Tag Archives: Soul

Christians and Money Series- God’s Appeal to the World: Part 4

Introduction

This post is part 4 of the Christian and Money Series. Cultural, racial, religious, and social factors create a bias that stereotype people to explain their wealth or poverty statuses.

 

Editorial credit: StockPhotosArt / Shutterstock.com

 

In Jesus’ times (Scott, 1990), two such biases stem from cultural, social, and religious factors. Poverty was viewed as “divine chastisement due to sin, while the “ambiguity of wealth” was a sign of divine blessings. When Jesus shared the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, it offended the rich of His day. The conclusion of the parable ran counter to the two biases. The poor beggar, Lazarus, had a reversal of eternal fortunes after his death while the rich man suffered in Hades.

These biases have held captive Man’s heart till today. I have heard accusations on specific groups of people that they deserved their poverty because of their cultural, racial, religious, and social disposition. They are poor for these reasons and deserve their lot.

Most people do not publically promote these private thoughts that dwell in their hearts. However, telltale signs betray these secrets found in Man’s social behavior. Post 5 will elaborate on the details of this social behavior. Suffice to mention, and for now, they are underpinned by hypocrisy’s coping mechanism in condescension forms, making light of the suffering poor. Conversely, the poor reciprocates by the coping mechanism of self-victimization mentality.

This 4th post in the series has two objectives. The first objective is to build the narrative to clarify man’s position and beliefs, using wealth as the context. This narrative is expansionary and inclusive of non- Christian’s beliefs and values. The second objective is to glean the new testament scriptures identifying God’s appeal to man concerning wealth.

 

Man and Money

Man has a conscience that is part of the soul. This conscience is man’s innate sense of right and wrong without formal instruction. Man’s conscience spans across the world’s belief systems. See link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscience

Environmental factors such as cultural, social, and religious factors contribute to determining its unique expression forms, but the underlying elements are common. For example, man values loyalty, community spirit, self-sacrifice. Likewise, Man condemns betrayal, discord, and self-seeking behaviors.

 

Wealth Gap

 

See the following link for the above illustration – https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2020/01/09/trends-in-income-and-wealth-inequality/#:~:text=The%20wealth%20gap%20between%20upper,has%20grown%20wider%20this%20century.&text=From%201983%20to%202016%2C%20the,from%2032%25%20to%2017%25.

Why then does man’s treatment of wealth or money seem to violate the conscience’s rules to accept such objectionable outcomes? One may ask, where is the evidence of this claim in this question? Part 2 of the post shared proof of the glaring wealth gap between the rich and poor. This wealth gap is only growing wider. The above illustration takes the USA data are emblematic of the rest of the world. In Jan 2020, the Guardian reports that 70% of the world’s population experiences this growing wealth gap. See link – https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/jan/22/wealth-gap-widening-for-more-than-70-per-cent-of-global-population-researchers-find

This post posits that other factors have overridden Man’s conscience in the area of wealth. These factors are

  1. Worry about the future, and the need to control that worry through wealth accumulation.
  2. The lure of wealth is innately addictive. Remember the hedonic race in part 2? Wealth brings pleasures, such as enhanced social status, power, influence, physical enjoyments, and control over others.

 

Both the Poor and Rich are Terrified of the Future and Addicted to Wealth Alike

 

The irony is that both the rich and the poor have embraced these factors as shared aspirations. For this reason, the world does not descend into a brutal war between the poor and the rich, culminating into one global French revolution, or witnessing a global embrace of Marxism.

Both Christians and non-Christians, barring a minority in both groups, are mostly helpless to avoid violating their conscience to address this reality. The following posts will explore the application aspects of this minority group. For the majority, unless there is a shift of the motivating factors away from focusing on earthy goals to cope with fears of the uncertain future and to wean off the wealth addiction, money reigns as Master over Man in the constant battle against God’s supremacy.

The following section of this post shares the Christian God’s offer of these alternative motivating factors.

 

God’s Alternative Offer to Wealth

God has two main goals in mind when He offers solutions to Man’s slavery to money. God seeks to fulfill His two commandments: the source of His purpose and will (the Law and the Prophets, Mat22:40). Both commandments are concerning RELATIONSHIPS. This relationship focus is a clear indication that God values relationships above all else in His economy.

