I am amazed with just the impact of man’s sins upon the earth. Even the earth groans because of our sins? Who would think lightly of sin, think again! When Adam and Eve sinned against our creator, the ground is cursed. The ramifications is heartbreaking and knowing and seeing the brokenness due to this curse, we long for the adoption of God and embrace the immortality that Adam and Eve had before the fall. How do we get out of this ?
Theologians call it as the original sin. The original sin started a tidal wave that is almost unstoppable and if it were not for the incarnation of Christ the Son of God unto the world, we’d face nothing but hell.
Romans 8: 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
Because of our sin, the whole world groans. This is amazing. The whole world groans! What does that mean? The pain felt by the world is palpable. We have underestimated or trivialized the pain we inflicted on the earth. The whole creation is in bondage to corruption. And I take it to be a moral spiritual and hence physical corruption. God cursed the earth after Adam sinned against God. Genesis 3: cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; (ESV) 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
Ground is cursed because of Adam. There is consequence to be paid. Just look at BBC Earth and watch in horror how a leopard devours a deer and other animals. In blood they quenched their thirst and hunger. The ground is cursed for sure. Before the fall, there was no killing as such as all animals are vegetarian eating plants. Sad. And that’s only the animals. Haven’t you read the human trafficking for prostitution of even young girls like 10 years old? Rape of women commonly seen in wars or non wars, ethnic cleansing with millions killed, the breaking up of families, gender sexuality confusion, the list goes on…..Do you see why we groan deeply? Not just the earth and animals? We are all groaning.
That’s why there’s a longing to (ESV) 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. We wait for adoption. We wait eagerly for adoption as sons and the redemption of our bodies. Our bodies will decay after we die, but the new body we will receive will never decay but will last forever with God. We long to be clothed with immortality which was what Adam had before the fall. We were created for eternity but Adam lost it, now it took the second Adam, the Son of God himself to reclaim it back by his atonement.
That longing for redemption and adoption is within every heart of every Christian and in fact every human beings. That means we should not be drowned by the physical world. We must let God be more real in our lives. While some of us may long for that sometimes, we are also, by the media of the world, losing sight of it and being drowned in corruption of the world. God must be so real in our lives or else we lose touch of the immortality. And the only way to do that is by coming to Christ daily and meditate on his word, pray and join a church, fellowship.
No religion can save us from this groaning. All religions tell you to try harder. Christ tells you I have done it for you, by dying on the cross. You are now welcome to my household by adoption into the family of God. All religions say follow the rules, Jesus says I am bringing you into my family. We are FAMILY!
For the longest time, I have found it to be unfair for God the Father to send his only begotten Son to die on the cross to save mankind. Because its far easier to say, “Son, I give you to the world to save the world” while He sits on the throne. John 3:16 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” We all know this verse. God (the Father) so loved the world, that he gave his only Son….that means God gave his Son to die on the cross, what we call as incarnate death. But what’s interesting is the whole business of preeminence of Christ. Read here in Colossians:
Col 1: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Jesus mission to incarnate in the world, is not just to die for the elect, but also to become preeminent in everything. But the sequence is really important to understand. Because Jesus couldn’t become preeminent without incarnate and die for all creation, and because he did that, he is qualified to become the so-called “firstborn” of all creation. “Firstborn” doesn’t mean like the first child born into the family. But it’s the first child to be resurrected!! Because no one has ever been resurrected by God before and after Christ. Jesus is the firstborn of ALL creations.
Now after he’s resurrected, and become the firstborn, Jesus can now become preeminent. It means matchless, peerless, surpassing all. In other words, the Son of God didn’t just come and die and resurrect to save mankind, but he is also, as a result of his overpowering death, to become preeminent. When He becomes preeminent, it means all those profess faith in Christ, will, and must, have Christ to be preeminent in their lives. It means, all Christians must have Jesus as the preeminent one in their lives.
But in a sense, Jesus is already preeminent before the foundation of the world! As v16 says, “for by Jesus all things were created….all things were created through him, and for him.” Now this is very interesting because in a sense, Jesus did not need to incarnate to become preeminent, as he was already preeminent as all things were created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus. Wow! Do you see the centrality of Christ in our very existence? We owe our life to Jesus existentially! Jesus is far more than all we see in the gospels like walking on water, cast out demons, raised the dead, opened eyes of blinds, etc., powerful they may be, because He is the one who caused the sun to rise in the morning, and the earth to rotate around the sun in the perfect timing, distance, and everything in the universe holds together in Christ!!! I hope you get the idea of how preeminent Jesus is!
