Saturday 17 November 2018

What did you do with your talents?

We are going to look at the parable of the talents.

"Matthew 25:14 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants[a] and entrusted to them his property. 15 To one he gave five talents,[b] to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. 19 Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. 20 And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.[c] You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

22 And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 24 He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’"

The basic point of this parable is our servitude to Jesus. Believers of different backgrounds, rich or poor with whatever resources they have are to live holy and obedient lives consecrated to Christ. It cuts through the idea that a lack of resources means you cannot do much.

Think about it. If one is a billionaire, his or her resources can be used to help many individuals across the world, if there is a Christian billionaire. Someone of a moderate income can do what they can in their local area and possibly outside and finally, those of low income can help support their families (if possible) through their house keeping. No limit is placed on gospel preaching through your income and also, your testimony at work, your home, the club you go to (if there is one) etc., while you may not necessarily talk about God, you live your life in such a way that the individual glorifies God and some sees you as reliable and trustworthy.

It matters not to God what you have, it's how you use the resources  or talents (as in things you can do) given to you and there is no excuse for laziness and slackness.

It also makes me think it is the little things that matter as well as the big which is nothing. For example, dusting your workplace to keep it clean is just as important as keeping the stock up and making a huge profit. The man who buried his talent could have used it to get a second talent or even go the extra mile. The master would have been pleased with being given two talents or even if the man went multiple times to get more talents. Imagine the result if he had ten talents from his efforts as opposed to the one which he hid away. It cuts through the concept of being work-shy.

Rebekah Merkle's application in her book "Eve in Exile" is sure make to make housewives appreciate and have a higher view of their role as keepers of the home (Titus 2:5), especially the neglect from the church to teach it and also the foul stench that so plagues being a house wife thanks to feminism creeping into the church and the church doing nothing about it. This isn’t the whole quotation but this snippet should be of interest.

"We twenty first century American women have been materially blessed beyond our wildest dreams of most women throught out all of history, we have been given the most talents and God has given us the most blessings in order that we may turn a profit on them. If we bury the talents and just float, we know what God says to us at the end of the day "You wicked and slothful servant!" We need to look around at what God has given us and then figure our how to turn a profit on it. If we can do that, we can look forward to a "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I'll set you over much. Enter the joy of your master." So why should we run when we don't have to? Because that's what God made us to do. A Eric Liddel so eloquently says in Chariots of Fire, "God made me run fast. And when I run I feel his pleasure."" Eve in Exile, Rebekah Merkle, pg 149.

There is appreciation of little tasks, no matter how difficult it may be, they are much greater than we realise. Even the smallest gesture of service to other people can be an acceptable sacrifice, paying them a visit in person just for a chat, especially when they have had an off day or in a state of misery, even just a simple hello is a good place to start.

The point is, Christian service is still to be given, we have hard work to do, including that of witnessing to others where we are. It's one thing to have a hobby at the end of the day or watching the television for the glory of Christ, but it's quite another to let those things run your whole life. The man with one talent squandered what he had and lost out on the chance of remaining in his master's house.

Answering Judaism

Saturday 10 November 2018

Venom: Has God abandoned us?

Venom is Sony’s most recent comic book movie release not under the MCU banner of movies and while has generally negative reviews from critics, the audience response has been mixed to positive and as earned more than $500 million world wide, so far a modest hit. The movie has its fair share of issues but is not an insulting or insufferable experience but entertaining on all three occasions I saw it.

But I am not talking about what I think of it as a whole nor the Eminem song at the end of the film but a specific line uttered by the film’s villain, Carlton Drake, leader of the Life Foundation who is experimenting on individuals by binding them to Symbiotes as a means of fighting poverty and other issues. The problem is his tests beforehand and during such tests are controversial as his experiments result in individuals dying and bonding people to symbiotes is not an exception as some of the people bonded to them where either incompatible or suffered bodily degradation due to the symbiotes feeding on vital organs.

Before Isaac, one of his volunteers is killed due to incompatibility with the symbiote, Drake relays the story of Abraham and Isaac to him. He claims the story about Abraham and Isaac is not about Abraham’s sacrifice but Isaac’s and not knowing what sort of God would ask that of anyone. Drake also goes on about war and poverty being present and the world on the brink of collapse, claiming that God has abandoned humanity and he won’t abandon it, saying that it’s up to him and others including Isaac to set things right.

When ever scripture is used in cinema, no matter the intent or context, I can understand why some quotations are used but do take issue with how quotes are used.

Firstly, and putting aside for a moment original sin which I believe in, God doesn’t abandon anyone unless they continually reject him. If someone refuses to repent, God will turn his back on them until they die, after which they face judgement or if the person in question repents, to which he will return to them in mercy and grace.

