God’s given us a book and we need to be competent readers

Wow that’s a major statement tonight from my prof in systematic theology II. May God help us to love reading, enjoy reading, be an avid reader. Novels, books, and any other doctrinal pastoral philosophical books alike. Reading is so important. God has graciously given us a book, we better be darn well equipped to grasp it, digest it, internalize it, communicate it to the world. Be a transformed man so as to communicate that good tidings to the world.

Reading is an active exercise, it’s a conversation with the text. Catch how the questions are raised? Develop the muscle of theology.

We need to be engaged and be active in reading books, interact with the books, and intellectually be renewed in our minds. Romans 12 talks about be transformed by the renewing of your minds. How can our minds be renewed without reading books? Best way of learning theology and absorbing it is through reading. Without much reading, preachers pretty much live a truncated spiritual life that runs the risk of shallowness in the walk with God.

One of the important things I got from my class tonight is actually the question I asked after hearing that systematic theology understanding can actually makes one’s view towards the scriptures to be mechanical and become academic and dry after a while. Frankly that’s the fear or excuse of most Pentecostals of not going to seminary or bible schools! But on the contrary, if we continue just to read the Bible without reading up theology about the Bible, we may be recycling the same pet doctrines on our Sunday sermons and our congregation simply feels dry and getting dried by the pastors preaching! So either way, it hurts right?

But no! We can do better. Scripture is not textbook. Scripture impacts and renew us. Textbook of theology is like a tool that sharpens and broadens our thinking and reflection on the scriptures! Without those helps, our reflections become dwindled to shallowness. Calvin says that theological books serves as lenses for you to better read the scriptures. Doctrines send us back to scriptures. With this understanding, we will not run dry neither shallow. We are on the way to be renewed in our mind by scriptures in reflection and meditation and be transformed!

Christ entered into heaven itself and appeared in the presence of God

Heb 9 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.


Jesus entered into heaven on our behalf

Christ entered into heaven on our behalf! No one ever done that. Jesus didn’t leave us some books to follow and and left us. He didn’t leave behind a bunch of spiritual orphans. He didn’t leave us with a book to follow only, he actually appeared before God to vindicate us. He’s got your back! Rejoice in the Lord, again rejoice!

As I was doing my reading in Hebrews this morning, I am struck with the words “Jesus entered heaven itself” and appear in the presence of God! How many times we get despondent thinking of our stress, circumstances, hardship, troubles and get bogged down, and some get depressed, anxious about life? Well, finally we have this advocate of ours, who happened also to be the Son of God himself, entered into heaven itself appeared before God on our behalf! There should just be no more anxieties, fears, sorrows, stress with Jesus, the God Man, as our best friend, our Lord, who fought for us all the way, and entered into heaven itself. Look, how many people have entered heaven?? No one. The priests in the world of early Judaism, old testament, merely entered the holy of holies once a year to atone for the sins of Israel and himself with fear and trembling. But Christ has appeared before God the Father boldly, courageously, on our behalf, and vindicated us by what he’s done on the cross, by dying on the cross, and thereafter being resurrected.

There is no better advocate than Christ himself. No one can appeal for us before God, plead for us to be accepted before God who is holy. No one. Only the God-man himself, who paid the price for us on the cross.

God prepared a body for Jesus

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” (Heb 10)

What a mighty demonstration of love and humility and submission that Jesus demonstrated. That’s why we have to be transformed more and more like Christ. Because God didn’t take pleasure in offerings but he is after our whole body, our life. It will take nothing less than a total touch of our humanity whole selves in our journey with Christ in our churches. It’s that simple, our time and energy and offerings will mean nothing if it doesn’t touch our emotion, our ambitions, our hopes and our love. It’s all in all.

We are sanctified by Jesus’ sacrifice of his body

8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Jesus does away with all the offerings and sacrifice, and he offered up instead, ultimately, his own body as the ultimate sacrifice. Remember, in the old testament, Jewish people offered up lambs, bulls, pigeons, etc as sin offerings to God, as passover, Pentecost offerings to God etc. Now, the time came, God’s Son himself became the ultimate sacrifice that finally redeemed us all once and for all.

