2006-12-29

Know Your Faith Accurately

Tit 1:9b that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to refute the opposition.

In Titus 1:9, we are told to know our faith well so that we can encourage and to correct those who oppose the truth (It is not about opposing us.). We are the products of our what we believe and value. Wrong belief will leads to wrong decisions and to wrong living and ending with bad consequences.

The people who believe wrongly will teach others to believe wrongly as well. Hence any wrong believe must be stopped ( Tit 1:11). We are told (v13) to rebuke them sharply that they may be sound in faith. "Sharply" is not in emotional manner (angrily, fiercely, ..) but in accurate and sound arguments. The purpose is for them to have "sound" faith for living well. How can we do that unless we ourselves are also sound in our faith. The proper way is Kindness 1st then Truth 2nd.

It is imperative that we dig in the Bible in depth, and ask the Holy Spirit to be our teacher and guide, check the original Hebrew and Greek words, and compare the teachings and commentaries that we may come across, and organized our knowledge of the faith, jotting down our misunderstanding and clarification and those that need further exploration. It is with effort that we may truly grasp the truth, live in it and by it, that we may lead the abundant life promised in John 10:10 and touch others as well.

2006-11-30

BJ#0 Business According to Jesus

Follow the Patterns of the Most Successful Organization in the World
(updated 27 Oct 2008)

This posting should actually be the first in this whole series of "Business by Jesus". The earlier postings are BJ#1 The Golden Rule for Business Success, BJ#2 Have a Mission Statement, BJ#3 Vision Statement.

One of the world most successful organization with the longest history and largest world wide following would likely to be the Church established by Jesus Christ. The founding pioneers, the disciples of Jesus, were generally fishermen, (though there was a good accountant and tax consultant called Matthew). What had Jesus taught them that such a big and growing organization was possible through average people. One may claimed it was God. But God works through people and give us the examples where other can follow. What are the principles and strategies that Jesus taught the Church. The answers are found in the Bible. Bible is more than just a moral and ethical standards of behavior. I strongly believe and will show in this series of postings that Bible also teach us the principles and the how-to, the strategies for building long lasting successful enterprises that contribute to the well beings of society.

Earlier postings have covered the Golden Rule for Business, Mission and Vision - what are the important things that make good mission and vision statements. This posting is like a table of content showing the additional topics that will be covered in future.

The TOC are:
I will use the current management terms to relate to the Bible so that we can find relevant and immediately useful guidelines for making our business successful. The next posting will be on Values - BJ#4 Values

Other Useful References

  1. There was a series of seminars held to cover the above topics....The Bible for Business Seminar Series.
  2. If you have issue with your calling into business and being a successful businessman, Secular vs Spiritual Jobs
  3. There is a complimentary series Kingdom Laws & Principles. Please refer to them too for laws and principles of His Kingdom Economy.
  4. Learning from Others: 
    1. Entrepreneur Leadership - Kingdom Principles in Business




2006-11-29

BJ#3 Vision Statement

Vision Statement

Vision Statement is a visualization, a picture of what it will look like as you accomplished the milestones in your mission. It is what you become in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. It is adding a time dimension and a visual dimension to mission. It makes the mission come alive.  It gives focus. It show the benefits of the mission clearly and gives the motivation. Mission gives the purpose, vision shows the picture. 
Hab 2:2 Then the LORD answered me and said, "Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run.

Vision gives a clear picture that can be easily recorded in the mind and in the heart, so that they can quickly run to bring it to pass.

Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.Mark 9:23

We need first to have picture that we can believe in and then it outcome will be certain. Prov 29:18 (KJV) Where there is no vision, the people perish. Or in (ESV) Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint. Vision gives the guides.
Pro 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he
Examples of Vision Statements
Follow me and I will make you fishers of men Mt 4:19.
Jesus, when speaking to fishermen, used the picture that they could best understand. 'Making Disciples' is like having a big catch of fish - net breaking load of fish. They can associate with it and can feel the joy and excitement of such a catch.

To the woman at the well, he said, "Follow me and you will never be thirsty again". John 4:13 He also said "I am the bread of life;he who comes to Me shall not hunger" John 6:35

When painting a vision, use things that the readers can best understand and be motivated by. Put them in the context and background of the readers. Use their terms.

Here are additional visions:
John 3:16 "....whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
John 7:38 "He who believes in Me, .... From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'"
John 8:32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies,
Mat 11:28 "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
Notice that the benefits are to the people involved - who believed.

