Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A statement of faith - what do you say?

This was taken from the statement of faith of a fast growing church attended mainly by young people. The church is in my city ...

We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the 'new birth' we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives.

Off hand this looks ok but I suspect, some may take issue on the way this is stated. What do you think? Give me some comments. I'll put mine last.

Split here, split there, split everywhere

By split, I mean church split not banana split. I have been studying this phenomenon in the ministry of pentecostal pastors. I wondered how come we pentecostals experience a lot of splits and intrigues in the ministry? Fortunately I am no longer holding a congregation and my job today is to fill in their pulpits when they need it. I am thankful that one or two still invite me to come and preach for them even though they have been made aware of my Lutheran views lately. I know it is a solitary road for me. However, my heart aches for them because their churches have been split more than a couple of times, some of them for 4 or 5 times through a span of 10 years of ministry, for example. Their present experience was once mine.

Here is an example, some keen and industrious disciple rises up in the midst as a leader, and before long, that disciple creates an issue in the church. Soon a few families will now move out of the church and follow this leader. Another usual occassion is that a pastor from out of town starts a small congregation right up close to another pentecostal pastor and soon some folk leave the church to join the new one that has begun. I do not deny that there could be lots of valid reasons for leaving the church but why is it so easy in pentecostalism to split a church up? But how come almost no effort is involved in doing this?

The reason is I think two fold. Firstly, in pentecostalism right doctrine is not stressed in the church. In otherwords, pentecostals do not require their pastors to be theologians. The pastors hardly discuss theological issues. They do not warn their congregation that wrong doctrine can hurt them and may destroy one's faith. In pentecostal circles, doctrine is not important, what is important is spiritual experience. The requirement to be a leader is that he is born again and holds some spiritual gift, like tongues and prophecy etc. Because of this, their members find no reason to stop, look and listen before they follow a new leader. They believe anyone has the right to lead so long as that person is manifesting some form of superior spirituality and maybe showing some care and concern for them.

Secondly I think is lack of communal responsibility. Most pentecostal ministers operate their churches like they are CEOs. Though they hate Roman papacy, yet, they are little popes themselves when they act in church. There is a lack of collective community responsibility to each other, both inside the body and outside the body . Have you noticed how many pentecostal churches are independents? Internally there is a lack of clear elder/deacon structure. Externally there is a weak notion that they are their brother's keeper and are responsible to the society they are standing in. This is not taught. The diet of pulpit food centers more on the christian and how to get blessed from Jesus.

One of my friends belong to a major pentecostal denomination and his church was split several times by leaders who found shelter and endorsement from the same denomination my friend belongs to. Don't you find that a wonder, well you could be asleep.

My hope is that my pentecostal friends may wake up and realize that the phenomenon of split frequency is a manifestation of upper level flaw in pentecostal theology and practice.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I recently put on a Christmas CD of the St Michael's Singers of England. The song Once in Royal David's City touched me and I felt moved by the solemness of the way these boys sang that Christmas song. There were no drums or up beat rhythmic guitars in the accompaniment, just an organ in the background.

Something in it touched my heart.

I know what you may be thinking, I have become religious, traditional, dead and old fashionedly boring. You are right, but I also have become lazy. I find todays church music hard work, it has to be up beat, loud, and lots of happy bubbly melodies - in short it is really really hard work to create some kind of feeling. With the type of music the St. Michael's Singers sing, you just sit, listen then tears start flowing from your eyes and you weep. I did not have to jump up and down and clap or shout myself to a freenzy to get this feeling of adoration and tranquility. It is for lazy people like me. I just sit, listen and they do the job for you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

What does a Filipino mean by being 'saved'?

We have receieved our old copies of Patmos, the journal of ISACC. While reading through the February 1999 (Vol. 14, No.2) issue, I was attracted to the article of Sylvia Palugod with the above title.

The thesis of the essay is that the Filipino concept of being 'saved' is summed up by the the Pilipino word ginhawa, meaning - comfort or well being. The author equates this to the Hebrew word for shalom(peace). However, the ginhawa concept pertains to the present experience of having good health, a bit of wealth, harmonious relations with visible (and invisible) neighbors. My observation is that this thesis is true.

The main concern of the Filipino is finding total well being in all of life's concerns on the here and now. The reason? Well, the Filipino is well aware of his/her bad lot in life. The Filipino struggles daily to meet his/her daily bread i.e. food, shelter and clothing. This is the reason the Filipino can be found in all parts of the world. They have been exiting their homeland with the hope of bettering their chances in life - to find a bit of ginhawa.

What does this imply? Because of the Filipino's notion of salvation focuses on the here and now, the Filipino is susceptible to a Gospel of health and wealth. He/She is vulnerable to receiving a misrepresented Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. This explains why the American preachers of a gospel of health/wealth that promises salvation in the here and now gets a good hearing in the country.

