"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." ~ 1 Peter 3:15-16

Moving Away

This blog will be shut down by the end of this year.  Please proceed to the new blog for your continued support. 

Christian Migrant

The Bread of Wickedness and the Wine of Violence

Proverbs 4
v14 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil.
v15 Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.
v16 For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.
v17 For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.
v18 But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
v19 The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.

Proverbs 4:17 is one of those verses that mention both bread and wine together, and specifically one that comes with a negative metaphorical tone.

Starting in verse 14, the sage who wrote Proverbs, warns us against entering the path of the wicked and walking in its way, which is evil. As walking comes natural after learning to walk and is part of our life, it warns us against carrying out and breathing wickedness and evil, as if it is in our nature as to walking. Even more so, it warns us not to consider entering or starting such path to begin with. Instead, as exhorted in verse 15, we are to avoid it like a plague, in as much as it is within our control to avoid it. And if we are confronted by it in our face, we are to turn our back against it. Pass on to other wicked and evil persons who would go on it, but we do not go on it ourselves.

In verse 16, the sage describes some characteristic of the wicked and evil ones. They have insomnia, unless they finished what they have set their heart on. This is much like chasing episodes after episodes of our favorite shows or writings, or like restlessness before we complete that mystery, puzzle or game level. In a positive sense, we call it perseverance. But in a negative sense, as is intended in this verse, we call it addiction. And they are not satisfied with committing the wrong themselves alone, but wish to afflict the wrongness on others, and even to influence others to join them in their path. More importantly, their insomnia is not something within their control to prevent. They thought it was their own doing but their sleep is robbed by the Destroyer, who seeks to destroy them by luring them further into the path of one who will be destroyed by God ultimately.

And in verse 17, the sage provides a metaphorical picture of them eating the bread of wickedness and drinking the wine of violence. Like bread that symbolizes food that provides strength for our life, they are sustained and draw strength from incarnating wickedness and manifesting violence, as they cheer and revel in their wayward way, while sipping and savoring the blood of their victims. In this perverse picture of us, the Spirit reveals the love of God and the Gospel of Righteousness. The Messiah bore the whole weight of our sins at the cross, and whenever we see the breaking of bread, we are reminded that His body was broken for our sins. In fact, He broke the sins that hold us captive. And as the perfect sacrificial Lamb without sin, Yeshua poured out His life and blood, as an innocent, for the forgiveness of sins under the New Covenant. Indeed, He suffered a violent death under the hand of His enemies. This is a beautiful painting of the redemptive act of God, who turns the bread of wickedness and wine of violence into the holy bread and wine in remembrance of the Lord's death, resurrection and coming again.

Lastly in verse 18 and 19, the sage contrasts the path and way of righteous against that of the wicked. The wicked are in total darkness and blindness. They are like the blind leading the blind, they do not where they are going or what have tripped them. And we were once like them, before we understand that the righteous shall live by faith. The faith of the righteous is not blind, although it involves things not seen but hoped for. Unlike the path of the wicked, the path of the righteous is progressive, starting with the transfer of citizenship from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. As migrants to the new nation of royal priests, we are continually being washed and sanctified day after day, enabling us to see, in the faith, more clearly as days go by. Christ is the source of our Light, and in Him there is no darkness. So shall one day, we will see as if under the brightest of day, soaking in the Light of Life Himself.

The next time we partake the holy bread and wine, remember the bread of wickedness and wine of violence, which Jesus overturned and redeemed with His saving act in history.

A New Commandment

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” ~ John 13:34

In Matt 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31 and Luke 10:27, Jesus summarized the Law and the Prophets into two commandments. First, we shall love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength. Second, we shall love our neighbour as ourselves. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. This is a concise summary of the Old Covenant and there is no novelty in the two commandments. In fact, the first commandment can be found in Deut 6:5, while the second commandment can be found in Lev 19:18. There is nothing new in them when Jesus endorsed an authoritative summary of them in the New Testament pages.

However during the Last Supper, right after Judas had left to carry out his hideous scheme, Jesus gave the disciplines a new commandment. He said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 13:34). But where exactly is the newness of this new commandment? Afterall, the Law and the Prophets have already provided that we should love our neighbour as ourselves. If we do compare these two statements carefully, we will notice the similarity and differences.

