Monday 25 January 2016


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.                           

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 said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

Finally, when the crowd dispersed, Jesus asked her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

This short account has deep theological implications. The recipient of God’s love and mercy ought to show evidence of change in thought and behaviour. In other words, the sinner has to repent.

We tend to emphasise God’s love and mercy towards sinners. The need for sinners to bear fruits that befit repentancepersonal responsibilityis often not emphasised to the same degree. 

The purpose of grace is to lead us to repentance. When God forgives a sinner, He expects fruit: changed lives, holiness and obedience to His timeless laws set forth in the Ten Commandments. It would mean denying our selfish desires and turning our backs on the world and satan.
  • "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works(Titus 2:11-14).
  • "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23).
  • "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world"        (1 John 2:15-16).
To assume that God merely personifies grace and mercyand forget about the equally significant attributes of God such as justice and righteousnessis to be foolhardy. That means after having tasted of His goodness, we must not harden our hearts and willfully live in sin. 
  • "Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each one according to his deeds" (Romans 2:4-6). 
  • "He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:15).
No, we should not abuse grace by saying that when we sin more and more, grace would abound more and more.

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:1-4).

No, we should not pervert God's grace, using it as an excuse for licentiousness.

"For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (Jude 4).

No, we should not think that once we have received God’s grace, we can never fall out of His favour. For He holds us accountable till the end of our lives or when Christ returns, whichever comes first. We have to be faithful till the end.

"When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die"
(Ezekiel 18:24).

"Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire"
(Jude 1:5-7).

"For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first" (2 Peter 2:20).

"For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 10:26).

"For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:36, 38, 39).

If we think that, once we have received God’s grace, we can afford to be complacent, merely rest on the imputed righteousness of Christ, happily go on our way and do nothing, why are there so many references to active faith?

  • Work out your faith with fear and trembling: Philippians 2:12-13
  • Keep striving: Philippians 3:12-14
  • Run the race with discipline so we won’t be disqualified: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
  • Bear fruits that befit repentance and don’t rest on your spiritual laurels: Luke 3:8
  • Narrow and hard is the way to life: Matthew 7: 13-14
  • Holiness requires effort; confirm your election: 2 Peter 1: 5-8, 10
“It would not be difficult to point out at least twenty-five or thirty distinct passages in the Epistles where believers are plainly taught to use active personal exertion, and are addressed as responsible for doing energetically what Christ would have them do, and are not told to “yield themselves” up as passive agents and sit still, but to arise and work. A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.”
―Michael Brown, Hyper-Grace: Exposing the Dangers of the Modern Grace Message


The fact Jesus is the personification of grace and truth—not grace alone—has practical implications in the life of believers.

It is true that we receive God’s grace (salvation) through faith, not works. But, then, what comes next? God is looking for fruit: Changed lives, repentance and obedience, all of which does not nullify at all the grace we receive by faith.

Some compare the Christian life to a walk in the park. They say everything is by faith. You just have to believe in what Jesus has done for you at the cross. Anything more than that smacks of self-effort, pride and legalism.

Though we are saved by faith, we must not forget the fact we are destined for good works. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.”

Thursday 14 January 2016


Can true believers give up on their faith?

Apostasy is defined as abandonment of one’s faith. Apostates are those who renounce their faith. 

Notice that apostasy is different from backsliding. Believers may sin in a moment of weakness under temptation but that is different from apostasy, which is a willful renunciation of the faith. The seriousness of apostasy is highlighted in Hebrews 6:6: “It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.”

A state of apostasy is worse than a state of ignorance. It means that God’s judgment falls more heavily on those who reject Him after having believed than those who never knew Him at all. “It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life” (2 Peter 2:21).

Two important passages reveal that even genuine believers can give up on God and what they believe about Him. However, some disagree, saying that these apostates were never really converted in the first place.

Let us delve into these two passages:

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.”
(Hebrews 6: 4-8)

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them”
(2 Peter 2:20-21)

Why do people say that apostates were unregenerate (never really converted) in the first place? The simple reason is that such a position will help to reinforce their ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ (OSAS) stance.

If OSAS adherents hold the viewpoint that apostates were genuine believers initially, then, automatically, their OSAS belief will no longer be valid, which is something the former do not want. 

Truth be told, both passages tell us that there will be genuine believers who chose to turn their backs on God or willfully live in sin—and, inevitably, incur God’s judgment and lose their salvation.

