Jesus of History & Jesus of Faith

The Jesus of history as conjured by the liberals is an attempt to reconcile with science, which in many cases, do not agree within their own research and findings. Science has never been able to explain the walking on water by Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, turning of water into wine, and not just in the gospel, but also in the OT, Moses parting of the Red Sea etc. Many scientists today including some big names have acknowledged there is no way to explain the miracles by science, and science can’t explain them and some of them have become professing christians. Bottom line, Christianity is a supernatural religion, not a human science religion/ethics club.

It all started in the Enlightenment period among the German Scholars & Philosophers. Names like Strauss, Bultmann, etc have all tried to reason away the gospel by removing all the supernatural deeds of Christ, in order to “appease” science of the day. In their attempt, they totally denied the divinity of Christ, and humanize the totally God-Man Jesus Christ. Gospels like Gospel of Thomas have all famously removed all those. Gospel of Thomas is a Gnostic gospel. The danger of liberalism is that they took away all the miracles & supernatural works of Jesus, but taken all the sayings of Jesus. This is precisely the gospel of the Gnostics. Then they embraced all the good virtuous sayings of Christ. That’s why they became so popular in the academic & university world. Check out any colleges, especially the humanities of the Ivy leagues in America, in Oxford Cambridge, in all the top schools in Europe, their influence is staggering. Christians would be naive thinking our warfare is just on evangelizing and losing the big picture mental intellectual world where all our young people flock to like in the major cities in the world.

You may be asking why do we even bother to entertain them? I thought so myself, but unfortunately apparently they have wielded quite a lot influence in the academic world, in the modern universities and Colleges, that is how liberalism started and invaded the colleges professors & our children in colleges. The only to fight that, is to have evangelical christians to become scholars by enrolling in Theological Seminaries.

I have benefited enormously from seminaries, and me coming from a pentecostal background in Reformed Theological Seminary, is a awesome combination. I would urge folks to join a reformed theological seminary, for they have the highest standard of theology. I will share a lot more, in my future posts.

Sermon on the Mount-Reformed & Non Reformed View

What are some problems with non-Reformed views of the Sermon on the Mount and how does the Reformed view avoid (or answer) those same problems?

Sermon on the Mount presented enormous challenge to Christians to follow on the surface. Jesus basically went beyond the OT Torah Moses laws, as given to Israel. Like you shall not commit adultery, but Jesus said if you look at a woman with lust, you have committed adultery. Like an eye for an eye in the OT, but Jesus changed it to if you are slapped on the left cheek, turn the other cheek too.

Anabaptists seeing the radical nature of the call of Jesus on SM, decided to withdraw from the society and the civil law in order to really live out the commands of SM.

Thomas Aquinas taught in his Summa Theologia there are two levels, one is for all Christians, and a second for application only to a few, and that’s his way of separating the laity and clergyman as the commands are too hard for the former, which is essentially what the Catholics have taken.

Reformed teaching is saying not to turn SM into a new legalism with the stringent application of all the details, but the discovery of a new, radical love for both God and neighbor in our hearts. Jesus said in a number of places that he is the fulfillment of the law. That’s the only way to approach SM, by knowing and expediting the radical love of Jesus in our hearts, we can, and only then, respond in l=kind with our love to him and gradually our neighbor.

I think SM reaffirms the OT laws and point to Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the OT law. And we will have greater respect and understanding on the relationship between OT law and NT grace period in Christ.

Spirit Filled Pentecostal Prayer

I have not prayed for years in my passionate faith filled pentecostal prayer like this afternoon after chatting with and connecting my daughter with a sister church’s pastor in London. After that I sensed an anointing of God upon me, I prayed immediately praising God, akin to Elizabeth bursting out in praise & prayer to God, though in a smaller scale.

Luke 1:41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

That’s precious.  I also remember how Jesus was filled with the Spirit after being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for 40 days. In a smaller scale, I begin to understand or feel what the Bible means being filled with the Spirit.  

Luke 4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,where for forty days he was tempted[a] by the devil. 

Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit & spoke courageously and powerfully to a hostile crowd about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Acts 4:  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!  If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 

All these to show that there is ample supply of bible verses supporting the Spirit filled person after an encounter with God.

You need an encounter with God for being filled with the Spirit

Elizabeth didn’t just yell out “Blessed be the mother of my Lord” out of nowhere. She did it because she heard the voice of Mary calling her. Luke 1:41 and when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. SO much so that her baby in her womb leaped in her womb! That’s an encounter with God. (BTW, who says life starts at delivery only??)

