and to live it as well. 

The word 'ambition' suits well for this difficult task (actually 'impossible' suits best but since God is with us, that'll do 😊). Difficult is a word that puts emphasis on great efforts, engagement and passion unto something. Paul and the rest of the disciples managed to spread the Word throughout the world even with difficulty! Through the help of the Spirit, Paul knew what to do in order to accomplish this goal. 

1. Paul worked on it. I mean really worked on it. In his letter to the Romans, he says “This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you…” (Romans 15:22-24a).  Paul was longing to visit the brothers in Rome but the ministry of the gospel of Christ hindered him.  This was not the kind of hindrance that forced him to stay in Corinth, rather Paul set it to himself, a thing to be done before doing any other.  He was focused on the task and the task of completing it. He made efforts in reaching out to people, not only to those who were within his reach, but also to those he was able to go to. He saturated the territory where God had put him with the good news.  I say it was laborious but the Spirit was there to aid and strengthen Him, just as He is now with us.

Where did God put you now? Are you making every effort to reach out for those who don't know Christ yet?

2. Paul asked to be prayed for.  
“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers…” these were written by Paul to Romans (15:30-31a), an appointed apostle of Christ. Regardless of our calling in Christ, we need the prayers of other believers too.  Paul is specific that the church should strive together in prayer for this command that God had given us all. We must pray for each other to be brought to opportunities to declare Christ and declare it with the power of God.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What do you really mean, Paul?

"Therefore," Paul concludes with almost certainty in Romans 15:7, "welcome one another as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God."  I believe this goes beyond welcoming our brethren in a church fellowship. It is rather an acceptance with a deep understanding of each other's sin-stained flesh and a full recognition that every one of us is at the mercy of our Lord. 

What does Paul really mean when he said that we must welcome one another as Christ welcomed each one of us? Let us look back and see how were we accepted by Christ in His family. 

1. Christ rejoices as we come to Him.  At times, we require a lot of effort in joyously accepting our new family in Christ. Perhaps because of a past happened between you and your brethren, racial discrimination, unsettled issues, impressions and expectations. We must remember how God greatly values them in Luke 15:3-7 parable, where 99 others were left for one. It shows how Christ was 'infinitely pleased', as Matthew Henry puts it, in the repentance and conversion of great sinners. Matthew 10:40 also says "He who receives you, receives Me, and he who receives Me receives who sent me."

2. Christ looks at us impartially.  Jews or Gentiles, the Lord did not show partiality among His chosen people (Romans 2:11). His promise is unequivocal. He welcomes those who fear Him and do what is right from every nation. James clearly spotted what every believer's attitude should be: 

"My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you no then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors." James 2:1-4, 8-9.

3. Christ redeemed us to the glory of God. Everything Jesus does is to His glory. His pleasure in saving us is to glorify Himself (Eph. 1:5-6 and Phil. 2:9-11). There is coherence on Paul's instruction to imitate Him as He imitates Christ. This is our chief end - to glorify God in every thing we do. "We receive each other in love and without judgment or condescension  we do, as He did, to the glory of God"  (J. MacArthur). 

In wretched state, Christ welcomed us in His family. He demonstrated His love and mercy on the cross while we were still sinners. He brought light into our darkness and life in our death. We were accepted to glorify His name and in Him we will be glorified. God endured all our griefs and sorrows in his humanity to Calvary. He is patient in our weaknesses, even encourages us and will continue to do so until He comes again. May we always remember God's graciousness to us whenever we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Source: John MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Romans 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Irony of Parenting

Image result for father sons

"Mommy, obey me!" my five-year old daughter then demanded. I laughed it off and explained to her what's wrong with that. Obviously, she did not understand that obedience varies in application.

At that time, I was reading the book of Genesis. God had plainly revealed in the earlier chapters of this book that He is our Father and we are His children, which along with that concept injected a few important principles of parenting.  He, being our Father, imposes obedience to His children which we, in turn, are expected to comply.   Since our heavenly Father is God, and God as He is, a perfect being, all righteous, just and full of wisdom, always proved the beauty of being obedient to Him.

When I came to Genesis 9, I discovered another perspective in parenting.  This chapter enumerated how Noah and his family lived after the flood.  God gave them the same command to multiply and fill the earth as to Adam and Eve. Verse 20 showed that Noah became occupied in increasing the produce of the land. He [Noah] began to be a man of the soil, and [he] planted a vineyard. Until he was fully drawn into it and finally sinned (v. 21).

From that verse until the end of this chapter, I remembered the statement of my daughter, and realized that parenting, in most cases, is wrapped with irony like that.

1. The Irony of Teaching Obedience

Noah was a parent of three sons. I am convinced that it was clear with him that he was to teach his children that obedience was a good trait and must be applied.  

But on one fateful day, Noah drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent (v. 21). He disobeyed God by giving in to his intemperance and abusing God's gifts.

It is logical to say that when you teach something, you are expected to be better than who you are teaching. But in the stance of obedience, Noah's story proved something else.  The hard truth presses on:  Parents struggle in obedience as much as their children do. So what shall we do? The task of teaching obedience to children was commissioned to us, parents. We must be reputed as obedient. We must persevere in genuine efforts to obey God for our sake and the sake of our children.  

But outward obedience is cheap.  Let us desire for the real thing - inward submission that will inevitably express outwardly. The Bible tells us to keep watch of our lives so that we are prepared to meet our Lord anytime. It is our destiny to encounter different temptations and trials not just as a parent but as a child of God. To lose heart is not an option but to be expectant in the Lord is an enduring confidence that we are helped.  Habakkuk 2:1 tells it with great exact,
"I will stand on my guard post 
And station myself on the rampart; 
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, 
And how I may reply when I am reproved." 

Noah disobeyed God and shame was brought upon him through his son Ham. This story was told not for him to be eternally humiliated but to remind us that Noah was a perfect man yet not without sin.  Our nature opposes the Spirit, but as we come nearer to God, by His grace our calling as parents will be fulfilled.

2. The Irony of Scorning a Disgraceful

We often say, "Respect must be earned, not demanded".  If it is fitting to respect someone who is respectable in his ways and words, then it is just right not to revere anyone who does not deserve it! 

Or is it?

Let us look at how Ham, the son of Noah, reacted on probably his father's most shameful act."Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside" (v. 21)He intentionally went in to his father's tent to see him disgraced.  He delighted on the sin of Noah and intended in his heart of disgracing his father publicly (... scornfully spoke about his father to his two brothers outside.). He wanted everyone to see that his father sinned and that he is deserving to be shamed.

I have heard hundreds of stories of children hating their parents for being "bad parents".  Sons and daughters crush their parents with insults and rejection, thinking they are not obliged to respect such parents. In fact, they feel it is their duty to embarrass and expose them for what they have done.
Does God favor that? Verse 25 answers, "Cursed be Canaan (son of Ham); a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers." Noah cursed Ham and his entire generation for scorning his disgrace. Though this incident is within the divine appointment of the Lord, we cannot disregard that Noah's punishment to his son was also vindicated.

Shem and Japheth had a different take on the situation. It was settled in their hearts to honor their father despite him. For that, they and their generations were blessed (v. 26-27)
"Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both of their shoulders, and walked backward, and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness... " (v. 23)

Our fallibility will surely fail our children many a time. So we must clearly teach them that their obedience is not really to us nor it is dependent on who we are, but their obedience is to God  -- because ultimately, He is our Father.

The Spiritual Person

“The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as ...