The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were in danger of abandoning their faith and returning to Judaism. They were exhorted to hold fast to Jesus, who is the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Hebrews 4:14 and 5:9).

Though he warned them concerning apostasy (Hebrews 6: 4-8), the author felt that they had not yet reached the disastrous state of no return (Hebrews 6: 9). He hoped that they would earnestly press onwith faith and patienceto inherit the promise of God, which is eternal salvation (Hebrews 6: 11-12 and 10:39).

Thus, the optimism of inheriting God’s promise of salvationprovided they held fast to their faith—was set against the backdrop of a stern warning against apostasy. 

The passage in Hebrews 6 clearly outlines FIVE characteristics of a true believer:

  • Enlightened

  • Tasted the heavenly gift

  • Shared in the Holy Spirit

  • Tasted the goodness of the Word of God

  • Tasted the powers of the age to come

With these FIVE characteristics of a true believer staring at them, how is it possible for OSAS adherents to assert that apostates were never really converted? I am completely stumped. :-)

Thus, the ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ premise is a fallacy and these two passages above continue to be a persistent bugbear—thorn in the flesh—to OSAS adherents.

Another argument against OSAS is this: If genuine believers will never fall away because they are kept eternally safe by God (Philippians 1:6, Jude 24), why did the author of Hebrews go to great lengths to sound out the warning against apostasy? The strong warning suggests that the likelihood of apostasy does exist even among true believers

In fact, this author of Hebrews repeated the apostasy warning a few chapters later: “Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us” (Hebrews 10:26-29).

“The exhortations against apostasy and to perseverance, are urged by many strong reasons. The sin here mentioned is a total and final falling away, when men, with a full and fixed will and resolution, despise and reject Christ, the only Saviour; despise and resist the Spirit, the only Sanctifier; and despise and renounce the gospel, the only way of salvation, and the words of eternal life.”
(Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Hebrews 10:26)

Free Moral Agents

The ability to choose is God’s precious and gracious gift to us. Even after we have become believers, we can choose between pleasing self or obeying God. We can choose between good and evil. Thus, all believers are free moral agents.

Freedom of choice is something that remains with us even after we have become believers. God does not turn us into robots or automatons.

To reiterate, though our ‘spirit man’ has been made new at conversion (2 Corinthians 5:17), our will remains neutral. Whether they are men or angels, all of God’s creation can choose to obey Him or rebel against Him. This freedom of choice comes with a catch. Those who rebel against His authority will be held accountable. They will have to face judgment eventually (Jude 1:5-7).

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
(Jude 1:5-7).


Hebrews 6: 4-8, 2 Peter 2:20-21

The purpose of this post is to establish 4 important points:
  • Even genuine believers can abandon their faith in God (commit apostasy).
  • That is because they are free to exercise their will to accept or reject God’s way.
  • But they will have to suffer the consequences—God’s judgment and loss of salvation.
  • The above effectively debunks the doctrine of eternal security (OSAS). 


Though believers in Christ are heaven-bound, there are conditions to be fulfilled before we arrive at our final destination and claim our eternal reward. Some say that God will never forsake believers and that nothing will ever separate us from His love (Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20, Romans 8: 38-39). But has this ever crossed our minds? God may not leave us but we can walk away from God. It takes two to tango.

When you believe in eternal security, that is ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ (OSAS), you are saying that whatever you do or fail to do after you have been saved will NOT affect your eternal destiny. In effect, you are implying that you do not need to be morally responsible or be accountable to God. Is such a mindset compatible with scriptures?

Is it possible for Christians to fall out of God’s favour permanently? What can we learn from the exodus generation who failed to enter the Promised Land?

Five ways believers could possibly jeopardise their eternal destiny

Is there eternal security for believers if they deny God or continue living in sin?


The challenge I have with this teaching—ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED (OSAS)—is its failure to interpret individual passages honestly that disagree with this particular system. For example, Hebrews 6:1-8 and 10:24-29 clearly teach that people, after receiving the saving knowledge of Christ, can fall away and lose their salvation. Second Peter 2:20-22 and James 5:19-20 are as clear as tar on snow that a believer can fall away and once again be called sinners who have to be restored.
-Joseph Mattera, Presiding Bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection Church in New York.