So last question: So why did Jesus need to incarnate and die? Of course, we know the answer is that he has to redeem mankind by his own blood. In other words, I would argue that Jesus wasn’t preeminent over all creatures before he incarnate. Did I just contradict myself? No, because Jesus indeed hold everything together, but he lost the preeminence over human race in the Garden of Eden to the devil. When Adam and Eve fell into sins and gave in to the temptations of the devil, they lost the ownership of this earth to devil, and in a sense, and they succumbed and surrendered the ruler ship to the devil. Jesus in fact called the devil, the prince of this world. But on the cross, as he died, and resurrected, Jesus wrestled back the rulership over mankind back from the devil. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, saved mankind and reconciled man back to God. Wow! And through that, Jesus is glorified, and all creations bow to Jesus and learn to love Jesus as he loved us all. That’s why Jesus must incarnate die and resurrect! I would add that all creations will not bow to Jesus preeminence if he didn’t incarnate and die for all creations. Wow!
Thomas Goodwin writes that God’s chief end was not to bring Christ into the world for us, but us for Christ. God contrived all things, even redemption, for setting forth Christ’s glory, more than our salvation . That’s stunning, God actually sent Jesus into the world, not just for our salvation, but even more so, for Jesus’s ultimate glory & preeminence. The doctrine of pactum salutis says we all exist for the greater glory of Jesus Christ.
Finally, God the Father loves the Son so much that he sent him to incarnate die for the world so that the Son may be glorified and become preeminent over all creations, which otherwise he was not. Now, it’s clear that Jesus won the right to become preeminent over all creations, and he is the only one from heaven and earth that accomplished it.
 Michael Allen & Scott Swain Christian Dogmatics p 123
We have all heard, perhaps, that you may have the best knowledge in the world, but you may turn up to be a foolish man. A PhD guy may end up with making the most foolish decision in life. The stats is clear. But a village woman or man with little or no education may make much wiser decision. The reason is knowledge is just knowing in the heads, but wisdom is actually application of that knowledge, and it involves judgement call, discerning your inner values, and personal convictions. Personal wisdom is vital and crucial, and the book of Proverbs has plenty to advise us.
Proverbs 1:5 5 let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—
The word “learning” in Hebrew leqah means extensive study. Extensive study! A lot of us don’t read enough books at all, let alone extensive study. I do find from my experience that, depending on your culture and/or upbringing, if you don’t have much reading as a habit, you are not going to have extensive study. An average church member goes to church to listen to a 30 min-40 min sermon and come home watching TV or reading up the headlines news on internet. That includes pastors too. Extensive study is required (leqah in Hebrew in Prov 1:5) for adding to their learning or wisdom. So that begs the question that if you don’t read much at all, worse still not at all, how are you going to add to your learning?
So, can you have wisdom without knowledge? No. You have to be knowledgeable about a subject before you can apply it with the discipline, discernment, and discretion of wisdom (Tim Keller-Proverbs). So, Proverbs calls those who would be wise to add to their learning.
Tim Keller writes: “To be wise we must understand human nature, how human relationships work, suffering and death, and the character of God himself. Wisdom is wedding thought and experience to become “competent with regard to the realities of life.” And among all other things we should study, true wisdom requires deep knowledge of the Scriptures. Even Jesus based his every move on the Bible, quoting Scripture to face and explain his death (Matthew 27:46; Psalm 22:1)”
Based on my preaching experience before, I have always focused on the Scripture to expound from it from my limited life experience, and what I observed or read from news, but to understand human relationships, human nature, suffering and death, they are hardly found from the news’ reading. So, the idea of understanding better human nature, how relationships work, that’s just superficially scratched in my years of pulpit. Unless I begin to read books by these philosophers, thinkers, journalists, it will be a stretch for me to catch up. And worse still, I have been doing that for years on the pulpit without knowing it, thinking that all is good, a frustration that is unimaginable. With now being in New York City, I am very blessed to access all the good books recommended by a top pastor Tim Keller in NYC, and himself a theologian from the seminary, and begin to fill myself up with all this great knowledge about God, and about human relationships, dynamics in this real world. Also, listening extensively great sermons like Tim Keller, John Piper, Martin Lloyd Jones, have definitely opened my eyes to the treasures of the Word of God, and how it interfaces with humans in real world.