We all need an encounter with God for the outburst of joy, faith, and confidence. Encountering with God produces a surge of faith, like Peter, stepping out in such strong faith and courage, preached to a hostile Jewish crowd, who just a few days earlier, crucified the Lord Jesus. Elizabeth’s spirit connected with God’s Spirit (Holy Spirit), when she heard the voice of Mary. We all need that special encounter with God, in small ways, in big ways. Normally encounter with God will be a big way.

I burst into praise to God after connecting my daughter with Hope church London’s pastor. I then prayed with great faith. With great liberation, I leapt into great prayer, which I haven’t seen for years in New York. Coming from a Pentecostal background into a Presbyterian and Reformed theology in seminary, I feel my prayers been enriched but subdued, but I wont call it suppressed. It’s subdued in terms of burst of energy and joy. This afternoon’s prayer is an outburst of celebration with faith and I felt connected with God in the Holy Spirit and uttered the prayer with faith that I haven’t seen for years. That’s the return to prayers with faith and energized by the Holy Spirit. I long for more of this kind of encounter, and one thing for sure, I am returning to more energized and Spirit filled faith empowered prayers. For sure.


If you live after the flesh, you shall die

Living in this very sexualized society today in America, or any big city, men facing worldly lustful temptations is very real. No one is exempt from this. We are continually bombarded by the sensual media of the world in the media. It’s a well-known fact that Christians struggle with purity in this world, and porn has been a real destructive force among millions of men and a lot of Christians are not spared. A very good book to read is “Mortifying Sins”- by John Owens.

One day I felt stirred in my heart to read this famous book by John Owens, and I started reading it, and as I was reading chapter one, he quoted this verse in Romans 8.

13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. Romans 8 KJV

I was hit by this verse that says it as it is, so in your face kind of tone “If you live according to the flesh, you will die”. There is no negotiation. No reasoning. No further explanations. It just hits me in my head. I was alarmed by it, and thought to myself, I don’t want to die. Therefore I should not live after the flesh.

You know how as Christians we often play with such words. It’s like negotiating with God’s word. It’s like we don’t take God’s word seriously. We love the verses of God for blessings, but we take it with a grain of salt for those verses with warnings. And the reason we don’t take them seriously enough is that it doesn’t hit us in the heads, so to speak. It’s kind of head knowledge. Actually you can apply that to verses of promises too. So the key is to let it hit you on the heads.

I can describe my own experience. A sense of fear, Godly fear, dawned upon me, after I read that verse in Owens’ book. I immediately paused and meditated over that verse. It really sank it in. So when I face temptations, I recall that verse, it hits me again. It’s like the Spirit of God brings it alive. This makes me appreciate more what the Holy Spirit is working with the bible.

12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4)

That’s the word of God. Sharper than a double-edged sword! It’s cutting. It divides soul and spirit. What happen is a lot of times, the word of God is blunted by our soul, spirit, and also the circumstances around us. It take us to calm down and spend time meditating through the logos to become rhema, quickened word of God. But that still doesn’t cut it sometimes, it is those special moments God really wants to communicate something to us. Its precious, and you won’t forget it. The thing is this, the more you spend time meditating and praying through God’s words, the more you will be getting revelation. This should motivate us pray more. Lets take a look at these verses:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12)

That “renewal of the mind” is the key. How does that happen? Mind can only be renewed when we read the bible verses, meditating upon them, and prayerfully letting Holy Spirit convict us, touch us. Its just like what I described earlier experientially how I felt hit in my head when I read that “living by the flesh, you will die.” That’s renewing happening right away. And that happened to me when I was actually reading a renown author’s book “Mortifying your sins” by John Owen who quoted Romans 1 on this. God can do it in a thousand ways, and He is sovereign. What we should be concerned is that we need to seek the Lord in reading books, bible & prayer.

We all need a special revelation of the Lord like weekly.

The Sacredness of Life

I am wonderfully and fearfully made in my mother’s womb. I began to reflect upon this one time when I was jogging to catch my early morning shuttle bus last week, and my foot got caught on an uneven road surface, and I stumbled and almost fell. My reflex action, a built in mechanism that God has endowed to all of us, kicked into action and stabilized my body after a brief fumble. At that moment, it dawned on me how wonderfully I am made by God and that verse came into my mind. Then it hit me there is another portion of that verse that’s hardly caught by me, and that’s ‘fearfully’ made.

13    For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139)

I want to talk about the verse that says we are “fearfully” made by God. I think we are wonderfully made, of course, just look at the complexity of our bodies, the muscles, tendons, blood vessels, the heart that’s constantly pumping, the kidney that’s constantly filtering, the liver that filters our blood to cleanse our blood, and the intestines as long as a football field. All these are too amazing for my mind to comprehend, and we have breath & spirit and emotion & feelings. Who and how is all these put together that’s called my body? I am just amazed. To say it’s wonderful doesn’t do the job; it has to also include the second portion that says we are “fearfully” made by God.