Listen to this balanced seasoned teacher, David Pawson. A must-watch video.
He is able to keep us in the faith AND we are to keep ourselves in His love.
If we keep ourselves in the love of God, He keeps what we have committed to Him.

Solid meat. Hard sayings. Many will rationalise that Hebrews 6: :4-8 does not refer to believers; they were unregenerate in the first place. Is it so?

Tuesday 5 January 2016


Since time immemorial, man has always been fascinated with signs and wonders. Those who are able to perform miracles are often put on a pedestal.  For example, Simon the sorcerer was hero-worshipped for his magical feats. They thought that it must be God who endowed him with a special power (Acts 8: 9-11).

It is no different today; people are still easily captivated by signs and wonders. Unaware that there are counterfeits in the spiritual realm, some believers pursue supernatural experiences. After all, they want to feel goodand discover what it is like to be zapped by power. 

Ecstatic joy, drunkenness, gold dust, feathers, glory cloud and fire tunnels. Many believers are going gaga over these wonderful experiences without fully understanding its source.

Are miracles an invariable sign of spirituality? Is the ability to perform miracles a definite sign of God’s favour?

Evil spirits can produce miraculous feats and lead many astray. The false prophet, an accomplice of the antichrist, can work great miracles, even causing fire to come down from heaven. Thus, people are deceived, thinking that that his power comes from God (Revelation 13: 11-14).

Satan knows that people, including believers, are often mesmerised by miracles. That is why he works miracles in order to convince them to worship him.

Christ cautions that, during these end times, false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead many astray, even the elect (Matthew 24:24).

Jesus condemns those who seek signs and wonders:  “A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah” (Matthew 16:4).

When questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, Jesus answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:20-21). The kingdom of God is within believers. It is a spiritual reality within the hearts of men who are subject to His will.

What did Jesus tell Thomas, the doubting disciple, who required physical signs to prove the former’s resurrection? Jesus told him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

So let us strive to be numbered among those “who have not seen and yet have believed” for Jesus counts us more blessed than those who believe on account of signs or physical evidence (John 20:29).

But some will retort that the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power (1 Corinthians 4: 20): What is the point of having correct theology without miraculous power?

Let’s be clear in our mind what constitutes divine supernatural power. Does it merely mean the ability to bring about signs and wonders?

No. The power of God is seen in justification and regenerationwhen God reconciles a sinner to Himself, and gives him the power to overcome sin.

The greatest “miracle” is the new birthwhen people are translated from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of light (John 3: 5-8, 1 Peter 2:9). All men are sinners by birth. But, by faith in the sacrificial death of Christ at the cross, a person becomes a child of God. As he renews his mind with the Word, submits to God and allows the Holy Spirit to convict him of sin, he is being progressively changed into His likeness (Romans 12:1-2, 2 Corinthians 3:18). This is a life-long process termed sanctification.

The power of God also enables a believer to live again even after death (immortality). Jesus’ promise to every believer is that whoever believes in Him, though he die, yet shall he live. (John 11:25). That is why Paul longed to know God and the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10), which he certainly did as he managed to keep the faith till the end (2 Timothy 4: 7-8).

Notwithstanding, some believers have been endowed with the ability to perform signs and wonders (Mark 16:17-18, John 14:12). But we must not be fixated on this notion of divine supernatural power alone.

Those with the gifts of healing or working of miracles (1 Corinthians 12: 9-10) should be grateful towards God. They must not become swollen-headed. Though endowed with awe-inspiring gifts, they must not get carried away by pride. It is the Spirit who apportions these gifts, as He wills, not our own ability (1 Corinthians 12:11). Furthermore, they must not think they are superior to others with less spectacular gifts (1 Corinthians 12:21-22).

The ability to perform signs and wonders pales in comparison with the believer's ultimate reward—eternal life. There is nothing to shout about if we can perform great miracles but miss out on heaven.

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
(Luke 10:19-20). 

Today, some believers want to get anointed by leaders in order to jumpstart their “spiritual careers”. They want to be “activated” fast; they want to witness the birth of a ministry they can call their own. Maybe, secretly in their hearts, they hanker after a title, like apostle or prophet, which they can affix to their names to draw greater respect from others. So they go for “anointing” by leaders as a ‘fast track way to ministry success.