My point is we must get knowledge. The idea that we don’t need to read too much, because they are dry, but just wait upon the Spirit and let him reveal word of God, is appallingly shallow, short sighted, and missing out so much. Because God clearly says we need “leqah” which means extensive study in Hebrew. Prov 1 talks about gaining wisdom. That’s what Scriptures means leqah, extensive study. God says we need extensive study. We must be prepared for extensive study. I am in the seminary now doing my MA in Biblical Studies and am so blessed, and I am beginning to experience the “extensive study” that’s commanded in the book Proverbs 1. We would be naïve to think that somehow, by praying and speaking in tongues a lot, this will replace the extensive study. This will never help us to get to know the human relations with one another, the character of God etc. They come from extensive study. And of course, I am not saying that we only need extensive study, because we need also pray in tongues, pray in English or Chinese or BM or whatever language, and we need both. It’s like fire and wood. Wood is the Word of God, and the Spirit is the fire. These two combined will produce flame, fire.
The spiritual giants of our ancient fathers like Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, etc. all studied extensively, and their writing, preaching oratory skills is phenomenal. They did their work of extensive study. Luther, after studying Romans extensively, came up with the 95 theses, and nailed it onto the door of the church that eventually resulted in a spiritual revolution called Reformation in Europe in 16th century.
In modern days, for us to understand post-modernism, individualism, anxiety, fears, hopes, of a man or a woman, we must read and study extensively, listen to sermons that deal with our psychology and physiology, so that our preaching can connect with modern people with all their liberal education from colleges/universities today. If we hope to reach out to them, we must speak the language of rationality combined with our bible faith. Rational rhetoric is part of the bible. Augustine is expert on that. Try reading The Confession and it will blow your mind!
True wisdom requires deep knowledge of the Scriptures. To be competent to the realities of life. experience must meet with our thoughts. Thought can only come from deep study of the Scriptures. Amen.
Banyak yang telah disebut-sebut sebagai nilai terdedah kepada dunia evangelis yang telah diperbaharui terutamanya di Barat, sebagai berikut, sebagai contoh, Yesus terdedah di hadapan salib dan di atas salib, dalam perjalanan untuk mencapai kemenangan terbesar dan paling penting dalam keseluruhan sejarah kemanusiaan. Itulah tindakan ilahi yang mengubah seluruh nasib dunia untuk kebaikan. Kuat! Watak Yahweh dalam Perjanjian Lama (OT) dilihat sebagai Tuhan yang menakutkan yang membelah Laut Merah dan menenggelamkan beribu-ribu tentera Mesir, membunuh semua yang pertama lahir dari Mesir, membawa 3 juta orang Yahudi untuk berjalan melalui Laut Merah di Exodus yang paling berkuasa dalam sejarah, membuka tanah untuk menelan hidup semua deseden, keluarga pemberontak itu yang memberontak terhadap Musa dalam Keluaran, bergemuruh di Gunung Sinai dan menyebabkan asap untuk bangkit sehingga semua orang Yahudi takut kepada Allah, dan meminta Musa untuk bercakap kepada mereka bukan Tuhan. Pada & pada …. Dan watak Yesus dalam Injil, Perjanjian Baru (NT), menunjukkan kekuatan dan kuasa dengan cara yang sangat berbeza, nampaknya cara terkawal. Dia menghalau setan dengan hukuman beberapa kali, membuka mata orang buta dengan perkataan atau sentuhan, membersihkan orang yang berkotak dengan perkataan, membangkitkan orang mati beberapa kali