The Filipino is already deeply spiritual. He has a natural notion and longing for a close friendship with the Almighty. Fortunately, what cushions them when their prayers are not answered the way they like it to be as taught by 'prosperity' missionaries is their seasoned experience of suffering.

Lord Jesus, do not let false teachers succeed in misrepresenting your Gospel to my people. May you deliver them from those that will corrupt/contaminate the greatest news they can ever hear, peace with God today and life with you tomorrow, all because of your dying for their sins. Amen

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Altar Call No More

I have been reading the sermons in Acts lately. I should stop doing altar calls after preaching. I feel like a salesman or an auctioneer. Here was how it went...

Is there anyone else here in this room who wants to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior? Thank you I see that hand, you may put them down. Is there any one else? How about the others? Thank you, you may put your hand down. Is there any one else?

In Acts when people get agitated with their sins, they cry out "what must I do to be saved" - Paul would reply "believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved with your household". It does not say there that they prayed the sinner's prayer, rather they got baptized.

Monday, December 05, 2005

4 Square Gospel?

I have been thinking about this for sometime. In the Pentecostal movement there is a teaching about the Four Square Gospel. This is the term that encapsulates the maxim - Jesus saves, Jesus Heals, Jesus fills with HS and Jesus is coming again. This misunderstands the Gospel. There are no four elements of the Gospel, there is only one simple fact - the Gospel is the declaration that Jesus died and rose again for the sins of sinners. That is the Gospel.

When one lumps with this message - healing and being filled with the HS and Jesus coming again, then the Gospel has been re-casts and no more Gospel. Do I not believe that Jesus heals, I do. Do I not believe he fills with the HS? I do. However, this is not the good news that the preacher should preach about. These benefits (in my thinking) flow from the Gospel - the forgiveness of the sinner's sins, but they are not part of the Gospel. What about Jesus coming again? Well for the believing sinner (the Christian) this is good news but this is bad news for the unbelieving sinner, this is terrible news. For when He comes, He will judge the whole world, so bad news for the world.

In some Pentecostal denominations, they even call themselves Full Gospel. Some have the motto pridefully shown in a car sticker - All the Gospel. That is to say, the preach all of the Gospel, as if there is more than one Gospel. This is not right because when one equates healing with the Gospel and the believer is not healed, disillusionment happens rather than hope. It hurts believers rather than keep them steadfast in faith. It puts them in condemnation.

There are also those that refer to the Bible as 'the Gospel' Again, a misunderstanding, because the Bible contains two kinds of messages - the Law and the Gospel. This could turn what is the Gospel as Law and what is Law- Gospel.

I'd say, there is no better gift that we can get from God than to have our sins forgiven. This He did when He nailed our sins in Jesus' body at the Cross of Calvary. When a Christian walks in heaven with Christ, he will always see the nail pierced hand, the scars on his back and the scar on his side. Each time he sees those, he will be reminded that the greatest thing Jesus did for us is to take our sins and God's wrath that was meant for us. The Christian will exclaim with great ecstasy - thank You, thank You, thank You, I am so glad You died for me.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Unbelievers too can be saved, says Pope

I got this from the cyberbretheren blog (whose blog I am also enjoying - do visit his blog and look around).

Well according to Zenit.Org of November 30, 2005, the Pope says that unbelievers so long as they are good and sincere (basically), can be saved without believing in Christ.
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2005 ( Whoever seeks peace and the good of the community with a pure conscience, and keeps alive the desire for the transcendent, will be saved even if he lacks biblical faith, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this affirmation today at the general audience, commenting on a meditation written by St. Augustine (354-430).

On a rainy morning in Rome, the Holy Father's meditation, addressed to more than 23,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square, concentrated on the suffering of the Jewish people in the Babylonian exile, expressed dramatically in Psalm 136(137).

The Pontiff referred to Augustine's commentary on this composition of the Jewish people, noting that this "Father of the Church introduces a surprising element of great timeliness."

Augustine "knows that also among the inhabitants of Babylon there are people who are committed to peace and the good of the community, despite the fact that they do not share the biblical faith, that they do not know the hope of the Eternal City to which we aspire," Benedict XVI stated.

"They have a spark of desire for the unknown, for the greatest, for the transcendent, for a genuine redemption," explained the Pope, quoting Augustine.

This spark

"And he says that among the persecutors, among the nonbelievers, there are people with this spark, with a kind of faith, of hope, in the measure that is possible for them in the circumstances in which they live," the Holy Father continued.

"With this faith in an unknown reality, they are really on the way to the authentic Jerusalem, to Christ," he clarified.

