Category Archives: Relationship

Testing God or Mocking God (6min)

 

Introduction

 

God’s will is shrouded in a mist of unknowingness for believers and randomness for non-believers. The believer’s favorite verse to reinforce this perspective is, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” taken from Isa55:8. That was true in the Old Covenant because man does not have the Holy Spirit indwelling with their spirit in the body that is the  (temporary) temple of God (1Co6:19). It is temporary because the true temple of God is the body of Christ (John2:19).

 

Holy Spirit In-dwelling Man

 

The indwelling of the Holy Spirit holds a significant advantage over those that lived under the Old Testament. It gives believers in Christ access to the mind of God (1Co2:11-12).

This post reflects on how the man in the new covenant engages with God’s will and God’s means to support this engagement.

 

 

God’s Will – Rules of Engagement

 

Transformed by the Renewal of the Mind

 

Rom12:2- “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (metamorphoō) by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Rom12:2 offers guidance to the new covenant believer on how to engage with God’s will. This engagement is about testing God’s will for its veracity, confirmation, and clarity. The means to perform this test is with a transformed mind as opposed to a carnal mind.

 

The evidence of a transformed mind is a spirit-led life (Rom12:1 offers this context) that honors the physical body as holy. There is still the question, how to develop a transformed mind? 2Co3:18 offers a clue because the same word transformed (metamorphoō) is used in this verse.

2Co3:18- “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (metamorphoō)  into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

God Tearing the Veil Separating Man and God

 

Two events underpin the mind transformation.

  1. The first event is God’s prerogative. God has already accomplished this, where the face is already unveiled (katoptrizō). This veil is the barrier of the Law of the Old Covenant that separates man and God due to sin. God had removed this veil by the physical tearing of the veil between the holy place and holy of holies (Mat27:51) when Jesus paid the price for sin on the cross.

It is noteworthy that the Greek word “unveiled” is a participle verb in the perfect passive tense, which means the unveiling has been accomplished in the past and still ongoing with its effects felt in the present. God is the initiator of this unveiling experience where the man takes the passive role.

This event describes the spiritual justification apart from works (Jesus’ death fulfilled the original unveiling, Eph2:8-9) and sanctification by the Spirit of God (where the Spirit of God continues to unveil the face) when beholding as in the mirror, which brings us to the 2nd event.

  1. The second event is man’s prerogative experienced in the present. This event involves an active decision to behold Christ’s glory. Beholding (katoptrizō) is used only once in the bible in this verse. This Greek word is a participle verb with the present tense with a middle voice. This beholding is ongoing in the present with the man as the agent of this action of beholding. This event appears to describe the soul sanctification experience.

From above, one can conclude that beholding Christ’s glory is the key to the mind transformation that equips one to test God’s will. Next, it is needful to expand the understanding of the glory that this beholding is focusing on.

 

 

What is this glory that is scripture referring to here? The glory of Christ is the suffering of Christ. Jesus referred to His crucifixion ordeal as glory (John12:23). Beholding Christ’s glory can be done in prayer, expressing gratitude/thanksgiving from the depths of an undeserving soul saved by Jesus suffering and death on the cross. This remembrance becomes significant, especially when partaking the Holy Communion elements and talking about the sufferings of Christ, for such experiences are re-enacting the sufferings of Christ.

The unfortunate fact is that many Christians fall prey to their flesh and test God with a carnal mind. God’s response – I AM NOT MOCKED (Gal6:7-8). John defines the carnal mind as the lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and life pride in 1John2:16. This carnality’s most common experience is living and hanging on to this life on earth as if there no God to account for, and there is no afterlife. A transformed mind that test’s God’s will not settle for such outcomes.

In-summary, testing God’s will prerequisites a transformed mind that knows Christ has reconciled man with God and continuously nurtures the mind with the knowledge of Christ’s suffering love for man’s salvation.

 

Once Saved Always Saved: Proof

Introduction

 

This post is an extension of an earlier post titled “Faith and Work in Harmony” that explored the controversy of Jam2:17, where James indicted the believers that lacked works as having faith that is dead. See the following link for this post-.

Faith and Work in Harmony (4min read)

 

The purpose of this reflection is to offer evidence to support the claim, “Once Saved Always Saved.”

 

Once Saved Always Saved

 

Three approaches are adopted to support this claim.

The first approach enhances the clarity between works mentioned in Jam2:17 and the works that lead to soul salvation in 1Pet.

The second approach explores the implications of 1Co5 concerning the Corinthian believer, who is foolishly brave to commit adultery with his stepmother openly.

