Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 2 On Creation

Just to continue with Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics, here is one on creation.

Lao Zi's Dao De Jing 道德经
  1. verse 1 道 可 道 , 非 常 道 。 名 可 名 , 非 常 名 。 无 名 天 地 之 始有 名 万 物 之 母 。...
    Translated: The Way(Dao) that can be spoken off (named) is not the eternal way. The Name that can be named is not the eternal Name. No name is the beginning of the heaven and earth. Name is the mother of all things.

    No name, or the nameless, or the unknown (to man), the void is the beginning of all creation. Lao Zi  is wise to acknowledge that the Creator, the Way, cannot be named or fully described by man's words or wisdom. Any description is part a partial view of the real thing and therefore distort the real thing. It is the Unknown or Indescribable Creator that create all things from nothing.

    This is exactly when the Bible in Genesis say. (Gen 1:1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Gen 1:2) And the earth was without form, and void; ...

    If you think this is not scientific, let me point you the concept of Dark Energy and Dark Matter that the scientists now discovered their existence. Dark is used not as evil but as unknown, or cannot be seen.

    Naming of things is found in (Gen 2:19) And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought [them] unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that [was] the name thereof. 20) And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

  2. verse 40 ...天 下 万 物 生 于 有 , 有 生 于 无 。
    Translated ... All things under heaven have their being born of. The being of existence is born of void or the unseen.

    Again, we find the Bible Hebrew 11:3) ... things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Or to rephrase in the positive sense, the seen were made from unseen thing.
Lao Zi started with the eternal Way of the Creator that he did not know fully but caught the essential to tell us. The Bible in the Gospel of John tells us at the start that it is Jesus, the Word, the Way, the eternal life. (John 1:1) 太初有道,道与神同在,道就是神。 The Chinese version of the Bible relates well to Dao De Jing. In the beginning was the Way(Dao). The Way was in existence with God. The Way was in fact God. Lao Zi would be please the know the true Creator in person of Jesus Christ who will show him the Way.

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Cain & Abel - Behavior of Evil

I am very impressed with the rise of Korea movie and film industry in the late 90's till the present. It presents a fresh script and a differentiation from films of other countries. In the past, the films concentrate on violence, revenge, evil plots and sexual lusts to attract audience. They created bad influence - scheming, evil and violent. The Korean's plots, in general, stressed in righteousness, repentance and forgiveness, and creative solution to seemingly unsolvable evil attempts. It has strong historical background, beautiful scenery, and good conversation. Only weaknesses are always over-hearing of others conversations and the unnecessary jokers included to make the film funny. I did not do a research on the producers, directors, script writers. Not sure how much they are influenced by their Christian teaching. But among them, including the actors and actresses, they are a relatively higher proportion of Christians. They have very good TV serials with very biblical title like "Cain and Abel" with story line very much like the biblical story of Cain and Abel. Then there is the other one titled "East of Eden" which shows the evil empire building of some business men. It reveals that the one who give the titles are well acquainted with the Bible. It is great that they show the world that meaningful and attractive films can be made with Christian teaching, something that Hollywood started with in the very early days and somehow lost its ways. Is this the sign of the establishment of God's kingdom on earth, where the Christians take back from the world the lead roles in influencing the 7 gates or domains of a nation? They 7 gates or domains, given away by Christians in the past, are Arts and Entertainment, Business, Church & Religions, Distribution of the Media & Publishing, Education, Family and Government.

Why was Cain's Offering Rejected?
Going back to Genesis, Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. Each of them, out of their produce, made an offering to God. Abel's offer was accepted but Cain's offered was rejected. There were various explanations for the rejection. The reasons given are reasonable but not as close to the original text as I like. It is not to easy to find good support for them from the Bible text alone. Christian writings tend to suffer from such over-spiritualization. It is good to know but not too convincing. Some cited Heb 9:22 that without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. This presumes that they are making offering to God for forgiveness of sins. The Genesis text did not explicitly state that. We have to find support for that in other parts of the Bible if there be any which we will look at later (Let the Bible interprets itself). Offering to God does not always mean killing of animals. There is the grains offering too. (Leviticus 2:1-16; 6:14-18; 7:9-10; 10:12-13) It is a free will offering that is pleasing to God.