Continuing with his quotes from Augustine, the Pope added that "God will not allow them to perish with Babylon, having predestined them to be citizens of Jerusalem, on the condition, however, that, living in Babylon, they do not seek pride, outdated pomp and arrogance."

The Bishop of Rome concluded by inviting those present to pray to the Lord "that he will awaken in all of us this desire, this openness to God, and that those who do not know God may also be touched by his love, so that all of us journey together toward the definitive City and that the light of this City might also shine in our time and in our world."

So what happens to fervent evangelism and faith as stated in Mk 16:15-16? Jesus says "I am the way, the truth and the life. No comes to the Father but through Me"? Benedict is following Augustine rather than Christ's Words. He is trying to pontificate over and against what God has revealed. It is better to do evangelism rather than make such a statement that will only confuse and perhaps make complacent believers.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

James 2 vs Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

Does James 2 deny justification through faith alone? Here is a very comprehensive treatment of the subject.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Shot in the Foot 2

We modern evangelical and pentecostal pride ourselves for having no creed but the Bible. We pride ourselves as having no tradition and no religion. The interesting part is if this rallying cry of 'no religion' is still Christianity - it may be different.

Firstly the a-creedal (that means no creed) philosophy of evangelicals/ pentecostals makes the movement very vulnerable to erroneous teaching. They do have statements of faith but they are very brief indeed such that any preacher/ teacher who does not hit upon items in the statement of faith will be acceptable. Here is where erroneous teaching can creep in because any Tom/Dick and Harry will be ok too so long as he/she is not blatantly counter their statement of faith - the major items.

An example of this is the idea of having faith in one's faith. Sometimes there is a default mode present specially among young people that places faith in one's believing, that is - placing one's good standing with God because they believe or their faith is carrying them through. This makes faith a work, something again inside us. The creeds already warned against this tendency a long time ago. For example the Belgic Confession Article 23

However, we do not mean, properly speaking, that it is faith itself that justifies us-- for faith is only the instrument by which we embrace Christ, our righteousness.
But Jesus Christ is our righteousness in making available to us all his merits and all the holy works he has done for us and in our place. And faith is the instrument that keeps us in communion with him and with all his benefits.

This is just an example that is of subtle nature. But what about the modern therapeutic messages one gets from the pulpit? One can ask, is Christianity about victorious living?

This lack of appreciation for creeds is part of being a-historical (no need to study history). I am almost certain that when I pick any young people in church today, they would not be able to recite the Apostle's Creed. Today evangelicals/ pentecostals find unity and oneness with each other based on one's spiritual experience i.e being born again etc., rather than a common message. The a-historical mentality is really a modern worldly attitude found in today's society. Creeds are viewed traditional, religious, old and irrelevant.

There is a saying "those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it", specially the erroneous part or the bad part of history. The evangelical/ pentecostal should see their a-historical and a-creedal attitude not a strength but may well be a weakness, it is a shot in the foot too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Shot In the Foot

We paint ourselves in a corner when we claim infallibility for ourselves. The teaching of original sin is that sin has so marred our core that we are dead and can not respond to God such that it takes God to come to us in mercy and revive our mind and heart for us to come to him. This teaching does not deny that man can pray, read the Bible, do good deeds that is not what is meant. It means though that all works of righteousness are filthy rags in God's sight. It would be good works done from impure hearts. Man does not only need help, he is spiritually dead that he needs to be resurrected in spirit.

The practical outworking of original sin (as I see it) is that it keeps us on our toes. Original sin is not done away by conversion, it inheres in the believer. The unbeliever is sinner only but the Christian is a believing sinner (he is both sinful and holy at the same time). It is a safe teaching that helps the Christian not to value himself highly than he should.

The RC teaching of Papal/Magisterial Infallibility is not practical and flies against the teaching of Scripture - that men are liars. It does not see the possibility in practice that they can be led astray by their leaders. RCs always believe the the RC magisterium will always be guided by the HS, no matter what happens. What about Acts 20:26-30?

The RCC paints itself in a corner when it attributes something to the hierarchy what is meant to be attributed to God, like infallibility. This I think, is the reason why there are Sedevantarians who believe the RCC has betrayed Council of Trent and Vatican I. Put it this way, if in their hearts they believed they were wrong in excommunicating the protestants, through the Council of Trent, they could not simply retract their damnable pronouncements. That would mean they are not infallible as the doctrine says. So what to do? Just redefine the meaning of words and come up with Vatican II. More inconsistency. When you are infallible, the command to repent is not applicable to you. This locks you inside a room whose keys no knows what happened.