Old Covenant: Love our neighbour as ourselves
New Commandment: Love one another as Jesus has loved us

The similarity is love, for God is love (1 John 4:8, 16) and we being created in the image of God (Gen 1:26) are supposed to exhibit the love of God. However, the key difference lies in the reference point of love. Under the Old Covenant, we love others as ourselves. If we think about it deeper, the fact is that everyone loves themselves with different intensity and in different ways. If we love ourselves very much, it works fine to apply the same measure of love to others. But even then, we may not love them in the most appropriate manner as our love languages are different. And if we love ourselves very little, then we would also correspondingly love others little too. We could say that the loving of others under the Old Covenant is subjective, and is anchored to the self. This is also demonstrated in the Golden Rule (Matt 7:12): “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Nevertheless, with the introduction of the new commandment, we are to measure ourselves against Christ the Ruler. We are no longer the reference point, but Christ. So we love one another just as Jesus has loved us. The reference point is no longer multiple subjectives but one objective, as there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ. And so we cease to measure ourselves by one another and compare ourselves with one another (2 Cor 10:12). Instead, we look to Jesus to know what love is. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13). And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16). It is about having the same mindset as the Lord, in our relationships with one another (Phil 2:5).

Hence, this is the new commandment. It couldn’t be new before Christ came, suffered and died on the cross for us. But when He came, the Old Covenant found its fulfilment in Him. And He not just fulfilled but also raised the bar of the Old Covenant. The Parable of the Good Samaritan shows the higher bar when a question was posed on who exactly is our neighbour (Luke 10:29). Under the Old Covenant, most would be contended to love our neighbours and hate our enemies. But Christ said to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:43-44). Love enlarges our hearts and prompts us to go the extra miles.

With the new commandment serving as the foundation, of which the New Covenant is hang upon, outflows the rest of the New Testament teachings. Consider Eph 5:1-2, which we are exhorted to follow God’s example to walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Christian obedience then is always appealed on the basis of the love of Jesus for us, and not out of obligations or sense of duty which in that case would become legalism. And such appeal should rightly rouse our voluntary response towards Him, which we know this unfettered antiphony by the name of love. We keep His commandments because we love Him (John 14:15). And so we submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21), husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church (Eph 5:25-27), and wives submit to husbands as unto the Lord (Eph 5:22). It is all about Jesus, and loving Him. 

In summary, the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love (Gal 5:6). The object of faith is Christ, and we expressed our faith by loving Him and others. Let us then run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:1-2). And as we carry each other's burdens, we will fulfil the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).

The Ancient Adversary of Marriages

"And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'” - Genesis 2:16-17

In Genesis 3, the serpent asked Eve if God really said that "You must not eat from any tree in the garden"? Eve replied that they may eat from the trees in the garden, except the one in the middle which they must not touch as well. If we compare Eve's reply to the command given by God to Adam in Genesis 2, we will notice that there are some differences between what God said in Genesis 2:16-17 and what Eve said in Genesis 3:2-3.

God to Adam: "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die."
Eve to Serpent: "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must touch it, or you will die.'"

A careful reading reveals that there are additional information in Eve's reply, as compared to what God commanded Adam in Genesis 2. The additional information in Genesis 3:2-3 are (1), the fruit of the prohibited tree and other trees are mentioned, (2) the prohibited tree is in the middle of the garden, and (3) it is also prohibited to touch it. Hence, a reasonable question would be whether Eve has correctly represented God’s command regarding that tree.

The issue became even more complicated when we realised that God’s command to Adam regarding that tree, took place before God took Eve out of Adam’s ribs (Genesis 2:21-22). While it is possible that God may have repeated and expanded the command to Eve between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3 (unrecorded), it is more probable that Eve heard the command from Adam. This is because God did not indicate that He has commanded Eve regarding that tree (when he could) in Genesis 3:17 when God rebuked Adam for listening to his wife and disregard the command given to him. Further, if Eve was also given the command directly, it makes little sense why Eve was considered as deceived and not also guilty of disobedience like Adam. And if we will to take a strict reading of Genesis 2:16-17, it would appear that the additional information came from Adam/Eve rather than God.