dengan memerintahkan orang mati untuk bangkit, berjalan di atas air dua kali, makan 5,000 lelaki dengan 2 ikan dan 5 roti, Yesus hanya luar biasa, dan pasti di luar manusia, dan kita memanggilnya sebagai manusia Tuhan, Manusia Tuhan. Tetapi apa yang menyerang kita semua, adalah kerendahan hati yang dilahirkan di dalamnya, sebuah palungan, dia tidak memerintahkan tentera, dia pergi ke Yerusalem pada keldai pada hari-hari terakhir kehidupan duniawi, menjalani kehidupan yang rendah hati sebagai tukang kayu sampai umur 33 tahun , kemudian melancarkan kementeriannya, dengan melakukan mukjizat, tanda dan angin dan kemudian ajaran Kerajaan Tuhannya. Yang paling menarik adalah keseluruhan saga penangkapannya, dia menyerahkan kepada orang Rom dan orang Farisi, dengan sikap tenang, sepenuhnya menyerah diri untuk melakukan kehendak Bapa, untuk mati bagi dunia untuk menebus dunia, atau umat pilihan. Apa yang saya ingin tangkap di sini adalah bagaimana Dia, sebagai Anak Tuhan, tidak melawan dengan guruh dan kilat yang hebat, atau dengan malaikat mengelilinginya. Dia boleh memanggil Bapanya dan menghantar beribu-ribu malaikat bersedia untuk mencatat semua tentera Rom dan Pharisees digabungkan dalam satu minit. Tetapi dia tidak. Dia menyerah supaya dipukul dengan teruk sehingga dia dicemari, mengejek, dan meludah, dan kekejaman yang dilakukan kepadanya, ia membawa banyak kekuatan batin dan keyakinan dan cinta ilahi, maksudnya kekuatan batin, untuk menyerap, dan tidak bereaksi . Dia seorang lelaki yang fenomenal. Kekuatan batin yang ditunjukkan oleh Yesus pada hari-hari terakhirnya hanyalah menghembuskan nafas. Cintailah dan komitmennya, seperti yang dikatakan oleh Alkitab, dia telah menetapkan wajahnya seperti batu permata ke arah Yerusalem dan salib. Tiada apa-apa yang akan mengubahnya. Ia adalah kekuatan dan kekuatan dalaman yang teguh yang dibawa oleh dunia oleh ribut. Tuhan kelihatan seperti Tuhan yang sama sekali berbeda dalam Perjanjian Baru dari Perjanjian Lama. Bagaimanakah pencipta alam semesta telah berdiri di sana yang diserang, diludahi, ditumbuk, dicambuk, dan akhirnya disalibkan sehingga mati di salib? Bagaimana mungkin Tuhan mati? Jawapannya ialah Yesus menunjukkan kepada dunia yang dia bersedia untuk menjadi lemah dengan orang yang lemah dan terdedah. Beliau mempunyai identiti lengkap ini dengan orang-orang patah dunia, dalam perjalanannya, membawa salib ke Golgota di mana dia akhirnya disalibkan. Dia menunjukkan kekuatan yang megah dan kemuliaan batin, bahawa dia memberitahu John, melihat Maria, “John, inilah ibumu.” Dia bahkan menjaga orang yang tersayang, pada minit-minit terakhirnya. Dia meningkat di atas kesempatan itu, dan menghancurkan musuh, godaan Syaitan untuk menghancurkan orang-orang Rom, yang bermaksud bahawa penebusan umat manusia akan ditiup! Tetapi dia benar-benar menyimpan kerennya dan bertahan untuk kegembiraan di hadapannya. Ibrani 12: “2 menatap mata kita kepada Yesus, perintis dan perfekter iman. Kerana kegembiraan yang ditetapkan di hadapannya, dia menanggung salib, menghina malu, dan duduk di sebelah kanan takhta Allah. “Itulah orang yang sebenarnya. Tim Keller selalu berkhotbah di budaya kaunter, cara hidup Yesus yang intuitif yang perlu kita salin. Yesus mengalahkan yang kuat dengan yang lemah. Yesus tidak mendirikan Kerajaan Tuhan di bumi, oleh malaikat-malaikat malaikat surgawi yang kuat, yang dapat dilakukannya, tetapi dengan lemah dan lemah untuk mengatasi yang kuat di dunia. Dia memenangi dunia dengan mati di atas salib, bukan pada kereta kuda. Yesus menunjukkan rahmat Tuhan yang paling indah untuk menghancurkan kuasa-kuasa jahat kematian dan dosa, dan mendamaikan umat manusia / memilih kembali kepada Tuhan. Itulah bagaimana ia berfungsi dengan Yesus.