I totally get it. We are fearfully made by God. It’s a holy fear. I tremble and being amazed in awe at the amazing complex functionality and organism’s balance in the most amazing way that modern robot and artificial intelligence can only gaze from a distance. It’s fearful. It’s awesome.

Ephesians 1:4 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

That is another mind boggling thing. God chose us before the foundation of the world. That’s before Genesis 1. God had already chosen us to be holy before him. That’s sacred. Our life was not created randomly. But it was purposeful to be holy and sacred even before God created this world! Think about that! That’s how much God had thoughts about us. He loved us even before the world was created. It’s like David who said it’s just too wonderful for my thought.

If we only catch a glimpse of the awesomeness and fearfulness of our bodies creation by the Almighty God, we would start to appreciate life more, and more thankful to God and families. Mre awed by God. It’s an incredible feat that God put us all together in this world. The silent heart pumping away, the silent liver filtering away, the silent kidney filtering it away, we have taken all these sacred acts of God for granted. There needs to be an awakening to such appreciation of the beauty and wonder of the creation of God, that Genesis 1 must come alive again and again.

Genesis 1: then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

That verse that says, “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” is sacred to me. That’s sacredness, holiness, glory & power of God. God breathed into Adam the breath of life. God didn’t breathe into Adam hot air, or cool air, but breath of LIFE. His personal breath. I love that our God is a personal God. He breathed into us. That’s personal. Which idol or god you have heard that their god breathed into their nostrils. Its almost too intimate. Our life came from the breath of God, and we are now the descendants of Adam & Eve. Its very important for me that the God that I love & follow is a personal God. Not a cosmic force somewhere, but one who feels with me & for me.

There is a lot of implications. First we should treasure life. All that we have comes from God. We may not have a lot, but a sense of thankfulness must fill our hearts every day. Whenever we lose sight of that, it’s time to remind ourselves of how wonderfully and fearfully made by God. The whole concept of identity has to come from the very hands that knitted us together. No one else can give us the identity. Not the culture, not the inner desire of our hearts, which often are deceitful.

Life begins at conception. Gender begins at conception. Our identity begins at conception. God’s hands knitted us in our mothers’ wombs. Wonderfully & fearfully made. We cannot question the wonderfulness and fearfulness of how God created us. There is no way for us to point our fingers back to God and say hey God you made a mistake. Our naturally born gender is determined by God. Do not change that or challenge that. We are not the creator; we are the creation.

Until we recognized the hands that knitted us in our mothers’ wombs are the same hands that were nailed to the cross, we will never experience the joy of true freedom & liberty through the redemption of God. And unless we are redeemed, we will always remain a creation of God that has never known our maker.

Modernism criticism of the real Jesus & historical Jesus

What is it & why do we need to understand it

Modern Criticism of 19th century basically centered in Germany the Gospel has, in my understanding, perpetuated the modern critical interpretation by the liberalism thinkers of today. Some of the tangible effects today are like liberal Christians love the kindness and compassion of Christ but reject his resurrection and virgin birth and even the historicity of Christ!

Most average church goer Christian would probably respond so what? It hardly affects my life. But the reality is, it has affected millions of people especially the millennial generation with this being taught in colleges, being the liberalism colored lens. If we want to reach out to the educated mass today, we must understand better the liberalism Modern Criticism of the Gospel.

This is very problematic because essentially, they the liberals refuse to back down from being called a Christian, while rejecting the miraculous and the virgin birth f Christ and the resurrection of Christ, because they are amazed with the person Jesus Christ, and loving his virtuous deed and teachings, like the sermon on the Mount, the good Samaritan, stop being judgmental, feeding the poor, kind and compassionate, indeed Jesus is a par excellence moral character to them, but alas, nothing divine. And why? Because in their mind, this doesn’t fit into or congenial to their scientific minds and worldview! So they actually dissected the gospel and divided as they wish to try to “fit” into the science driven worldview.

A famous liberalism thinker scholar in Germany called Rudolf Bultmann in the 19th century has impacted much modern liberalism. Robert Strimple wrote:             While he actually summarized the theology of the New Testament that is set in that mythical cosmological framework:

            The aeon is held in bondage by Satan, sin, and death and hastens to its end. That end will come very  soon, and will take…a cosmic catastrophe. The Judge will come from heaven, the dead will rise…”In the fullness of time, God sent forth his Son, a pre-existent divine Being, who appears on earth as a  man. He dies the death of a sinner on the cross and makes atonement for the sins of men…. The risen           Christ is exalted to the right hand of God in heaven and made “Lord” and “King”. He will come  again on the clouds of heaven to complete the work of redemption, and the resurrection and judgment of  men will follow.”[1]