The fact that Jesus entered into heaven, not the lower court, not the high court, not even the Supreme Court, something even higher, the ultimate court in heaven, should get our attention. First of all, no one can get there. No one can hope to get there. But Jesus got there and vindicated us. He could do that because Jesus is really from heaven, and not just anyone in heaven, he’s actually the one seated on the throne, on the right hand of God the Father. He is himself God the Son. He emptied himself though he was God himself to come into the world for redeeming mankind (Eph 2:7)

Is there any reason for you to despair or look for your own solutions in the life of troubles, stress of exams, school work, stress of city life, the temptations of this sensualized world? No, you want to look at Jesus the one who entered heaven himself. The highest court. The only man who has entered heaven and appeared before God. He’s God Man.

With that, we can rest assured, Jesus has our back. Jesus looks out for us. He is our great High Priest. Heb 4 14 “ Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Since Jesus ascended into heaven, let us hold firm to the faith we profess. We are not following some kind of wishful thinking, some moralistic god, but we follow a God who has ascended into heaven itself. So, lets hold firm. When the bible says let’s hold firm, it means it will be quite easy for us to lose grip of our faith if we don’t watch out. Let’s be intentional in the midst of dilutions by the liberal world, the sexualized world, the confusion from all sides, the tension and stress of life and jobs and schools.

That’s why Jesus is our shepherd

Psalm 23 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

A beautiful psalm to close and encourage and exhort us all. The Lord is my shepherd, my leader, my master, that’s why I lack nothing. Sometimes, it doesn’t look that way, but you must go deeper than the surface. Many seems to lack, but deep inside they are rich in the world. Many rich people seem rich outside, but they are doomed poor inside.

He makes me lie down….He leads me…He refreshes my soul….He guides me….He comforts me….

Jesus, my God, my advocate, my shepherd. Amen.

Why is our warfare against the devil?

1 Tim 4: 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,

Some will, in the end time, depart from the faith! Some will fall away from their faith in Christ, which means they will lose their salvation. How did that happen? Because they devoted themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. Now not many pulpits today will attribute the false teachings to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.

The Role of Satan

Here it is revealed that at the root of the Ephesian heresy lie Satan and his demons, leading people astray and teaching his own doctrines. The role of Satan has already been hinted at in 1 Tim 3:6-7, and it will appear again in 2 Tim 2:26 (cf. 1 Tim 1:20 for a discussion of Satan’s role).[1]

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2:26)

Paul talked about the opponents of the gospel, praying that they may trun, that they come to their senses, bible says, and escape from the snare of the devil. The words used are explicit, not compromising. So whats saying is that people who oppose the gospel are snared by the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. This is a strong saying, saying those who opposed the gospel are snared by the devil, meaning trapped by the devil and captured by him to do his will! This sounds almost like a Hollywood movie. How do modern men get captured by Satan to do his will? Actually if you look at pornography , isn’t it true that men that are captured by it became slaves to it? That’s it with Satan, he can manifest in porn, but in this article we talk about false gospel teachings. Paul didn’t say those who oppose the gospel, are just confused, careless or the like, but they are ensnared and captured by the devil to do his will! Not ensared by materialism, or cultural forces, but the devil himself! It’s like they have no choice but to advance the false gospel. WBC writes that the root of the heresy lie in Satan and his demons. Now, that’s even bigger. That nailed it. We are no more trying to elude it, Bible speaks it and calls it.

It is also revealed that the opponents are hypocrites whose minds have been branded by Satan. Ultimately they know that what they were doing and teaching is wrong, and yet they persist. They are not honestly mistaken, but in fact carry Satan’s brand of ownership on their consciences.[2]

“For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). This is another verse that talks about the direct intervention and works of powers of darkness.

διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, “teachings of demons,” has two interpretations: teachings taught by demons (subjective genitive) or teachings that are demonic in nature (attributive genitive). Both interpretations understand that Satan and his demons lie at the root of the heresy, although the former makes the connection more direct and almost personal.[3]

WBS talks about the teachings that are demonic in nature or taught by demons. Because Satan is seen as having an active role in Ephesus, the stronger statement is preferred: the active teachings of demons. Morbid and heresy. The devil himself disguised himself as an angel of light. In other words, it could be a church leader or pastor or theologian writing books, but the input comes from the disguised angel of light, the devil, himself.

The liberal gospel teaching

That’s actually precisely how many liberal preachers, teachers, writers preach and teach, and will never label them from deceitful spirits and teachings of demons! If we do that, it will be jaw dropping and horrifying! But are you going against the Bible teaching as in 1 Tim 4 by Paul then? That’s why in some ways we lost some zeal; some fire in our church, because we don’t want to over spiritualize things. Is there such a tendency? Shall I say it’s the reverse? The under-spiritualizing?? Indeed so. Paul pulls no punches. He labeled them as they are. We need to learn from Paul, his audacity, his boldness, and courage in his unflinching principled mindset and speaks his mind. Apparently God likes that or else it wouldn’t have been in the Bible, or the canon. We have diluted the authenticity and preciousness of the scriptures, bowing to pressures of the worldly forces, or indeed deceitful spirits, and demons teaching. Call them out. Offending people is better than offending God.