The additional information tells us about the importance of fruits. While Adam and Eve fell because of eating the wrong fruit, we are called to bear the right fruit that is of the Spirit. And while we cannot be dogmatic about the physical location of the prohibited tree in the garden, it certainly was in the dead center of Eve’s mind, despite God’s abundant provisions. The additional precaution not to touch the prohibited tree also appeared to single out the harshness or pettiness of God’s command, coupled with the fact that Eve did not emphasize that they were absoultely free to eat of any other trees. Otherwise, the rule of no contact could be a self-imposed discipline that did not turn out well. It is also interesting to note that Eve addressed God as simply God (Elohim) following the serpent’s leading question, as opposed to addressing God as LORD God (Yahweh Elohim) as used in the narratives of Genesis 2 and 3.

More importantly, if the serpent aimed to plant doubts in Eve who received information of God's command from Adam, the serpent was effectively asking Eve to doubt whether Adam had withheld something good from her intentionally (ie Adam hide the truth from her etc) or unintentionally (ie Adam misunderstood what God said etc). And we can see how doubts along these lines of thinking (ie doubting our spouses' intentions, being critical of our spouses' abilities etc) is still active in today’s marriages, which often leads to disagreements and misunderstandings, and ultimately separations. In other words, the serpent reveled in causing distrust and mistrust within the first God given marriage and subsequent marriages.

Whether this theory is indeed true, the outcome is the same as Adam had started to blame Eve (Gen 3:12). The devil is all out to destroy marriages since the beginning. Therefore, we will need to guard our marriages against the enemies who will tempt us and sow discords in all ways possible (eg parenting issues, financial difficulties, in-laws problems, extra-marital relationships etc), so as to destroy sacred marriages and the future generation. However, we can only guard our marriages by first growing closer to God who will change us and give us wisdom to cultivate and protect our marriages. The threat is real and imminent. So be prepared to guard.

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” - Galatians 5:22

One of the characteristics applied to fruit of the Spirit is “patience”. The Oxford Dictionaries defines “patience” as the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious. I acknowledge that I am not a patience man by nature. Even in the flesh, there are different levels of patience a man can possess and I am not among the few who are endowed with an abundance of this gift. Exacerbated by my sinful nature, which knocks at the door and tries every opportunities to force its way through, my impatience or rather lack of patience actually turns me into a recovering patient capable of relapsing. But the fruit of the Spirit is patience.

The Greek word for “patience” in Galatians 5:22 is “ makrothumia”. It is also used in James 5:10, where the Scripture refers us to the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of patience (makrothumia) in the face of suffering. Hence, the use of “long-suffering” by the older translations in lieu of “patience” may not look as weird as it may first appear. While patience often appears in the context of suffering or tolerating something negative in the Scripture, what would patience look like in the absence of these negativities? James 5:7 seems to provide a positive portrayal of patience. In that verse, patience is painted as a farmer waiting for rains and the land to yield its crops in due time and finally the harvest. The emphasis is on waiting.

Patience is being able to wait, even though we do not know if the rain will come or if the land will yield its crops ultimately. Patience is also about resting. It is about not getting worked up or worried under any circumstances, when facing any nuisances, crying children, irritating weirdo or any mess we may find ourselves stuck in between. A lack of patience will likely lead to worry but more often than not, anger. This is because the cause of a lack of patience is due to pride or self-righteousness as Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 put it, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” So the self-righteous is a fool who lacks patience and gets angry easily. On the other hand, wisdom yields patience as written in Proverbs 19:11.

According to 1 Timothy 1:16, Jesus possesses the perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. It would have been unachievable, if we were left to our own devices to replicate that perfect patience. But today, the same Spirit of Patience who is with Jesus, also dwells in His believers. As long as we have the same Spirit as Jesus, the Spirit will train us into Holiness, Godliness and Christlikeness. We only need to pay attention to what the Spirit is speaking to us, and repent whenever He convicts us of our sins and weaknesses. And be thankful that God is first and foremost long-suffering towards the stubborn and stiff-necked, like ourselves. The fruit of the Spirit is patience.