This all fit into the biblical gospel very well, and we rejoice. But no! But Bultmannn insisted, it is impossible for any modern person to receive in such a message: “Man’s knowledge and master of their world have advanced to such an extent through science and technology that it is no longer possible for anyone seriously to hold the New testament view of the world-in fact there is no one who does. [2]

What catches my attention is this line: “The mythical eschatology is untenable for the simple reason that the Parousia of Christ never took place as the New Testament expected. History did not come to an end,…it will continue to run its course.” This is a wrong exegesis statement from Bultmann and it has such huge significance, because that is the breaking point for him to turn away from true Christianity sadly. For a brilliant mind to land in such dark philosophical thinking, is very grieving as he and a lot of other liberalism scholars impacted the books and syllabus we read in colleges today and for the past centuries. Why blame it on the return of Christ (parousia) not happened yet? And that caused Bultmannn to conclude the mystical eschatology as untenable?? That means the supernatural miraculous, and the final judgment. So sad. Maybe he should have exegete the timing of the parousia, like a day is a thousand years to the Lord, and a 1000 years like a day.

He tried so hard to reconcile the mythical side of the bible to the reality of science of his days. He even tried to call to delete the mythological (supernatural for us) in the New Testament as “husk”, so that the “kernel” of truth might remain (as Harnack had suggested)? But he said that one couldn’t delete the husk because the truth (kernel) is actually embedded in the so-called husk. Therefor his conclusion is not to delete the mythological elements of the NT, but to transform that kerygma into the conceptual framework with which modern people operate. You see the attempts of these philosophers go deep. In my view these folks have just put science onto a pedestal that’s idolatry. Ironically, science can’t explain conclusively the black hole and tons of stuff including the evolution in our 21st century, let alone their 19th century.

So Bultmannn went ahead and reconstructed the whole Gospels, calling it to decontextlaization and recontextualization. Bultmannn teaches that we must understand the Gospel mythology, not cosmologically but anthropologically, or more specifically, existentially.

Christian’s response

The biggest problem is the definition of human nature, Being. Their problem can be summarized in Boltzmann’s question: “Must we understand it as the cross of Jesus as a figure of past history? Must we go back to the Jesus of history?”

Strimple writes: Christ’s death and resurrection saved all who believed in him because Jesus is God’s Son, whom he appointed as heir of all things, and through whom God made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Heb 1:2-3) This is the one whom the angels worship (1:6) and who is addressed as “God” (1:8), but “who was made a little lower than the angels…so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone, “ and who “ is not ashamed to call” those whom he makes holy “brothers” and who “shared in their humanity”. (2:9,11,14) In other words, the significance of his work is grounded in the significance of this person as the God-man. [3]

The question that confronts us today is that whether we are willing to understand ourselves as one crucified and risen with Christ.

[1] Strimple, Robert   The Modern Search for the Real Jesus    P&R Publishing 1995, New Jersey  p120

[2] ditto

[3] ditto

Theistic Evolution

John Piper has a very good teaching on this very important subject albeit very challenging as we pit Bible Vs science ie. evolution as necessitated by the argument from our scientific driven society that was started in the Enlightenment age in the 19th century. A lot of Christians are not even bothered about this subject, and ask why? Pastors rarely touched on it too, but the liberals including the liberal Christians and scholars have a swinging time knocking down our creation narrative, and replacing it with evolution with books and talks. To me, this is very troubling and disturbing, and definitely needs to be examined and taught well so our folks in churches will respond well to the outside world, especially with our kids in schools facing evolution syllabus and books.

Tim Keller in a talk in TGC that scientists had concluded humans cannot be all from a single set of parents, ie Adam & Eve genetically. They are supposed to be from a group of homosapiens in the sub-Sahara desert in Africa. Now my question is, genetically where do these group of “early fathers” in Africa come from? The early group of humans in Africa can’t be direct creation from God or evolution from Garden of Eden?

Piper has taught that theoretically it is possible that God used evolution to create the mankind and animals called Theistic Evolution. Exegetically, you can’t reconcile that to the death of one man, brought death to the one man, etc. To believe in the historical Adam, it’s impossible to believe in Theistic Evolution. Hermeneutically, with the historical Adam & Eve, and that God breathed into the first man’s nostrils to give him life, this doesn’t compute with the billions of years to develop mankind. Looking at the spider coming out of the pond, with its ability to make web for its offspring, the question is such intricacy & complexity ability, where do they come from? Theistic evolution is a no go.

Just because Galileo made a mistake claiming from the bible that the earth is flat, does not mean science has triumphed over the bible. I would say Galileo made an exegetical mistake. Sola Scriptura.