Sunday, August 2, 2009

Once Saved, Always Saved!?

I am a firm believer in eternal security. Personally, I base my belief in Jesus's words: "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from my Father’s hand." I believe, "no one" would include myself also. Salvation is a gift given to us by God, and the Bible never even hints that he would take it back. Romans 8 is a classic study on that.

However, I do not believe in the Free Grace flavor of this important doctrine. I hold to the traditional, Reformed view. Free Grace teaches that assurance of salvation is solely based on the promises of God's Word, and not on our righteous living. The traditional view teaches that righteous living, along with the promises of the Bible, is a sign of sure salvation. Though I believe a Christian can be carnal, I believe one needs to examine herself, particularly if she has no desire whatsoever for righteous living.

So, I really believe in Perseverance of the Saints, doctrinally. But, I choose Eternal Security, as a term. Perseverance, to me, somehow sounds as if I am desperately clinging onto His hands. Eternal Security, as a term, sounds just right for me, especially when I take Jesus at his word.

Now, what is your take?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lessons From Billy Graham

"Life is short. We can live better."

In his new book, The Journey, Billy Graham shares principles for living -- which he expounded on exclusively for Reader's Digest. They offer insight into achieving greater happiness.

1. Make it your goal to live at peace with others.
Is it possible to do this with everyone in our lives? Unfortunately, no; even our best efforts may not change another person's attitude. The key is to ask God if we're at fault, and if so, to confess it and seek his help to overcome it. Life is temporary and fleeting. We're here for just a short time. We shouldn't waste our days but live them for God's glory.

It's vital, of course, to be at peace with God and with ourselves. Almost since the night I accepted Jesus Christ into my life as a teenager, I have tried to set aside time each morning to be alone with God. This time includes prayer, reading the Bible and meditating on its meaning. Nothing has been more important to my spiritual life.

2. Treat others as you'd want them to treat you.
This simple but profound principle -- the golden rule -- comes from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. How different our lives would be if we actually practiced this!

The Bible also tells us, "With humility comes wisdom." Every day I realize I'm just a sinner like everyone else, and I have been forgiven only because of God's grace. God gave us our gifts and abilities. He blessed our efforts. If we start thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to, it takes away from our proper worship of God. Pride blinds us to our own faults.

That's why we should pray not only for our friends but also for our enemies. Prayer is one way we put the golden rule into action.

3. Guard your tongue. Use it for good instead of evil.
How many marriages and friendships have been destroyed because of criticism that has spun out of control? But the tongue can also be used for good; that should be our goal.

When people ask me for advice about their personal problems, which they often do, I always try to give them an answer based on the Bible. The Bible is like a bottomless gold mine -- the deeper we dig, the more riches we discover. And it says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs." We should ask ourselves: How much of our conversation has this as its intention?

4. Never repay evil with evil.
Evil is sin; it's a deadly cancer that has invaded our souls. It isn't just an illusion or an absence of good.

Ultimately, all evil comes from Satan, according to the Bible. Satan is real, and he is absolutely opposed to God. Still, we are responsible for our own actions. Why some people repeatedly choose to do evil instead of good is a puzzle to me, because evil eventually destroys those who practice it.

Only God can replace the evil and sin in our hearts with love and kindness. So we need to put our faith in God and follow him.

5. Avoid revenge. Don't be a captive of the past.
If someone has harmed us by breaking the law, we have the right to bring that person to justice, both for our good and the good of society. But hurting someone only because they have hurt us is another matter. We can't change the past; we can only seek God's forgiveness for whatever it is we did wrong.

I have always tried to learn from as many people as possible in my life, even my critics. We are sinners, separated from God, unsure of why we are here, or how we ought to live. The Bible, however, answers these questions. It's like a road map for life. You wouldn't get in your car to go on a long trip and leave the map locked in the glove compartment, would you? Unfortunately, that's what many of us do with God's Word. Yet we need its guidance and truth every day as we travel life's journey.

6. Practice the power of forgiveness.
I adhere to the philosophy of hating the sin but loving the sinner. The key is to realize that this is the way God sees us.

When we sin, it's as if we're shaking our fists in God's face, telling him we know better than he does how to run our lives. But God also hates sin because he loves us, and he knows what sin does to us.

How do I know this? I know it because God allowed his only son to go to the cross and shed his blood so we could be saved from sin's penalty. And Jesus, who was without sin, was known as a friend of sinners and went out of his way to seek and save those who were lost. So should we.

From Reader's Digest - January 2007

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

The following is a re-post from another blog of mine.

