The Mighty Thunderous God in OT Vs the Vulnerable God in NT on the cross

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: “ 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, 2For 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.”

Man’s Perfect Soulmate

When God created everything he said it’s good.

Gen 1: 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

But when it comes to Adam, he said he couldn’t find any creation that will fit Adam. And God actually for the first time said it’s not good. Gen 2: 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Couple things here, the call to pronounce its not good for man to be alone came from God, not man’s idea, but God the creator’s idea. It came from God. Then the solution to that loneliness of Adam, also came from God, for God says I will make him a helper fit for him. That’s huge, as it all points to a sovereign God, nothing of the man’s plan, will etc. All by God.

And God had to create another being that will fit Adam to be his helper. You see God used the word “fit” in Genesis 2, and that’s very significant. Nothing else fits under heaven of all the creations he created. Remember God created everything by simply speaking them into being. But for Adam, the first human, God breathed his breath into a pile of dust and God created the first man in his image. Gen 2: 7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. No other creation of God received the breathe of God, except Adam, and that’s very special as the breathe of God is the Spirit of God.

Another thing is how He created Adam. That’s another significant point here and it’s the words “in our likeness”. Nothing else was created in Gods image except Adam! Special! In someone’s image, it means he looks like God and have Gods special spiritual being. 27 Or So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Now God then put Adam to sleep and while he’s asleep, God took a rib out of him and created Eve out of Adams bone. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

            Gen 2:  21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping,     he took one of the man’s ribsand then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made       a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

It’s very significant that the first woman was created from the first man. Eve was not created from dust and God’s breathe like Adam, but rather she’s created from a rib of Adam. This is huge. And in Ephesians Paul mentioned that it was Adam who was created first.

So God created Eve, and God brought her personally to Adam to be his helper. It’s like the father bringing his daughter down the aisle and handed her over to the groom. It actually appears to be the case in parallel. I believe that’s how modern or wedding for centuries are conducted with the bride’s father bringing the bride to the groom. And when God brought Eve to Adam, he uttered the first poem of humanity saying, “ Finally this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. “ Do you hear the words “finally”? Adam is saying I have been waiting and looking around and there is no one that fits. Well at that time looking around everything that moves are animals in garden of Eden. Lol. And he was pumped to see a creation that looks like him but different in sexuality, and it was God who brought her to him! So I believe it’s best to wait upon God to bring the right man to the woman, and also for God to bring the man to the right woman. I know this is rather spiritual but there is a lot of truth in it and I can testify to that how I found my wife.

Lets just expound the word “helper” here for a minute. Helper here doesn’t mean someone just helping the man to achieve something when he could have done it himself, so it’s really helping him out in terms of time etc. But no, Tim Keller expounded this word as per the original Hebrew word as someone helping the man doing something he wouldn’t have been able to do by himself. It’s something that they combined their complementarianism, achieved the impossible. I deeply believe that, basing on my own marriage, there is no way, I could have done or achieved some of the things I have done. Marriage is an enrichment and helping the man out in that sense. There is something that only a wife can bring out in the marriage walk of the man & woman.

Finally, my thesis is no man can be complete without his Eve, except some exceptions like those who are celibate for God and by God, like apostle Paul. But apart from that the fullness of a man is when he is brought a woman to be his helper or soul mate. Man can only be full when he meets a woman of soulmate. That’s why same sex union is just impossible in God’s design and will. No one can change God’s creation design and will. Let God be God.

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.


Gospel being challenged in 21 Century

This is my reflections from the book “A Continuing Church” by Dr. Sean Lucas, my History Professor in Reformed Theological Seminary, NYC). PCA, a conservative Bible believing section of the original PCUS, was split from PCUS in 1973 after a turbulent sad and mastering display of the progressive minds and theologians over 50 years. In that 50 years plus, it is heartbreaking, as an orthodox conservative believer evangelical myself, to read the evolution and the progress of the liberal progressive movement in PCUS. It is hard to read and the indecision of certain leaders like Nelson Bell who strongly led in advocating and fighting for conservative teaching in PCUS, suddenly pulled out of conservative movement, clearly displays a hypocrisy and coward-ness unheard of for decades. It is due to leaders like these, who turned from hero to traitor, church must stand ready to disavow any supposedly godly conservative church leader who may flip on God in the last minute, and our constant source and only source of strength and hope must be in God and God alone as Calvin has taught in his Institutes.