It is like falling on a quick sand, the more you move, the more you sink. It is a shot in the foot - as some say.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Luther's Prayer - The Fight of Faith

I heard this prayer recited by a Lutheran minister and it so touched my heart. I felt crying for this prayer embodies the struggle we have in living life in this sin stained earth. As my pastor Neil said - Life gets harder as it gets longer. The Christian has enemies headed by the devil followed by the world and aided by the flesh. Our enemy always seeks to overthrow us in our faith in Christ. Hear this prayer and be blessed as you identify with Luther's fight of faith.

Lord, keep us steadfast in Thy Word;
Curb those who feign by craft and sword
Would wrest the Kingdom from Thy Son
And set at naught all He hath done.

Lord Jesus Christ Thy Power make known
For thou art Lord of lords alone
Defend thy Christendom that we
may ever sing praise to Thee.

O Comforter of priceless worth
Send Peace and unity on earth
Support us in our final strife
And lead us out of death to life!


Tuesday, November 08, 2005


We started a bible study in our home last week. We are using the Heidelberg Catechism as the topic with the scriptural verses in it examined.

I did not realize how the structure of this document has been marvelously designed. It is well ordered when one looks at its form. It starts with Q.1 and Q.2 which in reality is the sum and result of Christian life. You might say it starts at the end.

Question 1. What is your only comfort in life and death?

Question 2. What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?

Q.1 tells us where to we find comfort in this life and in our death, then Q.2 answers what is needed to live and die. This is brilliant to me because its genius seems almost 'inspired'.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Famous RC Apologist Calls Pope Heretic

This is interesting. I was surfing AOMIN.ORG and I was led to this article on Gerry Matatics. Prof Matatics was a Protestant minister (Presbyterian) who converted to Roman Catholicism. He was convinced by former Presbyterian minister Scott Hahn to convert to RC. From then on Mr. Matatics apparently have succeeded in bringing Protestants and non-RCs to Rome. A staunch defender of the RC doctrine/theology and practice, he says this of the last popes...

4. I believe, and publicly teach, that the Catholic Church has always infallibly taught that because heretics are not members of the Catholic Church, they cannot validly hold office in the Church, according to divine law, and that, should they seem to hold such offices, the believing Catholic must conclude that their election to and possession of such offices is null and void. This would include, not only the manifest heretics John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II, but also the manifest heretic and present illicit and invalid occupant of the See of Peter, Benedict XVI, who has the further handicap (unlike his immediate four predecessors) of not even having been validly consecrated a bishop, which, in addition to all other considerations, makes it impossible for him to therefore function as Bishop of Rome.

There are some things that Mr. Matatics agree with the Protestants, the papacy is the seat of the anti-Christ so says their confessions of faith. Heretics are called like that in the NT (see Epistles of John - 1,2,3 John).

It appears that what has been happening with Mr. Matatics is a form of disillusionment, and who knows, he maybe just touring Rome on the way back to Westminster.

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Goodnews

The good news is not - you can do it and you have been given the power, the good news is that Christ has done it for you because you do not have the power to do. There is the difference of Paleo-Protestant Christianity with other expressions of Christianity. For this reason, I have been quiet and do not comment when my minister friends are excited that they are teaching the from thePurpose Driven Life. Well that is not my call.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Sin is Original

They say that when your view of sin is slanted, your view of God's justification will be slanted too.
I remember when I first lied to my mother, there was an insistent desire to avoid pain and yet immediate guilt soon followed - I lied. I did not know the 10 Commandments yet, something told me I should have not lied and that it would have been more noble to have been honest.

Sin according to the Bible is missing the mark. When God commands, he expects us to do them perfectly. We can't unless we confine sin to actuals only, that is to external behavior. If you confine sin to the actuals then you can tap yourself in the back and praise yourself. In fact, you can even delude yourself that you are sinless for a day! Some evangelicals/pentecostals think so! If that is the case then there is a day you can make it on your own without the cross of Jesus. If you can go for one day without sinning, why can you not say that you can go for another and another without sinning.

When you consider what Jesus says - sin is not just outside behavior, it is in us. It is a condition. He says that if we thought about anger, lust we have sinned already in our heart. So sin is not just behavioral it is internal. It is not what we do/say/think that is wrong but also what we did not do/say/think that is right.

We do not sin then become sinners, we are sinners, that is why we sin. Sin is original as found in Romans 5. It is not washed or done away after baptism nor after faith in Christ (Romans 7 and 1 John 2:1-2). We continue to struggle with it and it needs to be forgiven, this God provided at the Cross of Christ, God nailed your sins and mine in his body. So we groan and are not happy and we hope one day we will no longer be in the presence of sin.

Monday, October 17, 2005

No Talk No Mistake

They feel sorry for me. My good and caring friends in the ministry feel sorry that I am not now pastoring today. I can understand and appreciate their disappointment. However, in a way I am not bothered at all.

