The Modern Local Church | 08/25/2014
There can be two different approaches to Ecclesiology; one from below, the other from above. The former is inductive and studies the phenomena of churches to decide on an answer. The latter is deductive and proceeds from principles clearly articulated in Scriptures. Here we approach ecclesiology from above.
1. The Holy Spirit will not appoint two different churches in the same location; He doesn't divide, He unites. Either one of them is from God and the other not or both of them are not from God. God is not the author of confusion.
2. Structure doesn't matter. The Temple didn't mean God was compelled to stick to it. When there is no place in the Synagogue, Tyrannus Hall is open. Sometimes, God will tell His own to Come out of them.... It also means judgment.
3. Evangelists can move from place to place and preach the Gospel. In a new place, where the church had not earlier been (i.e. where there is no believing community), a church is thus called out. Where there is already a believing community, the saved belong to that local community.
4. Where the community and its leadership are not truly believing (nominal), believers can reach out to them. However, an unbeliever appointed by humans in leadership has no ecclesiastical authority from God. OT Temple priesthood was hereditary and could be interfered with by a King; however, NT Church leadership is spiritual, not organizational.
5. Denominational planting is not church planting.
6. In modern times, labels are used for registration, identity, distinguishing from others, and uniting. While such may be temporarily needed in some cases, the only name under which all believers unite is the Name of Christ. Every other attitude for uniting is Babel. Labels may be functional, but never essential, no matter what the claim.
7. The Church is not a humanly centralized organization. It the assembly of called out believers.
8. When believers are label conscious and where label prevents believers in a place from being one or from sharing and working together, that label is functioning against the Body of Christ in such context.
9. Ministry of local church reaches out to global believing community. Paul and Barnabas were sent out by a local church. In modern times, Christian music and scholarship crosses boundaries and unites.
10. "I belong to Peter", "I belong to Paul" are signs of carnality and unspirituality; these are evidence of immaturity and are full of competition, self-promotion, and hideous pride.
God-Centered Gospel - Zac Poonen (Excerpts) | 08/23/2014
Christians are generally speaking, categorized into two groups as follows:
(1) "Roman Catholics" and "Protestants" - depending on birth;
(2) "Episcopal" (conformist) and "Free church" (non-conformist) - depending on church-pattern;
(3) "Born again Christians" and "Nominal Christians" - depending on an "experience";
(4) "Evangelicals" and "Liberals" - depending on doctrine;
(5) "Charismatics" and "Non-charismatics" - depending on "speaking in tongues";
(6) "Full-time Christian workers" and "Secular workers" - depending on profession.
There could be other such categorizations too. But none of these categorizations deal with the root of the problem that our Lord came to solve.
Many know that "Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor.15:3). But many do not know that the Bible says that Christ also died "that we should no longer live for ourselves but for Him" (2 Cor.5:15).
A more Scriptural way of categorizing Christians, therefore, would be as follows: "Those who live for themselves" and "Those who live for Christ"; or "Those who seek their own" and "Those who seek the things of Christ"; or "Those who seek earthly things first" and "Those who seek the kingdom of God first"; or "Those who love money" and "Those who love God" (Jesus said it was impossible to love both -Lk.16:13).
But I have never heard of such a categorization being used. This categorization deals with the Christian's inner life and private walk with God, whereas the methods mentioned earlier deal with the external details of his life. Yet, it is in this latter way that heaven categorizes Christians. And if that be the case, then this is the only categorization that matters! In this method, others cannot categorize us. We have to categorize ourselves - for no one but we ourselves know our inner motivations and desires. Even our wives may not be aware what we are living for.
Our Lord did not come primarily to give people a doctrine or a church-pattern or to make them speak in tongues or even to give them an experience!
He came to "save us from sin". He came to lay the axe to the root of the tree. And the root of sin is: Being centered in ourselves, seeking our own and doing our own will. If we do not permit the Lord to axe and uproot this "root" from our lives, we will be Christians only superficially. Satan may, however, deceive us into imagining that we belong to a higher class than other Christians, because of our doctrine or our experience or our church-pattern!
Satan doesn't care even if we have the right doctrine, experience and church-pattern, so long as we continue to "live for ourselves" (This, by the way, is just another phrase for "living in sin"!!).