Review: The Message of the Cross (by Jaerock Lee)

“The Message of the Cross is a powerful and touching message that has awakened countless souls around the world from their spiritual slumber and given them the taste of a true life in Christ! Creation or evolution? How was man created from the dust? Why did God place the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden? Why did He allow Adam and Eve to sin? Why is Jesus our only Savior? Why did the "God of love" have to prepare hell? In The Message of the Cross you will find spiritually satisfying answers to fundamentally important questions for all Christians who had never been given thorough and accurate explanations.” – Amazon


The Message of the Cross” is authored by Jaerock Lee, founding and senior pastor of the Manmin Central Church in South Korea. MCC is one of the largest churches in South Korea, and claims to have 120,000 members throughout the world in 9,000 member churches. The book has been published in many languages including English and Chinese. It is an easy read because of its verbatim style, which should take less than half a day to complete.

Based on the outline of the book, it attempts to refute evolution and introduce God, the origin of sin and Jesus who is the way to salvation. It aims to be a concise introduction or foundation to the christian faith for its readers. There are many good analogies and illustrations used in the book that are culturally relevant to the modern world, as you would hear in an engaging sermon.

However, Jaerock Lee is not without controversy in his homeland, South Korea. The last section of the book did briefly mention about his series of trials from accusation of heresy. Since doctrinal fault lines could be one of the most serious forms of fault lines given that beliefs systems are often deeply held, I can empathize with the experience that one has to go through for being labelled as a heretic. Regardless of the controversy, we should approach each book and the ideas in it, on their own merits objectively.

Random Thoughts

When reading the book, it provoked me to think deeper about the broad issues that came to mind as I read. And I have attempted to discuss a few key random thoughts arising from my reading below. However, the quality of the English translation is a concern, as I would have to re-read some parts of the book. Hence, I am not dogmatic over whether the choice of words represents the author’s understanding. If it is a matter of the quality of translation, the publisher should review it.

(1) Interpretation of the Word

On page 234, the book suggests that we should not interpret God’s Word literally, but spiritually by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I agree wholeheartedly that we should approach the Scripture under the illumination of the Holy Spirit. This does not necessarily mean that we have to pray every time before we read the Scripture. More importantly, we should trust the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth and reveal more of the Lord to us, not just in the Scripture but also in everyday living and things happening around us.

However, I think there is a common misunderstanding between a literal interpretation and a literal application. For example, when Jesus taught to gouge out the right eye and cut off the right hand in Matthew 5:29-30, He literally meant the right eye and not the left eye, right leg nor kidney. To be sure, He did not intend for us to apply it literally since a blind man could potentially still sin. Therefore, while we should interpret the Scripture under the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we should also interpret the Scripture literally besides spiritualizing the significance of some passages. An example of spiritualizing the Scripture would be typology, a Christological interpretative framework with an emphasis on the Lord and therefore minimize the risks of eisegesis.

Interestingly, on page 182, the book attempts to reconcile the apparent discrepancy between the Synoptic Gospels over the account of the two criminals crucified on the left and right sides of Jesus. In Matthew 27:44 and Mark 15:32, both criminals heaped insults on Jesus, but in Luke 23:40-43, one of the criminals rebuked the other and asked Jesus to remember him. The book suggests that it is more likely that the environment was rowdy and only people standing close enough to Jesus could hear the conversation. Since the criminal rebuked the other criminal, probably with a bad facial expression, those standing far away might have easily thought that the repenting criminal was rebuking Jesus in the middle. Hence, the apparent discrepancy.

Granted that this is indeed an interesting theory, it nevertheless has an inherent weakness to the approach of interpreting the Scripture. To be exact, the theory calls the accuracy and reliability of the Scripture into question, because if the biblical authors had wrongly documented an incident because of their perception, we would have absolutely no clue as to whether there are other such errors, especially for passages without parallel accounts. This boils down to our view of the Scripture and its inspiration. An alternative theory is that both criminals did heap insults on Jesus, but one changed his mind eventually.

(2) Trinity

On page 34, the book says that at some point, God divided into the Trinity. If the translation did justice and is faithful to the original meaning, this is certainly not a biblical understanding of Trinity because at no point did God divided Himself into Trinity but has always existed eternally as the Trinity. If this is indeed a harmless speculation, it should be qualified as such and should not be projected as the underlying reality. I say this because the understanding of Church is extended from the understanding of Trinity, but we shall reserve it for other times.

