Wednesday, 16 May 2018


Four reasons why cash is not necessarily king

In our fallen world, it would seem to many that cash is king. Let’s examine to what extent this statement ‘cash is king’ is true.

Cash is not just the physical currency, a medium of exchange of goods and services. It also refers to purchasing power, financial security and affluence. Thus, to a large extent, most people in the world view cash as one of the measures of a person’s net worth.

In land-scarce Singapore, the city-state south of Peninsular Malaysia, it is the first status symbol among the "Five Cs of Singapore"namely, Cash, Car, Credit card, Condominium and Country club membership. This phrase is often used in Singapore to denote materialism and success. By and large, some (or rather many) Singaporeans aspire to get the five Cs in order to impress others, to show others that they have indeed arrived. So that is how the term “kiasu” (‘afraid to lose' in Hokkien) came about. Many want to be seen as being more successful than the person next door.

In Malaysia, cash is also used to buy votes or entice elected representatives to cross over to another party, especially when there is a hung state assembly. In the case of the latter, when there is no clear majority to form a state government, cash is used to lure elected representatives to jump ship so that a certain party commands a significant majority in the state assembly. As they say, money talks—more than principles and loyalty to friends or party.

Cash is needed when we travel overseas for our holidays as not every shop or outlet accepts credit card. Furthermore, in times of recession, when real estate prices dip, the one loaded with cash can easily snap up property at rock bottom prices from highly motivated sellers. In all the above instances, cash is king.

But cash has its limitations and the statement ‘cash is king’ needs qualification.

Firstly, cash is subject to the effects of inflation. Thus, cash and investments linked to cash (savings, fixed deposit, unit trusts) are all associated with diminishing returns or loss of purchasing power over time. Even if our fixed deposit gives us a reasonably good interest rate per annum, say 5%, our effective gain will just be 1%, if the prevailing rate of inflation is 4%. Thus, wisdom dictates that we should diversify our investments in other portfolios, like real estate which is a good hedge against inflation. Property or land in a good location usually appreciate in value over time.

Secondly, while cash is king in this temporal world, wealth is useless on the day of judgment (Proverbs 11:4). No matter how much cash we might have, it has no bearing on our eternal destiny, whether we end up in heaven or hell.

Riches will not provide security in the day of wrath and judgment, But righteousness rescues from death (Proverbs 11:4).

When it comes to salvation, cash is certainly not the determining factor. Only those who believe in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9, John 3:16) AND prove their faithfulness by persevering till the end (Matthew 24:13, Hebrews 10: 26, 27, 36, 39) will be able to inherit eternal life.

How we choose to use our cash can determine whether we receive great or paltry rewards in heaven. If we are generous to the poor, our eternal rewards might abound. Note that I use the word, “might”. If we have ulterior motives while helping others, we might not be rewarded at all (1 Corinthians 3: 14-15). 

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), the men with five and two talents put them to good use, multiplied them and was commended by their master. This account tells us that we must be good stewards of the time, talents and material resources (read cash) that God has given us. Thus having cash alone but not putting it to good use can spell disaster. The one-talent man who buried his talent was subsequently severely condemned by the master, “You wicked and slothful servant” (Matthew 25:26).

Thirdly, while ‘cash is king’ is true to a large extent today, we can’t say that this will be so in future. When Christ returns, He will be King—at His name, every knee will have to bow.

For this reason, God highly exalted Him
and gave Him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
of those who are in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:9-11)

Fourthly, while cash is king to a large extent today, there will come a time in the future when no one can buy or sell except by subjecting themselves to the Mark of the Beast. Cash, then, is no longer legal tender. Cash or credit will not be useful then when the Antichrist imposes the dreaded mark as a condition for man’s survival during the Great Tribulation.

The antichrist will unleash his wrath on believers in the Great Tribulation. Many will have to choose between their allegiance to God or their survival. Why? Because no one can buy or sell unless they receive the antichrist’s ordained mark of the beast, a sign which when received would mean everlasting damnation for believers. Pushed to the brink for the sake of self-preservation, many believers will give up on God and allow the mark of the beast on themselves—never mind the eternal consequences (Revelation13:16-17, Revelation 14: 9-10).