The man-centered gospel promises man that God will give him everything he needs to make his life on earth comfortable and will also give him a seat in heaven at the end of his life. Man is told that Jesus will forgive all his sins, heal all his diseases, bless and prosper him materially, solve all his earthly problems, etc., etc.
Self still remains at the center of such a man's life, and God revolves around him - as his servant - to answer his every prayer and to give him whatever he wants!! All that he has to do is "believe" and "claim every material blessing in Jesus' Name"!!
This is a false gospel, because no mention is made of "repentance". Repentance is what John the Baptist, Jesus, Paul, Peter and all the apostles preached first of all. And repentance, unfortunately, is what is not preached today, even last of all!!
The God-centered gospel, on the other hand, calls upon man to repent. It explains that "repentance" means:
Turning FROM Self as the center of one's life, from doing one's own will, from walking along one's self-chosen way, from loving money, and from loving the world and the things in the world (the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life), etc., and
Turning TO God, loving Him with one's whole heart, making Him the Centre of one's life and doing His will henceforth, etc.
Faith in Christ's death on the cross can forgive a man his sins only when he has repented. Then he can receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will empower him to deny himself daily so that he can live a God-centered life. This is the gospel that Jesus and the apostles preached.
The false gospel, makes the gate wide and the way broad (easy to walk along, because one does not have to deny one's Self or stop living for one's own interests or stop seeking one's own gain). Millions attend meetings where such a false "gospel" is preached. And many enter through this gate and walk along this way, imagining that it leads to life. But it actually leads to destruction. The evangelists of this gospel, however, gloat in, and report about the large numbers of people who "raised their hands and made decisions for Christ" in their meetings!! But it is all a deception. Although some are indeed genuinely converted in such meetings, because of their sincerity, many such "converts" end up becoming "twofold children of hell" (Matt.23:15) - deceived about their true state.
The true gospel however, makes the gate small and the way narrow - not smaller or narrower than Jesus Himself made it, as some "super-spiritual" cultists do, but just the same size as Jesus made it. Few there be that find this way to life. There is not much for the evangelists of this gospel to report about, and the statistics are not impressive. But this gospel leads people to the Lord Jesus and to heaven.
"Be careful how you listen. Whoever obeys what he has heard, to him more light and understanding will be given. But whoever does not obey what he has heard, even what light and understanding he thinks he has will be taken away from him." (Paraphrase of Luke 8:18)
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
Christ the Mediator Between The Believer and Events | 08/22/2014
The mediatorship of Christ, as we saw earlier, is not only between man and God but also between man and man. He comes in between every relationship. He is the Lord of all. In Him, relationships find true meaning and purpose. He comes between parent and child, sibling and sibling, friend and friend, wife and husband and we only relate to each other through Him.
The same applies to our relationship with things, treasures, situations in life, and time. He comes between as Lord and mediator in all things. He stands between the storm and the believer, between an event and the disciple. Nothing happens by accident when Christ rules over a situation. He comes between me and the trains or buses I need to board or have boarded. He comes between me and diseases. Therefore, I cannot just do what I like and go where I want but must do all things in Him and through Him. When He is Lord, He controls all things, supervises all that things - even our connections and people we meet. And when we ask anything in prayer in His name, there is no chance for chance, because all things are by Him, through Him, and for Him - He answers our prayers. In fact, the dispensations of history will come to an end only in Him (Eph.1:10). When He stands in the middle, He leads the way without fail.
Christ stands between the Christian who is a sinner saved by grace and the world of sinners in need of God's saving grace. He also stands between the Christian and a world subject to corruption because of sin.
ISIS against IESOUS: Eradication of Christians in Iraq? | 08/22/2014
|The UN headquarters building in Baghdad after the Canal Hotel bombing, on 22 August 2003 (Wikipedia)|
ISIS on Christians: 'There is nothing to give them but the sword'Catholic Online, August 8, 2014 (Warning: This page contains graphic images!)
The Islamic State has warned Christians, possibly for the last time, saying "there is nothing to give them but the sword." Across Northern Iraq, Christians are huddled in refugee camps, trapped in the desert, or trapped in their homes, waiting for death.
"Our people are disappearing," Canon Andrew White, head of the Anglican Church in Iraq "It looks as though the end could be very near," he told the BBC.