If that’s the case, what does that mean to our teachings? What shall be our attitude towards those liberal teachings that changed the word of God? They re-labeled the word. They denied the supernatural deeds of Christ in the gospel insisting to bow to the rationalistic worldview of reasoning simply because they can’t believe Jesus walked on water, Jesus opened the eyes of the blind etc. They cherry picked what they want especially the kindness of Jesus, the love of Jesus, the forgiveness of Jesus. They attempted a washed down Jesus. Not a God man but it’s a good religious man. Reducing Jesus to one of the gurus depleting of his divinity. God have mercy! They genderize even God, bring in and justify homosexuality when its absolutely clear it is an abomination. Will they call it out? Some may say Paul is not showing enough grace in 1 Tim 4 by calling the put that way. No, just like Jesus overturned the trading tables in the temple at the feast of Passover, which seemed to be not very graceful, that is precisely what a righteous holy God should do at moments like that. God has two sides, anger, loving, and vengeance, compassionate are all his attributes. No one can label God with one trait as loving and forgiving, that’s what the liberals want you to believe.

What we shall do is to take our stands. Now some may argue that then we may lose a lot of congregation, but we must balance it out with the compassion love shown by Jesus as well. I know it’s a skill, but to combine both of these, we need a lot of prayers, Spirit anointing. Imagine I preach that way from the pulpit in liberal New York city, people may be offended. But on the other hands, people may be encouraged by such boldness and calling it out so clearly and follow the Bible strictly. No monkeying around it.

What that means is that this will revolutionize prayers. People won’t preach meekly and tenderly at all times. We need to be angry, and raise our voice and call them out in a spiritual battle to challenge these deceitful spirits and demons. As said before, many will never call it that way, but we will call it, a worldview challenge to the worldly culture. We call it culture. Paul called it spirits and demons.

Secondly, its through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared. Where do they come from? Those deceiving teachings doesn’t come from spirits and demons and manifest it, but they were manifested though human vessels, and Paul, once again, in his boldness, call them as liars. Insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared. That’s a strong word. What kind of people are they? Their conscience are seared means? They are numbed. They can’t feel guilt any more even when they lie, deceive. Because their conscience can’t feel anymore. Its been seared. That’s why its so hard to debate, argue with those liberals theologian, because they seek to be die hard liberalized, twisting, and diluting the word of God,l. That’s actually the most dangerous deeds, because they come from inside the church, and not only that, they are having some theological background to be able to write and produce books that influence a whole generation or more.

Can we avoid them? No. They are here, and here to stay, as Paul said in verse 1. What we can do, is call them out, pray against them, and teach our folks and inoculate them and preempt their strikes. And preach, teach, and produce books to debunk their myths, deception.

What shall we do

To conclude here, my basic thesis is that based on 1 Tim 4 :1 , Christians fall away from their faith due to spirits of deception and demons. Vast difference from reformed preaching in general, especially in urban cities. That’s a big claim and we are taking about people losing their faith and going to hell. Yes I agree that it’s not just spiritual darkness but human interactions, culture, in this post modern world. What I am arguing is that spirit deception and demons is the root, the human dimension is the recipient. The driver is spirit of deception or darkness, and demons. What I am proposing is first to change our view towards oppositions and calling it as spiritual warfare and not just going to the human psychology and brokenness. We need both, but spiritual is our real target through acknowledging in corporate prayers, preaching, exhortation ….effectively combining Pentecostal with reformed.


[1] Word Biblical Commentary  WBC 62 Vol 1 Tim 4

[2] Word Biblical Commentary  WBC 62 Vol 1 Tim 4

[3] Word Biblical Commentary  WBC 62 Vol 1 Tim 4

Are we under spiritualizing spiritual warfare?