The Best vs the Leftovers
The closest acceptable reason that can be implied from the text is in Gen 4:4 where the description of Abel's offering are added - the firstborn and the fat portions. This tells us that Abel took great care in the preparation for the offering. He took the first and the very best(fat) from his flocks. Since Cain's offering was rejected, we can perhaps imply that Cain's offering was the opposite, or at least not up to the standard of Abel's. Cain offered the later corps and not too good crops. It is possible that Cain kept the best of his corps for himself and gave God the 2nd or left over corps. That is also how some people give their tithes and offerings to God- their loose change. Abel put God's first and gave God his best. Cain put himself first and give God the 2nd or leftovers. It was not surprising that Abel was accepted and Cain rejected.

The 'evil' Behavior of Cain
  1. I'm First, only First and always First. Others, even God is not as important: So, we know Cain from the way he acted - He is self-centered and God is lower in his priority. We can see that again when he bargained with God for extra protection so that he can be protected from others when he lived in the East of Eden. God is amazingly forgiving in His punishment. We should learn too - Don't over do or double punish a mistake.
  2. I'm always right. I'll never say sorry and won't repent since I'm always right. Instead of realizing his lack of sincerity towards God, he was angry at God for rejecting his offering. He was saying God was wrong to reject his offering and not he was wrong in offering of sub-standards things to God. The logic is amazing! But that is how proud people react. Try pointing out the error, even of some of your good friend. It is likely that we get a Cain's response of anger, defensive reasons and many excuses.
  3. I'll get rid of the ones that make me look bad. Instead of learning from the right people, he got angry at them for setting the standards and making him look bad. His logic is simple. For me to look good, I must get rid of those that are better than me. So, he killed Abel for making him loose his face with God. If there be no Abel, God will not know what or who is better! This is again faulty logic. But evil always has its own logic. Why was Jesus killed ? For the same reason that he made those at the top lost face. The evil ones will persecute the righteous ones. Abel was the 1st martyr of God for shining his light.
  4. I'll lie and resort to any means to protect myself. God asked Cain what happened to Abel. When God asked us a question, it was not that he did not know the answer. It was to draw and direct our attention. The first reaction of Cain was naturally and wonderfully crafted, a good spin, "Should I be responsible for my brother?". But it was actually amazingly idiotic. He was thinking and treating God like a man that could be tricked easily. Maybe that was what he thought of God and gave God no respect at all. Similarly, we found Judas doing exactly the same thing when Jesus pointed him out as the traitor. When a thief is caught red handed, he would naturally admit and seek forgiveness. Judas ran away to accomplish his intended plot!
What can we learn from Cain?
I can watch out for the evilness - unrepentant, cruel, and intention & plot to harm and remove us. Jesus has warned us to be wise as serpent and harmless as doves. There are such evil around us and we need to be watchful. We need lots of prayers, love and bearing of pains to try to reach out to people like that. May God give us His grace to empower us when he directs us to help people like that. Don't feel bad when you fail. Let God take care of them and let God restore you as He did for Joseph.

Bible Interpreting the Bible - The Lights from Other Parts of the Bible
With the computer, it is easy to look up "Cain" and "Abel" and find the other relevant verses that talk about them. The recommended FOC bible software are e-Sword and The Word.

we can pick up the following verses:
Mat 23:35  ... the blood of innocent Abel
1John 3:12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous.
Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.
Heb 12:24  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Jude 1:11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion.
We find the above verses supporting us to say that Cain was the evil one and seeking his own selfish gain. He placed his possessions above God. Abel gave us the example of trusting and obeying God no matter what, even the giving up of hist life.

I hope that you also learn to properly understand and interpret the Bible. Let us not over spiritualize things and fail to gain the practical lessons.


Evidence Based Faith - Not Blind Faith

To believe in Jesus requires faith. But it is not blind faith. Neither is it something that needs a lot of determination. We don't have to recite hundred or thousand of times that Jesus is my Savior as if repeated saying could make a lie to become a truth.

Jesus himself explained very clearly in
John 5: 36 ...For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.
John 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
Jesus wanted to look at the work that He has done. The good work, such as the feeding of thousands, healing of all kinds, and even resurrection of the dead and His dead on the cross and the resurrection. For the work, even without the resurrection, believe that Jesus is an honest and powerful man and then believe his claim that He is the Son of God. A good and honest man does not lie. Jesus' dead on the cross was because of the claim that He was God, a truth that he could not lie or deny. For that, He had to die on the cross. There is no magic here. Just follow the simple logic of reasoning.