A week ago, Christians were warned to either leave the city of Mosul and other areas under Islamic State control, or they would have to pay a tax or be put to death. Today, nobody has heard from those Christians and nobody knows what is happening to them.
Are they being quietly "put to the sword" as this militant strain of Islam asks they be?
The Human Rights Watch reported on July 14 that homes in Mosul were painted with red letters to indicate Christian homes. Other homes of Shiite Muslims were also adorned.
Emboldened ISIS Barbarically Slaughtering Christians In Iraq as Obama Plays GolfBY RACHEL ALEXANDER , CP OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR, Christian Post. August 11, 2014
The Christian genocide taking place in the Middle East currently has reached alarming levels. Last week, the jihadist terrorist group ISIS, which means the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – although it is unrecognized as a nation – took over Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Iraq, warning Christians to "leave, convert or die." They are systematically beheading children. It is a part of an unprecedented, recent effort by the ISIS to extinguish Christians from northern Iraq. In 2003, there were about 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. After the Iraq War, that number dropped to as low as 200,000.
ISIS captured Mosul in June, so Christians there fled to Qaraqosh, population 50,000. ISIS warned Christians in Mosul to leave by July 19th. The houses of Christians in Mosul were painted with the letter "N," meaning Nasare, the Muslim word for Christians, which comes from Nazareth, Jesus's hometown. Their property was confiscated, including jewelry and wedding rings – sometimes chopping off their fingers to get them. Their churches were bombed, which has been caught on video. Catholic Online has compiled some of the more graphic photos of the barbaric, torturous executions. Many Christians were crucified due to the humiliation of Christ's crucifixion. There are reportedly no Christians left in Mosul.
Within the past few months, ISIS has taken over Fallujah, Tikrit, and Tel Afar in northern Iraq. Composed of radical Sunni Muslims, ISIS is also terrorizing Shia and some Kurdish Muslims. Besides eradicating Christians, its goals include removing the Shia Muslim population. Next, it is going after certain Kurdish Muslims, marching toward Erbil, the Kurdish capital of Iraq.
ISIS Swallowing Iraq: 'They're Beheading Children'Chris Mitchell, CBN News Middle East Bureau Chief, CBN, August 14, 2014
ERBIL, Kurdistan -- Islamic terrorists in Iraq are beheading children and burying people alive, and it won't stop there....
Over the past week, the army of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), also known as IS (Islamic State), swallowed up swaths of Iraq like a pervading darkness.
In just one day, tens of thousands of Christians fled from towns like Qaraqosh and Bartilla, about 25 miles away. Most came to the town of Erbil with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
"America is at a crossroad," says Retired Gen. Paul Vallely, who has more than 15 years of experiencce in special operations and other military ops. He shared his insight on the chaos in Iraq and how it will impact America, on The 700 Club, August 11.
"They take everything from the house, from the store, everything," one refugee told CBN News. "They hate Christian especially. We don't know why."
The choice was leave or die.
"They say if anyone don't [sic] become like Muslim, we['re] going to kill them, each one, from baby to women to old man," he said. "We don't have anything here," one woman told CBN News.
"They bombed the churches and already took our houses," she continued. "We have nothing here. No money. No ID. No travel documents."
Dr. Sarah Ahmed, with the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, called the attacks "a genocide."
"What's happening now to the Christians, to the Yazidis, to the minorities is -- in the last couple of days mostly to the Christians -- is a genocide," she told CBN News. "What's happening is what happened 200 years ago to the Jews [sic]."
The Yazidis follow an ancient religion with ties to Zoroastrianism.
Dr. Ahmed relayed stories she'd heard of the barbarism of ISIS.
"That ISIS was shooting the kids and people, and they were laying them on the ground and they bring tractors that they walk [drive] over them in front of their families," she said. "They take women out of their houses so if a family had three daughters, they would take one."
UN Accuses ISIS Militants of 'Barbaric' Sexual Violence; Says Humanitarian Crisis in Iraq Has Reached Its Highest LevelSTOYAN ZAIMOV , CHRISTIAN POST REPORTER, Christian Post, August 14, 2014
The United Nations has declared the highest level of humanitarian emergency in Iraq and has accused Islamic State militants of carrying out "barbaric" acts of sexual violence against women and teenage boys and girls belonging to Iraqi minorities.