The third and final approach is to examine Col2:13 and John10:27-29, which offer direct scriptural evidence to support the claim, “Once Saved Always Saved.”

 

Apostle Peter with a key before St. Peter’s Cathedral, Vatican

 

First Approach – The Connection between 1Pet and Jam2:17

 

A more explicit connection between these two verses provides a better foundation to support the conclusion that Jam2:17 was speaking of the faith that saves the soul and does not relate to the salvation of the born again spirit.

1Pet9 states, “obtaining as the outcome (telos – final destination, purpose, goal) of your faith the salvation of your souls.” This faith spoken of here is the means to produce the goal, which is soul salvation.

This faith is the loving faith in the unseen Christ (1Pet1:8) and the living hope of the resurrection (1Pet1:3-5). In the context of 1Pet1, this faith was tested in fiery trials (1Pet1:7) of persecution to validate their faith genuineness as to whether their faith is sufficiently genuine to produce soul salvation, which has nothing to do with spiritual salvation.

Later in 1Pet1:22, Peter reveals this faith’s manifestation that purifies (saves) the soul taking the form of sincere brotherly affection-love with a pure heart. 1Pet2:1 defines this sincerity in negative examples of “laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.”

It is notable that the word “sincere (anypokritos)” is used 6 times in the New Testament and was ascribed to faith (2 times), love (3 times), and good fruit (1 time). See link- https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G505&t=NASB.

 

The rest of 1Pet has a repeated theme that supports the scope of this sincere love. This theme shows believers committing their souls to the will of God the Father (1Pet4:19), enduring temporal suffering (1Pet1:6, 1Pet5:10), as they pour out their lives in sincere love for righteousness sake (1Pet4:14). By doing so, they partake (1Pet4:13) in Christ’s suffering where His suffering is set as an example (2Pet2:21) for believers to emulate in action (1Pet4:2) and attitude (1Pet4:1).

When one can appreciate the arduous journey to produce soul salvation, it makes sense when 1Pet18 says,” If the righteous one is scarcely saved” (NKJV). This “saving” refers to the soul salvation and not the salvation of the born again spirit. Soul salvation is difficult!

For the born again spirit is perfectly saved by God’s the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (John3:6 and John3:16). The only part played by a man is to believe by confessing (Rom10:9) Christ’s saving work apart from works (Eph2:8-9). The spiritual salvation is secure apart from the man’s works!

1Peter’s works that save the soul and Jam2:17 works share the common elements of suffering and submission to God’s will.

The two examples of works mentioned by James 2 is about Abraham and Rahab. Abraham suffered the loss of Isaac when he offered Isaac to God. However, Abraham submitted to God’s power to resurrect Isaac from the dead (Heb11:19). Rahab suffered the threat of execution for betraying Jericho when she sheltered the two Israelite spies and submitted to God’s manifested power (Joshua 2:9-11).

It stands to reason to assert at this point with greater confidence that the walk of sincere love that suffers while doing good, as the believer’s work is to emulates Christ’s suffering, is the mentioned in Jam2:17.

 

Aerial drone photo of the iconic archaeological site of Ancient Corinth built in the slopes of Acrocorinth, Peloponnese, Greece

 

Second Approach – Believer in a Sinful Lifestyle

 

1Co5:1 is about a man who openly indulged in a sexual relationship with his stepmother. Paul’s solution to this thorny issue of 1Co5:5 – “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

It is notable for drawing attention.

  1. The scripture deems the spirit saved despite his brazen behavior to openly promote his sexually immoral relationship with his stepmother and threatening to corrupt the Corinthian Church with this sin(1Co5:6).
  2. The scripture is silent about soul salvation. Since good works (1Pet) and natural decay of the body (2Co4:16-18) produces soul salvation, such practice of sin against the body deserves the bodily death of 1Co3:17

1Co3:17- “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”, where the body is destroyed.

  1. Paul did not attempt to cast doubt concerning the believer’s salvation (born again spirit) status. Apostle Paul is faithful to his revelation that such judgment belongs to God (1Co4:4-5).

The above implications support the understanding that sin does not deprive the believer of their place in heaven.

 

Colossae ancient city in Denizli, Turkey

 

Third Approach- Col2:13 and John10:27-29

The Bible has three God personas, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The whole person also has three personas, the Spirit, Soul, and body (1The5:23)

It is an often committed error in the reading of scripture.

  1. The failure to identify the various God personas speaking or spoken.
  2. The failure to identify which part of the man that particular God persona is speaking to.