Finally, have you considered that it is not your faith that work the miracle but the faithfulness of God's Words. Our faith in a fantasy will not make the fantasy comes true. We believe in God's Word because it really works. Our faith is evidence based and hence it is easy, real and effective. There is nothing mystical and don't make salvation too hard. Just believe that Jesus is who he said he is from the works that he did.


Linking Ancient Chinese Wisdom & the Bible

If you have been reading my blog, e.g. Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics you will probably already know that I am trying to establish a link between the richness of the Chinese Culture and Literature to the Bible. On the one hand, it is an effort to reach out to the Chinese and to connect them to the Bible and Jesus. On the other hand, it is trying to introduce the wealth of Chinese Culture to fellow believers and hoping to clarify some of the misunderstandings if there be any.

Here is another attempt, a commentary on Lao Zi's Dao De Jing verse 33 and the discovery of four principles to greatness inside. The links are:
Let me know what you think.


Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 1 Knowing a Person

In my study of Ancient Chinese Classical Literature, I came across verses that are very similar to the Bible, almost word for word, rather than just the principal thoughts. There is always the intention to come out a such a list in future when I have time. On 2nd thought, that time will never come. A list is compiled over time one item at a time. So instead of waiting for the Kairos time that may never come, here is the Chronos time that I can start writing a few.

1. Contentment is Richness.
In Lao Zi's 老子 Dao De Jing verse 33 , we find the saying ... part 5 知足者富 He who knows contentment is rich. 1Ti 6:6  But godliness with contentment is great gain. The Bible added Godliness. One can only have peace and contentment when we do the right thing and there be no regrets or a guilty conscience.

2. The Eyes Reflect the Inner Self
Mencius (Meng Zi 孟子) 孟子 离娄上 “存乎人者,莫良于眸子。眸子不能掩其恶。胸中正,则眸子了焉,胸中不正,则眸子眊焉。听其言也,观其眸人,人焉廋哉?”.
The English translation from this Chinese Text Project is ...
Mencius said, 'Of all the parts of a man's body there is none more excellent than the pupil of the eye. The pupil cannot be used to hide a man's wickedness. If within the breast all be correct, the pupil is bright. If within the breast all be not correct, the pupil is dull. Listen to a man's words and look at the pupil of his eye. How can a man conceal his character?

Luk 11:34-36
34  The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
35  Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.
36  If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light.

3. We know a Person by His Works
Confucius said in 论语 子曰:“始吾于人也,听其言而信其行,今吾于人也,听其言而观其行。于予与改是。” The translation is “In the beginning, I hear and believe that they will do what they say. But now, I will just hear and must observe the action and then form the conclusion. Or in Jesus’ word, Mat 7:16  You shall know them by their fruits.

Now that I have a place to put the list, I can grow this list over time. (Just added in the 3rd point when I was writing this The Principles for Greatness.)

Start Now
I hope you also discover a principle of success here. As the old Chinese proverb says, the journey of a thousand miles begin with a step. Take a small step now towards the destiny of your calling. Don't wait for time to do the big leap. Starts a little now.

Next: Similar Verses in Bible and Chinese Classics 2 On Creation


Freedom and Its Myth of More Freedom is Better

Freedom is such an interesting word. A word of contradiction. Freedom to choose is the basic right. Remove it, the right to choose freely, and love has no meaning. Yet the very act of loving someone will result in narrower scope of freedom. A happily married person has less freedom than a unmarried man. Yet, the married man has happily exchanged his greater scope of freedom for something better, the love and care and committed relationship with his wife. Commitment, trust worthiness, the ingredients for relationships is usually achieved at the willingly narrowing the scope of freedom. I can freely leave but I choose to stay because something, the relationship, is more important than the freedom to leave.

Hence, "More Freedom = Greater Happiness" is a myth. We need freedom to start but seeking more freedom alone will not bring us happiness but chaos and stress of insecurity.