U.N. special representative Nickolay Mladenov said that the declaration by the UN of a "Level 3 Emergency" in Iraq would "facilitate mobilization of additional resources in goods, funds and assets to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian needs of populations affected by forced displacements," BBC News reported on Thursday.
The Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, has taken over significant territory in Iraq and Syria, capturing major cities, carrying out violent attacks on minorities, including Christians, and forcing close to 1.2 million people to flee their homes.
Militants have been accused by humanitarian organizations of violent acts such as beheading children and carrying out "savage rapes."
"We are gravely concerned by continued reports of acts of violence, including sexual violence against women and teenage girls and boys belonging to Iraqi minorities," Mladenov and Zainab Hawa Bangura, the special representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said in a joint statement.
"Atrocious accounts of abduction and detention of Yazidi, Christian, as well as Turkomen and Shabak women, girls and boys, and reports of savage rapes, are reaching us in an alarming manner."
Bangura and Mladenov added that close to 1,500 Yazidi and Christian persons may have been forced into sexual slavery.
The U.N. officials strongly condemned the targeting of women and children, identifying such acts of sexual violence as "grave human rights violations" that can be considered war crimes and crimes against humanity.
"And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language,`Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' So I said,`Who are You, Lord?' And He said,`I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. (Act 26:14-15)
The Sunni-Shia Conflict in Iraq
Grace Above Law | 08/22/2014
One important thing that we must remember about God's grace is that the Grace of God in Jesus Christ has not nullified the Law of God. Grace is not against God's Law. In fact, Jesus said that He came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it (Matt.5:17).
We have noted earlier that the commandments of Grace are tougher and more demanding than the commandments of the Law. The Bible tells us that the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came with Jesus Christ (John 1:17). Jesus ushered in the era of Grace. Not that grace was absent in the Old Testament; but that grace could only be available even in the Old Testament because of the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the earth. And, when Christ came Grace came in reality, for until then everything was only shadows (Col.2:17). Therefore, it says, "Grace and truth came with Jesus Christ".
The commandments of Grace, therefore, supersede the commandments of the Law. Grace teaches us true righteousness (Tit.2:11,12; Matt.5:20).
Thus, certain things that were allowed in the Old Testament (like divorce, swearing, polygamy, and tit-for-tat ethics) are not allowed anymore in the New Testament (Matt.5:31,34, 38,39). Most of these things were allowed because of the hardness of human hearts, but God never originally intended them so (Matt.19:8). However, in the Age of Grace when His Grace transforms our hearts, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves and to pray for our enemies, we are called not to resist evil people but turn our left cheek to someone who slaps on our right (i.e. severely insults and humiliates us). The demands of Grace are higher than the demands of the Law.
The commandments of Grace spring from the spirit of the Law not the letter of the Law. Thus, while the OT command only said, "Do not murder" and "Do not commit adultery", the command of Grace tells us to not even get angry with our brother without cause and tells us looking at a woman lustfully is equal to committing adultery (Matt.5:22,27).
The essence of the command of Grace is Love (Rom.13:8,10; Gal.5:14; James 2:8).
The good news is that this Love is poured into our hearts through the Spirit in the New Testament; therefore, the commandments of God are no longer burdensome or impossible (Rom.5:5; 2Cor.12:9; 1 John 5:3).
Tithing | 08/21/2014
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house (Mal 3:10 NKJ)
God instituted tithing for the material support of the work of God. In the Old Testament, the Levites who served the Lord were the recipients of the tithes (Num.18:21; Heb.7:5). In the New Testament, Christ the High Priest anoints and appoints servants (full-time workers) who are to be supported by tithes and offerings (1Tim.5:17,18; 1Cor.9:6-11,13,14).
Tithe Predates Its Institution in the Law
Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek, the Priest of the Most High God. (Gen.14:20)
In Abraham, Levi gave tithe to Melchizedek (Heb.7:9,10)
Tithe Was Instituted in Moses’ Law to Support the Work of the Temple
The Firstborn belong to the Lord (Num.3:13)
The Levites were taken by God in place of all firstborn from all the 12 Tribes of Israel (Num.3:12,41)
When the number of Levites were less than the number of firstborn, the other tribes had to give 5 shekels per firstborn as redemption price to Aaron and his sons (Num.3:46,47,51)
To the firstborn belongs the double portion, his birthright (Deut.21:17).