1 Tim 4: 1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,

Many will depart from the faith! Many will fall away from their faith in Christ, which means they will lose their salvation. How did that happen? Because they devoted themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. Now not many pulpits today will attribute the false teachings deceitful spirits and teachings of demons. That’s actually precisely how many liberal preachers, teachers, writers preach and teach, and will never label them from deceitful spirits and teachings of demons! If we do that, it will be jaw dropping and horrifying! But are you going against the Bible teaching as in 1 Tim 4 by Paul then? That’s why in some ways we lost some zeal; some fire in our church, because we don’t want to over spiritualize things. Is there such a tendency? Shall I say it’s the reverse? The under-spiritualizing?? Indeed so. Paul pulls no punches. He labeled them as they are. We need to learn from Paul, his audacity, his boldness, and courage in his unflinching principled mindset and speaks his mind. Apparently God likes that or else it wouldn’t have been in the Bible, or the canon. We have diluted the authenticity and preciousness of the scriptures, bowing to pressures of the worldly forces, or indeed deceitful spirits, and demons teaching. Call them out. Offending people is better than offending God.

If that’s the case, what does that mean to our teachings? What shall be our attitude towards those liberal teachings that changed the word of God? They re-labeled the word. They denied the supernatural deeds of Christ in the gospel insisting to bow to the rationalistic worldview of reasoning simply because they can’t believe Jesus walked on water, Jesus opened the eyes of the blind etc. They cherry picked what they want especially the kindness of Jesus, the love of Jesus, the forgiveness of Jesus. They attempted a washed down Jesus. Not a God man but it’s a good religious man. Reducing Jesus to one of the gurus depleting of his divinity. God have mercy! They genderize even God, bring in and justify homosexuality when its absolutely clear it is an abomination. Will they call it out? Some may say Paul is not showing enough grace in 1 Tim 4 by calling the put that way. No, just like Jesus overturned the trading tables in the temple at the feast of Passover, which seemed to be not very graceful, that is precisely what a righteous holy God should do at moments like that. God has two sides, anger, loving, and vengeance, compassionate are all his attributes. No one can label God with one trait as loving and forgiving, that’s what the liberals want you to believe.

What we shall do is to take our stands. Now some may argue that then we may lose a lot of congregation, but we must balance it out with the compassion love shown by Jesus as well. I know it’s a skill, but to combine both of these, we need a lot of prayers, Spirit anointing. Imagine I preach that way from the pulpit in liberal New York city, people may be offended. But on the other hands, people may be encouraged by such boldness and calling it out so clearly and follow the Bible strictly. No monkeying around it.

What that means is that this will revolutionize prayers. People won’t preach meekly and tenderly at all times. We need to be angry, and raise our voice and call them out in a spiritual battle to challenge these deceitful spirits and demons. As said before, many will never call it that way, but we will call it, a worldview challenge to the worldly culture. We call it culture. Paul called it spirits and demons.

Secondly, its through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,

Where do they come from? Those deceiving teachings doesn’t come from spirits and demons and manifest it, but they were manifested though human vessels, and Paul, once again, in his boldness, call them as liars. Insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared. That’s a strong word. What kind of people are they? Their conscience are seared means? They are numbed. They can’t feel guilt any more even when they lie, deceive. Because their conscience can’t feel anymore. Its been seared. That’s why its so hard to debate, argue with those liberals theologian, because they seek to be die hard liberalized, twisting, and diluting the word of God,l. That’s actually the most dangerous deeds, because they come from inside the church, and not only that, they are having some theological background to be able to write and produce books that influence a whole generation or more.

Can we avoid them? No. They are here, and here to stay, as Paul said in verse 1. What we can do, is call them out, pray against them, and teach our folks and inoculate them and preempt their strikes. And preach, teach, and produce books to debunk their myths, deception.

To conclude here, my basic thesis is that based on 1 Tim 4 :1 , Christians fall away from their faith due to spirits of deception and demons. Vast difference from reformed preaching in general, especially in urban cities. That’s a big claim and we are taking about people losing their faith and going to hell. Yes I agree that it’s not just spiritual darkness but human interactions, culture, in this post modern world. What I am arguing is that spirit deception and demons is the root, the human dimension is the recipient. The driver is spirit of deception or darkness, and demons. What I am proposing is first to change our view towards oppositions and calling it as spiritual warfare and not just going to the human psychology and brokenness. We need both, but spiritual is our real target through acknowledging in corporate prayers, preaching, exhortation ….effectively combining Pentecostal with reformed.

The earth and humans groan because of our sins and how to get out?

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!

Why Jesus must incarnate die to be glorified to preeminence over all creatures?

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 [1]. 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.


[1] Michael Allen & Scott Swain   Christian Dogmatics p 123

Knowledge is not Wisdom, but without Knowledge, you can’t have wisdom

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 1:5let 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)”[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.


[1] Tim Keller, Devotional Wisdom on Proverbs