Month: October, 2015

Baptism of the Dead

By Peter Eng
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Baptism for the Dead

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?” (1 Corinthians 15:29)

This is one of the more enigmatic verses in the Bible. I have been talking about the resurrection, and even though we did not come to this text, I would be remiss not to address it.

The plain reading of the text suggests to us that the Corinthians were practicing some type of vicarious baptism for the dead.  This resulted in the Mormons practicing such a baptism for their ancestors who are already dead. They think this avails salvation to them. In order to do this, they need to know who their ancestors are. Consequently, as a group, the Mormons have better genealogical records than anyone.

All Christians, however, reject this reading.

While the plain reading suggests vicarious baptism, it simply cannot mean that because:

  1. There is an absence of such a practice in the main Christian community from the earliest times. We know about this because writers from the historic Christian church wrote to denounce those who practice vicarious baptism. So it is clear the historic Christian faith did not read the verse this way.
  2. It is extremely unlikely that Paul would not comment of this practice which is essentially magic through the sacrament. This is contrary to everything in Scripture about the sacrament of baptism.
  3. Such a teaching makes it totally unnecessary for a person do respond to God. All he needs is for his descendants or some other person to be baptized on his behalf. It is not a benign practice, but one fraught with assumptions that there is something magical in baptism. It contradicts the tenor of Scripture.

There are myriad views on what the verse means, and there is no commonly agreed interpretation on this verse. If you wish, you may find them in critical commentaries that will list the views and reasons for them. What I want to do here is to let you know which view I find the most feasible.  I can’t claim credit for this view, I can only claim credit not to add another view to the existing ones.

I think the view that is most straightforward is to take the preposition “for” as “for the sake of.” This is a viable use of the Greek preposition. The text then reads: “Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the sake of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for their sake?”

This reading is natural without forcing the text. It simply uses the preposition in a way that is commonly used by Paul in other places.  There is nothing metaphorical or symbolic in this reading and it coheres well with what we can expect in the Corinthian situation. So what does this mean?

This is a phenomenon quite commonly seen even today in Singapore. This happens when a believer has departed in the Lord. He is saved, his soul has gone to Jesus, and his body is waiting for the resurrection. He leaves behind family members who are reluctant to convert. When the living see that if they want to be with their loved one beyond the grave, they have to also embrace the faith as their loved one. So they make a commitment of faith and get themselves baptized for the sake of those who are dead. So they are baptized “for the sake of the dead.”

Let me illustrate from my own life experience. My own paternal grandmother understood that her son (my dad) had died in the Lord. Even though she has been practicing traditional Chinese religion, she wanted to be with her son. She believed in Jesus, but found the social ties of her religion too strong to sever. Yet on her death bed she decided she wanted to be with her son, and was baptized for the sake of her dead son.

I like to suggest this is the simplest, grammatically correct without any contortion of language, and culturally probable explanation for this enigmatic verse.

.


FREE subscription – click button below.

subscribe-buttonSEND the subscription email that’ll be auto-generated in your own email program when you click this SUBSCRIBE button.


 

Collision Over Abilities

thumb_COLOURBOX5027465Audio Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD

Pastor Peter’s “Letter to My Grown Children: Our Father”

.

.

.

.


An open letter to my grown children

Hi guys,

I suspect “mucho macho” is more Spanglish than Spanish. But the expression clearly conveys the idea of “very macho.” In English, there is more than a hint of disapproval with the use of “macho.” In fact, the Spanish word “machismo” is understood in English as having an exaggerated sense of masculinity, and is almost always used in a bad sense. Many years ago, a dear Seminarian friend of mine who was a missionary to the Spanish speaking people pointed out to me that “machismo” in Spanish simply means “maleness.” “It is common for the Latin community to talk about what it means to be a man, about maleness,” he explains. “But in America, when you open your mouth to talk about maleness, you are immediately rejected as a ‘male chauvinist pig.’” (In Chinese, to be a man (nánzǐhàn) suggests courage, personal responsibility, etc.)