Firstly, I can not do anything unless the Lord helps and inspires me, so I believe he prepares and equips his people. Secondly, in a way I am happy, because if I am going to stand and preach to people and it so happens that I preach something that is false, I will be responsible for misleading them. It is a serious business speaking on behalf of the Lord. I will be judged for every word I said.

Then I think of St Paul who was in prison and he still encouraged believers even while he was behind jail. I am very sure that should Paul have been in prison today, he would have requested internet access and would have sent his epistles by e:mail. I think he would have bloged too since his loved for Christ's church can be seen from his letters.

For now I like the Chinese proverb at that says "No talk, no mistake".

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Scripture is Sufficient 1

I have been listening to debates lately between Protestants and Roman Catholics on the issue of sola scriptura. For a debate question such as "Sola Scriptura or the Sufficiency of Scripture is taught by Scripture", the Protestants will of course take the affirmative side. Now of course, the Protestants do not mean to say that the phrase "Scripture is Sufficient" exactly can be found in the Bible, but is this principle taught just like the Trinity? The word Trinity is not found in the Bible but does the Bible teach such concept about God? Simply because the word is not found in the Bible, it does not mean that the Bible does not teach it.

Now for the RC apologist, what must he do to effectively rebut the affirmative? The Protestants believe that sola scriptura is vouched by 2 Tim 3:14-17. The RCs have to do more than say "I do not accept that". Also the exegesis that limits the application of this Scripture here to OT does not wash, because you will have to deny that the NT is not Scripture and I do not think you would like to go there as it will lead to a can of issues.

Think of this way, what is the Protestant position really saying? They are saying "The Bible teaches that there is only one source for a Christian's faith and conduct - it is the Bible". This is what is being said here.

This is similar to me saying - "I can prove to you that there is only One God". For you do take the negative on this you would have to prove, either of two things. You prove that there is no such God or you prove that there is at least another God and this one is not identical to the other.
For this case, the former is invariably taken as the method used by Atheist because by definition, God is supreme being and therefore unique, that is why we do not hear the latter position taken as a method (that is prove at least 2 God etc.) of proof.

From the debate I hear, RC apologists normally use 2 Th2:15 where Paul says "hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter" to show that sola scriptura is denied. Their point ,from what I understand, is the "spoken word" along with the "letter (Scripture)", thus it is not Scripture alone it has to be the oral words. Notice too that it says "either", that is this tradition is found in either spoken word or letter.

To be successful they have to show that "the spoken word" is NOT the same or is NOT identical with the "letter". That is, the contents of the two must not be identical with each other, for if they were, then they have not denied the position of the Protestant successfully. Thus they have to do a bit more work.

More later, God bless you in your thinking

Saturday, October 08, 2005

RC Bishops Doubt Bible

I got this from NTR Ministries. It is reported that Roman Catholic bishops in Great Britain doubt certain passages of the Bible to be historically accurate. They think, for example, that the story in Genesis 1-11 is untrue. Look here

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Luther and Victory of Justifying Faith

Since Reformation Sunday is coming up I thought it would be good to do some reflections on the struggle of Reformation.

This is from Philip Schaff's, History of the Christian Church, and can be found here. I am repeating it here to help in reflecting on the the Feast of the Reformation, this October

23. The Victory of Justifying Faith.

(Comp. § 7.)

The secret of Luther’s power and influence lies in his heroic faith. It delivered him from the chaos and torment of ascetic self-mortification and self-condemnation, gave him rest and peace, and made him a lordly freeman in Christ, and yet an obedient servant of Christ. This faith breathes through all his writings, dominated his acts, sustained him in his conflicts and remained his shield and anchor till the hour of death. This faith was born in the convent at Erfurt, called into public action at Wittenberg, and made him a Reformer of the Church.

By the aid of Staupitz and the old monk, but especially by the continued study of Paul’s Epistles, be was gradually brought to the conviction that the sinner is justified by faith alone, without works of law. He experienced this truth in his heart long before he understood it in all its bearings. He found in it that peace of conscience which he had sought in vain by his monkish exercises. He pondered day and night over the meaning of "the righteousness of God "(Rom. 1:17), and thought that it is the righteous punishment of sinners; but toward the close of his convent life he came to the conclusion that it is the righteousness which God freely gives in Christ to those who believe in him. Righteousness is not to be acquired by man through his own exertions and merits; it is complete and perfect in Christ, and all the sinner has to do is to accept it from Him as a free gift. Justification is that judicial act of God whereby he acquits the sinner of guilt and clothes him with the righteousness of Christ on the sole condition of personal faith which apprehends and appropriates Christ and shows its life and power by good works, as a good tree bringing forth good fruits. For faith in Luther’s system is far more than a mere assent of the mind to the authority of the church: it is a hearty trust and full surrender of the whole man to Christ; it lives and moves in Christ as its element, and is constantly obeying his will and following his example. It is only in connection with this deeper conception of faith that his doctrine of justification can be appreciated. Disconnected from it, it is a pernicious error.