If they choose God and refuse the mark, they might die of starvation or get killed by the antichrist. Conversely, if they choose survival by taking the mark, it will lead them down the path of everlasting damnation. But many whose faith is not strong enough will choose the latter. They would rather give up on God. That’s why there will be such a great falling away from the faith.

Abba’s catchy tune, “Money, money, money … it’s a rich man’s world”, rings true to a large extent in the world we live in. We are often judged and measured by the amount of cash we have or the symbols that cash can purchase for us, more so in a highly materialistic society such as Singapore or Hong Kong.     

But the statement ‘cash is king’ is not entirely true—both in this world and the hereafter—and hence must be qualified. 

To reiterate, cash is not necessarily king for the following reasons:

  • Cash and cash-linked investments lose its value over time due to inflation.

  • Cash cannot save us on judgment day.

  • Cash won’t be king when King Jesus returns.

  • Cash won’t be legal tender with the advent of the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation.


How biblical principles can help us attain financial freedom

What does Jesus actually mean when He says, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10)?

Our worldview and values determine how we make financial decisions in life. A wise move from an earthly viewpoint may not necessarily be so from an eternal perspective.

The belief that Jesus was rich lends support to the prosperity gospel. But was Jesus truly rich when He walked upon the earth?

Facing hard times? An all-sufficient God is able to meet all our needs. How can we affirm and declare this truth?

Biblical insights on financial planning for retirement

Friday, 2 March 2018


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

Does the Bible draw a distinction between its moral laws and ceremonial laws? Does the Bible clearly state that these two laws are different? Yes, absolutely.

The history behind two sets of laws
On Mount Sinai, Moses received two different sets of instructions: Moral laws (Ten Commandments), which were written by God on tablets of stone and the ceremonial laws which Moses wrote in the Book of the Law.

Moral laws (Ten Commandments): And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God (Exodus 31:18).

Ceremonial laws: When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you (Deuteronomy 31:24-26).

In what ways are they different?

The Ten Commandments define what constitutes sin whereas the ceremonial laws set forth the solution to the sin problem—how to deal with sin.

Without the Ten Commandments, there was no standard or plumb line by which thought, word, and behaviour can be judged.

How was the sin problem addressed in the sanctuary? The Hebrew high priest’s duty was to minister at the altar, a function he shared with his fellow priests. He alone was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies once a year during the Day of Atonement, not without presenting a blood sacrifice (goats or bulls) first for himself and then for the sins of the people (Hebrews 9:7).

When Christ came, He entered the Holy of Holies, not with the blood of animals, but through the shedding of His own blood. Through a single sacrificial act, death at the cross, unlike the human priests who had to sacrifice repeatedly, He atoned for man’s sin for all time (Hebrews 9:11-12). Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).

(The Holy of Holies refers to the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle where God dwelt. The Tabernacle was the portable earthly dwelling place of God among His people from the time of their exodus from Egypt up till their invasion of Canaan).

Why is it important to differentiate between God’s ceremonial laws from His moral laws?

The reason is obvious. With the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross, the ceremonial laws (which outline the rituals needed to atone for man’s sins) have been abolished (Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 10:9). Christ’s sacrifice is superior and final. He relieves human high priests of their ritualistic duties and makes animal blood sacrifices redundant. Thus, there is no scriptural basis for modern-day Christians to celebrate the Hebrew feasts, which are a part of the ceremonial laws of Moses and which belongs to the Old Covenant.

Why moral laws superior to ceremonial laws

The first law—Ten Commandments—was written by God in stone, signifying that its precepts it would stand eternally. The second law—ceremonial laws—was written by Moses on parchment, implying that its precepts would be temporary.

The way these laws were placed also attests to differences in their significance. There were two sets of laws in the Holy of Holies—the Ten Commandments, written in stone by the finger of God, and placed inside the Ark of the Covenant, AND the ceremonial laws, written by Moses on parchment and placed outside the Ark.