I heard those remarks more than 30 years ago, and I shelved it as an interesting factoid, but probably not very relevant to my world. Yet, of late, I am thinking that the subject of maleness is actually very relevant. I have been deliberating on what it means when we say, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name …” What is the Fatherhood of God? There is something in the Fatherhood of God that meets our needs because of the failure of our own fathers, and of our failure as fathers. God our heavenly Father is the perfect father we long for in our earthly father. Yet too many people can only see the failures in their own fathers.

My relationship with my father was distant. I could not connect with him in his actions, his philosophy of life, etc. That changed when mom, (at that time we were only starting to go out), said to me, “It is obvious that your father loves you very much.” I was incredulous. She must be seeing things I don’t see. But your mom’s remarks made me want to relate to my dad, so perhaps I can see what she sees as obvious, and what I saw and painfully obvious – not. Thanks to mom, I hung out with my dad more and began to understand him better. And as things would have it, he died not long after I started hanging out with him more. So I have mom to thank for saving me from indifference towards my dad.

Every son or daughter views his or her own father and develops an understanding of fatherhood and maleness from there. Our earthly father can be a model of maleness or a negative example of maleness. We use him as a measure of what we like, or not, about maleness – and fatherhood.

When we come to faith in Jesus, and he teaches us to call on “Our Father in heaven” we may do a double take. We can see in God the ideal Father, but more commonly, we see in God our heavenly Father only as what our father is not. That is, we sort of say, “OK, I know God is our ideal heavenly Father. So … he is not like my earthly father.” We can’t really pin point what it means for God to be our heavenly Father, we can only say what he is not, as our heavenly Father. By extension, we can’t really say what we want of ideal maleness because we can’t articulate ideal fatherhood.

This failure has consequences. On my part, I decided, “I don’t want to be a father. I know I will fail in any fatherhood.” For some daughters, it is to give up on what God as Father might look like, and start relating to God as mother, and argue for “Our Mother in heaven.” Which, interestingly, almost never happens to sons no matter what the failure of their fathers might have been. For a son to give up on finding the fatherhood in God would be for him to give up on his own identity as a male. He may continue to have a mental image of God his heavenly Father only in terms of what God is not (that is, not like his earthly father), but this vagueness would have to do until he discovers God as heavenly Father.

I also recall in Seminary that one of the least known aspects of God is God as Father. We say the Trinity is “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Yet the Fatherhood of God is so little known or even studied. It is there is Scripture, but it is all over. It doesn’t come to us in a sustained discourse.

A deep study of the Fatherhood of God is pretty scary. For a son or daughter, it can be a journey into painful places where their own fathers have failed, or worse, to see their failed fathers in God whom they are supposed to love. For a father, it can be an excruciatingly painful journey because in addition to seeing the failure of their fathers, we enter into ourselves and face our own failure as fathers.

Ideal fatherhood. Ideal maleness. These are scary even to explore. When we see only failure in fatherhood, and consequently in maleness, mucho macho can simply mean more of a bad thing.

Yet Jesus invites us to find God as Father. He tells us to begin our relationship with God as “Our Father …”

All of humankind never once fully understood perfect fatherhood. Adam fell into sin before he became a father. He was never once a perfect father even though he had enjoyed God as his perfect heavenly Father. The sons and daughters of Adam never knew the perfect relationship of father to children and children to father. At the same time, we note that the primary way in which Jesus related to the first person of the Trinity is “Father” and his primary relationship to the first person of the Trinity is “Son.”

One small example of Fatherhood and Sonship in God the Father and God the Son can be seen in the following.

Matthew 11 25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.” 27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Jesus stood as Son to Father, the Father stood as Father to Son in the Trinitarian relationship. Jesus also makes it clear that “no one” knows Jesus the Son as God the Father. And “no one” knows God the Father as Jesus the Son. There we have it. No one in all of humanity ever understood the true fatherhood of God. No wonder sons and daughters cannot understand their earthly fathers!