(3) Garden of Eden

On page 73-76, the book suggests that Adam had produced many children in the Garden of Eden before the Fall, in order to account for the many fossils that dated several hundred thousand years ago. This is in part because the book assumes that the history of human race is 6,000 years but only starting from the Fall. The book also says that men then could communicate with all living creatures including, beasts, birds, flowers and trees.

Reading that men could communicate with living creatures brought me smile at the start of this new year, as C. S. Lewis’s "Chronicle of Narnia" came to mind. However, I noted that the book goes a step further to include the flowers and trees, which brought J. R. R. Tolkien’s "The Lord of the Rings" to mind as well. Obviously, this is mere speculation as the Scripture is silent on whether other creatures had spoken in intelligible language.

While I appreciate the book’s intention to refute evolution and uphold the existence of God, and His Creation, I think the author may not have understood that the dating methods of fossils is itself questionable and may not be as old as what the evolutionists would like them to be. Therefore, there is no need to impose a gap between the Garden of Eden and the Fall, in order to accommodate the fossil claims by evolutionists. And if indeed there is a gap between the Garden of Eden and the Fall to account for the dates of the fossils, the logical conclusion would be that death existed before the Fall. However, this is clearly not biblical because death entered into the world not before but because of the Fall. Interested readers on the topic of creationism could further explore Creation Ministries International and Answers in Genesis.

With reference to Revelation 5, the book also suggests on page 104 that “the scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals” indicates a contract that had been made between God and the devil when Adam disobeyed God and became a sinner. While I can appreciate the spiritual warfare type of interpretation that is prevalent in charismatic churches, I am not entirely sold that the portrayal of God striking a deal with Satan in the form of a contract sits well with the Scripture. After all, a strong government does not negotiate with terrorists.

(4) Name of Jesus

On page 127-128, the book says that there is a great difference of power between “Jesus” and “Jesus Christ”. It is explained that ”Jesus” is the name before the cross and the devil is not afraid of this name as much as “Jesus Christ” which would imply the redeeming blood, resurrection from death and eternal life. It is before this name (ie “Jesus Christ”) that Satan trembles in fear.

I am pretty sure there will be difference in orthopraxy on the ground (eg exorcism) if we perceived the above to be true. However, “Jesus” or “Yeshua” which means salvation is the name, while “Christ” which means the Messiah is not the surname but used as a honorific title. So technically speaking, “Jesus Christ” is not the first and last name. In fact, in Philippians 2:10, every knee should bow at the name of “Jesus”. It is about understanding who Jesus is, the one from Nazareth and was crucified, died, resurrected and ascended, and is the one who is able to deliver us, that is more important. It is not important whether you refer to Him as “Jesus”, “Jesus Christ”, “Yeshua” and in what mother tongue. It is about understanding who He is and our faith in the Son of God that is more critical.

For more information on the name of Jesus, which was a common name during the New Testament time, you may like to explore “Call His Name Yeshua” by First Fruits of Zion

(5) Financial Blessings and Healings

Let me state categorically that I believe that God can choose to bless us financially or heal us physically on this side of earth. But I also believe that the same God can choose to withhold financial blessings and physical healings, so that greater glory can be accomplished through the path of suffering, cross bearing and dying to self. There can be abundant life and victory as we overcome in the midst of “suffering”. And even for those who are blessed financially or healed physically, they would still have to face physical death anyway and are unable to bring any earthly wealth along with them.

The book says, on page 141-142, that poverty is a curse manifested after the Fall. I agree that today’s poverty is a result of sins after the Fall, made worse by greed of people and the economic structures the people in poverty are in. The book goes on to say that because Jesus lived in poverty to redeem us from poverty, we can lead an abundant life. Depends on how one defines poverty, many of us would not fall under today’s definition of poverty, and are not in poverty by any standard. The matter at heart is whether we are contended with what we already have. There is nothing wrong to want to improve your living condition through financial gains to be reassuring, but the crux is not to chase after riches of the world but Christ instead. It is also a reasonable question whether Joseph’s family could be considered in poverty since carpentry appears to be a trade in demand at that time.