After Christ’s death, the ceremonial laws were discontinued (Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 10:9) because they foreshadowed the cross, but the moral laws (Ten Commandments) still remain. The latter is upheld in the New Testament and believers must continue to live by these laws. ***

To recapitulate, while the ceremonial laws have been abolished, God’s moral laws still stand. The latter, the Ten Commandments, have been simplified into two great commandments:

Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22: 37-40).
“The Gospel proclaims liberty from the ceremonial law but binds you still faster under the moral law. To be freed from the ceremonial law is the Gospel liberty; to pretend freedom from the moral law is Antinomianism.”
Methodist commentator, Adam Clarke

“We are saved not by keeping the Law but by grace through faith. Though saved, we are still subject to God's moral laws but not the ceremonial and ritualistic laws. The foregoing sums up, in essence, the sticky debate on the role of the Law in the life of believers. Unless one differentiates between God's moral laws and ceremonial laws, one can be pretty confused. The ceremonial laws, such as circumcision, are no longer binding on modern-day believers.”
— Porridge for the Soul


The ceremonial laws of Moses, which belong to the Old Covenant, have been abolished (Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 10:9). Paul also reinforced the fact that we are now living under grace and are no longer under the legalistic demands of these ceremonial laws, including circumcision (Galatians 5:1-6).

How about God’s moral laws? Are they relevant for believers today?

Paul stressed that we are justified by grace through faith (Romans 3: 21-24) BUT the law (God’s moral laws) still stands: “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law” (Romans 3:31).

Jesus echoes Paul’s teaching that God’s moral laws continue to be relevant today:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished?” (Matthew 5:17-18).

When Christ came, He simplified and condensed the moral laws of the Old Testament (The Ten Commandments) into two great commandments:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22: 37-40).


After Christ’s death, the ceremonial laws were discontinued (Hebrews 8:13, Hebrews 10:9) because they foreshadowed the cross, but the ancient moral laws (Ten Commandments) still remain. The latter is still found in the New Testament and believers must continue to live by these laws.

Let’s now quickly run through the Ten Commandments and see how these Old Testament (OT) moral laws are upheld in the New Testament (NT):

In the temptation in the wilderness, Jesus upheld the first commandment (have no other gods) by refusing to worship Satan (Matthew 4:10).

Paul emphasised that no idolater will inherit God’s kingdom (Ephesians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9), thus upholding the second commandment (do not make idols).

In the Lord’s Prayer, “hallowed be thy name” (Matthew 6:9) means we must revere and honour God’s name, in keeping with the third commandment (do not take the Lord's name in vain).

In Luke 4:16, as was his custom, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, thus fulfilling the fourth commandment (keep the Sabbath day holy).

In Ephesians 6:1-3, Paul echoed the fifth commandment (honour your father and mother), adding that such obedience may lead to blessing and longevity.

Jesus told the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-20 that he must follow God’s commandments, including the sixth commandment (do not kill), in order to inherit eternal life.

Paul taught in Romans 13:9 that believers should not commit adultery, in line with the seventh commandment (do not commit adultery).

In Ephesians 4: 28, Paul taught that ex-thieves must stop stealing and find honest jobs, in keeping with the eight commandment (do not steal).

Paul exhorted believers to put away lying and speak the truth in Ephesians 4: 25, thus reflecting the ninth commandment (do not bear false witness).

In Luke 12:15, Jesus warned against covetousness, stating that a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions, in line with the tenth commandment (do not covet).

Thus, if we examine the NT, we find so many references that endorse the Ten Commandments of the OT. If God’s moral laws no longer apply to believers saved by grace, why are the Ten Commandments mentioned, directly or indirectly, in the NT?

The Ten Commandments in a Nutshell
Do not have any other god before God.  
Do not make yourself an idol. 
Do not take the Lord's name in vain.
Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.   
Honor thy Mother and Father. 
Do not murder.
Do not commit adultery. 
Do not steal. 
Do not bear false witness 
Do not covet


Have God’s moral laws become irrelevant for believers saved by grace? Does grace do away with the Law? Has Jesus ever said “it’s all by God’s grace” and that the Law has been abolished for believers?

Are modern-day believers obligated to follow the laws concerning religious festivals found in the Old Testament?

Do we downplay obedience and works once we have been saved by grace?

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

Is obedience to the law a requirement for believers saved by grace?

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?