In his simple assertion that “no one” knows the Father as he does, Jesus points us to the solution. We need to come to the place of utter hopelessness in understanding true fatherhood that we find the true deliverance. Jesus points us to the bleakness of finding God’s Fatherhood. But he also points to the true hope – in himself. While “no one” knows the Father, there is the Son who knows the Father! Jesus the Son knows the Father! There is someone who knows the Father. Jesus.

Good News. Not only does Jesus know the Father, he is able to “reveal him.” Jesus is able to reveal God the Father “to whom the Son chooses.” For every son and daughter disillusioned by his or her father, there is a Father in God for whom our heart longs. And Jesus has come to reveal that Father to us.

After Jesus declares both the hopelessness of finding our true Father, and how he provides the solution in himself, he says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

The burden of not having the perfect Father we crave, and the burden of not being the father we ought to be, can be laid to rest. The hopelessness of true fatherhood to which we have surrendered ourselves finds deliverance in Jesus!

Sure. Jesus bears our wearied burdens in all of life when we come to him. That is true. It is the broader reference. But the specific reference is to fatherhood.

To the impossible burden to discover true fatherhood, to the heart’s longing to find our true father , and to become the true father, Jesus says, “Come to me.” To those who go to Jesus to find true fatherhood, he says, “I will give you rest.”

Jesus recognizes the full extent of failed fatherhood in humanity. And he has come to redeem failed fatherhood. He knows the Father, and wants to bring us into the heart of our heavenly Father. He knows our failures as fathers and calls us to first find God our father and discover in our Father the true fatherhood for our children.

Your less than perfect,

Pa Pa

.

Who is a Witness?

By Peter Eng
.

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Proposition

This is a short fact-sheet to demonstrate that the term “witness” in the Bible is used as we would normally mean witness: someone who sees an event in person and testifies to it. In this regard, the term to “witness for Christ” is fundamentally flawed. The Bible itself uses the term “to evangelize” or to “proclaim the Good News.” While we appreciate the attempt to make the work of proclamation for the good news the joy and privilege of every Christian, the term “witness” is still the wrong term. We may substitute “proclaim the Good News” with “sharing the Good News” or “sharing how Jesus saved me” etc. But witness should be removed from our vocabulary when we talk about the proclamation of the Good News. Bearing witness was the work of the Apostles who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus.

You are invited to check out all the references in the Bible to see if there is any justification to suggest we can be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus. Below are all the references to the word “witness” in Acts.

Evidence

References in Acts Usage
Acts 1 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus talking to the disciples
Acts 1 21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” Very clear that witness refers to eye-witness, and that they understood the earlier commission to be the appointment of the witness of 12 apostles to the nation Israel and beyond.
Acts 2 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it.  12 Apostles as eye-witnesses
Acts 3 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this 12 Apostles as eye-witnesses
Acts 5 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 12 Apostles as eye-witnesses
Acts 6 They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law.  Eye-witness in court
Acts 7 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. Eye-witness in court
Acts 10 39 We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.  12 Apostles as eye-witnesses
Acts 10 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 12 Apostles as eye-witnesses, and others
Acts 13 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people. 12 Apostles as eye-witnesses
Acts 22  15 You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ Commissioning of Ananias to Saul/Paul who saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul as eye-witness to Gentiles.
Acts 26  16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me.  Paul as eye-witness of the resurrected Jesus
Acts 28 23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. He witnessed to them from morning till evening, explaining about the kingdom of God, and from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets he tried to persuade them about Jesus. Paul as eye-witness of the resurrected Jesus

Conclusion

At no point can we be called witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. We should abandon the term “witnessing for Jesus” and use an alternate term.

This is just another example of our being biblical @theWell. We will say what Scripture says and not say what Scriptures does not say, regardless of our own preferences or popularity of an idea. We recognize the good intention of Christians who popularized the term “witnessing” to refer to the proclamation of the Good News. We support the intention and goal, but the term is misplaced.
.