And on page 145-147, the book says that the Bible tells you that diseases come upon you because of your sins. Hence, if we discard our sins and do what is right is the sight of God, no disease will come upon us, because God protects us from them. As mentioned earlier, God is able to heal us physically or protect us from diseases, but He can also choose to allow it, according to His wisdom. In John 9:1-3, Jesus explained that it is not because of the sins of the man or his parents that he was born blind, but so that the works of God might be displayed in him. Hence, it is not necessary that diseases come upon us because of sins, though our sins can court diseases. The insistence that diseases is only because of sins, is one of the charismatic excesses. It can be subjected to abuses when healing does not take place after one is being prayed for.

If you are among those who believe or want to believe in supernatural miracles but are lost in the charismatic waves and practices, “Post Charismatic” by Rob McAlpine will probably interest you.

(6) Salvation and Works

Perhaps the biggest gripe I have regarding the book pertains to the relationship between faith and works. On page 214-215, the book says that if we read the Bible carefully, we will find that some people who claim to believe in God are not saved (referring to the parable of ten virgins). So even if people may claim to have faith, not everyone may be saved as indicated clearly in the Bible. Hence, we would then know the kind of life we have to live in order to be saved (my emphasis). It is phrases like this that makes me wonder whether the quality of translation is questionable.

The biblical and protestant understanding of salvation by faith does not throw out good works or fruit of Spirit, but insists that such works or fruits are the necessary result and evidence of faith. In short, you don’t do good works or bear fruits in order to be saved. Rather, you do good works and bear fruits because you are saved. To say that we have to live a certain kind of live in order to be saved, is mixing faith and works together as Catholicism does. While I can appreciate the exhortations to produce fruits and works, it is extremely important to distinguish between between faith and works and their relationship, because of its downstream impact in christian living. For example, can we say for certain whether our good deeds are motivated by love or self-interest?

Such mixing of faith and works can be further seen on page 228, where the book says that salvation can be lost. To illustrate, the Holy Spirit fades in the hearts of those who commit sins deliberately, and these people will lose their faith and do evil under the influence of the devil. Eventually, the Holy Spirit will completely disappear, and they cannot be saved because they cannot repent and their names will be erased from the Book of Life. Alternatively, if we view such persons through the lens of faith alone, one would have to question whether such persons were genuine believers to begin with.

A good place to start with, regarding the genuine and false conversion, would be Ray Comfort’s “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” and “True and False Conversion”.

Concluding Remarks

As mentioned earlier, “The Message of the Cross” by Jaerock Lee provided me a chance to reflect on the various topics regarding the christian faith, and it’s a good personal reflection for starting this new year. Since the book will probably be translated into many more languages in time to come, I hope the publisher will give more focus on the translation works.

This late review is based on the free copy graciously given by Joseph Park from the Manmin Central Church some years back, and I am ashamed to honour that commitment only now.

A copy of this blog post can be downloaded here.

He Rolled The Stone Away

When Jacob came to the land of the eastern peoples in Genesis 29:1-3, he saw a well with three flocks of sheep lying near it because the flocks were watered from that well. There was also a stone over the mouth of the well, and the stone was large. When all the flocks were gathered there, the shepherds would roll the stone away from the well’s mouth and water the sheep. Then they would return the stone to its place over the mouth of the well.

It is interesting to note that there were three flocks of sheep, especially if you recall what Jesus said in John 10:16, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” So who are the three flocks of sheep? In my view, one of the flocks is referring to the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) prior to the crucification of Jesus. These are people who were commended for their faith (Hebrews 11:39-40), but did not received what had been promised back then. If they are living today, we could probably addressed them as followers of the Way. The other two flocks would be the messianic Jews and messianic Gentiles, post-crucification. Together, they are actually one flock with one Shepherd, but separated by time and ethnicity.

Another interesting description to note is the watering of sheep from the well. This parallels John 4:5-13, where Jesus asked a Samaritan woman for a drink, offered her and offers us the spring of water welling up to eternal life. And if you haven’t noticed, it is by Jacob’s well that John 4 unfolds.