To the Levite belongs the tithe (one tenth) of all income; it is their inheritance, their right (Num.18:21; Neh.10:37).
Tithing is instituted so that there will be food in God’s house (Mal.3:10)
Note: The Scripture refers to giving the due financial portion when talking about giving double honor to the elders [full-time ministers of God’s Word] (1Tim.5:17,18).
A person who claims to be part of the Covenant and does not pay tithes is actually a robber of God, a looter of God’s house (Mal.3:8,9). Isn’t that more serious than robbing from fellowmen? (Exo.22:2-4).
Tithing Continues in the New Testament Because the Ministry of the House has not Stopped
Jesus stated that tithing must not be neglected; but, must be done along with justice, mercy, and faith (Matt.23:23)
The Book of Hebrew tells us that even Levi of the Old Testament paid tithes to Melchizedek, the anti-type of Jesus (Heb.7:9,10).
Now, some may wrongly object that all believers are a priests unto God, so why tithe?
But, priesthood of all believers differs from full-time calling to the exclusive ministry of the Gospel (Rom.1:5; 2Cor.5:18). And those who minister in this work are given the commandment to live from this work (1Cor.9:14), i.e. be supported by those who benefit from their ministry. Paul exclusively practiced tent-making in many cases; however, he was certainly supported by churches in the work (2Cor.11:8). Paul explained it by saying that he took wages from other churches; but, since he wasn’t serving them in person directly while taking wages from them, but using these wages to serve the Corinthian church, it amounted to robbery.
But, the thought of not being burdensome to the infant Corinthian church didn’t seem to be helpful anyway. The Corinthian church more readily gave to those false apostles who came there just for money (2Cor.11:20). Of course, Paul could boast of preaching the Gospel free of charge (2Cor.11:7); for certainly the Gospel was the free gift of God. But preaching it does involve expenses. Paul is an exceptional case. Jesus Himself didn’t do carpentry to support His ministry (Luke 8:3). Also, when He called His disciples, He called them out of their vocational practices (Matt.4:19).
But, what does tithing have to do with New Testament ministry? Can’t one just give a little of one’s substance, say 1 or 2 percent or even less and keep the rest for himself?
Such arguments show how ungrateful one is to the gift of God and how irresponsible one is towards the work of the Kingdom.
Some are afraid that the ministers of God will get rich and use the money for themselves. Again, how closed-minded this is. Aren’t we forgetting the Scripture that says that the worker deserves his wages? Even Jeremiah the prophet, in such torturous and anti situations had resources enough to buy a land for himself when God commanded him so (Jer.32:7-12). He was symbolical of the blessings that God promised to give to Israel, that they would possess lands and build houses (Jer.32:15). Certainly, it is crucial that the man of God is not greedy for money (1Tim.3:3). However, it is disastrous when people are afraid that those who serve Christ will financially prosper. It looks as selfish as wanting the firstborn (for whom the Levites were substituted) to have nothing for themselves, and not giving the firstborn his birthright.
When one gives, one must give by faith as unto God, or else such giving is not accepted before God (Heb.11:4).
We must remember that the commandments of Grace are tougher and more demanding than the commandments of the Law. If one has doubts, a glance at the Sermon on the Mount will prove it. The commandment of Law only said “Don’t murder”; the commandment of Grace says, “Don’t even get angry with your brother without a cause!” The commandment of Law only said, “Don’t commit adultery”; but the commandment of Grace forbids to even look at a woman with lust. The Old Testament permitted divorce; the New Testament doesn’t, except in the case of adultery. The Old Testament permitted slavery and polygamy; the New Testament doesn’t permit them. Christ didn’t come to do away with the Law, but came to fulfill it (Matt.5:17,18). In other words, what was intended in the Old Testament is brought to surface in the New Testament. The OT prescribed many things like divorce because of the hardness of human hearts (Mark 10:5); but in the NT age of Grace, the original intent of God’s heart is revealed to us (Mark 10:6-9). So, Grace doesn’t mean freedom from the Law; it only means freedom to fulfill and excel above the Law.