 

The Love Commandments

 

The first commandment is the relationship between God and Man. In comparison, the second commandment is a relationship between man and man (Mat22:37-40). The commandments bear the following intentions.

  1. God is appealing and demanding from Man their believing loyalty towards Him. (1st commandment)
  2. God expects Man to show love to their neighbor as oneself in contrast to indifference to their neighbors’ plight. (2nd commandment).

Believing loyalty is also known as loving-kindness, “checed” in Hebrew, which also renders faithfulness a more familiar term in the new testament vernacular. See the link for the word meaning of checed- https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=H2617&t=NASB

The scriptures relating to wealth, especially the parables, are shared to support Man’s understanding of God’s salvation offered as a means to realize the 1st commandment. E.g., is the Good Samaritan (Luke15:11-32), the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price (Mat13:44-45), the prodigal son (Luke15:11-32).

The scriptures also reveal God’s expectation to love one’s neighbor, the 2nd commandment, in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke10:30-37 and the unforgiving servant’s story in Mat18:21-35.

God does not leave man without resources and guidelines to motivate Man to choose the love relationship as their new focus and abandon their old focus of worry and addiction to money. God’s motivating factors address both the worry of the future and the issue of the lure of money.

 

God Supplies His Motivating Factors

 

1st Motivating Factor – Solution for Worry

 

The Worry of Needs and Wants

 

Both Christians and non-Christians worry about the future. God recognized valid worries, categorized as needs. In this day and age, the needs of Man has grown to include wants. The final post will address this aspect. Nevertheless, God recognized man’s worry to meet his needs when Jesus identified this as the reason for Man’s shifting loyalties between serving God and Mammon in Mat6:24.

God promises that He will supply all Man’s future needs when he focuses on His will for Him and his identity in Him (Mat6:32). God designs His will into the life circumstances presented to that person. It includes the opportunities, the challenges, the waiting, the people in your life, the victories, the setbacks, the miracles, and the tragedies. God promises to supply what Man needs, even as he experiences His will. Man is to reciprocate in an active faith relationship with Him.

The other less recognized reason and solution offered by God in Mat6:34 is that the present has sufficient troubles on their own that demands attention. God wants to partner Man to address present challenges and appeals to him not to be distracted by worrying about the future. The experience of partnering with God in this active faith in the present is not straightforward and exceeds this post’s scope to explain.

At this juncture, the imagination of what God supplies can run pretty wild. The Bible does offer some guidelines to understand what God supplies. The following post or posts will cover this in more detail. Suffice to say. God supplies wisdom, “time and chance” that relieve the pressure that would have exceeded the breaking point, His divine power, and circumstances to support His will for Man.

 

Personal Testimony

The Fool Who Became King

 

Mind-blindness (autism) handicapped my social and emotional perception until age 49. God had shown and proven His loyal faithfulness as Father over my life since my dad passed away when I was 11 years old.

These handicaps lead to situational unawareness. I grossly underestimated the environment’s harshness and overestimated my capacity and capabilities. I recklessly resigned from full-time employment and was self-employed twice, at age 29-30 and 32-50. Due to personal reasons and adequate resources,  undeservingly, I have decided to retire at age 50, 2020. God has protected me from the hostile business environment and my foolish unawareness for the past 25 years as a working adult.

My lack of awareness blinded me to future worries. Given a temperament that is resilient and determined, I do not complain and worry about my future.  The “success” did not come by fervent prayers, never fasted, and was never diligent in reading the Bible (this only started in 2019). In-fact until 2019, I have never read a complete book in the Bible.

God’s mercies have protected me from an unreasonable environment and marauding competitors. The material success came because I blindly did whatever was presented to me and did the best of my abilities every time without worrying and complaining. Unknowingly just by attending faithfully to my lot in life, I did God’s will.