When the one reads the scripture bearing the above in mind above, scripture becomes relevant and alive. A careful examination of Col2:13 will reveal this benefit.

 

KJV

Col2:13- “And you, being (G5607) dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

The Greek Interlinear Bible clarifies that the tense of this being (G5607- ōn) is a present participle that indicates the ongoing action in the present.

The next step is to identify where the born again spirit, unsaved soul, decaying body, God the Father, and God the Son fit within the scripture.

 And you ( born again spirit), your soul being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh that is in your decaying body, hath he, God the Father, quickened the born again spirit together with him, Jesus, having forgiven you ( born again spirit) all trespasses;

Interpretation

The above holds the perspective of a believer’s walk after the spirit is born again. The born again spirit is immune to the unsaved soul that experiences death when it sins due to the sinful flesh.

God the Father confers immunity by the quickened (syzōopoieō- to make alive with Christ) of born again spirit. For the born again spirit HAS received forgiveness from sins once and for ALL. God has thereby immunized the born again spirit against harmful effects of the soul and body that sins—thus securing the “Once Saved Always Saved” salvation.

 

John10:27-29 truths echo and resonate with Col2:13. Jesus refers to believers as sheep that are given eternal life in John10:27-29. The sheep secure eternal life by the protection offered by His hands and the hands of His Father, who is greater than Him. The power of God secures the sheep’s salvation once and forever.

 

Conclusion

While I have attempted to offer systematic reasoning of evidence to support the belief of unshakable eternal salvation, there are always outlier scenarios that reside in the domain of God to determine the authenticity of the believer’s salvation status in the very first place.

Two outlier scenarios come to mind.

  1. The unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirt seems to the sword hanging over the believer’s secure salvation. (Mat12:31-32)
  2. The sins of apostasy.

Another post or posts is required to cover the unpardonable sin in detail. For this post, the fact that no other scriptures further warn of this sin suggests that this sin’s applicability does not extend beyond the specific circumstances required for the sin to be relevant. The circumstances were such that Jesus had to be physically present, and Man blasphemes the Holy Spirit operating through Him. Christ’s physical presence with the Holy Spirit in Him are realities not available to Man.

Apostasy in Greek, apostasia, is mentioned twice in the new testament. In 2Th2:3, Paul used apostasia in the anti-christ context, and in Act21:21, Paul’s accusers used apostasia to voice their concerns of forsaking the old covenant traditions. Hence the apostasy is used in a specific context. Scripture DOES NOT support the casualness among Christians to lay this charge against their brethren.

In-summary, It makes little sense to construct barriers to salvation based on these outliers, given the great price paid by our Lord Jesus for humanity’s salvation. Let’s set aside these needless arguments that seek to divide the unity of the faith in the love of Christ.

Those that are adamant about doing so are usurping God’s sovereignty to judge His flock by discriminating their born again spirit genuineness in-place of God the Father.

Faith and Work in Harmony (4min read)

Introduction

 

Faith without works is a dead faith, according to James (Jam2:14-17). This verse is contentious because it challenges the salvation by grace made possible by the death by crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus (Rom10:9). The inference of a dead faith threatens to negate the faith of the gift of salvation apart from works (Eph2:8-9).

This reflection is to reconcile by harmonizing Jam2:14-17 and Eph2:8-9 to support the view that the faith mentioned in Jam2:17 is different from the faith mentioned in Eph2:8-9.

Often Jam2:17 is interpreted in extreme positions.

 

The Hyper-Grace or Liberal View

One extreme is occupied by the hyper-grace camp that takes the position to negate this verse due to the perceived threat to spiritual salvation. The proponents support this position by reframing the notion of works (dismissing the obviousness of the practical deeds found in James’s examples in the story of Abraham and Rahab) into belief in the goodness of God. I.e., this work is the work of belief and not action.

 

The Conservative View

The other extreme is occupied by the conservative camp that believes that the secured salvation by grace is not secure. The absence of faith works that are not dead is evidence of this insecure salvation in one’s life, thereby threatening Christ’s unconditional salvation.

 

The Harmonized View

 

Genuine Faith and Sincere Works to Save the Soul

 

It is needful to expand Jam2:17 (NASB) by drawing from insights from 1st Peter, which aligns with the two examples cited by James as examples of faith works that save. 1st Peter is selected because Peter connected between acts of sincere love and salvation of the soul.

Jam2:17- “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

Expanding Jam2:17 by defining

  1. 1Pet defines the nature of these faith works that save, which aligns with the two examples cited in Jam2.
  2. 1Pet defines the object that needs saving.