A true NT believer doesn’t just give tithes, according to the letter of the Law; he gives more than tithes (but never less), according to the Spirit of the Law. Note that Jesus appreciated the widow who gave 100 percent of what she had, even when she could have argued that she barely had enough for herself (Luke 21:2-4). It is impossible to excel this widow in giving. However, it is sad that those who have enough for themselves and for generations to come are afraid of giving even 1 percent to God!
Atheism in India | 08/21/2014
Atheism is disbelief in a personal God. It is not very popular in India, despite the various ploys of inroad it has attempted throughout history.
There are various kinds of atheisms in India. Some of these are dead, as far as systems are concerned; others live in compliant modes. For instance, charvaka atheism died away as a system, but yoga, samkhya, and Vedanta took accommodative modes.
The six heterodox schools (Charvaka, Jainism, and 4 schools of Buddhism) were labelled nastik or non-believing because they rejected the Vedas. However, these also have no place for the Supreme Personal God in their systems. Jainism considers a plurality of spirits to be eternal, and matter to be evil. Buddhism considers the human spirit as an aggregate of the 5 skandhas; in fact, it disbelieves the spirit as being real according to the doctrine of anatta.
Samkhya looks at Purusha and Prakriti as the eternal principles in a form of dualism. Vedanta regards the spirit as all that is and the one without an other (non-dualism); everything else is a delusion; thus, only the self eternally exists according to it. God, as the wholly other, doesn't exist.
However, neither the popular Hindu nor the tribal, following his various belief-systems, is willing to accept such atheistic doctrines. Thus, some sort of worship is vital in popular Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Of course, magic has made some inroads as well, quite contradictorily to the concept of theism (Theism can't allow any power apart from God nor able to supersede God, since God, by definition, is the Supreme One).
There are a few antisupernaturalists who regard science as the enemy of the concept of God and of creation. But, their impact doesn't seem to be as strong among the 4/14 Window group who have already formed faith before entering High School. We don't count godless lifestyles here. It is possible that one believes in the supernatural and still lives a godless life. The demons do - they believe in God and yet are godless.
We also don't mean that most Indians are monotheists. We only mean they are not atheists. Atheism is too tasteless for them; and quite impractical as far as philosophy of life is concerned. Atheism has no inspiring story to tell.
Civil Disobedience, Law, and Justice | 08/19/2014
CIVIL OBEDIENCE obligatorily relates to Justice. Civil obedience is mandatory when the laws are just. However, civil obedience is not mandatory when laws are unjust. In fact, civil disobedience is obligatory when laws are unjust. The officers and judges during Hitler's reign might have argued that they were obeying their laws; however, since those laws were not just; therefore, they were guilty of crimes against humanity. Similarly, we find civil disobedience in the Bible when Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego refused to bow before the golden image (Dan. 3:14-16), when Daniel opened the windows and openly prayed in defiance to a law prohibiting the same (Daniel 6:10), and when the Apostles refused the authorities' command to stop preaching the Gospel.
But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Act 4:19-20 NIV)
- Law+Justice+Obedience = Peace & Order
- Law-Justice+Obedience = Crime & Destruction
- Law+Justice+Disobedience = Anarchy
- Law-Justice+Disobedience = Resistance
Evidently, the state of civil disobedience is a state of unrest and struggle. There can only be peace when the laws are just and people obey just laws. However, civil disobedience to unjust laws certainly signifies peace within the heart, where resolve submits to conscience. (Rom.2:15) When, from the fountain of a pure conscience, just actions follow, peace prevails within, and peace flows without.
Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. (Psa 119:165 NIV)
However, when the heart is allowed to be hardened in compliance to godless authority and laws, judgment comes (2Chr. 36:14-16).
Some Quotes“One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
"Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or corrupt."
― Mahatma Gandhi
"Civil disobedience is the assertion of a right which law should give but which it denies...Civil disobedience presupposes willing obedience of our self-imposed rules, and without it civil disobedience would be cruel joke....Civil disobedience means capacity for unlimited suffering without the intoxicating excitement of killing....Disobedience to be civil has to be open and nonviolent....Disobedience to be civil implies discipline, thought, care, attention...Disobedience that is wholly civil should never provoke retaliation....Non-cooperation and civil disobedience are different but [are] branches of the same tree call Satyagraha (truth-force)...."