Oleh itu, banyak pendakwah yang diperbaharui, gereja-gereja, bercakap mengenai kelemahan manusia dan wanita moden, di tengah-tengah kekacauan, tekanan, kecemasan, gaya hidup kaum lumba-lumba, untuk tumbuh di dalam Tuhan. Walaupun Pentakosta tidak pernah bercakap tentang menjadi lemah, tetapi menegaskan kemenangan dalam Kristus, tuntut ini, dan tuntut itu! Beritahu menjadi kemenangan Kristus (ini bukan alkitabiah). Walau bagaimanapun, terdapat kontras yang tajam. Sebenarnya, cara yang dahulu, cara Reformed, akan muncul di atas, kerana itulah yang dilakukan oleh Yesus. Saya telah membuat kesimpulan dalam fikiran saya, datang dari latar belakang karismatik saya sendiri, dan kini sedang direndam dalam dunia yang telah diperbaharui, saya dapat memberitahu anda bahawa menjadi lemah bukan sebahagian daripada istilah Pentecostal. Itu pasti kurang percaya. Terdapat teka-teki yang nyata di sini bercakap tentang iman. Untuk karismatik, ini datang dari apa yang dikatakan Yesus kepada wanita itu dengan masalah pendarahan, “wanita, imanmu telah menyembuhkanmu”. Markus 5: 33 Tetapi perempuan itu, yang mengetahui apa yang telah terjadi padanya, datang dengan ketakutan dan gemetar, dan sujud di hadapan-Nya dan memberitahukan kepadanya seluruh kebenaran. 34 Kata Yesus kepadanya: “Hai anakku, imanmu telah menyelamatkan engkau; lanjutkan dengan selamat, dan sembuhlah penyakit anda. “Ini adalah ayat-ayat seperti ini yang menyebabkan Pentakosta berfikir; itu sebenarnya iman wanita yang telah menyembuhkannya menurut Yesus! Yesus menghairankan sepenuhnya dengan kepercayaan wanita itu yang menyembuhkannya. Itu sebenarnya merangsang Pentakosta untuk berkhotbah seperti doktrin, dan dengan itu pergerakan iman. Tetapi jika anda melihat kes ini, ia adalah ketabahan wanita dan keputusasaan untuk mencari Yesus, yang membawa dia mengalahkan gerombolan lelaki yang berkumpul di sekitar Yesus, dan menyentuhnya, kerana dia berfikir pada dirinya sendiri, 28 Sebab dia berkata, “Jika saya menyentuh bahkan dia jubah, saya akan sembuh. “29 Dan segera aliran darah menjadi kering, dan dia merasakan dalam tubuhnya bahawa dia sembuh dari penyakitnya. Penyembuhan adalah segera! Hallelujah! Itu luar biasa! Dalam konteks wanita ini menekankan segala kemungkinan, kerana wanita tidak bercampur-campur dan tidak menyentuh lelaki di kebudayaan tengah timur pada masa itu, dia bertahan dan menolak untuk menyentuh Yesus. Imannya kuat, dan Yesus melihatnya dan mengakui itu. Tetapi sebenarnya kuasa datang dari Yesus, bukan imannya, hanya imannya kepada Yesus menyentuh Yesus yang kemudian melepaskan kuasa untuk menyembuhkannya. Iman sahaja tidak akan melakukan pekerjaan itu, ia adalah kepercayaan berterusan terhadap semua kemungkinan, memindahkan hati Tuhan. Maka ayat-ayat seperti ini melancarkan Pentakosta untuk “mendakwa” penyembuhan, yang, dalam fikiran saya, tidak berdasarkan alkitab. Anda tidak boleh menuntut penyembuhan, tetapi anda boleh meminta Tuhan untuk penyembuhan. Anda tidak memilikinya, dan tiada apa yang perlu anda tuntut. Markus 10: 46 Kemudian mereka pergi ke Yerikho. Semasa Yesus dan murid-muridnya, bersama-sama dengan orang ramai, meninggalkan bandar, seorang lelaki buta, Bartimaeus sedang duduk di tepi jalan yang meminta. 47 Ketika ia mendengar, bahwa itu adalah Yesus dari Nazaret, ia mulai berteriak: “Yesus, Anak Daud, kasihanilah aku!” 48 Banyak orang menegurnya dan berkata kepadanya, “Tenanglah! Daud, kasihanilah aku! “49 Yesus berhenti dan berkata,” Panggil dia! “Lalu mereka menyerukan kepada orang buta itu,” Bersoraklah! Di kakimu! Dia memanggil kamu. “50 Melemparkan jubahnya ke samping, ia melompat berdiri dan datang kepada Yesus.51” Apa yang kamu kehendaki saya lakukan untuk kamu? “Tanya Yesus kepadanya. Orang buta itu berkata, “Rabi, saya ingin melihat.” 