Thursday, 29 December 2016

WHY CHRISTOLOGY IS IMPORTANT

A person’s Christology, what he thinks concerning Christ’s identity and work, reveals whether his faith is genuine or not—and more.

Jesus is the name given by his parents whereas Christ (Messiah) is a title, meaning anointed or chosen one. Jesus Christ is the perfect God-man. He is 100% God and 100 % man. Any teaching that deviates from this central bedrock truth is suspect.

                                         
According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine.

Firstly, He had to be a man because He had to die on the cross and pay the penalty for our sins so that the demands of God’s righteousness and justice can be satisfied (Colossians 2:13-14). Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). 

Secondly, He had to be a man in order to be identified with man’s vulnerability to temptations—yet without falling into sin (Hebrews 4:15). Christ came to show us that He could fulfil all the demands of the law as a perfect man (Matthew 5:17, 1 Peter 2:22).

Next, He has to be divine, spotless and untainted by sin, so that the ‘once and for all’ sacrifice of His life (Hebrews 9: 11-14) is counted as worthy to redeem man from the penalty of sin—spiritual death or eternal separation from God. 

If Christ is not divine, how could He forgive sins in the course of His ministry on earth? A man filled with the power of the Holy Spirit can perform miracles. But can a mere man forgive sins? Before healing the paralytic who was brought to Him on a stretcher from the roof, Jesus demonstrated His authority and ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:1-11). Jesus also forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:10-11). http://bit.ly/1vnWGyq

A person’s theology about Christ’s identity and work (Christology) is one of the ways by which we evaluate whether a believer’s faith is genuine or not. It also helps us determine whether a teacher is of God or not.

One day, Jesus posed this crucial question to his disciples: “Who do you think Jesus is?” Notice Peter’s reply and its significance.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
(Matthew 16:13-17)

Is it possible for a born again believer, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to say that Christ is merely a great man or miracle worker?

A person’s Christology, what he thinks concerning Christ’s identity and work, has important implications regarding the genuineness of his faith. It is God the Father who reveals to Peter that Christ is divine. Isn't it logical to infer that whoever who fails to see Christ as divine but merely as a great man, teacher or prophet does not have God's revelation and therefore does not belong to God?

If he belongs to God, and the Holy Spirit is in him, he would have been enlightened about His divinity (Matthew 16:13-17).

Just as no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3), no one can say Jesus is divine except by the Holy Spirit. Conversely, no one with the Holy Spirit would say that Jesus is merely a great man, teacher or prophet.

Anyone who teaches that Christ has come in the flesh is from God. That means God has become incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ.

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already” (1 John 4: 2-3).

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Teachers who profess to be believers but fail to see Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) but view Him as merely a holy man or great teacher do not know God. This is because enlightenment about Christ’s God-man uniqueness is not based on one’s intellect but through the revelation of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 16:13-17).

“Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2: 22). So whoever denies Christ’s deity is condemned.

                                                               
What will be your response as a believer if a so-called Christian leader comes and shows you that he is able to perform miraculous acts—great signs and wonders—but does not believe that Christ is fully man and fully divine? http://bit.ly/1vnWGyq

Here are the answers:
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son” (2 John 7-9).

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

From the above two passages in 2 John and Matthew 7,  we realise that it is possible for believers to be deceived by those who can perform signs and wonders but do not genuinely know Christ—God who became incarnate, fully divine and fully man.

                                                                      
One of the purposes of sound doctrine is that it warns us about deception; it keeps us from being deceived. Doctrine can be likened to road signs that help us travel safely, stay on course, without crashing out. It is easy to be mesmerised by miracle workers but if we would just pause to examine their Christology, we would have been sufficiently warned about the danger of deception. http://bit.ly/1vnWGyq


                                                                     
What a person thinks concerning Christ’s identity and work (Christology) has important implications. A person’s Christology reveals to us whether his faith is genuine or not and also tells us whether he is a teacher come from God or not.

Failure to see Christ as fully God and fully man is not merely something academic. It shows that the person’s faith is not genuine or that he is not a teacher come from God.

RELATED POSTS

DID JESUS SET ASIDE HIS DIVINITY?
Is it biblical for a Christian leader to teach that Jesus set aside his divinity and performed miracles as a MAN empowered by the Holy Spirit?

WHAT IS CHRISTOLOGY?
Christology is the study of the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
https://www.gotquestions.org/Christology.html

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

WHY STUDY THEOLOGY

Thinking of pursuing theological studies? Here are five noble objectives to consider.

If our goal of pursuing theological studies is to merely satisfy our intellectual curiosity or expand our intellectual capacity, then we have misplaced priorities.

What are some noble objectives to consider before embarking on formal theological education?

                                                                      
Firstly, it is to know what God considers good and desirable so that we are able to please Him and glorify His name (Ezra 7:10).

Secondly, it is to impact the world around us, whether in a small way through our social circle or in a wider context. This can take the form of witnessing, loving deeds or written works.

Thirdly, it is to apply theology to practical, down to earth issues such as career, marriage, family life, personal finance, inter-personal relationship and balanced wholesome living (Luke 2:52).