― Mahatma Gandhi
“Colorful demonstrations and weekend marches are vital but alone are not powerful enough to stop wars. Wars will be stopped only when soldiers refuse to fight, when workers refuse to load weapons onto ships and aircraft, when people boycott the economic outposts of Empire that are strung across the globe. ”
― Arundhati Roy, Public Power in the Age of Empire
“If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law”
― Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience and Other Essays
“I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Happy Independence Day 2014! | 08/18/2014
India today celebrates its 68th Independence Day. Many of us weren't there when tears of joy streamed through the eyes of our fathers who witnessed the first flag hoisting of Independent India. It was a freedom they fought for and obtained with a price. Freedom became possible because a few stepped forward to voluntary sacrifice their lives so that the others will enjoy the fruits of their struggle. The Independence Struggle was not about kings fighting for their kingdoms. Those were ordinary Indians, like you and I, that fought in ways that took the world by surprise. The world of political struggle perhaps had never heard of the possibility of non-violent resistance; but, our fathers saw it spiritually and overcame evil with good (cf. Rom.12:21). Evil can never overcome evil. Mahatma Gandhi understood that "an eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind." But, light dispels darkness; that is the absolute quality of light. Our fathers also knew that freedom within precedes and guides our struggle for freedom without. That is what satyagraha was truly about. Satyagraha means the holding on to and insistence on truth. Truth is freedom. Plato said, "The worst of all deceptions is self-deception." Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32). Deception, violence, and selfish ambition only lead to greater entanglements. Peace comes through the orderliness of truth within. Where truth governs, there is peace, justice, and liberty.
However, freedom always has a cost, and the cost of freedom is sacrifice. Sacrifice means to give up what rightly belongs to us so that others may benefit from the fruits of what we have worked and paid for. We cannot sacrifice what does not belong to us. For instance, to respect other people's boundaries is not sacrifice, it is justice and right-living. What comes under someone else' boundary belongs to that person; what comes under ours belongs to us. Certainly, a person who chooses to not pick-pocket another person is not sacrificing his desires or opportunities; he is only living right and abstaining from self-destructive crime. In fact, to abstain from evil is to preserve both our freedom and the freedom of others. But, when we say that the cost of freedom is sacrifice, we are talking about sacrificial love. Sacrificial love is the rule of freedom within and freedom without. The Greek Bible uses the word agape to express it and sums up the discussion in a few aphorisms:
Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom 13:10 NKJ)
For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Gal 5:14 NKJ)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. (1Jn 4:18 NKJ)
Jesus prescribed the Golden Rule: "Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Mat 7:12 NKJ)
Love for others will lift us to see beyond ourselves; it helps us see and understand the plight of people around us; it helps us to look through their eyes and to feel their pain. Only a person who has agape love can be a good neighbor, a good citizen, and a true friend - the friend who gives his life for his friend (Jn.15:13). Freedom is not just the ability to have and possess; it is the opportunity to give and help those in need.
Our fathers, who fought for freedom, didn't just fight for themselves; if they did so, they wouldn't have risked their lives. They fought in love, as true neighbors of each other and as true friends, ready to give their lives for the people of India. They understood that if they didn't step out, change was impossible. Someone has to take the lead in order for others to follow. A good neighbor cannot be indifferent to things around. Plato said it well: "The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs, is to be ruled by evil men." David knew it: "The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men." (Psa 12:8 NIV)
Today, we are in danger of greater evils that are warring to destroy the foundations of our freedom. There are forces of bitterness, resentment, lust, promiscuity, materialism, commercialism, and fake heroism that aim to destroy peace in communities, in families, and in the nation. There are intense roads being built for desocialization of society, deindividuation of individuals, and dehumanization of humans. Cries for freedom well up for a time, then die away in the cry and clamor for individual pursuits. There is decreasing respect for the concept of sacrifice, because sacrifice is held in suspicion and the monster of materialism paints "sacrifice" in bleak pictures. There have been those who pretended to be sacrificing and used this as a tool to tap in material possessions. Also, there are false concepts of sacrifice that lure the youth to violence, to desocialization, and dehumanization. They live far away in the jungles or meet in secret places, hidden from the eyes of society, and suddenly turn to monstrous, inhumane deeds. Haven't the Standford Prison Experiments proven that violence appears just and right in cases where other humans are no longer regarded as persons, as neighbors, as friends?