 

FREE subscription – click button below.

subscribe-buttonSEND the subscription email that’ll be auto-generated in your own email program when you click this SUBSCRIBE button.


Pastor Peter’s “Letter to My Grown Children: Praying for Cyrus-Darius”

.

.

.

.


An open letter to my grown children

Hi fellas,

The United States is not merely a country. The US sets the tone for the rest of the world. She first defeated Germany and Japan to give us a world free from fascism. She took down communism, in the Soviet Union, and Capitalized communist China. The world we know it today is the bequest of the US: automobiles, air transport, computers, internet, entertainment, military development, world economy, war and peace, and world culture. The President of the US affects the whole world – whether we like it or not. There is an urgent need for us to pray for the next president of the United States. The current one has failed America and the world.

Obama promised to turn the US economy around by 2010. It is now the end of 2015. The US economy is limping along and the number of poor has spiked. Under Obama the number of people needing food stamps rose to 47,000,000. The middle class shrank. Businesses are choked by compliances. Small businesses died, big businesses prospered, creating an even bigger gap between the rich and the poor. Large numbers of people are unemployed, and even more are underemployed. He borrowed huge amounts of money to turn the economy around. We have a huge debt and a bad economy because he used that money to support his own agenda rather than to turn the economy around. All the young people are now straddled with an incredible debt to pay. Obama gets an F on the US economy.

Obama’s incompetence in the US is exceeded by his incompetence in foreign policy. Since he came to power, he overthrew Libya’s government and left the country in chaos. He withdrew from Iraq too early, creating a vacuum filled by ISIS. He condemned Bush for regime change in Iraq but is doing the same against Assad in Syria, creating ISIS, 250,000 dead Syrians, and the current refugee crisis. He has no effective response to the ISIS he created. He did next to nothing to prevent the Russian grab for Ukrainian territory. His pivot to Asia and provocation of China are totally unnecessary. He is supposed to have done a fantastic job with the Iran nuclear deal, and what we see is that it freed billions of Iranian assets, which seems to coincide with Iranian support for Assad with Russia, and another round of violence by the Palestinians supported by Iran. As we speak, Iran did a missile test in violation of the deal. Obama failed to be a force for good around the world. Obama gets an F grade, and if there is one lower, I will give it. The world is a worse place today than when he took office in 2009.

On the moral-ethical front, Obama has created a monster against which generations of Americans must fight against. (1) He lied about his view of marriage to get Christian support and then turned around and supported same-sex marriage. He appointed two liberal justices to the Supreme Court who then ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. The advance of the LGBT agenda is clearly Obama’s doing. (2) He is an active advocate for the murder of babies still in their mothers’ womb. Today, we have Planned Parenthood talking about how to rip up babies so the parts can be sold at the best price. Why doesn’t the whole world see that this deep darkness is supported by Obama who had all along supported the cruelest of all abortion practices—partial birth abortion? (3) Perhaps the worst that Obama did has been to listen to the plight of everyone except the plight of Christians. By now, I am prepared to say that I cannot regard him as a Christian. (He belongs to the extra left black liberation movement, which may or may not be Christian.) He has no heart for the Christians slaughtered in Syria and around the world. How can a Christian not have even a smidgen of care for another Christian? “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” By this I know Obama is not a disciple of Jesus. (4) Obama supports the worst of those who use race as reason for riots. (5) Obama’s administration abused the justice department to prosecute political opponents. (6) Obama and Clinton deliberately ignored the desperate pleas for help from the US embassy in Libya and the media cover up this morally irresponsible behavior. The list can go on.

There is only one way out for America and the world. A good President to lead America and be a force for good around the world. We need Cyrus, and Darius.

So who is Cyrus? Who is Darius?

When the Jews were exiled to Babylon and the land of Israel was desolate, God moved to turn things around. The Persians defeated the Babylonians and under Cyrus the Persian King, God’s people were liberated.