The reason Saul didn’t receive any messages from God was not God refusing to forgive after repentance, it was the fact Saul didn’t repent and grew gradually worse. If Saul repented, he wouldn’t have the kingdom to rule but he would have been loved by God and God would have listened but Saul didn’t repent and in desperation sought out a medium which was the final move in his destruction. David however in Pslam 51 begged YHWH not to take his Holy Spirit away and sought God for forgiveness, he had a repentant heart that was ashamed of sinning against his creator.

Our planet is rotting because of our sins, the sin of Adam bringing “war and poverty” with it. If Carlton Drake was real, he would be very wrong in saying that God has abandoned him partially. I say partially because God would listen if Drake would humble himself. It is not God who stops caring about us, it’s the other way around. We refuse to listen and he has no time for us but if we turn to him, he will hear us. Did God not say to Jeremiah “If you repent, I will restore you so that you may serve me”?

God can intervene with the affairs of men and he has the right to but does allow men to go their own way and thus reap the consequences. In a way, we can sort out the mess in any way we can but we will never be successful in eliminating the problem completely. Only by trust and obedience to God can we get out of our ruts. We are not promised our best life now but we would be better off obeying him and being happier due to holiness rather than engaging in sin, leading to many problems which are numerous to list, including poverty which can either be due someone’s greed robbing others of their hard earned money or laziness bringing poverty upon them not to mention there maybe sickness that’s either their fault or not, a criminal conviction that’s either their fault or not. If one were to follow God’s instructions, we would have none of these problems.

Second, The type of God that would ask someone to sacrifice their son is the type of God that demands utmost obedience and praise, giving up the things we cherish the most if that’s what it takes to be loyal to him. Not an easy task but can be accomplished by God’s grace, “for with God, nothing is impossible”.

Jesus consistent with his Father, told the rich young ruler to part with what he cherished the most then follow him, a hard saying that the rich ruler couldn’t accept. Jesus may give different requests to people, he isn’t saying all are to do what the rich ruler did to his riches, again, the  principle is the willingness to part with something if that is a barrier between you and God, serving him above all else. It may be temporary or permanent, it varies from person to person and not necessarily money or possessions but can be the case.

Third, the story is not so much about Isaac himself but Abraham, it was a test from God as mentioned previously above, a proof of his faith by his deeds, thus preventing it from being a faith without works that is dead. It’s not Isaac’s sacrifice but Abraham’s although Isaac willingly allowed it, being a 30 year old or so at the time, he would be strong enough to resist but didn’t. God stayed Abraham’s hand as a result of his loyalty, after Abraham showed his willingness to obey without exception.

I am not saying Venom was a bad movie, it wasn’t, but I tend to hold films more accountable when they use the Bible in one fashion or another.

Answering Judaism.

Saturday 3 November 2018

A look into "The Time is fulfilled, How prepared are you?"

A few weeks ago, I was handed a leaflet in Kingsmead by a missionary from the group known as HOREMOW or Holiness Revival Movement Worldwide. It would be better to take a look at what it says now in this article now rather than not looking at it at all. Let us examine it.

"The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ draws near every minute and hour that passes by. It is very important for everyone who has hope of eternity to take heed now. We advancements and inventions of different types and shapes of computers and micro-chips, the unifying of financial systems, the scaricity of money denominations in place now, is indicating the antichrist preparedness to take over the world and the world bodies, the economic meltdown and down turn problems of life even in our individual lives must be a very big eye opening to all believers. These are signals indicating to humans that this age is coming to an end, that the Bible prophecies that say "The day is approaching" is at hand.

But the unfortunate thing is that many believers even the very elect are not watchful. A call for watchfulness in church of Christ  whom our Lord Jesus Christ bought with His previous blood-the groom of the Lord-the heavenly minded believers should be very, very alert in the spirit now more than ever, waiting earnestly for the raputre. Now the question is "How prepared are you"? This advices us not to sleep as do others but let us watch and be sober, for they that sleep, sleep in the night 1 Thesa 5vs6-8."

Is the leaflet here appearing to be promoting a pre tribulation rapture or that the day of Jesus' return is immiment? We'll get to that later. The scripture in question however does not say we are to be waiting earnestly for the rapture. We should be waiting for the return of Jesus. I shall give a brief explaination of the thief in the night text later on.

"As believers, we are instructed not to indulge in spiritual sleep but be watchful, putting on the breastplate of faith and love. In the midst of these happening, we should make sure that our Christian experiences are intact, living a holy and righteous life with sincerity of heart and in searching purity inside and outside our lives, homes, work, compound we live, in our businesses, run the church of God and everywhere we find ourselves also preaching urgently this sweet salvation message to others so that we can snatch their souls from destruction in hell."

There isn't anything here that is theologically bad here in this section. Seems alright. There is an emphasis on holy living that is sorely missing from many Christian congregations, namely applying holiness to every aspect of our lives rather than just to the "religious" part. For the most part, this section is fine.