Sadly, they have not laid enough emphasis on personal intimacy with God and waiting upon Him—to reveal to them the specific calling and gifting that God has prepared for them (Jeremiah 1:5, Romans 11:29, 1 Corinthians 12:11). 

Finally, let’s return to the original questions above: “Are miracles a sign of spirituality? Is the ability to perform miracles a definite sign of God’s favour?”

The answer: ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

Yes, it is true that God may have anointed certain believers with the power gifts to perform signs and wonders. On the other hand, unclean spirits may be operative in performing miracles. Furthermore, the believers at Corinth were carnal and factious—Paul chided and rebuked them—yet they flourished in the area of spiritual gifts. Thus, the ability to perform miracles is not necessarily a sign of God’s favour.

The practice of sensational spiritual giftswith attendant signs and wonders—is like the icing on a cake. While it empowers believers to serve, there are pitfalls to be avoided and abuses that need to be checked. Discernment is needed so that believers do not mistake the counterfeit works of darkness from the work of the Holy Spirit.

More importantly, believers need to focus on the fruit of the Holy Spirit—especially loveobedience and intimacy with God, all of which can be seen as the cake itself.

Let us delve into these three areas in turn:

LOVE: After a long discourse on spiritual gifts, Paul ends by saying, “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). The more excellent way is the way of love, which Paul outlines in the whole of the following chapter.

OBEDIENCE: Jesus warns that those who perform mighty signs and wonders but do not do His will find to their utter dismay on judgment day that they are shut out from heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). Have you ever wondered why this warning is specifically directed at those who move in signs and wondersnot those who are less sensational and dramatic, like teachers?

I think the answer is simple. Those who operate in signs and wonders may presume that God is always on their side since they can do supernatural feats. Imagine the praise and adulation they get for their awe-inspiring acts, which may lead to pride. Deception by evil spirits may also contribute to their downfall—because evil spirits can produce counterfeit signs, which they and the crowd seek after.

INTIMACY: Jesus warns that if we do not abide in Him, we will be cast off and be burnt like discarded branches. We can only bear good fruit if we abide in Christ (John 15:5-6).

  The purpose of this post is to establish four important truths:
  • Signs and wonders have a rightful place in the life of believers. However, having our names written in the book of life is much more important.
  • When we place holiness (correct living) and doctrine (correct beliefs) foremost in our life (1 Timothy 4:16), it does not necessarily mean we have to close our mind to the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit (John 14:12).
  • The danger, however, arises when we exalt supernatural signs and wonders above holiness (correct living) and doctrine (correct beliefs).
  • Being open to the working of miracles is different from pursuing supernatural phenomena. We should seek God, not run after miraculous signs or insist that God reveals Himself to us in signs and wonders. If God is gracious enough to grant us such signs, then it would be an added bonus.


Are the supernatural manifestations in church today invariably of divine origin?

Excessive preoccupation with signs and wonders has its dangers. When teachers like Bill Johnson exalt signs and wonders to the extent that doctrine, scholarship and the use of one’s sound mind are all downplayed and even the deity of Christ is denied, red flags go up.

Here are some searching questions for fans of Bill Johnson and Bethel church

Should believers be willing to “go off the map”—go beyond what is found in the Word—in order to embrace the realm of the miraculous?

What do you think is the true measure of a believer? Does it rest solely on how much anointing or power he or she has? Or how many spectacular feats he or she can perform?

Is there a rationale for pursuing signs and wonders?


Thinking through the Toronto Phenomenon
Review on a book by David Pawson



Gold glitter, glory cloud, slain in the spirit, spiritual laughter, spiritual drunkenness and emptying one's mind through contemplative / meditative prayer are spiritual experiences that are being sought after in some charismatic churches.


No, this is not a New Age advertisement. It is an advertisement placed within
a Victorian University to highlight the start of a Christian gathering. It is a
harbinger of the state of the Church when it starts to attract followers via
superior pleasure, fire tunnels and ecstatic joy. Involving oneself in unbiblical
spiritual practices can be dangerous as it opens the door to occult practices.
Many of these “signs” in the church have been used by pagan
religions for generations. The discernment required to recognise demonic
manifestations has been largely lost and the spiritual forces of the enemy of
God have a field day in deceiving ‘even the elect’.
(Page 59 to 64).



                                       For a quick overview:


Jesus warned: “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)

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover (Mark 16:17-18).

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).