Thursday, November 30, 2006

Announcement: Book ready for order...

As I am finishing my exams, I will be finding more time to blog, especially after my last paper on the 6th December. Anyway, I have an announcement to make:

I have just received my initial 10 copies of my newly published book Driven Away by Purpose: An Analysis of the Purpose Driven Life and Related Issues today. With this milestone, I am now able to accept orders (from Singapore only however) for my book (while others must wait for Amazon.com or Barnes and Nobles to take their own sweet time to place the book on their catalog). I have not yet calculated the price I would be selling at (which is definitely cheaper than buying online), but I would definitely count in the shipping cost etc. as I am not interested in making losses. At the moment, the book is estimated to be sold by me at an upper limit of SGD20.

Since such is the case, I would be accepting pre-orders of the book from now on. There would definitely be discounts for buying in bulk, although nothing is settled yet, and definitely so doing would require a (partial) downpayment. If anyone is interested, do email me here, and we can continue further discussion on the issue.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Article: On Mystery Babylon

This is an interesting article regarding the identity of Mystery Babylon in Revelation as being statist regimes of history. [Note: I do not necessarily support everything the organization says or stands for]. Anyway, I think this article is good, especially for materialistic Singaporeans majority of which (even Christians) always fall to the political fear-mongering of voting for a certain party "because otherwise the economy would collapse". Read especially the last paragraph:

All Babylons will end in failure and God’s judgment. Are you preparing yourself, despite the economic hardship you will experience, to join the heavenly host in crying “Alleluia”?

So (especially) Singaporean Christians, are you willing to sacrifice your materialism and put greater worth on the things of God; to put greater value in whether the government is moral rather than on whether they would continue to provide jobs, a reasonable paycheck, and a propspering nation? Or would you continue to sacrifice to Mammon (Mt. 6:24), and ignore the various atrocities that is going on in the nation? When is Singapore going to answer for the thousands of babies we murder in the womb (and in test tubes), for example?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Purpose Driven meddling in politics...

OK, I'm fed up totally with Rick Warren and his purpose driven paradigm! In fact, I am totally sick of this heretic coming into the Church of Jesus Christ and misleading her, and for that, I am going to come out with a position paper on Rick Warren and the Purpose Driven paradigm soon which I hope many people and churches would endorse. Read this for starters on the issue which started it all (Rick Warren's 'state' visit to the terrorist nation Syria), this to see how Warren tried to whitewash his error, this to see the politics behind the issue, and here are Ingrid Schlueter's comments on the issue.

Oh, and regarding Warren's flaunt of his high-level links with the power brokers in society, and especially of his link with the anti-Christian organization called the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), read this article here.

From these articles, we can see that Warren seems to be involved with the anti-Christian liberal leftist organization CFR which promotes a one-world government. Given his preference for inclusivism which I have documented before, it seems that Rick Warren will be involved in bringing about the one-world religion which precipitates the revealing of the Antichrist himself! Of course, the fact that he is meddling in politics is cause for concern, especially since last I heard, Rick Warren's title is not Secretory of State Rick Warren.

With this, I think there is sufficient evidence that Rick Warren qualifies for the title of 'heretic'!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Trivial thoughts...

After studying Japanese for one semester, I was trying out reading my Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible this afternoon (just to relax), which is the version most Japanese Evangelicals used. (I got my copy during my trip to Japan, which is a Gideon NT 'half-Bible'). Anyway, with my background in Chinese, I was able to make some partial sense of some of the verses, through I could neither read most of the words in the verses nor the tenses *yet*. Interesting though... Especially reading the book of Romans. Here's a look at Rom. 8:30 & 35.

神はあらかじめ定めた人々をさらに召し、召した人々をさらに義と認め、義と認めた人々にはさら栄光をお与えになりました。(ローマ8:30)

私たちをキリストの愛から引き難すのはだれですか。患難ですか、苦しみですか、迫害ですか、飢えですか、裸ですか、危險ですか、剣ですか。(ローマ8:35)

And here are the verses in English (ESV):

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those who he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Rom. 8:30)

Who shall seperate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Rom. 8:35)

I would very much like to go into the whole concept of the doctrine of election being a source of confort for the saints, but that will have to wait. For now, I would just like to compare the different language versions as an exercise.