True Freedom in found with Boundaries
A key reason is Freedom must be defined within a context. Man does not live alone. My freedom to move my hands is restricted by the boundary of your body. My right of freedom ends when I touch you boundary. Within the boundaries of others, I have my freedom. Boundary needs not just be your body, but includes your possessions, and also your thinking and beliefs and your right of freedom too. So we discover that "True Freedom in found with Boundaries". Violating the boundaries also means loosing our right of freedom. To be truly freed, we need to find the boundaries. Another way of saying it is "Freedom comes from knowing the Truth".

Freedom comes from knowing the Truth
In John 8:32, Jesus told us that we shall know the truth, and the truth shall make us free. Where is the truth? Or like Pilate, most people will ask. "What is truth?" John 18:38. The answer is actually found in the preceding verse, 8:31 "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed". The way to truly know, experience first hand, of the truth, is to follow and continue in Jesus' words - or in today terms, the Bible or even more specifically, the Laws, summarized as loving God and loving others as oneself. So, the Laws are given so that we may know the truth, lively rightly, and continue to have our freedom to act and not be in bondage of sins,. We can heartily agree with James(Jas 2:12 ) that the Laws should be rightly called the Laws of Liberty - following them preserves our freedom.

It is important to note that it is not just about knowing the Bible but in following and living in the Bible's teaching that we can know the Truth and be freed. Head knowledge alone is not true knowing. True knowing is with the heart and it takes the will to act out the head knowledge and thereby prove with conviction what the truth it. There is about the level of talking swimming and the deeper level of real swimming the water.

Lies Bind Us - Cause us to Loose our Freedom
Not knowing the truth, and believing in lies, will lead us to bang our heads against walls in the exercising of our freedom or more likely, the lack of exercising our freedom to try new things due to our fear. People who are addicted, who are trapped in co-dependency relationships, continue to suffer the abuses, because of the lie that one cannot get out or live independently. See Christian Transformation & Growth -The Unified Model more details.

Truth of Relationships
We are created to have healthy relationships with God and with fellow men. Healthy relationship starts with willing choice of freedom, but are build with trust and commitment at the expense of giving out of one's span of freedom to spend on the other willingly. Happier and joyful relationship is gained with increase investment of time and resources in the relationship. It is in respecting the rights and life of the others.

The Secret of Freedom & Happiness - Not more freedom but more commitment
The key to freedom and happiness therefore lies not in seeking more freedom, but in knowing the truth, a life of relationship and righteousness, and committing to living rightly and in the process we gain happiness and enhances our freedom to act! It is not more span of freedom, but a narrower commitment! May you discover the truth of true freedom and pursue righteous commitment to Jesus and His words.

Pursuing Righteousness as the highest priority of life is not just found in the Bible, but also in the Ancient Chinese Classic:

The fundamental principle is seeking after Truth and persevere in Righteousness and keeping purity. --- From Outcome Based Strategies – The Teaching of I-Ching.

The Western world seeks Freedom. The Chinese seek Righteousness, law and order, more than freedom per se. Don't believe in the Devil's lie of more freedom. Believe in the Bible of Knowing Jesus Christ and be transformed to live in righteousness and thereby be freed.

See If Adam knows I-Ching, he would not have sinned on how to be freed and also Obedience Brings Freedom

Related posts on freedom:


The Most Famous Unknown Lady & Her Most Memorable Service - The True Worship

In Mar 14:9, we find "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. ".

We are to remember her act of service (of worship) and her. Yet, Mark and the same incidence recorded in Mat 26:6-13, did not give her name. Some people consider a similar story told in John 12:1-8 to the same one. They both happened in Bethany, in roughly the same time, 6 day and 2 day before the passover. Same perfume used but differed in where it was apply, head vs feet. But if we just consider the anointing is to prepare for Jesus' body, then anointing from the head to the feet was a complete picture. If this is the case, then we can perhaps infer that the lady was Mary of Bethany.

There is a similar anointing by yet another unknown lady recorded in Luke 7:36-38 in the house of Pharisee with a name called Simon too! But this one occurred at an earlier time and in a different location, Galilee instead. She received a commendation and acceptance from Jesus. "Thy sins are forgiven; Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace".

I personally think that missing out the name of the lady is a double emphasis on importance of the act. So we must discover what the key lessons for us here.