Vision must include the benefits to the corporations and to the customers, employees and owners in the order.

Vision must be as specific as possible so that the reader can have a clear vision in their mind and in their heart. Most corporate vision speaks of revenues, market ranking, and physical sizes like number of people and number of countries or cities they will be operating in. These are ok but there needs to be further illustrations and other areas as well. What do those measures mean to the customers, the employees and the owners. Listed corporations like to have measures in terms of the shares-owners values, such as Total Shareholder Return (TSR). But one should remember that profits is a by-product of providing good value to customers with good execution by the employees. In painting the vision, one should describe the impacts to the customers, and to the employees. The corporate cultures, the working environment, the pre-sale and after-sale, and other things that relate to employees and customers.

The clearer the vision, the easier it will be in deciding the strategies and their execution later.


Where are the measures and the timing?
The above vision statement like "become fishers of men" is visualized mission statement of "Go make disciples". Jesus used fishers of men because Peter and the others are fishermen. They will understand the vision and mission well. 


The measurement of the catch is very obvious - the number or the weight of the fish caught. The best measurement is one that is very easy to see. You don't need to have an instrument to tell. A good one is reaching a destination. When you reach a destination, you know you have arrived. 


Putting a man on the moon by end of the decade is a good vision statement.


The measure is obvious - a man landed on the moon (alive and return is implied).
The timing is before the end of the decade (it was by 1970).


Jesus did not specify the targets and timing then. It was up the disciples each to determine for themselves when they followed Jesus and learned more.

- - - o o o - - -
BJ#0 Business According to Jesus TOC --|--BJ#4 Your Values

2006-11-28

BJ#2 Have A Mission Statement

This is part 2 of the series "Principles and Strategies for Business Success according to Jesus". The 1st one is "The Golden Rule for Business Success". I have decided to change the long name into a short one - "Business by Jesus" or in short form BJ for easier identification of my postings.

Why You Need a Mission Statement
A mission statement gives us the purpose and meaning of our existence. It direct our efforts. Mission is for the long term. The methods used to achieve the mission could change with time but the purpose should remain. If the mission changes, then the corporate takes on a new identity.
  • Mat 6:21 Your heart will be where your treasure is.
Mission should be our treasure - the thing we hold to be of utmost important. If you don't feel for your mission, either the mission is wrong or you need to change. If you are the owner, then change it to the thing you treasure most. If you are working for a corporate where you could not change the mission, you should perhaps change your job. If you are the Chairman or the CEO, and you are passionate about your mission, you still need to do one more step, communicate your passion about the mission down the line, all the way to the one serving your customers. The mission should be the treasure in our heart and our heart should be for the mission. Everyone in the company should feel the same way for the mission.

Mission Statement has a Single Purpose
  • Mat 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
Mission statement should create a single focus. If you felt that there are many targets you want to achieve, then you are still not at the right mission statement yet. You need to go a level higher, abstract all the targets to a single purpose. You may need to ask why ... why do you want to achieve this target or goal ? or What is the purpose you are trying to achieve when you want to reach this target. Some one says we should ask WHY 5 times. Eventually, we should have a hierarchy of goals with the top-most, the root, being the Mission. Mat 6:24 tells us that no man can serve two masters, so we need to get the mission down to one purpose.

Example of the Best Mission Statement
  • Mat 28:18 Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
  • Mat 28:19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
  • Mat 28:20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
The mission statement is "Go make Jesus' Disciples of All Nations".

The single purpose is "make Jesus' disciples". It is action packed with GO and the extend and scope of work is "All Nations" or "Globally" in today language.

The other parts tell of the HOW to make disciples:
  1. Baptize them into the Body of the Church
  2. Teach them (what Jesus taught)
and the Resources given.
  1. Authority of Christ v18
  2. Presence & Empowerment of Christ v20
  3. The Bible - what Jesus taught.
What makes a Good Mission Statement
We can summarized into the following qualities:
  1. Of Long Term Value and Worth - treasures of the heart.
  2. Singleness in Purpose
  3. Action Verbs: GO, Become, Be .....
  4. The Scope, the How and the What of resources.
Can you apply the above 4 points to your present mission statement and see it can be improved ?