The Pauline doctrine of justification as set forth in the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, had never before been clearly and fully understood, not even by Augustin and Bernard, who confound justification with sanctification.137 Herein lies the difference between the Catholic and the Protestant conception. In the Catholic system justification (dikaivwsi") is a gradual process conditioned by faith and good works; in the Protestant system it is a single act of God, followed by sanctification. It is based upon the merits of Christ, conditioned by faith, and manifested by good works.138

This experience acted like a new revelation on Luther. It shed light upon the whole Bible and made it to him a book of life and comfort. He felt relieved of the terrible load of guilt by an act of free grace. He was led out of the dark prison house of self-inflicted penance into the daylight and fresh air of God’s redeeming love. Justification broke the fetters of legalistic slavery, and filled him with the joy and peace of the state of adoption; it opened to him the very gates of heaven.

Henceforth the doctrine of justification by faith alone was for him to the end of life the sum and substance of the gospel, the heart of theology, the central truth of Christianity, the article of the standing or falling church. By this standard he measured every other doctrine and the value of every book of the Bible. Hence his enthusiasm for Paul, and his dislike of James, whom he could not reconcile with his favorite apostle. He gave disproportion to solifidianism and presented it sometimes in most unguarded language, which seemed to justify antinomian conclusions; but he corrected himself, he expressly condemned antinomianism, and insisted on good works and a holy life as a necessary manifestation of faith.139 And it must not be forgotten that the same charge of favoring antinomianism was made against Paul, who rejects it with pious horror: "Let it never be!"

Thus the monastic and ascetic life of Luther was a preparatory school for his evangelical faith. It served the office of the Mosaic law which, by bringing the knowledge of sin and guilt, leads as a tutor to Christ (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:24). The law convicted, condemned, and killed him; the gospel comforted, justified, and made him alive. The law enslaved him, the gospel set him free. He had trembled like a slave; now he rejoiced as a son in his father’s house. Through the discipline of the law he died to the law, that he might live unto God (Gal. 2:19).

In one word, Luther passed through the experience of Paul. He understood him better than any mediaeval schoolman or ancient father. His commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians is still one of the best, for its sympathetic grasp of the contrast between law and gospel, between spiritual slavery and spiritual freedom.

Luther held this conviction without dreaming that it conflicted with the traditional creed and piety of the church. He was brought to it step by step. The old views and practices ran along side with it, and for several years he continued to be a sincere and devout Catholic. It was only the war with Tetzel and its consequences that forced him into the position of a Reformer and emancipated him from his old connections.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Strange Similarity

It is amazing as I listened to a debate between a RC apologist and a Protestant apologist that I just realized the claims of Rome (RCC) matches the claims of Utah (LDS). They are similar in their claims to infallibility of their hierarchy.

Rome claims infallibility for its magisterium. In the RCC catechism, it stated this in point 2035
"The supreme degree of participation in the authority of Christ is ensured by the charism of infallibility. This infallibility extends as far as does the deposit of divine Revelation; it also extends to all those elements of doctrine, including morals, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, explained, or observed.[77]"
What about point 2051
"The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed"

The LDS also claims infallibility. Look at this statement...

by Charles W. Penrose
"Our organization is a very glorious one. It is a perfect organization -- perfect -- because it is divine. It was not made by man. It was not originated by Joseph Smith, or by any of his associates. It came down from above, direct from eternal worlds. It was not taken out of the Bible. It was not taken out of the Book of Mormon, or any other book" Journal of Discourses, vol. 24, p. 304 (1883)

by Brigham Young -
"The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a babe in its mother's arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray, for if they should try to do so the Lord would quickly sweep them from the earth." Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p. 289 (1862)

If you are not bothered with it I am, for I have dear friends in the RCC who will fight tooth and nail to show that the RCC is the real Church.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Done or Do?

At the Cross the Lord said it is finished - John 19:30. They say there are only two kinds of religions in this world - the religion you do or the religion that has been done for you. Christianity is unique, Biblically based Christianity that is, for those who come from the Reformation side of Christianity. It asserts that it has been done for you by Christ. Other forms of Christianity mixes faith and works together. This boils down to their view of sin, is sin just a weakness or is it a defect? We are dead in trespasses and sins, we need a savior. We can not even make an effort from a pure heart to draw to God. God gave a Savior it is Jesus - whose name is - the Lord Saves. He died and rose again for the payment for our sins, said the Bible. This is the gospel.