Let's look at Rom. 8:30.

神はあらかじめ定めた人々をさらに召し、召した人々をさらに義と認め、義と認めた人々にはさら栄光をお与えになりました。(ローマ8:30)

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those who he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Rom. 8:30)

The first character 神 (kami) refers to God. は is here saying that God at least is ... I can't make up the meaning of the following words. However, I do see the character 定 there, which is used as in 定食 (teishoku) or set meal, and thus the character means something like set. Adding the meaning of the character in Chinese gives the idea that something is already set and decided before, and thus could legitimately be inferred to be referring to the doctrine of predestination. In 人々, the first character refers to people and the second is sortof repeating the concept of the first word, thus it probably means all of the people, thus showing us that the act of what God has done which is stated in the later part of the verse applies to ALL which God has predestined (first part), probably showing the unbreakable 'golden chain' of redemption in Rom. 8:30 itself, especially since it is repeated many times throughout the verse. Next, we see the character 召, which in Chinese refers to a call which is active as in a call which draws and compels the listerner to obey. This probably refers to the calling of God which actively works in bringing people to Christ. It is also used in the same verse in the Chinese Bible (和合本) to refer to the calling of God of His elect unto salvation.

The characters 義と認め is next seen, which probably is the Japanese words meaning justified. This can also be seen in the character 義, which in Chinese means righteousness. In fact, the term justification in Chinese is 称义 (义 is 義 in simplified form) or to be counted righteous (imputed righteousness).

The last noun seen there is shown in the characters 栄光 which in Chinese means (literally) the 'light of glory'; i.e. glory, glorified. This thus fits in nicely with the meaning of the corresponding verb in English.

Last of all, we can see the verb form modifying all the nouns in the characters なりました (nari mashita). The 'mashita' form indicates a past tense, thus showing that all these actions happened in the past, so to speak. (It is considered as done already in Christ, thus the past tense) This of course is a strong proof for the action of predestination and election happening before the beginning of the world (contra Open theism for example) and since it is an unbreakable chain, it falsifies Remonstrant Arminianism which denies the eternal persevererance of the saints (i.e. Dan Corner of so-called 'Evangelical Outreach')

OK, let's move on to Rom. 8:35.

私たちをキリストの愛から引き難すのはだれですか。患難ですか、苦しみですか、迫害ですか、飢えですか、裸ですか、危險ですか、剣ですか。(ローマ8:35)

Who shall seperate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Rom. 8:35)

The first three characters 私たち (watashi tachi) means we. を is a phrase particle here. キリスト (kirisuto) = Christ, の = (noun after) belonging to (noun before), 愛 (ai) = love, から (kara) = from; because. Thus, the first part of the sentence is literally translated something like "we, because of Christ's love for us". I don't know what 引き難 exactly means, but from Chinese, it seems to mean something like caused or lured (departing) (引) difficulty (難). だれ (da-re) = who?, used to demark a 'who' question, which is confirmed by the characters ですか. 患難 in its Chinese (simplied) form (患难) means having severe troubles or problems caused by something like a disaster, which does carries the idea of tribulation well. ですか shows that a question is being asked. From the other characters in this verse, from my knowledge of Chinese characters, I can sortof understand it. So, therefore, the verse translated literally from the Shinkaiyaku would read something like this, I think:

We, because of Christ's love for us, who (then) can create a difficult departure between (Christ's love and us)? Severe suffering? Hardship? Persecution? Hunger? Nakedness? Danger? Sword?

OK, I know my translation is bad, but anyway these are just trivial thoughts.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Article: The Emerging 'TULIP'...

Here is an interesting article regarding the Emerging Deception by Steve Camp, of which some people who are involved in it are trying to appear Reformed.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Announcements: Exams...

OK, I will be having my exams soon (last year already!), so I will be posting very little from now till the end of my exams in early December.

Quotable quote of the day

"... there is no such thing as dead orthodoxy. There is such a thing as hypocrisy, that is, individuals and churches professing to believe, but not believing, the truth. It is not the orthodoxy - the true doctrine - that should be impugned by calling it dead, but the hypocrites who do not believe it. It is they who are dead. Careless language such as this is not only confusing, it is demeaning and disrespectful to the truth." — John Robbins, in the Trinity Review in reply to certain critics here.