Additional Views for Christians about the Commission of Christ.
  1. We are called not just to make converts, though it is the first step, but to bring them up into disciples of Christ, or Clones of Christ in modern terms.
  2. We must, ourselves, be Christ's disciple, before we can help others to be like-Christ. We should have His Word in our hearts, think and feel as Him, through communicating with Him daily and through His Words, and behave as He would behave.
  3. We must be Role-Model for others to follow.The method is to teach His Word (not our opinions) and by our exemplified living out His Word. i.e teaching is more than talking. we teach by talking and walking, each reinforces the other.
  4. Some one put it this way... 1st I show you. 2nd You do as I do. 3rd You show others. 4th Others do as You .....

    2Ti 2:2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

For a personal mission statement, please see #BJ2a Your Personal Mission Statement
- - - o o o - - -
BJ#0 Business According to Jesus TOC --|--BJ#3 Vision Statement

2006-11-27

Envious of Success through Short-cuts?

Habakkuk 1 reflected our feelings well when we saw the apparent successes of those who took nasty short-cuts and sacrificed others in their pursuit. We are angry at them and at God for not doing anything to right the injustice. Besides Hab, Ps 37 provided us with advices and assurance. God is not asleep and punishment will come upon the wicked.
Outcomes of the Wicked
The outcomes of the wicked will be: cut down (v2), cut-off (v9), no more(v10), killed by their own arrow(v15), their arms broken (v17), perished (v20), passed away(v35), destroyed (v38).
What are We to Do ?
Firstly, we are not to be angry or envious, otherwise, we ourselves will fall into sins.... giving up our standards and adopt their practices too.
Secondly, we are asked to trust the Lord. Continue to trust the Lord and do good (v3). Delight ourselves in the Lord (v4) with the promise that we will get the desires of our heart. Commit our ways to the Lord (v5). Rest in the Lord and wait patently for Him (v7).
Evidences of Trust
How can we know that we are trusting the Lord ? Here are the signs: not angry or envious (v8); meek (v11), peaceful (v11,37), contentment (v16), delighting in God's ways (v23) and hid God's laws in his heart(v31), do not give-up (v24),
Promises of Blessings for the Righteous
Their righteousness shall be known (v6). They shall have eternal inheritance(v18). They inherit the land(on earth here, not just in heaven) (v29), Their descendents will be blessed too (v25,26). They shall be delivered from the wicked (v40). The contrast is shown in v19, they shall not be ashamed in evil time and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.
Conclusion
Our best decision is to trust the Lord fully not matter what - v39 But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in the time of trouble.

See also Take a Different View - Getting Rid of Grudges

2006-11-24

BJ#1 The Golden Rule for Business Success

This is the 1st in a series of meditations on "Principles and Strategies for Business Success according to Jesus". Being the first, the most important golden rule shall be covered here. I think the foundational principle, upon which others are built, is

(Mat 6:33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

God wants you to be successful
Firstly, it reveals God's intention - God wants us to be successful in life. That is why He is giving us the principle for success. It also reveals God's promise, or guarantee, or God's kingdom's operating laws (like the natural laws of gravity), for our success. Do it God's way and you get God's promised result. We can recall Joshua 1:8 - the Book is given that we may prosper. Now we talk about the HOW - the method.

1. Reality of Life - God must come first
'Seek First God's'. Follow after God and all these things (foods, covers, things for life, represented in money) will be added. The very 1st principle of Business Success is Put God first. When we chase after God, money chases after us. In Mat 6:24, we cannot serves both God and money. The advice is clear, serve God first and money will follows. Restated, money follows Godly practices.

2. God's Kingdom - The Right Things - The Right Strategies.
It is the operating principles and laws, like the natural law of gravity, the Newtonian Laws, Laws of Thermodynamics, etc of God's government. It is about the Right things to do. Jesus told of commandments and many parables of how the Kingdom of God works. We will discuss this in future postings.

3. God's Righteousness - Do Things Right - Walk the Talk. The Execution of Strategies.
Righteousness is not just about knowing the right things but to doing them right - reaching up to the standards. It is about quality. Jesus not only tells us about God's kingdom rules, he has to die for us (because we fail to do it!) to accomplish the requirements and obtain righteousness for us. Integrity is about walking the talk. Business success is not just about the right strategies but also about executing the strategies.

4. Do it Now.
Mat 6 ends with verse 34 "Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Let us not be paralyzed by fear of tomorrow. Tomorrow happenings is determined by today actions. Let us starting doing it now - to know God and to act on it.

5. Going Long Term
In Mat 6:19-20, we are taught to lay up treasures in heaven. Success is not short term or sporadic. It should last the test of time and stretches into eternality. The time period in our PV (Present Value) calculations should include the eternal perspective. Following the Golden Rule of God's 1st will create business that last.