This message is the power of God, the gospel that says - it has been a done deal, your sins have been put on Christ, he carried it at the cross in his body. He lived the perfect life for you and carried your sins (and mine) on the cross of calvary. He did it all. Unfortunately in some churches, aside from RC and EO, they teach that yes, he died you are to believe that and Christ will help you do good works and when you have done these works you will be declared righteous. There is one thing I asked when I was an RC, how much work do I have to do to be righteous? No one can tell you.

Yesterday I spoke at Word for the World, and spoke on Rom 1:16-17 and I believe the Word of the Lord did not return void. There was no altar call. I will stop giving one. I find it interesting that after church lunch a lady came up to me in tears and said "thanks for the message, often I come to church with heavy burdens and leave church still with a heavy burdens, today I go home released with my burdens lifted". I said, it was not my message it was the work of Jesus and what he did for you , and it is also for your children. She walked off with a beaming smile in her face. I too walked off smiling and happy. I believe she received the gospel. It produces faith in the heart of the hearer, it is God's way of delivering his salvation in Christ, so why should we be ashamed of it. We should be happy it has been done, this is good news. It can not be better than that.

Monday, September 19, 2005


It is often a wonder why the three major streams of Christianity differ in the contents of their Old Testaments. Between the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants, it is the Protestants that have the smallest number of books of the Old Testament(OT). The differences all stem from the way theses streams treat the OT books found in the Septuagint - the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. At the end of the Book of Malachi, a few more books were appended like Tobith, Judith, Baruch etc. in the Septuagint.

The word apocrypha stands for the Greek word "hidden" which was used by the church father Jerome to describe these books - meaning of questionable inspiration. Another church father Augustine considered these books to be inspired. Which church father do you believe? It is a myth to think that the church fathers, to which RC apologists are proud to appeal to as their source of doctrine and practice, were always in agreement. Well did the Reformers say that these church fathers contradicted each other. At anyrate, the RC called these books euphemistically "deuterocanonical", i.e. to mean accepted later as inspired.

Why then did the Protestants not include these books in their OT? Because the Jews did not consider them inspired either. I think this is a sound procedure, because the OT is the book of the Jews from which the Lord comes from and if there is a people who would know their OT, it would be the Jews. Besides this, all along there were early Christians who did not consider these apocryphal books as divine either, whereas the regular canonical books of the OT were accepted without any disputation as inspired. Therefore, it is a safer policy to consider these books as not inspired, and not to take one's doctrine and practice from them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hmmm, Evangelical

Hmmm. I am not sure. I am not sure if I can still identify with being evangelical or pentecostal. Do not get me wrong, I still believe the Bible is the rule for faith and conduct and is inerrant. I still believe that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today. I have the following reasons why I am now hesitant to being given that label...

  1. They limit the gospel to the unsaved, there is more law rather than gospel preached to Christians. I guess that is the problem, there is misunderstanding as to what the gospel is.
  2. The preaching focus is what you must do; what God has done or will do is put on the background. All now is left up to you.
  3. Even the worship choruses centers on YOU. The songs are about your love, your dedication and your good will towards God rather than God's love, commitment and good will towards the sinner.
  4. The Lord's Supper and Baptism are considered mere symbols, and again focuses on what you ought to do. For example, Baptism is your first step to obedience, the Lord's Supper is your observance. The Lord seems absent in the practice of the sacraments.
  5. There is too much theology of glory rather than theology of the cross. The focus is bring heaven now here on earth. You can have a good time here on earth and then in heaven too.
  6. There has to be something new and "cutting edge of the HS" every couple of years. Ten years ago there was the "holy laughter", then "the prophetic", and now there is PDL.
  7. Most modern day evangelical/pentecostals do not know the Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. No systematic catechising.

These are just a few that make me think. Could this be because most evangelicals/pentecostals are non-confessional, i.e. they follow no confession of faith? They do have statements of faith, but such statements are very brief leaving other Bible issues wide-open. Consequently, there is a misunderstanding of the gospel because it is not emphasized in most preaching event. The message is more tilted to what you must do or how you do this or that etc. It is too Arminian and revivalistic with loathing for reformation teaching.

It is strange because the word "Evangelical" was first used by the Lutheran Protestants to signify that they were "evangel" or gospel oriented. Yet today evangelicals are unaware what the reformers taught, if not indifferent to them. Today you mention Luther or Calvin's insight to an evangelical/pentecostal and you get a silent reaction. Either they do not know them or they are taught to avoid them like a plague. There are now two types of Evangelicals , either they are -confessional or non-confessional! I think I like to be lumped w/ the first -with the confessional group since I follow a confession. Start here and please consider what I say. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Luther and Mary

I read about protestants who converted to RC refer to the fact that Luther 'honored" or "venerated" Mary. This "fact" is one of those things that led them to embrace RC. In this respect, these protestants think that they have been "short changed" by their churches.