Sequel: Alternate theories on justification?

After posing the question regarding the alternate theories/ formulations on justification in my last post here, I would like to answer the question here. I was hoping that more people would chip in to attempt to answer, but oh well...(I mean.... saying that regeneration precedes faith doesn't quite answer the question)

Anyway, as I said in the comments section, both of the formulations are false. Here is the correct formulation:

Salvation = Justification → Sanctification
Justification = Faith → Works

(The arrow "→ " means "leads to")

Here are the two false formulations again:

Justification = Faith + Works
Faith = Justification + Works; & Salvation is by faith alone

The first formulation states that justification is by faith and continuation in a life of good works. This is actually Rome's view of Justification, as can be seen in the following statements from the Council of Trent:

ON JUSTIFICATION

CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema

CANON XII.-If any one saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or, that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema.

CANON XXIV.-If any one saith, that the justice received is not preserved and also increased before God through good works; but that the said works are merely the fruits and signs of Justification obtained, but not a cause of the increase thereof; let him be anathema.

(http://history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct06.html)

We can see from Canon I On Justification in the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent that the Roman Catholics do not believe in justification by works, contrary to what many ill-informed Protestants believe. Granted, practically speaking, many if not all Roman Catholics behave as though they believe in salvation by works, but this is not what Rome technically believes, and any informed Roman Catholic knows that. Rome believes in salvation through faith PLUS the continuation in a lifetime of good works, which can be seen in Canons XII and XXIV as quoted above.

The problem with Rome's view, besides the serious and obvious fact that it is unscriptural and thus anathemized by Scripture, is in its practical outworking. People ensnared by Rome's theology could not be certain of their salvation, since even though they initially 'believed in Christ', they are always in danger of losing their salvation if they stop doing good works and commit grave and serious sins (mortal sins). The person who is thus supposed to be saved thus has no peace and rest in Christ. More serously, unless he turn to Christ alone, he is in serious danger of damnation for believing in false doctrines and a false Christ.

The first alternate formulation is thus heretical since it denies the doctrine of salvation and justification by grace alone through faith alone, which the Bible teaches in Romans and especially in Eph. 2:8-9. With that, let us look at the second formulation.

The second formulation looks rather orthodox. It basically says that faith caused one to be justified before God and to have good works. Put together with the orthodox formulation of salvation by faith alone and we get the idea that salvation involves one being justified before God and doing good works. In fact, if I am not wrong, this phrase is accepted by quite a few 'Reformed' people. However, notwithstanding this fact, this phrase is in error, although its error is not easily discerned. Let us now look more closely at this phrase.

Before we look closely, we must always keep in mind that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. Anything which undermines this great and glorious doctrine is heresy. Grace and salvation is free to all who will believe, and justification and salvation is by God's grace 100% from the beginning to the end.

Now, if faith = justification + works, then faith includes some measure of works; or rather a life of continuation in good works. If that were so, then someone who does not show a lifetime of good works do not have faith. So far, so good. But then, it becomes tricky. Does this formulation then thus mean that somehow works are meritorious in being part of faith? Can the Tridentine formula of saying that 'the justice received [justification] ... is ... increased before God through good works' be somehow subscribed to? After all, we are not saying that works are to be counted on to save us, but they could be part of the salvific process as the practical expression of faith?

Note that I use and bold the word expression in the last statement. It is this word which shows the problem with the whole formulation. With such a formulation, the whole idea of works-salvation is smuggled in and a step back to Rome is taken. With the usage of the word 'expression', works is not meritorious in securing salvation (thus seemingly orthodox), but IT IS shown to be meritorious in practically proving salvation. Thus, the assurance of salvation for a person would lie NOT in faith but in a life of continuation in good works. Thus, such a person would live in conscious fear of being shown that his/her faith is false IF he/she stops doing good works and thus is not saved. Practically speaking, such a life consistently lived with its professed doctrine would leave one in no better state than Roman Catholics. I would hope, however, that the people who believe in it cannot discern its deadly error and thus are inconsistent with regards to their doctrine.