6. A famous preacher rephrased this verse roughly as "Economic Success follows Spiritual Revival". This is definitely supported by the development of Europe and US after the rediscovery of salvation by faith alone.
- - - o o o - - -
BJ#0 Business According to Jesus TOC --|-- BJ#2 Have A Mission Statement

2006-11-22

Creative God but a Boring Church

Why A Creative God with a Stale Church ?
When we think of creativity, do we think of the church or the Bible ? Why is it that the Church of the God of Creation is not associated with "Creativity"? The great artists and scientists of the last few centuries were Christians. What has happened that the Church has lost its creativity in Arts and Science ?

Religion - Forms Taking Over Substance
I think the key reason is "Religion". The Church has swapped the intimate relationship with Jesus for a set of Rules. We are more concern with sticking to a set of religious rules and practices than with the Person of Jesus. This is exactly when the Ephesians Church has fallen into... so good at discerning the false doctrines and false prophets and lost their first love for Jesus. To them, correct doctrines were more important than Love-Relationship with Jesus. Not that correct doctrine is not important but that there is a more important thing - one key principle - love Jesus. Loving Jesus can be expressed in many forms. But religion will insist on the particular form - usually the one that decided by those in power that suit themselves. It is outward form more than inward content. It is insisting on following the forms rather than letting the inward content expressing itself freely outward. No wonder the Church is not creative. It is bind by the forms.

Insisting On Past Methods than Sensing the Spirit
As an example, let's look in the area of Healing. The Church is after the methods that will result in healing. Is it laying of hands ? Or speaking the Word ? May be we should use spitting like Jesus. May be we need more faith. If we study into the healing incidences, we will realize that Jesus used all kinds of methods. Or to put it another way, Jesus use only one kind of method - the ONE that work. The ONE method that work has many variations depending on the person and the situations.

Situational Ethnics Need No Creativity
I am not talking about situation ethics where we bend the ethics to suit the situations. You don't need creativity here where you bend the rules to suit the situations. It is when you stick with principle and comes out with solution in seemingly impossible situations that needs creativity. Jesus' answer to the need of paying taxes is one such example. Mat 22:19-21.
   
Break Free with Grace
Rest in the peace and love of God. Let us live with the security that God loves us and delights in the things that we do. Know that God has rebirth us a new creation with righteousness, ability and creativity. Rooted and grounded in the love of God will keep us living right and free us to break with traditions and mental blocks to create new paths, new forms, new knowledge and expression to engage the new generations. Let the Church not only stay relevant, but also set the trend in fashion, thinking, movies, music, arts and other means to bring forth the true gospels of Jesus Christ. When Christians have given up on the media the devil will step into it to misuse and abuse it and deceiving many people. It is time now that Christians take back the creative media and the science for showing the glory of God.

Does that mean we throw away the Laws (as represented by the Ten Commandments)? No, Ten commandments are a mirror for our reflection. After we are saved, we have no fear of the ten-commandments as its requirements are fulfilled by Christ and there is no more condemnation. We use them as minimum checklist. We follow after a higher standard, the new commandment of love and life empowered by the grace of Christ within us. God is glorified through us - His grace shown forth through us through good work.

Related: A Re-look at the Ten Commandments ,
Principles & Insights from the Ten Commandments
Putting the Commandments in Order - From Ten Commandments to New Commandments

2006-11-11

Two Kinds of Knowledge

In Mat 22:23-32, the Sadducees, who does not believes in resurrection, are a good representation for people who believes in the natural knowledge (of and from human mind). They think have a good argument against resurrection - whose wife of the seven will she be ? 
 
Jesus, with revelation knowledge told them plainly that the resurrected life was not what they thought. They were all wrong.
 
Our limited mind with our limited knowledge is not able to understand things beyond the natural. Extrapolating into dimension we know not usually ends in error. We need some one else who has been there, like Jesus, to come to tell us what the other spiritual dimension is like. Bible is God's revelation knowledge to us. 
 
To know the truth, we need humbly to acknowledge our limitedness and to open-up ourselves to the revelation of God through the Bible. Then, we will get a better grasp of the truth, the purpose and the working of our natural world.

See also Two Kinds of Work

2006-11-04

Two Kinds of Work

In our Christian walk, it is very important to differentiate two kinds of work - dead work and fruitful work.