Most of us will agree that she has done a service to Jesus. It was an act of worship to Jesus out of her depth of heart expressed in real economic terms of 1 year of wages for a useful purpose of preparing Jesus' burial.

Let look at this act from what Jesus said and learn about the true form of worship service.

Mar 14:6-8  And Jesus said,
  1. Let her alone; why trouble ye her? 
  2. she hath wrought a good work on me; she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
  3. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.
  4. She hath done what she could
Firstly, true worship service will invite criticisms and attacks.
The true worshiper has a different value system than the world. True worshiper values God, Jesus our Lord, more than anything else in the world. For worldly minded people do not understand our actions. They don't value Jesus that highly. They think we are wasting resources. Why do you tithe 10% to your church? Why do you spend so much time in serving and giving to others. Keep them for your ourselves to enjoy. Give to the those in needs. The Church are so rich that they are wasteful (Could be true consider the misuse, abuse, and lavish living of the leaders that even got some into jails that are happening worldwide). Giving is our responsibility. Keeping the leaders accountable to the church members, a duty often neglected by members, is an important responsibility and need a separate discussion. Nevertheless, the way we live and give to God and subsequently to others show how we value God and how we truly worship God. We are to worship God in spirit, in truth, with all our might and mind and that also means with all our substance and wealth. The all to God include God providing some for us. In fact, God set a simple standard of 10% for Him and 90% for us! But most, like the unknown lady, give much more than the 10% and we don't even think about it. When God speak to us about a need, we will give even though we have already done above the 10%.

Secondly, worship has a purpose - glorify Jesus.
In this particular case, she was preparing for Jesus' burial. Now we worship to lift up the Name of Jesus; to draw people unto Jesus. How do we do that? By the way we live - our behavior, our giving, our care, our kindness, our speech. We have covered one form of giving in point 1 above. The difference from the world draws the attention. They think we are stupid to give but they also recognize that we are serious about our Jesus. Jesus must be so real to us for us to do such 'silly' things.

Thirdly, Doing Good Things need to be Done at the Right Time, Manner and Place and to the Right People for the Right Cause.
Notice Jesus did not say don't give to the poor. Jesus said it is good to give to them. There are right time for doing those good things. The right thing for the unknown lady to do with her precious perfume kept for wedding, was actually to pour it out on Jesus.

Fourthly, Do what you Could & Have and not what you Couldn't or Have Not.
She done what she can to her best to serve Jesus. God does not want us to over extend ourselves. God is please whenever we use what we have to give and to serve Him. The fact is that God does not need our gifts or serving but rather it is the relationship and the loving heart expressed in our giving. The highest form of giving, as Jesus said, is our lives. We have started giving our lives to God the day we accepted Jesus as our Savior and Lord. We are in the process of learning to give more of ourselves to Him.

So we can summarize worship as
  1. Right Cause - Glorify Jesus
  2. Right Manner - With our hearts, expressed in acts of our service and giving of things that are valuable.
  3. Right Time 
  4. Right Place
  5. To Right People
Worship is how we behavior in this world towards God and others. Our work is worship too.

Don't be Blackmailed by Prosperity Preachers
Sadly, there are preachers who use this touching story to emotionally and spiritually 'blackmail' people to give much, if not all of their wealth, to the church building and other projects. Some even want them to pledge future earnings & wealth now to the church !

Don't be forced into such giving by the preachers or such people in the church. Leave such churches if you cannot stand the pressure.

Worship is More than Just Singing & Dancing.
Singing and dancing are some forms of worship. They are not the only forms. Singing is something that most people like. Look at the popularity of Karaoke. Just singing with out meditation and reflection on the worship songs could be just the same as singing Karaoke songs.

Worship is About Spending Time with Him too.
The Bible did not relate how the unknown lady was able to do such a sacrificial(to use outsider, not to her) act of worship. If we say the lady is Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha, then we could relate better to her relationship with Jesus and the spending of her time with Jesus as top priority.

Luke 10:42  But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Worship is Obedience.
John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments. Spending time with Jesus will lead us to understand Him and His will. We can be so charged up so as to be able to act out and to keep the things he tell us to do. By our acting on His commandments, we get to know Him better.

Eph 3:17-19
17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.

Seek God first. Taste His Goodness and Do the Right Things. Good things must be done at the Right Time in the Right Manner at the Right Place and for the Right Cause.