When I read people say that Luther was a Marian and read the quotes from his sermons and works to prove this, I always ask the question - when did he say this? I do not have to deny that he said what he said, the question is when did he say them, did he say them while he was in RC or were they said after his break with RC? Why should we ask when? Because it matters, a man's understanding goes to development, it goes to maturity and greater understanding. I will naturaly expect him to toe the line before he broke away, that would be expected. The issue is what did he teach after he broke away?

At anyrate, even if Luther praised Mary, the Lutherans do not follow Luther in all things he espoused, the same way that Calvinists or the Reformed do not follow all of Calvin's espoused teachings. Why? Because like any human being their teachings will have to line and be at par with scripture. The issue are the confessions written up by the Lutheran and Reformed Protestants. Luther subjected himself to his fellow reformers and when they drew up their confessions , you will find that there is no veneration of Mary or the saints. In the Apology of Augsburg Confession article XXI, the veneration of Mary and the saints have been rejected and considered a pagan origin.

Lastly for a balanced and well researched discussion of how Mary played in Luther's Christianity see

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Before Katrina hit New Orleans, LA (USA), my friend was sharing with me how he is awed at God at the same time how he feared Him. Reading of what has happened in New Orleans, how could we not be at awe and in fear of God? He is again reminding us that we are not in control, He is.

We have to go past what the TV portrays and put ourselves in the shoes of those refugees. The TV has a way of making us feel detached and un-affected because it is too remote, too far, to feel what the people in New Orleans are going through. Those of us who have never experienced such floodings, never experienced losing a loved one because nature has turned itself on us could never feel their agony/pain. However, it should make us think of the one who owns the storm, it should make us think of God - a healthy fear of him and awe as my friend says, is healthy and will produce wisdom in us.

O Lord be merciful to the people of New Orleans, and to us too who are not there.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


Do you sometimes wonder if you are fit for heaven? It has been said that the faith of a Christian goes through growth and development and somtimes doubt becomes a problem. When we look at ourselves, doubt will creep in and screwtape will be there to fuel your doubts (no doubts about it). Our human and carnal mind resists or find it boggling that we can live in the presence of Almighty God, the Creator and Lord of the Universe. This is sometimes too marvelous to believe.

However, when we look at what Jesus has done, when we look at the atonement, and consider that at the cross, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, we will not be surprized. No I do not think so. The atonement makes people fit for heaven not because there is anything in ourselves that makes us appropriate to live there, but because it is Jesus' work that makes us fit to live there. His sacrifice makes you ready. You are fit, on account of Christ's work, not yours.

When we are tempted to look inside us to find if there is anything in us that makes us ready, we should immediately agree that we are not, but at the same time in haste look away from ourselves and look outside us, look to the one who did it all - Christ Jesus the Lord, God's Son.

I encourage you on this and remind me of this too.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


I do not think so, I do not think we need to make the gospel relevant, that is if we truly know what the gospel is. It is not about having a clean moral lifestyle and it is not about being born again though one gets that way when the gospel is received. So long as there is sin in this world, the gospel will be relevant because sin is what the gospel fixes.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

There is too much

There is too much "looking inside of me" that is going on in our evangelical and pentecostal circles. I get a bit weary with the praise and worship songs that focus so much on what I do for the Lord or what I do for God, how much I love him etc. The theme seems to be romantic in nature like one song I heard "I burn for you". I felt very uneasy as I listened to that praise song, notice how the focus is on the "I". Besides some of these modern songs are quite unreal, like we all know we did not love Jesus the way we should have this week and here we are standing and singing as if it was the song of our hearts. We know we did not spend time with him in prayer and Bible reading yet we sing songs on Sunday as if everything was alright.

I am so sorry but you will find me looking bored with those songs. It will be conducive if you lead me to sing songs about what God does and is rather what I am and will do for him, that is not the gospel. The gospel is about God's love for sinners.

Besides, God's people might have gone through some difficult times during the week and we expect them to simply turn on and "be happy" and the worship team are mad when the people look tired and spaced out. Hey get real. Stop cooking up a feeling and get them to facts, their feelings will come later, the fact is that God is good and wise so sing songs about that. Thanks

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Welcome To Extra Nos


Welcome to my blog. It contains my musings and thoughts concerning the Christian faith. I got the title from Luther who referred to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as "extra nos", it is objective and outside us.

I will be back soon. Please feel welcome to respond. Your reaction to my postings will be appreciated.