The story of Presbyterian Church breakup from 1920-1973 is an eye opener and warning and lesson to modern day evangelical Christians today. The first thing that drives the whole narrative and really stands up is the power of progressive thinkers, scholars, in the church. The whole liberal teachings in PCUS started from a professor in the seminary and a few pastors that also echoed the same liking for such teaching, which I would call apostasy. The troubling thing is that it’s always a mixed bag, and it’s not an outright bad apple so to speak, but it’s all mixed with some supposedly good but some eternally bad and stinking doctrines. The whole debate goes to bring the doctrine of “social gospel” to the forefront, overshadowing the gospel of salvation in Christ atoning act on the cross. You see, to a lot of people, inside and outside the church, this may sound rather appealing, because it is about helping the poor, and bringing about the social justice that’s part of the very heart of God. But what they got wrong is the order. Augustine calls it a disordered love, for example. I call this doctrine of the progressive as the “disordered doctrine”. Nothing wrong for social gospel indeed we need that. But what’s wrong with that is it is elevated above the gospel of redemption, which is the most important, and core message of the incarnation of the Son of God into the world. It must be the redemption first, and the outworking of that redemption off shooting into social justice, visit the prisons, helping the widows, and orphans as Christ himself has taught too.

This progressive teaching of PCUS in 1920 has eerie resemblance of what the liberal progressive churches in America are teaching today. They affirm and emphasize more on social gospel over and above the redemption story of Christ. Now what’s more apostasy is the PCUS progressive professors, pastors, synods, presbytery also went to deny the virgin birth of Christ! That on its own should be dispelled and excommunicated from church as instructed by our dear beloved apostle Paul in Gal 1:  “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel……As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” PCUS professors and pastors were clearly teaching and writing deviant teaching from the original gospel in the Bible, and strictly, they should have been brought under discipline and if continuing despite rebuke, should be ex-communicated. Although the PCUS conservative leadership did not expel the liberals, they in actual fact did not have the power to do so; in fact they were simply overwhelmed. It should be noted at the speed of the spreading of the liberal theology within PCUS within a few years from 1920, and that’s frightening how fast false teaching can spread. And it’s no different from today’s. If our churches are not soaked in orthodox teaching rooted in the orthodoxy inerrant word of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we will face being wiped out in the future. Inerrancy of Scripture holds the key to everything in the story of PCUS. It is indeed the story for all of us evangelicals who love our Lord Jesus Christ. The troubling source of these entire progressive started with the seminary in PCUS, and the key to saturate the minds of the presbytery is through teaching, preaching and writing. In the case of PCUS, it was through the journals publication, and the seminaries, the liberal prof began to fill the minds of the presbyteries with the social gospel message that he was driving in seminaries too.

The heroic part of the story is the brave emergence of conservative leaders who had the conviction of the inerrancy of Scripture well grounded into them, rose up in unity to begin to fight the liberal progressives. They were the hero’s of the story. They went through many trials, disappointments year after year, being simply overwhelmed by the power and voice of the liberals. But they didn’t give up, even some of their own leaders called it quit when they were about to enter the Promised Land. It was through a lot of heart sharing and prayer; they formed their new church in 1973 in their First General Assembly.

Conclusion: What’s not really mentioned in the book, and I will add is the factor of spiritual warfare. I can attest to the most potent weapons of the devil against the church of Jesus Christ, is the wave of progressive liberal theology in denying the deity of Christ, and disputing the inerrancy of Scripture. These two alone can destroy any church in the future. I believe that’s the most powerful weapon of the forces of darkness today, and evangelicals today, must take note of that, and begin to rise as one man in Christ, and be like the what Jesus says, the Kingdom of God is advancing, and strong men shall take it by force. Not taking it by weeping, but rising with courage and conviction and the unction and anointing of the Holy Spirit to take this land.