Ezra 1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

2 “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says:
“‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. 3 Any of his people among you may go up to Jerusalem in Judah and build the temple of the LORD, the God of Israel, the God who is in Jerusalem, and may their God be with them. …”

The Jews returned to Judah and began to rebuild the nation. They rebuilt the altar to sacrifice to God, laid the foundation for the temple, and began to rebuild it and to lay the foundation for the rebuilding of the city walls. Their opponents managed to get the succeeding Persian kings (Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes) who halted the rebuilding. But God raised up Darius who restored Persian protection over the Jewish rebuilding. (Ezra and Nehemiah).

Isaiah 44.28

In the ancient world as today, politics and faith are never truly separate entities. There is virtue is some separation given our moral and mental incapacity to relate the two rightly, but in the final arrangement, governance and faith are united in the Kingdom of God under the rule of Christ our Lord.

The most powerful person invariably affects the people under his sphere of influence for good or evil. The work of God progressed under Cyrus and Darius, but was temporarily stopped under the Ahasuerus and Artaxerxes. The good work done under Bush (43) can be continued and advanced by someone after the wicked Obama. Pray for Cyrus-Darius.

What is the Christian take on the coming election? There are many important issues for us to look at. We want a person who is competent in governance—that is a given. The thing we need to look out for is a President who will (1) broadly, advocate the Judeo-Christian values; (2) specifically, protect the life, welfare, and right of evangelism for Christians everywhere. We need a person willing to advocate righteousness and defend the disciples of Jesus.

Who among the candidates best fit this bill? Sadly, none of the Democrats candidates qualify. I am strictly non-partisan. Parties can change. I hope Democrats will begin to demand a leader who advocates Judeo-Christian values and protect the legitimate interests of Christians in America and around the world. What we need are Democrats and Republicans trying to outdo each other in the right things.

Cyrus

What about the Republican field? We easily disqualify Trump who is no more than a crook in a business suit (e.g. his Trump University scam). I have not examined all the Republican candidates in detail. As the crowd thins, we can evaluate better. At this point, it is clear that Ben Carson is the preferred front runner according to the polls. I am not prepared to rule out the others (except Trump). It does appear as though Carson is more Christian than Adventist from what he has been saying.

I think from here on, I will advocate Cyrus-Darius as the candidates Christians should support. I remain fiercely non-partisan. If the Dems produce a better Cyrus-Darius I will support that person. If Carson is the closest, I will support him. If somebody else, I will support that person. I refuse to become engaged in partisan politics. But we look for the qualities that best exemplify the Kingdom of God and support the ones who are so qualified. You all will be voting in the upcoming elections. Choose godly in Christ Jesus.

With all my love,

papa

Collision Over Sexuality

thumb_COLOURBOX5027465Audio Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD

Pastor Peter’s “Letter to My Grown Children: Ben Carson & SDA”

.

.

.

.


An open letter to my grown children

Hi fellas,

You know that I regarded Mitt Romney unelectable for Presidency because he belongs to a cult – Mormonism. There are aspects of Mormonism so patently irrational that someone with such views become unelectable. (e.g. Polytheism, extra Scriptural books, native Americans being Jews turned dark for their sins, etc.)

What about Ben Carson? He is a Seventh Day Adventist, and in evangelical circles, the SDA church is considered a cult. I like many things Ben Carson said, but is he electable? Even if you are not really interested in politics, you can learn a little about Seventh Day Adventism from here.

Ben Carson

The media has been very confused reporting about evangelical views on Ben Carson. I can’t speak for all evangelicals, but I offer my view as one who is familiar with the SDA.

First, what is a cult? Essential Truth: A cult perverts the teachings of the Bible to the point that one cannot find God’s redemption through their teachings. Conduct: A cult tends to claim they are the only ones who can saved, has founders and teachers they regard as equal or almost equal in authority as Scripture, and has oppressive or manipulative practices designed to hold the consciences of their members in captivity.