Dead work is work done, by following after the laws, to gain righteousness (Heb 6:1 repentance from dead works; Heb 9:14; Rev 3:1-3).  Dead work is useless work. Lots of effort but zero result. A monkey can behave like a man but that does not make it a man. A man can behave like a monkey and yet he remains a man. It is not by work to become but a transformation of new birth into a different kind that count. See
"Be-Do-Have" of Grace Based Doctrine.

Fruitful work is work done according to the desire of God that results in many fruits that bring glory to God. We are saved for good work. The order is we must be saved first then we are empowered and led to do the right kind of good work. Eph 2:8-10.

Before our salvation, we try to gain righteousness by doing the right things. After a while, we know it is futile. We heard of the Good News of Jesus Christ and His completed works for us that we may become righteous not by our effort but by believing and receiving Him. We are born anew into righteousness and not by our work which is useless and dead in giving our righteousness.

After our rebirth with attribute of righteousness, we are called to do fruitful work. John 15:5 abide in Christ tells us how to do work that produce good fruit. John 15:16 tells us that our Father is glorified when we bear fruit. Gal 5:16 echoed the same method of "walk in the Spirit" that result in Gal 5:23 fruit of the Spirit of Love, Joy, Peace,.....

As born again Christians, we should not try to 'preserve' our Salvation by going back to follow after the laws. There is not need to as we who are born of Christ is already righteous(1 John 3:9). We are called to act out the internal reality of Christ in us Phil 2:12 by His grace (strength) Phil 2:13.


Related: Two Kinds of Knowledge

2006-10-02

Do We Love God More than Legitimate Blessings?

Religion is Rules for Getting Blessings for Self
Religion is a set of rules with 'Self' at its center. 
The core of religion is self
  1.  I want to be blessed and to reach utopia - eternal happiness. 
  2. Then comes the set of rules where I can follow to get blessings.
  3. I follow the rules to make life work, to ward off danger and to preserve my eternal life. 
  4. Doing the right thing and getting thing right is the main activity.
Religion is really the mixing up of priority - Putting ourselves ahead of God.
Success in religion is measured by the 'blessings' or 'enlightenment' one has. 
  1. It leads to pride if one thinks he has succeeded and 
  2. to depression if he thinks he has failed. 
  3. If things go wrong, one's first reaction is usually - "What do I need to do to get it right?".
    With such mentality, it is no wonder we can't fully understand the Book of Job.
The Theme of Job - Not about Suffering but about True Love of God - God above All Else
The key theme of JOB is not just about suffering but about our trust of God. 
More specifically, each of us have to answer this key question "- "Is our love of God greater than our materials blessings?". It is similar to our denying of self to gain Christ. i.e. For the sake of seeking Christ I am willing to give up everything. Mat 16:24-26, Php 3:8.

   
The Story of Job
Job's friend attributed Job's lost of wealth and his sickness to his sins. Their theology is "God punishes the sinners". Job must have sinned against God to get these punishment. Job, with same thinking framework, argued that he did not sin and challenged God for a fair hearing. Job accused God of punishing him without cause. God turning a blind eyes on the injustice. Evil people are not punished immediately. 

God shows His glory and wisdom that resulted in Job realizing his brokenness and acknowledgment of his need of God. Job 42:5 "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Job 42:6 Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes." 

Because of the presence of evil and evil will persecute righteousness, righteous people do suffer. We therefore cannot use suffering as a gauge of one's righteousness or sinfulness. Otherwise, Paul will be the biggest failure and sinner against God since he suffered so much. Innocent people also suffer due to evil works of others. Partial view of a thing is a distorted and a wrong view.

Christianity is about Relationship with God
Christianity is about relationship God. We should value relationship with God higher than that our well-being and blessings. Loving God includes loving others. (John 21:15-19 Jesus told Peter that love him more than material things and to love Him means to tend His sheep - His followers).

Our love for Christ will be strengthended through testing, just like Job. We may be broken to give up on ourselves and to desire Christ more. Our brokenness leads us to yield to Christ, to be freed, and to taste His power. i.e. 2 Cor 12:10b when I am weak than I am strong and Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. . (see Larry Crabb's Soultalk too for more details)

Do we love God more than these materials wealth, health, my feeling. etc ... or in absence of these....
The 1st and highest priority should be to know God - to encounter Him and have a relationship Him. To trust Him fully whether we have or not the other legitimate blessings.

Christian Growth
Growth has not short cut. When we first receive Christ, we struggles with sin. As we grow into maturity, we face another type of struggle - it is about giving up legitimate things for higher priority of God and others. The process looks like this:
Stage 1 Love Christ because of His blessings
Stage 2 Love Christ with or without blessing.
Stage 3 Love Christ even facing persecution.
Stage 4 Love Christ no matter what. Putting our lives fully into Christ's hand and let Him do whatever He like.