But, don't these have a cause? Don't those who turn to violence within certain secret societies in cities and villages too have a cause? They cry for justice, they cry for freedom; however, we know that justice and freedom have a cost. The cost is not destructive violence; but, the cost is sacrificial love.
True liberty is not lawless; it conforms to the perfect Law of Liberty (James 1:25); because, the purpose of the commandment is a community bound by love, in purity of heart, good conscience, and sincere faith (1Tim.1:5). Also, true liberty is the only condition for spiritual transformation, to become what God has called us to be (2Cor.3:17-18).
The story of our Independence Struggle should inspire us. It must inspire us to get beyond our personal ambitions, our personal grudges, our personal dreams; it must inspire us to combat evil with good; it must inspire us to look into the perfect law of liberty (not the law that divides and discriminates, but the law that gives justice and freedom); it must inspire us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to be a true friend.
We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. - Thomas Jefferson
Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual. - Thomas Jefferson
But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (Jam 1:25 NLT)
But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord -- who is the Spirit -- makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2Co 3:16-18 NLT)
If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you do well. (Jam 2:8 NKJ)
Few Principles of Financial Prosperity | 08/15/2014
The Bible teaches us the true path of prosperity. The Bible is not poverty minded; in fact, it teaches us principles that will help us live successfully in this world. It teaches us the wisdom and skill necessary to use the world without relying on or being attached to it (1Cor.7:31). If anyone thinks that the Bible does not teach us the wisdom of success, then he may have to throw away a great chunk of the Bible. But, we must not forget some basic principles. Again this is not about some prosperity gospel, but about knowing the way of God's kingdom.
1. Put God FirstGod is able to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Phil 4:19), but we must remember that He only fulfills the desires of those who first delight in Him (Ps.37:4). If our heart has no interest in the things of God and in the work of God, then it proves that we are not delighting in Him. But, to those who love Him He works all things together for good (Rom. 8:28).
But this also means that we seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness (Matt.6:33). It means to honor God with the best of our possessions (Prov.3:9). It means to love the Lord with all our soul, our strength, our heart, and our mind.
2. Do Not Let Wealth Be Your MasterJesus said that man cannot serve both God and mammon, or money (Matt.6:24).
--We must not allow the Love of Money (1Tim.6:9,10)
--We must not allow the Pride of Money (1Tim.6:17)
--We must not allow the Trust in Money (1Tim.6:17b)
3. Work HardGod prescribed work for humans. He said, "Six days you shall work...." (Exod. 20:9). The Bible warns that the one who doesn't work must not also eat (2Thess.3:10). Check our study on the Lazy for what the Bible says about such. The Bible tells us to never give up or lag behind in diligence (Ro.12:11). He who works hard will eat the fruit of his labors (2Tim.2:6). A man who hardly works will hardly have anything left. But, remember to also separate your sabbaticals for sharpening the ax (Eccl.10:10).
4. Owe No One AnythingIn other words, do not become a debtor to people. Debts ruin economies. The Old Testament never allowed debts beyond one's last surety, his cloak. Yet, people often ended up in slavery because of debts. The Bible commands us not to be indebted to anyone in anything except in love (Rom.13:8).
5. Be Merciful and Generous to the PoorThe Bible says that he who gives to the poor lends to the Lord and God pays it back (Pro.19:17). The Bible calls us to mercy and generosity in the same way that God has shown mercy and generosity to us (Matt.18:32,33). God blesses the generous hearted (Pro.11:25; 22:9).
6. Be Careful Who You Associate WithDo not get into business with winebibbers and gluttons (Prov.23:21). Do not associate with darkness and be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2Cor.6:14). Do not receive gifts for God's work from unbelievers (3Jn.1:7). Do not eat the bread of a miser (Prov.23:6). This doesn't mean we become isolated (1Cor.5:10); however, we must be wise about who we work with and what we do.
7. Pay All Dues, TaxesWe must pay what belongs to the government to the government, and what belongs to God to God (Matt.22:21). We must pay all taxes and customs due (Ro.13:7).
8. Share Your Personal Needs With God AlonePrayer must be a moment of intimacy and privacy with God. Don't waste time sharing needs with people. Invest your precious moments with the Father who specifically cares and selflessly loves you (Matt.6:5). He does answer the secret prayer of a heart that trusts solely in God. He cares to give (Matt.7:9-11).