Unlike the Mormons, most SDA doctrines are similar to Evangelicals, such as the authority of Scripture, the Triune God, the deity of Jesus, the redemptive work he did on the cross, his return, etc. Where they stand out as being different from other Christians are: (1) the Seventh Day; (2) Adventism; (3) Faith and Health.

The Seventh Day. They are called “Seventh Day” because they hold to the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) as the proper day to worship. While I believe they are mistaken in this, I don’t think this error qualifies them as a cult. Worshiping God on the wrong day should not disqualify one from salvation.

The conduct of the SDA concerning the Sabbath, however, is disconcerting. They believe that anyone who worships on Sunday has the mark of the Beast which precludes salvation from all of us. This is supporting belief is core to the SDA, and makes salvation almost exclusively theirs. They are also legalistic about what it means to keep the Sabbath, like the Orthodox Jews, creating the kind of social structures Jesus repeatedly challenged and rejected. In addition, they have created a conspiracy theory that the government of the USA will eventually begin to persecute those who worship on the Jewish Sabbath. Consequently, they regularly engage in fear mongering about a government crackdown on them, when in reality, the US government can’t be bothered with them. There actions to support the Saturday Sabbath have clear features of a cult. So their seventh day error (minor) is made more serious with (1) condemnation of all others; (2) legalism; (3) conspiracy theory with fear mongering. In this last regard, you can understand why Carson supports the right to bear arms against a government that can turn tyrannical.

Ben Carson has been breaking the Sabbath as the SDA understands it. The SDA General Conference signed a petition called, “PLEASE DON’T” asking Carson not to go into politics. When Carson did not desist, they called for a formal hunger fast until Carson quits. He is considered “barely Adventist.” He is not supported by the SDA for run for office. It seems apparent that Carson rejects the cult-like manipulation of the SDA with regard to the Sabbath. While he has not spoken up against it or leave the SDA, his actions in breaking the SDA Sabbath, in rejecting their petition, and in refusing to submit to their formal hunger fast for him to quit, all speak well of him, that he is not conditioned by the mind control that SDA imposes on its members.

Adventism. They are called “Adventists” because they have an peculiar emphasis on the coming (advent) of Jesus. One of their founders (William Miller) predicted the return of Christ to be between 21 March 1843 and 21 March 1844. When nothing happened on 21 Mar 1843, he recalculated it to be 18 April 1844, still nothing happened, so a third date was proposed (22 October 1844). Of course nothing happened. They call it their “Great Disappointment.” Another person than proposed that 22 October 1844 was correct all along. What they got wrong was the event. On 22 October 1844, Jesus entered the “heavenly sanctuary,” that is, he left heaven, came to this place somewhere between heaven and earth, to conduct “investigative judgment.” It was a two-stage return.

Mrs Ellen G. White was one of the Millerites who claimed the gift of prophecy and visions. She galvanized this view of the pre-advent investigative judgment in the heavenly sanctuary teaching into the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The SDA will not claim her teachings are on par with Scripture, but they are slavishly committed to them as works that result from her gift of prophecy. She became the reference point from which they cannot depart. They could disagree with her theoretically, but practically, they say she has been given prophecies and visions and so she cannot be wrong. It is a deliberate doublespeak. However, it is also apparent that many in their ranks have reinterpreted her teachings. They ascribe to White more authority than any other Christian group.

Ellen G White

Their teachings about the coming of Christ are bizarre, and not supported by Scripture. In order to retain their teachings, they have to elevate the prophecies and visions of White, so her teachings should not be contradicted. Like the seventh day issue, which does not make them a cult, the supporting arguments are cult-like. Similarly, the strange teachings on the second coming do not make them a cult, but their resorting to the authority of White makes them cult-like.