Now, I definitely share the concern of people who wants to guard against the heresy of Antinomianism, otherwise known as 'cheap grace', 'anti-Lordship' position, or 'Zane Hodge-ism', which I hope what people who subscribe to or are symphathetic to the second formulation are concerned about. However, we should not guard against Antinomianism by smuggling in works-salvation through the back door! Let us gaurd against works-salvation in ANY and EVERY form by removing works from soteriological formulations altogether. Similarly, we should guard against Antinomianism by emphasizing the reality of regeneration (which precedes faith and justification), and the reality of the presence of good works which is the fruit of justification and NOT part of the justification process itself; it is part of sanctification (post-justification) which is always coupled to and occurs immediately after the process of justification. Thus, the formulation which I have used is definitely better, since the arrow sign "→" shows that the thing which is implied (right hand side) is caused by but is not meritorious nor contributes anything whatsoever to the thing which implies it (left hand side).

With all this said, let us continue to emphasize and re-emphasize the glorious doctrine of salvation and justification by faith alone as the alone meritorious agent (which is in turn caused by God's grace alone) which contributes to our being made right and righteous (justification) before our most holy God and thus saving us. Let us guard against neolegalism and all forms of work-righteousness on one hand, and Antinomianism on the other hand.

NOTE: Justification ≠ Salvation. However, the point of time at which a sinner is justified before God is the point of time at which the sinner is saved. Thus, being justified can be used in certain situations to mean the same thing as being saved, especially when discussing on the temporal relation of events.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Worrying signs....

I have not commented on the sorry state of affairs that is the Ted Haggard saga (and I don't plan to anyway), but with his departure, it seems that his replacement at the head of the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals), Leith Anderson, is a promoter of contemplative spirituality and its infiltration into the evangelical churches, as the Lighthouse blog has shown. Worrying indeed. Guess it wouldn't be too long before I reject the 'Evangelical' label...

Sermon: Abandoned by God

Here is a sermon by Pst. John MacArthur given at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (2nd Nov. 2006) on Rom. 1:18-32 entitled Abandoned by God. I concur with his statement that America as a nation has been abandoned by God. America Evangelicalism in general have also been abandoned by God and given over to every wind of heresy for their destruction as they have forsaken the Lord. Over here in Singapore, we as a nation and as the visible Body of Christ are well following in the footsteps of America. May God have mercy upon us and stop the growing apostasy from taking hold of the (all-too-vulnarable) churches in Singapore.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Book: Driven Away by Purpose (2nd Ed.) ...

I have just recently received my book cover design preview for my upcoming book on the Purpose Driven paradigm entitled Driven Away by Purpose — An Analysis of the Purpose Driven Life and Related Issues (2nd Ed.). Looks good, don't you think so?

Bible study notes on James ... & Theories on Justification

I haven't had time to do much recently. However, I have managed to finish both of my essays and therefore am having a breather at the moment. Anyway, here are the Bible study notes that I compiled for my guys in my Discipleship Group (DG) on the book of James. Hope it would be edifying to you all. They are available here (1, 2, 3, 4).

Anyway, the 4th Bible study was conducted on Tue, 31st Oct 2006, which also happened to be Reformation Day. Coincidentally, the Bible study was on the topic of Faith & Works. I thus take the opportunity to also go through the topic of Salvation and Justification by faith alone. Of course, since it touches on James 2, we discussed the place of works in the process of salvation, which is always a thorny issue to being with , especially with the Roman Catholics and Orthodox. Oh well.

Anyway, I went through two questions on the nature of salvation and justification in Christians. Here is what I put forward as the correct scheme of the relation between salvation, justification, sanctification and works:

Justification: The act whereby God judicially declares a person as guiltless, on the basis of the atonement in the shed blood of Christ
Sanctification: The act whereby God conforms us more and more into the image of Christ (1 Peter 1:16) through the Holy Spirit.

Salvation = Justification → Sanctification
Justification = Faith → Works

(Btw, the arrow "→ " means "leads to")

With that said, what then do we make of these two views? Are they correct views, semi-correct, or...? What do you all think?

Justification = Faith + Works

Faith = Justification + Works & Salvation is by faith alone