John 4:5-13
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jacob, a type of Messiah, when he saw Rachel and Laban’s sheep, he went over and rolled the stone away from the mouth of the well and watered his uncle’s sheep (Genesis 29:9-10). This is a striking foreshadow to the rolling away of stone to the tomb of Jesus. The only difference: Jacob rolled the stone away and had to put it back, but the stone to the tomb of Jesus was rolled away forever. Jesus doesn’t need to put it back into place, and the living water will continue welling up for eternity, for all who will believe (three flocks).

Matthew 28:1-2 - After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

Mark 16:2-4 - Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.

Luke 24:1-3 - On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

John 20:1 - Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

So even as you are busy making preparations for your parties and celebrations this Christmas season, have you received the spring of water welling up to eternal life? We all need water to survive and at some point in time, our thirst will be greater felt for different things at different stages of our lives. But while we may be thirsty for various things in life such as career, acceptance, romance etc, and indeed they may satisfy us for some time being, none of these things that we chase after will be able to satisfy us forever. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can truly satisfy you and offer you water that you will never thirst. He rolled the stone away forever, so that you could partake the living water. As you come to Jacob’s well today, do you desire this living water?

The Stone

In Genesis 28:10-22, Jacob saw in his dream, the majestic stairway to heaven, angels of God ascending and descending, and even the Lord Himself, during his travel to Haran. While reading “The Concealed Light” by Dr. Tsvi Sadan, a book about the names of the Messiah in Jewish sources, it brought to my attention regarding the stone mentioned in this passage.

It was mentioned in Genesis 28:11 that Jacob took of the stones [plural] of Bethel as pillows and lay down to sleep. And in Genesis 28:18, Jacob took the stone [singular] and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. It is interesting to note that before the dream, the reference to stones is plural. And after the dream, the reference to the stone is singular. If you check the various translations, you would notice that the literal and older translations tend to follow this trend, while the newer translations tend to harmonize Genesis 28:11.

One way of harmonizing, is to suggest that Jacob merely took one out of the many stones prior to his dream. But we would not know for certain whether this is indeed true. What we do know is that Genesis 28:11 referenced itself to stones [plural] even if Jacob took one out of many, while Genesis 28:18 referenced itself to stone [singular]. After reading a Jewish commentry in “The Concealed Light” regarding the stones and stone, the apparent inconsistency may not be so inconsistent after all, but telling a story instead. In my view, it is telling a story about Christ and His Church.

According to 1 Peter 2:5, believers are living stones being built into a spiritual house. Bethel in the context of Genesis 28 is about the presence of the Lord (Genesis 28:16), and more specifically the house of God (Genesis 28:17, 22). Do you think that the plurality of stones in Genesis 28:11 is a scribal error, or is it a subtle hint at believers (many living stones) being the Church (spiritual house of God)? And if indeed the Church is the spiritual house of God, the Church also has the keys (Matthew 16:19) to the gate of heaven (Genesis 28:17) as seen in Jacob’s dream.

In this light, the stone in Genesis 28:18 emphasizes that there is only one Church, which is the Body of Christ. There is only one Church or Body, regardless of the numbers of living stones (believers). The Stone is also Christ Himself, being the chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), the living Stone (1 Peter 2:4) and stumbling Rock (1 Peter 2:8). And as allude to in Genesis 28:18, He is also the pillar of the Church, or the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). Not forgetting the anointing oil (Genesis 28:18), the oil symbolises the empowering Spirit who consecrates and sets the Church apart for Christ (Genesis 28:22).

While Jacob, a type of the Messiah, had stones to laid down his head, Jesus explicitly expressed that the Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58). It is an inviting statement for you to be part of the spiritual house of God, a place for the Lord’s Headship to rest upon. As the Lord speaks into your life and opens your eyes to see the stairway to heaven, will the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, be your God today and forevermore?

Biblical Evolution: From Fish to Sheep

Breaking News – Richard Dawkins was right when he said that your very distant grandfather was a fish.

According to the Scripture, human beings are fish in the sea (Hab 1:14). They are a clueless, ignorant and messy school of fish. And the Wicked Foe pulls all of them up with hooks and catches them with net (Hab 1:15). The New Testament concurs that human beings are fish because Jesus sent out the disciples to fish for people (Mark 1:17, Matt 4:19). There was even a description of the Kingdom of Heaven to be like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish (Matt 13:47). The fish are of many kinds in terms of size, shape, colors and flavours, like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea (Ezek 47:10). So it was right to say that our forefather were fish.