Faith & Health. Adventists place a heavy emphasis on diet. In this regard, they look to the OT and suggest that the dietary laws of the OT should be more or less obeyed if we want to honor God in our bodies. They do not require people to abstain from food like pork, but strongly suggest it; and are strong advocates of vegetarianism or compliance with OT food laws. (e.g. Kellogg of the SDA creating cereal for breakfast.) They consider it a denominational tenet not to consume alcohol, coffee, tea, or anything with caffeine, and will hold health talks about the negative effects of caffeine, which are all very dubious. They established hospitals and other health institutions which probably form the thrust of their outreach. They are regarded as somewhat intrusive into the daily life of their members, extreme and controlling in their view of diet, and engage in pre-Christian legalism in their daily living. They do live healthily as a whole, but their health attraction is not enough to draw people in on account of their legalism.

Conclusion

My take is that the SDA were cultic in the way they operated and tried to control their members, but they have been loosening up. I find it hard to determine the extent to which they have relaxed their enslavement of the consciences of their members. They are not a viable denomination and we should never point a person to an SDA church, or subscribe to their teachings. I would consider them not a cult, but they are in that gray zone, and I may change my take if they become more extreme. I believe they are redeemed people (unlike the Mormons who are without the possibility of redemption within the Mormon Church.)

If we look at those who are “barely Adventist,” we have a more reasonable group of people. Carson is definitely regarded by the SDA as barely Adventist, not one they support, not one they hold up as example of what SDA should be. That speaks rather well of him.

The belief of worship on Saturday does not make him unelectable, but the beliefs created to support Saturday worship are potential problems. (1) Does Carson believe that we all have the mark of the Beast? (2) What is his view of the role of the government? Does he think it is patently evil and incompatible with his faith as the SDA teaches it? If so, why does he run, if not, why is he still in the SDA?

Saturday

I will be ready to say he is electable if he can address these two points satisfactorily. At this point, I am withholding judgment on whether Ben Carson is electable.

With all my love,

papa

Collision Over Truth

thumb_COLOURBOX5027465Audio Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD

Pastor Peter’s “Letter to Parents of Children Still in School: Exams”

.

.

.

.


An open letter to parents of children still in school

Dear parents,

Working around the exams of our children has been the accepted practice in Singapore for as long as I can remember. I think this comes from our heritage. The imperial exams in ancient China offered a path of success in government service. Working for the government was always the best deal. Trade skills were under appreciated. Businesses built over years could collapse overnight with the winds of change. To work for the government through good exam results was the surest and safest way towards power, security and money.

Exams are not evil. Employment by exam results was China’s great equalizer based on meritocracy rather than family connections or other forms of cronyism. Can you imagine a society where ability and skill count for nothing? To this day, humankind has not devised a better broad-based and effective alternative to exams. Employment by exam results is not a necessary evil, it is an imperfect good. Christians have every reason to thank God for the institution of examinations, even if we think there are better testing methods.

Commandment 1

To be part of the exam-taking system is to engage in something good. But you don’t need me to justify the importance of exams. We urge this upon our children.

It is with every good thing that we find the danger of idolatry. An idol is a good thing that becomes the ultimate thing. The greater the good, the greater the danger of idolatry. We cannot reject the good for fear of idolatry. Nor can we ignore the danger of idolatry because something is good.

What then is the appropriate emphasis on exams? When do good grades or the quests for success become idolatry? I like to suggest 2 considerations to discern whether we are engaged in idolatry or using a social good when we try to do well in exams. (1) The end of exams. (2) The fixed points.

The end of exams

Why do you want your children to do well for their exams?

Having the right answer is important because it directs our hearts and minds. If you can only say, “So my children will enjoy a better life,” you are engaging in idolatry for “the better life.” If you can only say, “So you enjoy beating your peers,” you are engaging in the idolatry of success. If you can only say, “So you can make more money,” money is your idol. Where is God in your answer?

I hated school. I studied so I could get my parents off my back. I tried to get away with minimum. Certainly not a good student. Then I met Jesus. Then I learned about living my life for God’s glory. If he had given me abilities, flourishing them is my God-given calling. I tell you the whole truth when I say Jesus redeemed me from laziness, mediocrity, indifference, and all things that frustrate parents.