The Danger - The false Gospel
It is so easy to fall into the trap of using Christ as our means to our blessings. It is not that God does not want to bless us, but that we should get our priority straighten-up. We should love and trust God first and let Him bless us; and God will surely bless us when we truly know and trust Him. God's principle is trust first by sowing and then trust Him also to reap the rewards He has given. To give and not to reap is false humility too.
Psa 29:11 The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace. (Shalom - wholeness, safe, prosperity, peace etc.)

2006-09-21

Salvation of Tripartite Man - The Details

Recognizing that Man is made up of spirit, soul and body helps explain many difficulties we encountered in reading the Bible. (see The Tripartite Man).
  
Here is a detailed view of the Salvation of the 3 parts of man.
Salvation
Spirit
Soul
Body
Time
Past *
Now
Future
Method
By Faith
Jn 3:36
By Works – Carrying My Cross Mt16:27
By Christ at Rapture
1 Co 15:52, 1Th 4:17
Result
Eternal Life
Eternal Kingdom
Eternal Body
1Co15:40,44,53
Completion
By Christ
(done, once for all)
By Spirit - We yielding
Gal 5:16,25
Sacrifice, Glorify God, Trained
Rom 12:1;1Co6:13,20; 1Co9:27
Term
Salvation
Sanctification
Redemption,Glorification
Rm8:23
*when we received Jesus as Savior and Lord.
 
The growth process of a person can be summarized as:
 
1. Before Salvation: self effort for self benefit
Religion is all about self. Getting it right, doing the right thing, and life will work and you will be saved.
But true Christianity is about relationship with Jesus-God. We will discuss this in greater depth in future.
  
2. Saved : Self effort for God's benefits
For God's benefits is what we like to think we are working for. But our fleshy effort may sometimes go against God. Our motivations are sometimes for self glorification and gratification while outwardly we are doing God things. When we succeeds (according to our standards) we felt proud and when we fail, we felt condemned. We swing between emotional high and depression. We get burnt out quite easily.
 
3. Grace Based: God's effort for Self benefits.
We go after God for blessings & good health. While God delights in the prosperity of his people, this is still self-centered.
    
4. Maturity : God's effort for God's benefits
God's glory is revealed through us being beneficial to others.
Blessing and good health comes automatically when follow after the Spirit and desires God's will to be done on earth.
 
note: What I learned in yesterday Ps John's message combined with my past learning is presented here. If there be anything wrong, it is due to my misunderstanding rather than the speaker's message..

2006-09-07

Spirit Soul Confusion and 2 Types of Defeats

We have shared that man is a tripartite being of spirit, soul and body. When a person is saved, his spirit is reborn by the Holy Spirit and has the indwelling of Holy Spirit. But his soul and body remain unchanged. This explains the need of Rom 12:2 when one mind has to be renewed with the Word of God. And also for 1 Cor 5:5 where the flesh is destroyed and the spirit is saved. Our rebirth spirit is of God, ZOE life and is perfect in righteousness and complete (Col 2:10, 2Pet 1:3 given all, Eph 3:20 power in us) and sin not (1 John 3:9). But our flesh does sin (Rom 7).

With Spirit and Soul against Righteousness and Sin, we have 4 combination. With the confusion of spirit and soul, we can add 2 more. See the picture below. The point of interest is in the confusion of Spirit (righteousness) and Soul (need to be sanctified).

Confusion Type 1 Acceptance by Work
  •  The person's Identity is defined by behavior of Soul instead of by the Bible
  • It is "Performance or Work Based Acceptance by God".
  • A person's identity should be defined by his spirit – Rebirth ZOE (God’s kind of ) Life, that is complete and righteous. Have the Indwelling Holy Spirit and Christ inside and not by his performance of the Soul and body.
  • This people will feel good when they have quiet time, prayers but will feel terrible when they sin. They felt condemned. However, instead of drawing from God, they promise to do better. But by their own strength, they will fail again, which results in condemnation.
  • Some will try to remove condemnation by doing good work to compensate. They actively serve in church to remove the condemnation inside. They ask God for forgiveness and strength not realizing that Grace have been given in their Spirit and did not draw from it.
  • Long term defeat and burnout resulting in them coming to the conclusion that God is not real or not helpful or not loving and hence they give up on God and go back to the world. 
  • Sin ->Defeat ->Depressed ->Give Up -> Back to the World-> Denounce Christ
Confusion #2 Soul claims Spirit’s Righteousness
  • These people claims Spiritual Righteous Standing before God for their Soul as well.
  • They believe that no matter what they do with their flesh (soul and body) they will always be righteous.
  • Salvation Grace becomes a License to Sin.
  • When they sin, they confessed their righteousness
  • Sinful acts are pardoned with God’s grace.
  • Their salvation is of doubt as they misuse God’s grace.