52 “Pergi,” kata Yesus, “imanmu telah menyembuhkan kamu.” Segera dia melihat dan mengikuti Yesus di jalan. Adakah anda melihat bagaimana bersungguh-sungguh orang buta dalam mencari Yesus ketika dia menjerit kepada Yesus untuk belas kasihan dan dia ditegur oleh banyak orang untuk diam? Tetapi dia menjerit lagi. Kemudian Yesus berhenti dan memanggilnya, dan dengan segera ia mendengar apa yang orang buta itu inginkan, Yesus berkata, “Imanmu telah menyembuhkan kamu”, segera dia melihat! Apa kesepakatan di sini? Adakah imannya menyembuhkannya lagi? Kisah yang sama, prinsip yang sama, Yesus melihat kesungguhan hatinya, dan dengan itu imannya, Yesus menyembuhkannya. Pertama, Yesus melihat imannya, dan kemudian Yesus menyembuhkannya. Pentakosta selalu menggunakan ayat-ayat ini untuk menyimpulkan, itu adalah iman kita. Tetapi kepercayaan kita dalam dua konteks terakhir adalah benar-benar hati kesungguhan dan ketekunan, menentang segala kemungkinan. Itulah perjanjian itu. Saya akan membuat kesimpulan bahawa kita harus lebih lemah untuk berjalan di kasut Yesus, untuk mempelajari kerendahan hati untuk melayani dunia, tetapi terus mengembangkan hati kita merindukan Tuhan dan melepaskan iman seperti itu untuk melihat keajaiban dan orakel. Ini menangkap Tuhan WT dengan indah: Matt 12 “Inilah hamba-Ku yang telah Kupilih, yang saya cintai, yang saya gemari; Saya akan meletakkan Roh saya kepadanya, dan dia akan memberitakan keadilan kepada bangsa-bangsa. 19 Ia tidak akan bertengkar atau menangis; tiada siapa yang akan mendengar suaranya di jalanan. 20 Suatu bulatan yang lebam ia tidak akan pecah, dan sumbu yang membara dia tidak akan meniup, sehingga ia telah membawa keadilan melalui kemenangan. 21 Dengan nama-Nya bangsa-bangsa akan menaruh harapan mereka. “
Much has been touted in the value of being vulnerable in the reformed evangelical world especially in the West, following, for example, Jesus being vulnerable before the cross and on the cross, on his way to achieve the biggest and most significant victory in the entire humanity history. That’s a divine act that changed the entire destiny of the world for good. Powerful!
The character of Yahweh in the Old testament (OT) is seen as the awesome fearsome God who divided the Red Sea and drowned thousands of Egyptian army, killed all the first born of Egypt, brought 3 million Jews to walk through the Red Sea in the most powerful Exodus in history, opened the land to swallow alive all the decedents, family of that rebel who rebelled against Moses in Exodus, thundered at Mt Sinai & caused smoke to rise that all Jewish people feared God so much, and asked Moses to speak to them instead of God. On & on….
And the character of Jesus in the Gospels, New testament (NT), has shown might and power in a very different way, seemed to be a controlled way. He cast out demons with a sentence numerous times, opened the eyes of the blind by a word or a touch, cleansed the leprous by a word, raised the dead a few times by commanding the dead to rise, walked on waters twice, fed 5,000 men with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, Jesus was just incredible, and definitely beyond human, and we call him as divine human, God-Man. But what strikes us all, is the humility that he was born in, a manger, he commanded no army, he went to Jerusalem on a donkey on the last days of his earthly life, lived a humble life as a carpenter till 33 years old, then launched his ministry, by performing miracles, signs and winders and then his Kingdom of God teachings. Most striking is the whole saga of his arrest, he yielded to the Romans and the Pharisees, with quiet posture, completely yielded himself to do the will of the Father, to die for the world in order to redeem the world, or the elect.