My motivation was not fear of failure. Not to please my parents. Not for success in employment. My motivation was to live life to the full as God intends for me to live. If I use all that God has given me, I will live life to the full. If I remain bored with life, be it education, sports, life-long learning, skills development, I would have chosen emptiness, underperformance, and would waste away my life.

Soon after my conversion, it became clearer and clearer to me that when I live my life for Jesus, he will make me all that I can be. In addition to having a new motivation for doing well in exams, I had a renewed interest in running.

I’m only an above average runner, not competition standard. So I took up running. That is what God gave me and that is what I will use. I also took an IQ test. My score was reasonably good. Better than the 50th percentile in my school-placing would suggest. So I could do better than the 50th percentile if I tried. So in obedience to God’s call for me, I tried. And God blessed.

But a school life of poor discipline does not change overnight. I don’t think I came close getting the grades I could get, but they improved significantly. Perhaps more importantly, I began to develop a love for learning, and to live life to the full, be in school or sports.

What do you tell your children when you wish to motivate them to do well for exams? If you give them all the wrong reasons, and you yourself believe in all the wrong reasons, your reasons betray your heart. You have allowed a good thing to become the ultimate thing.

The fixed points

The real irony in my life is that when I wanted to glorify God with what he has given me by doing well in my exams, the older Christians discouraged me!

My first real Christian community was Zion Church. If you had known me then, you would see this fourteen year old sitting by himself on the second or third row during worship – not with his peers. I wanted to learn. I wanted to worship God on Sunday. This was the best hour of the week and I don’t want to miss out on anything.

When my dad became a Christian the following year, and he preferred Life Church, I went with him as an added incentive for him to worship God on Sunday. In the meantime, I was actively involved in the school Christian fellowship.

While I was in Life Church, someone urged me to join the Youth Fellowship. I declined. My involvement in the school fellowship took up enough time, and I could not spare my Saturday afternoons to attend the Youth Fellowship. This same person berated me. He challenged me with the question, “So do you study on Saturday when you don’t join the YF?”

“YES!” came my reply.

“Pppffff” He scoffed.

But I was undeterred. I understood my calling. I was behind in my studies. I had been unfaithful to what God had given me. I really needed to get back up to speed. I had my fixed points: worship and service in the school fellowship. That was enough. I did not need others to tell me what I needed to do. I do not need to prove anything to him. I am accountable to God. This man is no more than one of many Pharisees I will meet in my life. He is no more than one of those who only want to fill their program with people. He is not interested in my life giving glory to God. He used any emotional blackmail and mockery to populate his programs. He did not speak for God.

I think the opposite is true today. Students keep their noses to their books. Christian parents encourage that. But they can encourage studying to the point where there are no spiritual fixed points in their children’s life. They compromise worship and scale down on any activity that they think will take away from their children’s development. They will look for a worship that works around their children’s private tutoring, or ballet class, or music lesson.

What are your fixed points? Those immovable, uncompromisable, non-negotiable fixed points for your children and yourself.

If you work everything around your children’s exams, you need to ask if you are asking your children to make exams their idols. I see so many conflicted Christian parents in Singapore. On the one hand, we want our children to grow up strong in the faith. On the other hand, we tell them, through our actions that everything is moveable except their exams. Exams are the fixed points in their life. Even God is there to help them do well. “It’s all about you and your exams!”

Conclusion

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Christ in the Centre

There is only one God. There can be no divided center. No wheel can spin when the center is placed to the side. No Christian can live his life with purpose until God is his center. Not me. Not you. Not your children.

If Jesus is not the Lord of all, is he the Lord at all?
 

Pastor Peter

Collision In Court

thumb_COLOURBOX5027465Audio Sermon:CLICK
Bible References:

PowerPoint: DOWNLOAD