Tuesday, 1 January 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR


When you greet someone Happy New Year, what do you really wish for them?
What does Happy New Year mean to you?

“Happy New Year” greeting is usually associated with health and wealth. We wish others happiness, health and wealth. How many of us view this greeting as a state of blessedness when we come into a right relationship with God?
                                                                                   

Prosperity gospel and the doctrine of Bill Johnson (pastor of Bethel church, Redding, California) emphasise a lot the former—that we have the right to be healthy and wealthy as children of God. Their premise is that if we are living righteously, health and wealth should also be ours.

But, in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 1-12), did Jesus mention about health and wealth as something associated with a state of blessedness in God’s eyes? Answer: No.

In contrast, Jesus teaches that blessed are those who are meek, merciful, pure in heart, poor in spirit, mourn, hunger and thirst for righteousness, make peace and remain strong amid persecution. Nothing related to health and wealth, legitimate though these earthly concerns may be.


Happiness, health & wealth are overrated 
What, then, is that state of blessedness which we must strive to attain as we enter the New Year?

First, we must get back to God. We need to confess our sins and repent. For blessed are they whose sins are forgiven (Psalm 32:1). Unless we repent, we will also perish like other sinners (Luke 13: 5).

Second, we must live intentionally and seek God to determine what His specific will is for us (Ephesians 5:15-17). We need to acknowledge that God’s wisdom is far above our human understanding and commit our ways to Him (Proverbs 3:5-6, James 4:13-15).

Third, we must be good servants who look after the master’s household well (Matthew 24: 45-51). We need to emulate the good stewards who utilise and/or invest our God-given gifts, talents and resources (Matthew 25: 14-30), unlike the one-talent man who buried his talent.

Fourth, we need to be watchful (not complacent) and make sure our lamps are filled with sufficient oil, which a symbol of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 25: 1-13). This means we need to be continually filled with the Spirit and choose to walk in the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh (Ephesians 5:18, Galatians 5:16).

Well, not to sound too preachy and serious at the beginning of the year, I would hasten to add that there is nothing wrong in greeting one another “Happy New Year”—even if we mean that we wish them the traditional things like health, wealth, happiness and success.

After all, we are all part of a community and “Happy New Year” is a socially acceptable greeting akin to what the apostle John wrote: “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).

While we greet our friends and relatives Happy New Year, we must not lose our focus concerning that which is of paramount importance: Seek first His kingdom, seek the things that are above.

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
(Colossians 3:1-3)

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year! Shalom.

RELATED POSTS

GROWING IN GRACE
Receiving God’s grace is merely the first step in the life of a believer. The difficult part is to continue growing, keep ourselves in God’s love and live out our calling.

HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE?
To live soberly and purposefully during these perilous end times, we need to arm ourselves with wisdom and discernment.

DOES GOD HEAL ALWAYS?
Is it God’s will to heal His faithful believers always?

PROSPERITY AND SECURITY
Does wealth equal genuine security? Does prosperity guarantee security?

WAS JESUS RICH? IS THE PROSPERITY GOSPEL VALID?
The belief that Jesus was rich lends support to the prosperity gospel. But was Jesus truly rich when He walked upon the earth?

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

DOES GRACE MEAN THE END OF THE LAW?

A Facebook friend shared: Jesus shows us a new way—GRACE—and therefore believers are no longer under the LAW. What she meant is that believers are now living in a period of grace ever since Jesus’ coming AND we are no longer required to obey the law. Is this true?

Let me try to show you why her argument does not hold water.

How did Jesus deal with the lady caught in the act of adultery? https://bit.ly/1eKirzG

Most of us are familiar with the account of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:3-11). The crowd gathered around her and wanted to stone her. But Jesus showed her grace by saying, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” While He forgave her out of grace, He also required that she forsake her sinful lifestyle. She must not continue breaking the law, Thou shall not commit adultery. So she still had to obey the law though she had experienced God’s grace.


Is Jesus merely the personification of grace or grace and truth? https://bit.ly/2KuShcs

The fact Jesus is the personification of grace and truth—not grace alone—has practical implications in the life of believers. We need to be reminded that Jesus is a reflection of both grace and truth (John 1: 14, 17).

                                                                       
Now, truth requires that we live according to His laws, the Ten Commandments. We will not be living for the truth if we merely accept God’s forgiveness (now who doesn’t want His grace?) but refuse to follow His laws. We would be hypocrites if we only want to enjoy the benefits of grace but refuse to live by demands imposed by the truth in our lives (obey His laws). 

I can almost picture Jesus looking at the adulterous woman in the eye: Can you truthfully say that you will forsake your adulterous lifestyle after you have been forgiven?

What did Jesus say to those who think that He had come to abolish the Law? https://bit.ly/2umnCSP

Believers saved by grace need not arduously keep the law in order to earn our ticket to heaven. As Scripture says, "You are not under law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14).

However, that doesn’t mean we can do whatever we like. We are still held accountable under moral law as revealed in the Ten Commandments. Jesus puts it succinctly: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them” (Matthew 5:17).

                                                                    
Is lawlessness a state that is encouraged and championed in the Bible? No.

We are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law” (Romans 3:28). The paradox is this: “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law (Romans 3:31).”

Shall we continue to sin (break the law) that grace may abound? No. So, despite being saved by grace, we have to abide by the law.  “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it” (Romans 6:1-2)?

Being saved by grace does not mean we are to continue living in lawlessness

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
(Titus 2: 11-14)

Jesus condemns those who are lawless

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
(Matthew 7:21-23)


Will God give grace-obsessed believers a pat on your back on judgment day and say, Well done, my lawless friend, you have been living by grace and have rejected God’s law? Will He say, Enter into eternal bliss with all its rewards?

On the contrary, believers saved by grace who fail to obey (abide by) God’s laws will face judgment. 

To conclude, Christ came to fulfil the Law and we are advised to follow His words for the Law is good. For the Law is a plumb line that enables us to know what is righteous and what is not. So the Law stays; the Law is eternal and relevant for believers saved by grace.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 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. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 5:17-20)

RELATED POSTS

DO WE DUMP OBEDIENCE ONCE WE ARE UNDER GRACE?
Do we downplay obedience and works once we have been saved by grace?

GRACE AND LAW
Has Jesus ever said “it’s all by God’s grace” and that the Law has been abolished for believers?

CEREMONIAL LAWS VS MORAL LAWS
Why is it important to differentiate between God's ceremonial laws and moral laws? Are they equally relevant to believers today?

GRACE AND TRUTH
Jesus is the personification of grace and truth. What are the implications of these two diverse facets of His character in the life of the believer?

FREE FROM THE LAW?
Are believers free from the law?
Answer: It's a 'YES' and a 'NO'.
Why ‘Yes’ and ‘No’?

OBEDIENCE TO LAW: NECESSARY UNDER GRACE?
Is obedience to the law a requirement for believers saved by grace?
http://bit.ly/1Tnf4nZ