And here lies the greatest secret of the Scripture, the fish had evolved biblically to become sheep! You have to appreciate the scientific fact that it is hard to find an example of evolution from kind to kind. Based on the pro-evolution Scripture, Jesus is the great Shepherd (Heb 13:20) and believers are sheep who listen to His voice (John 10:27). Once we were fish lost in the massive sea, but now we are transformed into fluffy sheep and have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Pet 2:25). This is truly divine evolution, from fish to sheep. The greatest show on earth. Bah.. baa.. meh…

Review: Amal (Movie)

“Sometimes the poorest of men are the richest.”

AMAL is an excellent movie filmed in New Delhi, provoking thoughts on wealth, greed and contentment. The lead character was an auto-rickshaw driver whose name was Amal Kumar. Amal was a satisfied and honest fellow who went by the metre rates, despite his poor family background. At one point in the movie, Amal sold his rickshaw to a local gangster, in order to pay for the operations of a beggar girl who was knocked down by car. The girl died on the operating table, despite Amal’s care and concerns.

The movie began to flow when a disguised rich man boarded Amal’s auto-rickshaw one day. The rich man took noticed of Amal’s good character during the ride and was surprised that Amal would reject the insignificant fare change as tips. The rich man was impressed with Amal and subsequently willed his estate to Amal, on the condition that Amal be found within one month. Otherwise, the estate would be distributed to the rich man’s two sons who were good-for-nothing. As the story developed, one of the sons murdered the rich man’s business partner when the business partner decided to withdraw from their earlier agreement not to locate and identify Amal as the preferred successor to the rich man’s estate. The movie progressed between the struggle of the rich man’s two sons, business partner and lawyer, and the love story of Amal and Pooja who did not spared her dowry to help Amal fixed an abandoned auto-rickshaw so he could continue his trade.

Towards the end of the movie, the lawyer managed to find Amal and passed him the rich man’s letter to read. However, the lawyer was distracted by a phone call regarding the death of the business partner, and did not notice Amal’s leaving. Amal’s mind was pre-occupied with his date with Pooja, which was about to start soon. When returning to his auto-rickshaw, Amal gave that letter to a homeless girl on the street when she asked for some paper to draw on. The homeless girl noticed the writing on the paper and thought it might be an important document. And then it was revealed that Amal could not read and would not have known what he had missed. The movie ended with Amal and Pooja both smiling in the auto-rickshaw, and the rich man wondering what the man who did not want the meagre tip would do with three billions.

The biggest strength of this movie, lies in the superb performance of the cast and especially Amal. Given the script, the lead character tend to appear as idealistic and unreal, and it will be difficult to portray the lead character as convincing as possible. But Amal was simply natural and reflective of the image demanded by the script. Amal’s acting make it believable, that such a person could exist! And this actually allows the viewer to ponder more deeply on the issue of wealth and a person’s contentment. Twists of events at key points of the movie, also made the movie unpredictable and more enjoyable. The movie is suited for family viewing as there is no sexual scene or extreme violence in the movie (even the murder scene was filmed indirectly and without blood).

As I watched Amal’s misfortune, most of which he willingly burdened upon himself, I confess that I took pleasure dreaming on what I would do if I inherited the three billions. But I am also reminded of the Beatitudes (Matt 5:1-12). Is it possible for a person like Amal, to have such great humility to the extent that insults from client were not taken to heart, and still provide excellent customer service from the heart? Is it possible for a person to accept a reduction in agreed fair fare and then to reject a small tip? Is it possible for a person to care for a stranger to such an extent that huge debts were shouldered and mortgaged with the trade tool depended on for a living, in order to cover for the stranger’s expenses? Is it possible that such a person exists altogether? It is beyond a reasonable person, but perhaps, maybe, a Christ follower should be like this down the Indian road? I am reminded of the book, “The Christ of the Indian Road” by E. Stanley Jones.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Overall, AMAL is among my top must-recommend favourites.