 

2nd Motivating Factor – Shift in Values

In today’s materialistic culture, the motivating factors offered by God has lost much of its luster. It is not the fault of God, for Man has chosen to deify themselves by proxy. Elements that supported man’s deification are mainly due to their sense of mastery over their destiny. The following fostered Man’s sense of mastery over their future and shifted Man’s values away from God’s values.-

  1. Man has more than doubled the life expectancy from the late 30s in the late 1800s to beyond 70s by the early 2000s. Singapore’s life expectancy is in the 80s. See link – https://www.macrotrends.net/countries/SGP/singapore/life-expectancy#:~:text=The%20current%20life%20expectancy%20for,a%200.26%25%20increase%20from%202017.
  2. Man has mastered their physical environment (notwithstanding the irreparable damage done to nature) and a pseudo mastery over their biology. Genetic engineering is one of the new frontiers for humanity.
  3. Man’s sense of personal agency has shot through the roof, bolstered by the relentless rise of individual liberties.
God’s Appeal to the Alternative, Reimar/Shutterstock.com

 

Tragically, This pandemic of self-deification affects both Christians and non-Christians alike.

God beckons Man with seven appeals to support Man’s shift from the additive lure of money-wealth to fulfill the two commandments, to restore the RELATIONSHIPS-

  1. God is appealing to Man’s senses to value His Fatherly love, offered to save humanity in the form of the death and resurrection of His only Son, the Lord Jesus. (John3:16, Rom10:9). The Father’s heart is appealing for His children to return to His bosom, the prodigal son narrative offered on an epic scale.

 

  1. God appeals to Man’s senses to value the true incorruptible treasures more than the temporal earthly pleasures, relationships, and possessions. The true treasures are the relationship with Him, His eternal rewards, the gloried incorruptible body, the eternal glory, and reunion with Him and all the loved ones that have embraced the family of God. Valuing the true treasures is the crucial battleground of the soul. For where the treasures are, there, the soul will take residence (Mat6:21).

 

  1. God appeals to Man’s senses to recognize that their body is temporal, suffer aging, physical death, and eternal death. What will it profit to Man to accumulate and hold tightly to things that lose all value in the afterlife? (Mark8:36)

 

  1. God is appealing to Man’s senses to recognize an afterlife where judgment and sentence await (Mat25:46). This appeal to many seems like a threat. God’s hands are bound in this regard and helpless to circumvent His sense of justice. God’s justice demand this outcome (Rom2:12-16,1Pet1:17).

 

  1. God is appealing to Man’s sense to choose forgiveness apart from the works pathway in Christ (Eph2:8-9), where the favored judgment is merciful, and the verdict at worst is forfeting the eternal rewards and the soul’s eternal glory (1Co5:5, 1Co3:15, 2Co4:16-18).

 

  1. God appeals to Man’s sense to avoid the impartial judgment pathway, where the sentence is likely an eternal staycation in Hell.

 

  1. God appeals to Man to choose His Son. By doing so, He frees Man of worry of the future on earth, as Man finds rest for their soul on earth in the work of His Son (Mat11:28-30, Heb4:11).

 

Conclusion

The world operates by the power paradigm. The powerful determines the Laws of the land and wields the power of life and death over others. Humanity recognizes this Law and obeys the rules set by the powerful. Democracy veils the ordinary senses to this Law, enchanting the human sense of agency with an illusion that the power lies with the individual because they vote the powerful into power.

Such naïve notions are put to naught when the next crisis hits. The covid19 pandemic is but an appetizer of the Law in operation. War seems a distant memory since the last World War in 1942. It seems to escape notice, but the elements that catalyzed such atrocities are the same; humanity is the source of these atrocities.

 

Daring and Taunting God Does Not Seem to be a Sound Strategy

 

It seems inconceivable while Man can recognize and subject themselves to human authorities, Man dares to taunt God by spurning His appeal and invitation.

Christians deem the Christian God as the most powerful entity across all time and space. But this God is dismissed as the King of charlatans by other religious beliefs and non-existent by an atheist or a choice, among other valid alternatives.

It may turn out that these reasons to ignore God are correct. Still, the stakes appear unacceptably high for a reasonable person to place a wager against God, who has offered such favorable terms to achieve divinity. The only cost on Man’s part is the belief in Jesus and after that best effort at obedience until death. This free lunch for Man exacted an unspeakable price from God the Father who paid dearly for this offer.

This post ends on this note. The next post will explore further how Man’s attempts to solve this wealth gap have failed, why it has failed, and the root cause behind these failures. Post 5 will also examine God’s alternative to address this failure.

 

References

  1. Scott, B. (1990). Hear then the parable (1st ed.). Fortress Press.

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.