Note: the two types of errors are learned from Ps John's 7 Sep 2006 message.










2006-09-04

Grace - God's Loving Power for You to become Your Very Best

In an earlier post "Grace is Unmerited Favor - This Common Definition is Wrong", two definitions, by Ps John and James Ryle were given.
"Grace is not a license to sin but an empowerment of God to enable us to be what we should".
"Grace is the empowering Presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do."
We have stressed on the "empowerment" side of the definition. We simply use "God's Presence & Power" or just "God's Power" in a few of the verses where Grace appeared and find them more enlightening and more powerful.
Today, we want to examine the "You" side of the definition. God's power is directed at "you" and for "you". In fact, Grace Power is in you. Grace's purpose is for you to do what your should (Righteous, Holy Living) and to be what God created you to be and to do what Has called you to do. We can see the following important points.
  
1. Different people has different types of grace because of different calling.
Eph 4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift.  
1Pet 4:10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 
Paul's own calling in Eph 3:7... I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
See Eph 4:11, Rom 12:6-13, 1 Cor 12:28.

2. Different people has different degree of grace due to differences in growth.
We had already cited that Jesus was full of grace John 1:12.
  
3. Grace is given only if you desire it.
Those who are proud does not want it. They do not think they need it and have no grace whereas the humble has it because of their desire. James 4:6. 

Those who want get right by following the Laws according to his own ability has fallen from grace. Gal 5:4. Heb 4:16 tells to approach the throne of God not just for mercy (forgiveness) but to find grace power for our need.

4. The key to grow in grace is to desire and yield to His Spirit.
We has seen Paul stressed many times that when we are weak then we are strong because only then do we seek and rely on the grace (God's power). God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. 2 Cor 12:9-10, Phil 4:13.
  
5. The desire for grace is increased as we realize how weak we are.
We must come to an end of oneself to start receiving the Grace of God. Salvation is a start ….but Sanctification is a continuous process. The road of self-brokenness seems inevitable in this walk of grace.
  
6. Grace is given when we move out at take action.
Grace is for our growth. As we move out and draw on it, it grows inside of us. Phi 2:12-13 ... work out your salvation with fear and trembling; (13) for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. When can you tell you have the gift of healing ? It is by reach out to the sick and seeing them healed in the Name of Jesus Christ. How can you know you are a prophet ? By prophesying and check its against the Bible and the actual happenings.
  
7. Grace is given for us to be God's best for us.
God's best for us is also our best. We are created by God to fulfill certain role in His body and we are most satisfied and most valuable when we fulfill our created role. We become what we are created for. "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." John Piper

After Posting Note: Some have expressed concern that this definition of Grace took away the 'unmerited favor' of God. The 'unmerited favor' of God is in Mercy. We don't loose anything with redefinition. We gain better understanding and effectiveness in our living relationship with God. God's love gives us Mercy, Peace and Grace.

2006-08-30

"Grace is Unmerited Favor" - This Common Definition is Wrong

There are a few key words in the Bible that are given wrong definitions even though the definitions are widely accepted. Such wrong definitions created much confusion and a weak church. Grace is commonly defined as "God's unmerited favor to man". We even go into greater length to differentiate grace from mercy. Grace is defined as the getting the blessings/favors that we do not deserve and Mercy as NOT getting the punishments that we deserved.

With such fine definitions, we deceived ourselves that we have good and deep understanding of the terms of Grace and Mercy.

However, the definition of Grace as unmerited favor is wrong. I used to define grace as making up of two parts - unmerited and power. But after hearing James Ryle (Truthworks.org) preaching in Grace Chapel (gracechapel.net) on 23 Jul 2006 "Living a Legacy Part 4", I have to drop the unmerited part and just keep the power part. The unmerited part comes from God's mercy and need not be repeated in grace. In Tit 1:4, the benediction from Paul is "Grace, Mercy and Peace". (which matches well with 2Tim1:7 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control).

