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Saturday, January 25, 2014

When Death Seems Like Life and Life Seems Like Death

Ephesians 2:1-3 (ESV)
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

I have done a whole lot of funeral services. I have been with several people when they died. I have seen life leave them. They still exists but they no longer respond to the things of this world. They have left this world behind.

I wish I could tell you that every one of these people knew the Lord. Some had no evidence that they did. Their lives were given over to the things of this world. I still did their funeral services but I spoke of how a person comes to know the Lord. I couldn't say what happened to these people. I couldn't assure their families that they would see their deceased loved one again. I didn't know.

Many of those who gave no evidence in knowing the Lord came from families who did know the Lord. They  were taken to church and heard the gospel many times before abandoning church altogether. They knew but they did not know. They thought they were receiving life from this world when they were receiving death.

Death is not being able to respond to stimuli. Spiritual death is not being able to respond to spiritual things. People are dead in their sins before they come to know the Lord. They will remain dead if nothing changes. The life they have here on earth is the only life they know and it will be the only life they will ever know. So, it isn't so strange that they think that this is life and all that church stuff is death. You have to step across to the other side to see what life really is.

I can tell you that my life before Jesus wasn't life at all. It was full of anxieties. It did not listen to God. It was empty.

I wandered away from true life to try living without God even after coming to know Jesus. I was miserable but simply thought that I wasn't getting enough life out of this world. I kept hoping that something would happen which would make this world give me true life. It never happened. The world couldn't give me what it didn't possess.

So, I don't ever want to try living like a dead person again. The world promises life and delivers death. I promise to die to this world and receive life. I guess this only makes sense to those who know what death and life really are.


Anthony Chia said...

In different ways, the Apostle Paul was repeating the same theme of "a washed pig not to return to the dirty mud or a dog not to return to its vomit"; this Ephesians text quoted, was one. Don't go back to the old attitudes of the mind, the old perspective or value-system and its practices - these we used to embrace before our conversion to be a believer. Another way of saying is this: not to go back to our old ways of life, or thinking and actions.

We are not freed, to go back to be shackled again, by prince of the air or Satan. We have to know and acknowledge that, previously, we needed to be freed from being shackled by Satan or counted with him; if we have not have that, the understanding that we needed to be free, we place ourselves outside of "those whom Jesus said He had come to save; He said he had come to save the unrighteous (or heal the sick)". If you insist that you are righteous without the need of Jesus, you place yourself outside of the saving grace. It is not that you are righteous; it is you are self-righteous.

A self-righteous person is at enmity with God. Self-righteousness epitomizes pride. Self-righteousness is saying "I can do without God; I don't need or no longer need God to tell me what to do. I am wise; I don't need or no longer need to get wisdom from God; I know what to do, and I will carry myself according to what I think, not what God think, or no longer do I need to do that (care about what God thinks); I don't need to seek God's will for any situation I am or about to be facing." A self-righteous person is shackled by Satan or his world-system he perpetuated in the world. From this angle, all non-believers are self-righteous, and we, from being a non-believer, on conversion, have committed to be a God-righteous person. On conversion, the self-righteous person, his old self is converted to be a God-righteous person, the new self or we say he is a new creation. Another way of saying, included, "you are of a new nature". In the scripture text Ps Prentis quoted, it said there, prior to conversion, the persons by nature (nature before conversion), children of wrath. After conversion, we, from being children of wrath or perdition become children of God.

But why does God in Scripture used children on new converts? Just look at the one commonly held and indisputable expectation of children and we will know why - children learn.

Don't listen to preachers who believe NOT, that on conversion, we have to embark on a journey of learning the new nature's ways which is collectively the ways of God or His Kingdom, and "unlearning" and resisting the old nature's ways, any of it that is incongruent to those of the ways of God (I called these incongruent ways, sinful ways). We cannot go back to the sinful ways, we have to resist them from coming back in; we have to unsubscribe these, and subscribe to the ways of God, instead; to the ways of life, as opposed to the ways of wrath or perdition.

Children need to feed, NOT just on the right physical food, but also the right perspective or value-system. Where do we, as children, get the right perspective or value-system (also referred to, collectively, as the ways of God)? The answer is the Word (and the Spirit of God). Matt 4:4 tells us that the words of God is food for us. Teachings that promote we are arrived on conversion (mature instantly) and we need NOT imbibe or feed on the Word are heretic.


Anthony Chia said...

Cont. From above.

One preacher said this, which I agree, "What is wrong with you; God gave you the food, and you still expect God to eat it for you!" Those who argue that there is just no part of man, everything is God to do, from the moment after conversion, is again heretic. If we do NOT learn and develop the right perspective or value-system, we can easily be deceived and return to the old ways.

All these teachings that promote you are arrived, have matured instantly, perfect already, even, they are in fact putting you in a bondage, keeping you in a state of a child without learning, to say it nicely, keeping you as a retard, to put it, plainly. Wake up, use your common sense, these teachings are pandering to the old way's desire. Pro 22:6 said for a child, we are to train him the way to go. How could God have put this Pro 22:6 in, and we as a child of God does not need to train and to be trained, to go the right way. What kind of training is "you don't have to do anything"! We got to wake up; it is NOT we just have to say the Sinner's Prayer, and then we go back to our lives, still doing as we wish like before, engaging in incongruent ways or sinful ways.

It is also NOT when in Rome do as the Romans do; it is you are a prince, now, and so, you are to carry yourself consistent to your identity. In fact, the converse is being asked of us, concerning the former - we are still in the world but no longer of the world. We are no longer to do in the world, like the "rest of mankind", when what we are to do is incongruent to our new identity. We are princes, sons of God, sons of the Kingdom of God, in the world; we are to carry ourselves consistent to our identity or "nature". Another way of saying, is that we are to be congruent to who are.

We cannot fool God, be in form only, as a son of God, but not in substance. How are you righteous? Are you righteous the way Jesus was righteous? How was Jesus righteous? One way is this: Jesus (while He lived as a man) practiced righteousness even as He was righteous. We are to be like Jesus are we not? We are His disciples are we not? Are disciples to follow after the ways of the Master, Jesus? Or are you righteous, the opposite way to Jesus; going back to engaging in sinful ways, instead of practicing His righteousness? You cannot do the opposites. And it is you cannot, NOT as in, it is impossible for you to do so, but it is you cannot, as in it is incongruent to the new nature and identity that you have taken on. Ultimately, it is "you can confess and profess all you want, your life will tell on you if you indeed love God back, and want to be with Him who is holy and righteous. God cannot be fooled." Is this still life: continue to act like a child of wrath, making you like the rest of mankind?

Anthony Chia, high.expressions

Craig Godfrey said...

"So, I don't ever want to try living like a dead person again. The world promises life and delivers death. I promise to die to this world and receive life. I guess this only makes sense to those who know what death and life really are."

The sad part is when you attend a funeral where there is no hope.
In an attempt to put a positive spin on a hopeless situation, they make out that all their loved ones are looking down from heaven, and they will see them again soon up there;
when in reality, God has already consigned them to their fate, and is waiting for you and I to step in and make sure He doesn't do the same to the other attendees.

Death is in God's hands, but we can be the vessels in which He uses to bring life (Matt 28:18-20).