What I want to capture here is how He, being the Son of God, didn’t fight back with mighty thunder and lightning, or with angels surrounded him. He could have called upon his Father and sent thousands of angels ready to annulate all the Roman soldiers and Pharisees put together in a minute. But he didn’t. He surrendered to be beaten so badly that he was marred, mocked, and spit at, and the cruelty done to him, it took him a lot of inner strength and divine conviction and love, I mean inner strength, to absorb, and not react. He was a truly phenomenal man. The inner strength shown by Jesus in his last days is simply breath taking. His love and commitment, as the bible says, he has set his face a like a flint towards Jerusalem and the cross. Nothing is going to change that.
It is that resolute inner strength and power that’s taken the world by storm. God appeared to be a completely different God in NT from the OT. How could the creator of the universe have stood there being flogged, spit at, punched, whipped, and finally crucified bleeding to death on the cross? How could God die? The answer is Jesus showed to the world he was willing to be vulnerable to be with the weak and the vulnerable. He had this complete identification with the broken people of this world, on his way, carrying the cross to the Golgotha where he was finally crucified. He showed such majestic strength and inner glory, that he told John, looking at Mary, “John, here is your mother.” He even took care of his loved ones, on his dying minutes. He rose above the occasion, and demolished the enemy, Satan’s temptation to crush the Romans, which would have meant the redemption of the mankind be blown away! But he absolutely kept his cool and endured for a joy before him. Hebrews 12: “ 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” That’s the real man.
Tim Keller has always preached on the counter culture, counter intuitive way of life of Jesus that we are to copy. Jesus overcame the strong with the weak. Jesus didn’t established the Kingdom of God on earth, by the powerful heavenly angelic angels, which He could have done, but by being weak and vulnerable to overcome the strong in the world. He won the world by dying on the cross, not on a chariot of horses. Jesus demonstrated the most beautiful grace of God to crush the evil powers of death and sin, and reconciled mankind/elect back to God. That’s how it works with Jesus.
So, a lot of reformed preachers, churches, talk about the vulnerability of modern man and woman, in the midst of brokenness, stress, anxiety, rat race lifestyle, to grow in the Lord. While the Pentecostals never talk about being vulnerable, but stressed the victory in Christ, claim this, and claim that! Speak into being the victories of Christ (this is not biblical). Nevertheless, there is a sharp contrast. As a matter of fact, the former way, the Reformed way, will come up on top, because that’s what Jesus did.
I have concluded in my mind, coming from a charismatic background myself, and now being immersed in the reformed world, I can tell you that being vulnerable is not part of the Pentecostal lingo. That would have been lack of faith. There is a real conundrum right here talking about faith. For charismatics, this came from what Jesus said to the woman with the bleeding problem, “woman, your faith has healed you”. Mark 5: 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” It is verses like this caused Pentecostals to think; it’s actually the woman’s faith that has healed her according to Jesus! Jesus surprisingly accredited totally to the woman’s faith that healed her. That actually spurred Pentecostals to preach on such as a doctrine, and hence the faith movement. But if you look at this case, it’s the woman’s tenacity and desperation to find Jesus, that brought her overcame hordes of men crowding around Jesus, and touched him, because she thought to herself, 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. The healing is immediate! Hallelujah! That’s incredible! In the context of this woman pressing in against all odds, as women do not mingle and definitely not touching men in those middle eastern culture at that time, she persevered and pushed in to touch Jesus. Her faith was strong, and Jesus saw that and acknowledged that. But really power comes from Jesus, not her faith, it’s only her faith in Jesus touched Jesus who then released his power to heal her. Faith alone won’t do the job, it’s the persistent faith against all odds, moved the heart of God. So this kind of verses fired up the Pentecostals to “claim” healing, which is, in my mind, unbiblical. You can’t claim healing, but you can ask God for healing. You don’t have it, and there is nothing for you to claim.
Mark 10: 46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.51“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” 52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
Did you see how earnest is the blind man in seeking out Jesus as he shouted out to Jesus for mercy and he was rebuked by many to be quiet? But he shouted all the more. Then Jesus stopped and called him, and as soon as he hears what the blind man wants, Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you”, immediately he saw! What’s the deal here? Is it his faith that healed him again? Same story, same principle, Jesus saw the earnestness of his heart, and hence his faith, Jesus healed him. Firstly Jesus saw his faith, and then Jesus healed him. Pentecostals have always used these kind of verses to conclude, it’s our faith. But our faith in the last two contexts is really the hearts earnestness and perseverance, going against all odds. That’s the deal.