Items in bold are expanded content.

“Even so Faith, if this faith has no works of sincere love that purifies the soul (1Pet1:22), is dead, being by itself for the goal of this faith is the salvation of the soul (1Pet1:9).”

Christ’s salvation work of the cross offered man spiritual salvation because the only part of man that was “saved” is the dead spirit that becomes the born again spirit when one accepts Christ. The body that remains entrapped in sinful flesh will decay, leading to death (2Co4:16). The resurrected body preserved in heaven (1Pet1:5) will replace the decaying body. The soul still sins till the day of death of the body. Paul artfully described this sin challenge of the soul and body in Romans 7.

The spiritual salvation of the born again spirit is secured and immune to the effects of the sinful flesh and unsaved soul (Col2:13). Refer to the following post that explores Col2:13 in greater depth.

https://sincerelawrence.com/2020/10/27/once-saved-always-saved-10min-read/

 

Conclusion

In summary, Jam2:17 speaks of faith that saves the soul, and Eph2:8-9 speaks of a faith that saves the spirit. The saving of the soul affects the rewards of 1Co3 and the eternal glory of 2Co4:16-18. The saving of the spirit affects the destination of heaven or hell.

Righteousness and Sin Confession in Harmony (5min Read)

Introduction

 

This post presents, in brief, the evidence to support the balance between the conflicting goals of confession of righteousness and confession of sin.

There are also four video links added to make this deep topic more digestible. My apologies for the low voice over quality and video production. It is my first attempt at this.

 

The Spirit-Soul-Body

 

To appreciate How confession of righteousness and sin are relevant, one needs to understand that the whole person has three distinct but interrelated parts of Spirit, Soul, and Body. Watch this short video that describes the state before the spiritual rebirth.

 

 

After the spiritual rebirth, four significant changes take place.

  1. The dead spirit became alive and righteous by Christ’s sacrificial blood (1John1:7, Heb9:28) and His resurrection (Rom4:25), respectively.
  2. The unsaved soul has gained the potential to be saved. (1Pet1:9)
  3. The soul (mind) has become the battleground between the spirit (God) and the body (Satan). (2Co10:3-5).
  4. God gives believers a new heart. (Heb8:10, Eze36:26). Two possibilities present themselves to speculate about this new heart. Both may well be true simultaneously.
  5. The newness in the human heart is biological. The studies conducted by Dr. Michelle Styrdom is about 1 hour and 15mins long. See link- 

 

 

Skip to time@52mins to watch Michelle share about the brain inside the heart that functions like an umpire (Col3:15). This umpire works along the pathways of peace in the spirit-soul domain to influence the brain’s will. The believer in the hope of the resurrection (1Pet1:3-5, 1Co15:12-19) else the belief is in vain.

 

Perhaps this brain-heart connection experiences a transformation when one is reborn in Christ.

  1. God has circumcised this new heart (Rom2:29, Col2:11) He provided in the new covenant (Eze36:26). This part of the newly circumcised heart has become the token of the new covenant (Gen17), set apart as holy to God.

It could be the circumcision of the heart has occurred at the brain-heart connections where the believer’s conscience is sensitive to God’s leading and where the Holy Spirit and man’s spirit dwells.

See a short video to illustrate where the new heart is present in both the body and the soul. The circumcised part is in the saved soul, and the rest of the heart that is not circumcised is susceptible to the corruption of sin.

 

 

 Confession of Righteousness

Confession of righteousness primarily supports the communication from the soul to the spirit. This engagement reinforces the son-ship identity with the quality of righteousness by drawing from the spirit that calls out Abba Father.

The secondary purpose is to assure us of secure salvation despite our soul/body sinning based on divine son-ship righteous before God, both as gifts paid by Jesus’ salvation work.

When confessing as a righteous son of God, it supports an attachment relationship with God as Father, God (Jesus) as an elder brother, and God as the Holy Spirit (in a maternal sense, this claim is highly controversial, and a separate post is required to explore this claim).

 

Confession of Sin

Confession of sin primarily supports communication from the soul to the body as a needful reminder of the nature of the flesh-sin perpetual hostility between them.

The secondary purpose is to reinforce the value of the undeserved gifts of forgiveness and righteousness from God on an ongoing basis.

When sin confession is operating correctly, it produces contrite heart repentance. This contriteness sustainably supports the soul’s aversion towards the sinful nature of the flesh.

Watch a short video to illustrate the points shared above.