Just yesterday night I watched the Oscar winner, Slumdog Millionaire. I must admit, it was a quite a movie. Salim and Jamal grow up in the slums of Mumbai, India. They become orphaned when their mother gets killed in a religious riot when are they are still 7 or 8. And they fall into the hands of pimps and street mafia. While still in their hands, they become friends with Latika, another orphaned girl of their age. One night Salim and Jamal escape from the clutches of the gang leader, but somehow they are not able to take Latika with them. They fend for themselves by cheating and stealing. When in his teens, Jamal learns English while he serves beverages in a call center. Salim joins with a pimp. They seperate ways. In turn of events, Salim meets Latika, but forces her into prostitution. Jamal stills thinks of her, and looks of ways to find her whereabouts. While he was serving beverages in the call center, he comes to know of the TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He is not interested in the money really, but thinks if he participates in the show, Latika would somehow see the show, and that would lead them in coming together. So, somehow he makes it to the show, and answers all the questions right. Though not formally educated, the information he picked up on the street and in the call center comes to his aid. And just like he planned, Latika does watch the show. But Jamal does not realize that Latika has seen the show and is aware of Jamal's existence. Though now he is a millionaire, he is disheartened that he did not find Latika. He is sitting in a railway station, disillusioned. Somehow Latika too comes there looking for him. And there they find each other. Their eyes meet, and they run into the embrace of each other. Just as Jamal and Latika fall into each other's hands, the screen says, IT IS WRITTEN. End of story.

Two observations. One: Hinduism believes in fate. What is "written" in our foreheads will happen, though circumstances are all against us. Who "writes" it, they cannot answer. How what is "written" transpires really, they cannot answer. But they staunchly believe in fate ... que sera, sera. What they don't realize is the impossibilty of an impersonal force's 'abilty' to guide personal beings. Impersonal force don't have no affections, and so their 'ability' to care for personal beings is practically zero. Since impersonal force has no 'ability' to interact with personal beings, they cannot affect our will for good, thus bringing changes in our lives. Only a personal being can know and care for other personal beings, and that personal being has to be all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, has to have the ability to be everywhere at the same time. And no one qualifies for that other than the triune God of the Bible. And, though he determines our lives, since he is absolutely personal, he can 'use' our will to bring about changes in our lives. He does not just "write" things!

Two: Though Jamal was a millionaire at the end of the TV show, that somehow did not bring him happiness and meaning. But when he saw Latika, his face beamed with joy. Point? Money does not bring meaning to our lives; relationships do. Our relationship with God is very pivotal here, as we were made for him, and our hearts are not quiet until it rests in Him. There is no substitute for the Savior. However, we are not just spiritual beings floating in the air. As physical and emotional beings, we need other people too. Relationships bring meaning to our lives.

While Jamal chose to value human relationships inspite of the odds in his life, he missed out on the One who gave himself for us, so that we can be rightly related with our Maker, thus enjoying eternal happiness.

Only Jesus can give "Jamals" true security!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Prosperity Gospel?

Jesus was born in a smelling manger, not to have me born in a clean hospital. Jesus was raised in a dysfunctional home, not to have me be raised in awell-adjusted home. Jesus was not highly educated, not that I would be sent to good colleges. Jesus was not accepted by his own people, not to have me be accepted byeveryone. Jesus was dependent on others for survival, not that I would have the “best life now”. Jesus suffered for the most part of his life, not that I would have a comfortable life. Jesus was falsely accused, not that I would not undergo character-assassination.Jesus was brutally beaten before his murder, not that I would be always pattedon my back. Jesus was cruelly crucified, not to give me a pain-free death.

He deliberately chose to go through all these ordeals, only for the sole purpose of bringing me to God, so that I can be rightly related to him. The above thoughts were born as a result of hearing especially the false teachings of General Joyce (as Michael Spencer of calls her) and Joel Osteen. The heretical teachings that Jesus is all about making me a happy, healthy, and wealthy, giving me the “best life now” is highly suffocating. It drains out the essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Life is not about me, but about God conforming me to the image of his great Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

What are your thoughts on this whole wholesale mess-up?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't Ask Questions, Just Believe!

By Ray Ortlund

"But someone will say, 'Didn't Jesus say that, to be saved, you have to be as a little child?' Of course he did. But did you ever see a little child who didn't ask questions? People who use this argument must never have listened to a little child or been one. My four children gave me a harder time with their endless flow of questions than university people ever have. . . . What Jesus was talking about is that the little child, when he has an adequate answer, accepts the answer. He has the simplicity of not having a built-in grid whereby, regardless of the validity of the answer, he rejects it."

Francis A. Schaeffer, "Form and Freedom in the Church," International Congress on World Evangelization, July, 1974.