How to Judge the Correctness of a Definition?
1, Substitute the definition for term in the sentence/verse where the term is found.
2. Do it for all occurrences of the term in all the verses.
Let's try it for Jam 4:6... God resists the proud, but gives [grace] to the humble.
Unmerited favor does not make sense here. If it is unmerited favor, then the proud should have it too. In fact, the proud is more unmerited to receive it.
This is exactly like what Paul says in Rom 6:1b Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  

Defining Grace as "unmerited favor" causes grace to be misunderstood as a license to sin!
Other verses cited by James:
  • Gal 5:4b ye are fallen from [grace]. How can one falls from unmerited favor ? 
  • John 1:14b Jesus was full of [grace]. Is Jesus unmerited to have full of grace? Or is Jesus so bad that he need to be full of grace?

The Right Definition
Ps John of Petra Church defines grace as: "Grace is not a license to sin but an empowerment of God to enable us to be what we should".

James Ryle defines it as, "Grace is the empowering Presence of God enabling you to be who He created you to be, and to do what He has called you to do."

In shortest possible form, Grace is "God's presence" or God's power", for victorious, abundant, Christ-like, God glorifying living. Wherever that is the presence of God, there is power. God's power comes from His presence in us.

If we take grace as God's power, then it fits well in the above 3 verses cited. James 4:6, proud people don't see they need God's power. The humble people know the truth of their weakness and ask God for power. In Gal 5:4, if we rely on our own ability (our flesh) to be righteous, we do not need God's power and has indeed fallen, or depart from God's power (Grace). In John 1:14, Jesus is full of God's power and presence.

The Weak/Carnal Paul to Victorious Paul
What is the difference between the weak Paul, the Christian, of Rom 7:14-24 and the victorious Paul of 2 Cor 12:9-10 and Phi 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. The answer is the Grace of God as defined as God's presence and power. 

Salvation for all is God's mercy of unmerited favor. Christian growth (becoming like Christ) is depending on us to be full of grace (God's presence and power) through crucifying our flesh (self-will, self-confidence, self-capability, self-pride) and follow after the Spirit. It is about abiding in Christ, living from the Vine of God's presence and power and then be fruitful.

The Verses Coming Alive
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace(God's presence), that we may obtain mercy(unmerited favor), and find grace(God's power) to help in time of need.  

2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace(God's presence & power), and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let's compare, which definition gives better emphasis
  • Rom 11:6 And if by grace[unmerited favor of God], then is it no more of works: otherwise grace[favor] is no more grace[favor]. But if it be of works, then is it no more [God’s favor]: otherwise work is no more work.
  • Rom 11:6 And if by grace[Power of God], then is it no more of [men’s] works: otherwise grace[God’s Power] is no more [of God]. But if it be of [men’s] works, then is it no more [God’s power]: otherwise work is no more work. 
  • Eph 2:8 For by grace[unmerited favor] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
  • Eph 2:8 For by grace[God's power] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    • Grace is the God's power that comes from God and not of ourselves. The grace power is a gift, the unmerited, for us from God. Paul had already doubly emphasized that Grace was not from us (1st) and it was a gift (2nd) from God. There is no need to triple emphasis by saying grace is unmerited favor. Grace is the favor, the Power of God. Please note that grace,as presented above, while it was made available for all, it is only given if we asked for it (James 4:8).
Conclusion
Incorrect popular definition of key Christian words give rise to much confusion and a weak church. Defining grace as unmerited favor is wrong and creates the confusion that grace is a license to sin. To live a victorious Christian life, we need to understand God's Word correctly and we must define grace as the power of God's presence and power in us to enable us to Christ-like lives.

See part 2 Grace - God's Loving Power for You to become Your Very Best

See also the impact of the right or wrong defintions:  

Update 21 March 2013
Recently, I found a definition of Grace from John Bevere that is very similar to my definition of grace as God's presence and power to enable us to live out Christ-likeness.
John Bevere’s definition for Grace: “God’s empowerment that gives us the ability to go beyond our natural ability.” John's message on grace can be found in YouTube as well.
Note: John Bevere's definition was also pointed out in one of the comment. Sorry that I missed that.

The Right Meaning of Grace used by the famous Actor Andy Griffith
"I firmly believe that in every situation, no matter how difficult, God extends grace greater than the hardship, and strength and peace of mind that can lead us to a place higher than where we were before."

Grace is God's power given to those who ask for it especially those called by God to accomplish His will.

Watch out for the Abuse of Grace and here is the explanation:

Why Grace is often Abused as a License to Sin? Salvation!