Fourthly, it is to help us to be more confident and better prepared in giving an answer to anyone who asks us what is the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15).

Fifthly, it is to help us maintain a steady course in our spiritual journey so that we can obtain the ultimate reward of salvation, eternal life. Otherwise, we may start well but fail to end up in paradise due to various factors such as failure to overcome sin, deception and persecution (Matthew 24: 9-13).

                                                                   
The purpose of this blog is to help believers fulfil all the above goals:


                                                                      
  • Studying the Bible first-hand, like the Bereans, scrutinising any teaching against scripture (Acts 17:11).

  • Making the truth simple and easily understood for believers.

  • Helping people in their day-to-day living by showing the relevance of ancient scripture.

  • Developing confidence in sharing and defending the faith when approached by pre-believers.

  • Helping people cultivate perseverance in their spiritual journey. In particular, strong emphasis has been laid on recognising deception and discerning false teachings and false supernatural manifestations that mimic the works of the Holy Spirit.
                                                                   
                                                                 
                                                                      
Need for balance

Whilst renewing the mind is an important key to spiritual transformation, we must not put intellectual pursuit on a pedestal and neglect other key areas like love, obedience and the role of the Holy Spirit.

George Verwer of Operation Mobilisation recalled the time when he went with someone to the office of Billy Graham. None of the office staff noticed them except the receptionist. They were too pre-occupied with an evangelistic campaign to pay attention to outsiders. Then Graham walked in and started shaking hands with everybody. He went over to greet both Verwer and his friend. Though much busier than the office staff, he had time to spare for others. He was full of warmth and love. Similarly, ministers and theologians must remain down-to-earth and be able to connect with ordinary folks.

For all his scholarship (he wrote most of the books in the New Testament), Paul was neither cold nor aloof. He demonstrated unconditional love for the believers at Corinth: “I will gladly spend myself and all I have for you, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me” (2 Corinthians 12:15).

Jesus was equally at home whether he was preaching, attending a wedding, dining with sinners or blessing the children—equally spiritual and human. He had no difficulty connecting with people from different social strata. Even so, we must not allow intellectual superiority or prowess to create a barrier between us and ordinary folks.

Recognising the role of the Holy Spirit and being able to sense His leading are just as important as renewing our minds with the Word. Someone rightly puts it: “Too much Word and you dry up, too much Spirit and you blow up, the Word and the Spirit and you grow up”.

We need to check ourselves if we have been long on doctrine and short on practice. At the end of the day, head knowledge must grow in tandem with loving acts and practical ministry.

Ivory tower mentality

If we merely stay in our ivory tower of intellectual excellence—not allowing scripture to touch or change us and the people around us for the better—we have wasted the years we have arduously spent pursuing formal theological studies.

In itself, the pursuit of knowledge—even formal theological education—cannot be seen as a believer’s highest and most desirable goal but only as a means to an end. Man’s chief goals in life are to know God, enjoy His presence, make an impact in the world and glorify His name.

Caveat: We should love God not only with all our heart and strength but our mind as well. As such, this post is not to discourage those who aspire to improve their understanding of the Bible through pursuing formal theological studies. Rather, it is an attempt to help them think through their goals and what they hope to achieve—armed with a theological degree.

MAKING TRUTH SIMPLE, RELEVANT AND PRACTICAL
“People are not quite interested in the amount of theological knowledge we may have. They want to see to what extent our lives have been transformed by the knowledge we have in your head. They want to know how that knowledge can be applied to practical issues everyone faces in everyday life such as crisis, finances, broken relationships, worry, anxiety and depression. They need to understand how theology can help them overcome temptation, deception and the wiles of the devil. They want to learn how to persevere and finish well in their spiritual race. They want to be better equipped in sharing their faith. And, finally, they want to see how well we can communicate deep theological issues and concepts in simple terms that even the layperson can understand. It is inconceivable and illogical that we should keep theology within the classroom, away from the issues of everyday life, and keep it so high up in the “spiritual stratosphere” that a layperson can never hope to access, let alone grasp.”
               -       Porridge for the Soul


RELATED POSTS

MORE THEOLOGY, MORE IMPACT?
Is the impact we make in this world directly proportional to the number of theological degrees we have under our belt?

STUDY BY YOURSELF OR LEARN FROM OTHERS?
Serious personal Bible study a la the Bereans is needed so that we will not be deceived or put to shame. However, there is no harm learning from others who are gifted in teaching.

CAN WE SURPASS TEACHERS IN UNDERSTANDING?
Teachers are specially gifted in the study and exposition of scriptures. That said, is it possible to have understanding that surpasses that of teachers?

EIGHT WAYS TO FIGHT FALSE TEACHING
How to develop discernment and escape the clutches of destructive heresies.

SCIENCE AND FAITH
We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart. Man cannot know God through the rational process—no matter how great his intellect. Faith, the means by which man comes to know God, is not against reason; it transcends reason. Reason may help to build faith but it (reason) can never ultimately bring a person to know God.

WHAT BEING OPEN-MINDED MEANS
More than ever before we need to be like the Bereans in our approach to understanding the truth
http://bit.ly/1KeKVRU