The Meaning and Value of Life, is the length of vital important?

The calling away of a young brother in Christ triggered some reflections on the value of our lives. It is not about how its length, its enjoyment, its wealth, nor about the suffering but rathere on whether we have completed the His calling for us. Only by the yardstick of our calling could we understand and accept life with its all joys and also all the pains.
Why God? 
Very sad to hear the news of the passing away of my former pastor' son. We saw how he has grown up, from one of the best Sunday School children, to a young man, a husband, and a good father. He was only 38 years old. He had fought and lived victoriously for 8 years against the brain tumor. He never ever raised any "Why me?" or any complaint against God, his father told me. I have no words to comfort the father. For I am tempted to ask, "why God?". We have witnessed many miracle healings of God even in this very church that his father served as a pastor. Why not heal him? He is still so young and the children are very young too.  I have to rethink about the meaning of life, and the purpose of God.

What is the yardstick to measure the value of life?
Must life be long in order to be useful and valuable?
Must we be married?
Must we have a family?
Must we have children that grow up well?
Must we have a good career, with a good salary, to live a comfort and luxury life?
Must we have wealth to give generously to others?
On the other hand, is a tragedy bad? Is an accidental bad? Is sickness bad? Is suffering bad?

What about Jesus? 
What about the martyrs, especially the young children, because of their refusal to denounce their faith in Jesus?

The key: 
Then I remember reading the life story of Jim Elliot when I was young. He was killed by the very people who he wanted to share the gospels with. His famous quote that touched my heart, that caused to response to a prayer to dedicated my own life too, to Jesus, as follows:

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. - Jim Elliot

The Yardstick
The yardstick for our life, it not how long it is. It is not about how wonderful, not about family, not about career, and nor about sickness nor tragedy nor whatever. It is all about the call of God on our life and whether we live out the His purpose in us that He has created us for.

Paul in his departing message wrote, 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

The key is whether we complete the race that God has call and put us in. Paul finished his. My young brother had surely completed his. 

Before this, Paul said, Phi 1v21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. ....  24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body

So we know, even heaven is a better place for us to go quickly, we are here to accomplish the purpose and calling God has for us. When our work is done, then God will call us back. Each in different ways, some we may think is great, even some ways where we may think it was bad. Because in whatever way we leave this world, God has His purpose and is for the benefits of some others. We will all find that out when we meet Jesus.

What is Greatness?
In 2 Tim 4:7 cited above, Paul gave 3 points 
  1. I have fought the good fight, 
  2. I have finished the race, 
  3. I have kept the faith.
Paul's teaching matches with my learning from Ancient Chinese Wisdom. It resonates with what Mencius said about being a greaet person - staying to one faith no matter what. Here are the details.

Mencius defines What is a Great Person.
孟子 “居天下之广居,立天下之正位,行天下之大道;得志与民由之,不得志独行其道;富贵不能淫,贫贱不能移,威武不能屈:此之谓大丈夫。” 
He lives with heart concern about the board world,
stands at the right position under the world,
walk out the great way of God.
When he is successful, he shared his success with the people.
Even when is not successful, he continues to stick to the righteous way.
Wealth and fame do not corrupt him.
Poverty and low position do not change him.
Power and threat do not succumb him.
That person is truly the great one.

Lao Zi defines what is longevity
Lao Zi gives a very interesting definition of longevity. It has nothing to do with the length of our life ata all. 

In Dao De Jing Chapter 33 verse 4 不失其所者久,死而不亡者寿。
Being true to oneself is lasting. Died and yet his legacy lives on is a long life.

Longevity is being true to oneself, to one faith, to his God, no matter what ---- unyielding to the temptation of richness, fame, lusts neither giving in to the pressure of persecutions, threats and sickness. He has fought a good fight. He has kept the faith. He has completed the race.

What is more? Leaving a legacy of good influence that touches the lives of present generations and generations to come. That's is truly a long life.

My young brother in Christ had not just finished the race, but left behind a legacy of an exemplifying life that touches not just all our lives and the future generations.

We shall all meet again in the great feast of the Lamb.

Lim Liat (c) 16 Oct 2016


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

Because the Gospel is preached simply as salvation from the penalty of our sins, we can easily misunderstand it as our license since my sins, whether past, present and future, are all forgiven already. What is the real message of the gospel? Salvation is not the end objective. Salvation is the path to good work. We are saved for good work. The objective of Salvation is that we may be like our Creator God with good works that glorify Him.
Many believers are confused by the hyper-grace message. On the one hand, it is preached that we are not saved by good works but solely by grace, through faith in the work of the cross of Christ. Hence, we are therefore freed to do whatever we like. Yet, on the other hand, we somehow feel that it is wrong to sin but we cannot explain why.  Ephesians 2:8-9 is often quoted to justify we are saved by faith alone.

  • Ephesians 2:8-9 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Paul said that some people accused him of preaching grace as a license to sin. In Romans 6:1  What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? He gave the answer in the following verses, 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. We are saved from sins to walk in the newness of life. The old life is sinful, new life is without sin, and we shall not walk in sins as that will be back into the old sinful life. 

But I find Ephesians 2:10 make the answer even clearer. 
  • Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Verse  8-9 shows how we can be saved by grace through faith. Verse 10 continue with the purpose, the starts with the 'FOR', and show the purpose of salvation as "for good works", that God has originally intended, which we failed because of our sins, and 'salvation' by grace, is for us to have the grace power to walk, not talk about, but by behavior, in the good works to show forth God's workmanship in creating us.

With this in mind, we can easily understand why James said, "Faith without works is dead". (James 2:26) So, if we claimed we are saved by grace and continue to walk in sins freely, then we can safely conclude that he is not saved. He did not understand the message of grace and there is no evidence of change. A saved person will at least know and struggle to get free from his bondage to sin. 

So, John explains this very clearly to us in:
  • 1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's[b] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
The purpose of salvation, which is Redemption, Righteousness, and Worship. The final outcome is the fellowship of God and men related rightly. We are saved for good works to glorify God.
When we get this right, we will not abuse grace as the license for sins. Some 'believers' could behave like the 2nd or 3rd generation rich folks who do all kinds of wild things and expect their rich parents bail them out. Do we only want God to bail us out of troubles but don't want to follow His ways? Jesus said, "If you love me then follow my commandments". So we cannot have Jesus and then do our own things.

Hope you are enlightened. We are saved by grace through faith to glorify God with our good works, proving that we are indeed children of God.

You may want to look at this too Understanding the "Radical" Grace Message of Joseph Prince to see how love causes repentance.

Lim Liat (c) 11 Oct 2016