"Always have the mind of Jesus, self control and unceasing prayer life Mt. 28vs19-20, Phil 2v5, Ps. 119vs33-37, Rm12v2, 1 Corinth. 9vs24-27. Do not live your Christians life base on your past experiences and achievements, rather always have "Self Check" if you are still in the faith."

Many Christians who have read scripture indeed know that it is important to self examine ourselves because it is easy for us to be lead astray. Not too much to say here. What I will say is we need to be cautious on what they may believe about grace. Paul indeed tells us to self check ourselves and not be conformed to the evil of the world either in thought, word and deed. in along with Psalm 119 being a holy poem, beseeching God to help them to be more obedient to his word and the declaration of the love of his law.

"The idea of once saved is forever saved will lead many believers to everlasting regret because that is not what the scripture says but satan's ideas to destroy human souls in hell. Are you living a careless life of backsliding, pride yourself on your past Christian achievements and experiences? Please ask yourself "Are You In The Number Of The Rapturable Saints?""

Despite not believing in once saved always saved myself, I think it's still important to realise there are two distinct views as sometimes the term "once saved always saved" is used for both. One view Perserverance of the Saints states that those who are truly saved will persevere in holiness to the end. The other view however states that you pray a prayer and you are in and no matter what you do or say or think, you are saved. The Perseverance of the Saints view that many hold to will agree that believing in Antinomianism is morally reprehensible. (Corrected on 16th of June 2024 to make point clearer.)

"The scripture cautioned believers to constantly run this heavenly race with diligent and carefulness so that we will not run in vain 1 Corinth 9vs24-27 Only Jesus that strengthens us and He alone with His glorious power qualifies us for inheritance in heaven Phil 4.13, Col. 1vs11-12

Our daily self-check is very important these days to know if we are still qualified as the Lord's day is fast approaching. Try every day to restore, reconcile, amend and restitute your life even your marriage and be in good condition with God, people and be commited to God more in word and in work because the day of your watchman and your punishment comes-now is the hour of our repentance and preparedness. How Prepared Are You?"

This section on the surface looks fine. It points to Jesus being the one who strengthens us and does encourage true repentance among the Christian ranks. The only time where reconciling your marriage would not be possible is if you remarry and the second (and subsequent other) person you married dies and you cannot remarry your previous spouse (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). The previous spouse is off limits in light of adultery being committed. The thing to be wary of is any group can claim grace but what matters is their practice. Even Rome and the Mormons speak of grace yet that's different. Maybe I could be wrong about HOREMOW but it's worth examining their teaching according to the scriptures. That's not to say Lordship Salvation is heretical (It's not) but it's worth being on the look out for someone who maybe teaching an unrighteous doctrine of works salvation.

"We should be prepared by:-
1. Always have our hearts circumcised and purified.
2. We must be consecrated and re-dedicated to God on daily basis. Always cross-checking our living and in our daily communication with God to see if their is any where we have erred wrongly and need for quick repentance and ask God for mercy.
3. Live as if there is no tomorrow for you, that now is the only time you have before rapture.
4. Always have good relationship with people. Don't keep malice or bitterness.
5. Always have eternity in view
6. Always live an upright life and be focused for eternity.
7 Always have a passion for lost souls for this is the purpose of our calling Mt 28 vs 19-20, Lk. 2 v 49, John 9 v 14

The rat-race of wealth and riches in their present age will soon pass away, considering the ungodly practices in this age, the corruption in hight places, in everywhere and the negative effects of advancement in technology, the rate of evil, hardship encounter all over the world, a true believer must try to live a transparent and holy life before all- both in secret and in the open Mt. 5v16

Let use be wise in our daily preparation for rapture so that, that day will not meet us unaware. Beware of the Lord's wrath Isaiah 13v9. THe time is about to clock 12 midnight-The fulfillment of the hour. Run fast for Jesus is already at the door. How prepared are you?"

The 7 points above are not terrible points and the point on living a holy and transparent life are certainly to be commended but again I advise caution as the group could be seen as works salvationists. As for the rapture, it is not going to catch true believers unaware or generally speaking the return of Jesus to earth.

See my article on the rapture here:

The rapture itself is not an event that is imminent, it's soon. As for the thief in the night text, Jesus only will catch individuals unaware if they are not awake and following Christ. Those committed to Jesus will not be caught out, for they are watching sober and alert. We should expect Jesus return in our lifetime but we should never interpret that as he can come any minute because the apostle Paul never said such and Jesus himself never made that claim either. The tribulation as I mention in the article above MUST occur before the rapture has taken place.

As David Pawson once said "It is the delay that tests if you're ready, not if you think he is coming next Tuesday." What we do in the time before his return is what matters, whether we are serving him continually or not.

The leaflet is a mixed bag and clarification on what it believes in the book as well or instead a link that redirects us to their creeds and confessions. Some confusion in the small leaflet would lead to misunderstanding. What they believe does need clarification. It may not be the intent of the leaflet to mislead and misdirect but with false teachers running around, we must remain vigilant.

Answering Judaism.