 

Conclusion

The Spirt-Soul-Body dynamics often is a source of confusion. God’s salvation plan covers all three parts of us. The plan details for each part are different in means and timeline. Another post is required to explain these differences to complement this post.

 

Purpose of Prayer (3 min read)

Introduction

 

Prayer is the means one commune with God. Robert Deffinbaugh, who authored the in-depth study of the Book of Luke (1996) (see web-link- https://bible.org/series/luke-gospel-gentiles), observed the following regarding prayer and the Lord Jesus in his narrative in Chapter 22 of Luke.

“Thus, Jesus was praying when the Holy Spirit descended upon Him at the outset of His public ministry (Luke 3:21). Jesus was in prayer when He was transfigured before the three disciples (Luke 9:29). Jesus is likewise in prayer here in the Garden of Gethsemane.”

Prayer marked the critical events of Jesus’ life. Likewise, those who call upon Him as Lord and Saviour, who is not greater than our master (John13:16), need prayer to mark the critical events of their life.

 

Prayer marks the key events of life, illuminating them with the light of faith in God.

 

What is the purpose of prayer?

 

It is to commune with God. But is the purpose for the sake of communication only? Prayer is a means for the person to communicate their needs and wants to God. Prayer is not an end (purpose) unto itself. It seems superficial to claim that the purpose of prayer is to tell God want we need or want.

The following scriptures offer the basis to answer the first question, what is the purpose of prayer?

 

    1. The Lord’s prayer as narrated in Mat6:9-13and Luke11:2-13

 

      2. The three accounts of Matthew 26:36-46, Luke 22:39-46, and Mark 14:32-42 of the Garden of Gethsemane.

 

 

The summary below shows the purpose of prayer, drawing from the above scriptures.

  1. Prayer takes place as a personal relationship between God as Father and the believer.
  2. This personal relationship is one that acknowledges God’s sovereignty, in tandem with the Father relationship, by praying in private from the soul and in a submissive posture.
  3. Prayer is for the person to convey their needs, desires, and emotions.
  4. Notwithstanding these needs, desires, and emotions, prayer helps the person resist the temptation to pursue those needs, wants, and feelings that fall outside of God’s will.
  5. Reliance on man and man’s pride has no place in the prayer.
  6. Prayer strengthens the person’s conviction to do God’s will.

 

Divine Destiny in God’s Will – Accepting Lot in Life

 

Parental Background- Father was the youngest of 4 siblings who had 5 years of fatherhood with his two sons. Me being the eldest, was 11years old when he passed away at age 44 due to non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. My mother was a World War 2 Orphan adopted into 10 children and 4 step-mothers as the eldest. My mum lived life valiantly despite suffering significant brain damage to her prefrontal cortex in her mid-adolescence, her orphan hood, her widowhood at age 39, and single mother challenges. Both Dad and Mum passed away on the same day, 28th Dec, separated 37 years apart.

Family Background – I am married since 1999. My beloved wife is a homemaker. We have two sons. My eldest was diagnosed with autism at age 3 with an IQ range in the late 70s to early 80s and speaking his first syllable at age 5plus. My younger son has challenges in processing nonverbal language that conveys emotional and social information. Against the odds, my eldest son has been accepted to NTU (History), and my younger son has set his aims for undergraduate life.

Developmental Background- I have autism or mindblindness. Despite discovering this at age 49 and awakening to almost normalcy, both my parents loved me unconditionally. I have never received a single rebuke for my lack of social and emotional awareness from my parents.

Educational Background – I have taken my A-Levels twice. Incidentally, my eldest son, has repeated his Primary one. I graduated with B.Eng (2nd Lower) from Nanyang Technological University in 1995. Following that, in 2001, Masters of Science from the National University of Singapore. More recently, I had an enriching experience from the Masters of Arts in Educational Psychology from Ball State University (2020) and coaching training (Level 1 – Transformative, 2018, and Level 2 – Professional, 2019) from Coach Masters Academy in Singapore.

Career Background– Against the odds, I have two professional licenses, Professional Engineering License issued by the Professional Engineers Board and The Registered Inspector License issued by the Singapore Civil Defence Force. Currently, I am retired. Before this, by God’s purpose and will, I was an equal equity partner in a medium-sized fire consultancy firm based in Singapore between 2003 to 2020.

Religious Background- I accepted Jesus as my savior in 1986 and renewed my vows in 1996. My wife and I see our calling in the wayside ministry, reaching the vulnerable that crosses our path. The wayside ministry comprises the 3 roles of the Good Samaritan, the good neighbor, and the Inn Keeper.