I would conclude that we should be even vulnerable to walk in Jesus shoes, to learn the humility to minister to the world, but continue to develop our hearts longing for God and releasing such faith to see wonders and oracles.
This captures the NT God beautifully:
Matt 12 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. 19 He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. 20 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory. 21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”
Every one of us feels rebellions at times, and there are times we actually did it, and thereafter we regretted and repented. But there are those times, when some people went against God’s commands, and never repented of it, they would reap the consequences. The bible speaks clearly about reaping what you sowed.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
It says God is not mocked; you can’t get away from what you sowed. Everything points back to God. Isn’t it interesting that, when people have trouble, a lot of non-believers and Christians get mad with God, and many in the world indeed curse the name of Jesus! And when they have success, they barely thank God, but bottom line, it’s true that God is the center of gravity.
But most impactful on me that stirred me to write this article is from what Calvin wrote:
Nor would the obtuseness (slow in perception, intellect) of the whole Jewish nation today in awaiting the Messiah’s earthly kingdom be less monstrous, had the scriptures not foretold long before that they would receive this punishment for having rejected the gospel. –John Calvin 
Such sharp comment by Calvin on the state of the Jewish nation still waiting for their messiah even today. But it’s true that they would receive punishment for having rejected the gospel as in:
2 Corinthians 3:13-15 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts.
This is saying to this day, when the law of Moses is read to them, a veil lies over their hearts. In other words, they can’t see the Lord, as their hearts were hardened, and still are. Hardened heart is the hardest thing to crack, to help someone to come to know Christ. It’s not the intellectual head knowledge, but the heart condition. But why?
The words” punishment for rejected the gospel, or Jesus” of Calvin rings aloud. But is punishment part of God? Isn’t He a God of love and forgiveness? That’s true, but he is also a God of justice, and righteousness and holiness.
Calvin writes: For it so pleased God in righteous judgment to strike blind the minds of those who by refusing the offered light of heaven voluntarily brought darkness upon themselves. Therefore, they read Moses and continually ponder his writings, but they are hampered by a veil from seeing the light shining in his face. (2 Cor 3:13-15)
Did you see that God struck blind the minds of those who refused the light of heaven, and as a result, they brought voluntarily darkness upon themselves. My key point here is that God initiated a punishment, judgment, in response to their refusal and rejection of Christ as the Savior of the world. To say that God is long suffering, and patient, and kind, and forgiving, and hence take advantage of his patience, is not only wrong, but also dead dangerous. There will be prices to pay. There will be consequences. Just like this in the case of the Jewish nation, they paid the price, just like they shouted in Matt 27 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” It’s a horrendous thing to say, and to have said that to the Son of God himself!
And God swiftly responded as in 2 Cor 13: But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted…. As a result of that their hearts were hardened. Hardened hearts will never respond to God, until the mercy of God comes around.
Romans 11 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
You see that hardening is partial, until a certain number, and then all Israel will be saved. My thesis in this article is that, any rebellion against God’s Word will carry a price tag. There will be consequences. For the Jewish nation, it’s the partial hardening, with a veil over their hearts when Moses is read. By rejecting the Messiah, this is a consequence. It’s a deadly price to pay. More severe, and dark than anything you could imagine, to see literally generations gone without seeing the true Messiah and hence salvation.
Bring it back to today’s situation in America and round the world. Individually, if a Christian walks away from the Lord, there is a drastic horror awaits.
Hebrews 6 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
Someone who has been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, and tasted the goodness of God and the powers of the age to come, and fallen away, will be impossible for them to come back to Christ, as they crucified the Son of God once again and hold Christ up to contempt. Wow, a big warning. A warning that’s less preached in pulpit today, but it’s so important to teach it.
United Methodist churches split because of gay marriage. We have heard that before with the PCA & PCUSA (Presbyterian USA & America). I consider the issue of homosexuality, gay marriage is the most potent force to cause church split, historically, statistically, and there is no doubt. But what I am saying is that those who walk away from the scriptures will pay the price. There will be consequences on a massive scale. The Bible is clear on this:
1 Cor 6 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
There is no doubt consequences await those who walk away from God’s Word.
John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion p 449