Only one Bible (by Whirlwind) 1005

The Bible is inspired by God. First, we’ll look at the question of why people can come up different interpretations when people are reading the same Bible? Second, let us look at the at the apparent contradiction between science and the Bible. Finally, we’ll use a simple framework to illustrate the coexistence of predestination and preknown. In this framework, we can also see there is no contradiction between God’s absolute authority and man’s free will.

First, let us use a verse to answer the question about why we can come with different interpretations. In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter says, “as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” People come with different interpretations because the Scriptures are distorted. 

Next we will take a look at what Paul says in Philippians 2:1-2 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” In short, we are united in Jesus Christ. Our goal is to be conformed to the image of Jesus. And there is only one Jesus. When we all are conformed to the image of Jesus, how can we not be united? “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)

We’ll use one example to talk about distortions. In the seven churches of the Book of Revelations, their geographic locations are clockwise from the church of Ephesus to the church of Laodicea. Some people then from the geographic arrangement talk about that the seven churches represent different stages of churches. We only need to ask a simple question to see if there are distortions. Does the Bible mention anything like that? The answer is definitely no. The Bible is our absolute standard. It is clear that there are distortions. Thus, we can distinguish if the words from a person have any distortion at least by whether the words are from the Bible directly or from the concept of the Bible. For an example in the latter, the words “Holy Trinity” is never mentioned in the Bible, but the concept is there and mentioned in many places in the Bible.

Next, let us take a look at the question regarding the contradiction between the Bible and the science we know nowadays. People think that the Bible is just a superstition. Let us then use Fig. 1 to illustrate conceptually about the difference between the Bible and today’s sciences. 

The blue line represents a black box, where the inside is filled with batteries. If we want now to know what is inside but we can only measure the voltage of two outside lines, which is 9 volts. Then we cannot distinguish between if there are one big 9V battery and six 1.5V batteries from outside. In other words, when what we discussed represents the current science, then science is just theories. What the Bible says is the reality since the Bible is inspired by God. In Fig. 1, the reality is that there are six small batteries. 

When there is an additional two-line voltage, 3 volts can be measured. We then know for sure that one big 9V battery inside is not a correct description. Just like in the past of the era of Newton, we thought that mass cannot be changed after collisions. However, later in the era of Einstein, we learned that mass can be reduced to generate energy. That is how atomic bombs and nuclear plants were discovered. Thus, the sciences nowadays are only temporary, and what the Bible described is permanent and is reality since the Bible is inspired by God.

Let us use an example in the Bible to conclude this issue. We thought for a long period of time that people think that heaven is round and earth is square. In that era, if you told people that earth moves around sun and earth hangs on nothing, no one would believe you. Copernicus told the world about the fact earth moves around sun and got persecuted. Science is absolutely useful. For example, satellite can be used to verify this fact. And the Bible says so long time ago.     

“It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, …” (Isaiah 40:22)

“He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the earth on nothing.” (Job 26:7)

The concept of “heaven is round and earth is square” is to see things in the aspect of human at that time. “Seeing in the aspect of the Bible” means whatever the Bible says counts. The Bible doesn’t mention everything. If there is seemingly a contradiction in sciences and the Bible, we need to use the Bible to lead sciences since what is in the Bible is reality. About the seemly contradiction, it is due to the fact that our current science has not reached the level enough to understand it, just like in the era of Newton which thought that mass had to be conserved in a collision.

Last, let us discuss the issues raised by predestination and preknown. Calvin teaches there is only predestination, and Martin Luther talks about there is only preknown. However, predestination and preknown exist at the same time as clearly stated in Romans 8:29. Therefore, both of them are not consistent with the Bible in this issue. When we use the Bible as our absolute standard, they are both incorrect in this issue.

Let us use a simple example to illustrate having predestination and preknown occurred simultaneously. In this framework, we can see there is no contradiction between the fact that God has the absolute authority and the fact that man has free will. We want to emphasize one point that this explanation is to help to understand the Bible better since the Bible doesn’t say clearly that it is so and of course we don’t know what happens exactly. If such an explanation is not what happens and God can make me think about such a framework, He must have a better one.

Let us now use a game I played in elementary school to present such a framework. In the game shown in Fig. 2, we start from the paper roll in the top left. When the roll opens a little bit, we can see one path. Open a little more, there are two choices. At this time, the roll doesn’t open more and the player has to make a choice – left or right? If now the roll opens more and shows as in the middle left figure, then choosing the right path leads to be burned by fire and game is over. If choosing left, then it comes to next choice. If the roll opens more and shows like the middle right figure, then choosing right leads to the drowning and the game is over. Otherwise, the player faces another choice and so on. Finally, the roll is completely open and shows only one path leading to the other edge of the roll as indicated by the right most figure. If choice is all right, then the player wins.

This is such simple game and we might ask how it is related to the Bible. We illustrate this point in Fig. 3. The game starts in the closed roll as if we are in creation. Then Adam and Eve face a choice and need to choose if they are to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and they know that in the day that they eat from it they will surely die. Their choice is not to eat, and then face the seduction of the snake. Finally, they choose to eat and their souls die.

Since the player in this game doesn’t know in advance how the paths are arranged, he has free will to make a choice. He has no idea how the pathway is arranged and definitely cannot participate the arrangement. The other person has the sole authority to decide, just like God has the absolute authority. Isn’t it so? God is omnipotent, He knows in advance which path we’ll choose. In other words, He is preknown. God can design the whole path in advance, and can pre-know our choice. How come He cannot be predestined? Therefore, both predestination and preknown exist at the same time, and there is no contradiction between the fact that God has the absolute authority and the fact that man has free will. 

Our whole life can be represented by such a path figure conceptually, but having multiple choices each time. If two people are totally unrelated, their paths don’t intersect. If there is an interaction between them, then that portion of paths may be in common. Conceptually, the life of everyone in mankind is able to be represented by such an intertwined figure, but too complicated to even think about it.

We actually face the fact that there is no contradiction mentioned everyday. To see this, we can use the price structure of using electricity as an example. The price depends when you use electricity and how much. The utility company basically announces the price structure, and users has no control over it just like the fact that God has the absolute authority. But users can choose when to use electricity and how much. The utility company has no control over it. Isn’t this just like the fact that man has free will? In the era of Martin Luther and Calvin, electricity had not discovered yet. They cannot think about such a framework, where there is no contradiction between the fact that God has the absolute authority and the fact that man has free will. Thus, further thinking about the existence of a framework of the coexistence of preknown and predestination.

Therefore, we can see a simple conclusion. If we want to discern the words of a person, we have to view it if it is consistent with the Bible in the aspect of the Bible since the Bible is inspired by God. Don’t look at things in the aspect of human. Don’t use the words of man to discern the correctness of particular words because God is infinite and men are finite. No matter how spiritual a person is, the person will surely make mistakes somewhere.

(Verses refer to those in NASB unless otherwise specified.)

(You can get all articles in “https://a-christian-voice.com/” under “On spiritual understanding about life.”)

启示錄中的七个教会和能听的耳 (旋风著) 3004

启示錄在七个教会中都說要有一个能听的耳,在这篇短文中,我们簡述这七个教会的优点,缺点或鼓励。也就是說,我们不要採取『见树不见林』的观念去解释个別的经文,而指出『林』的方向。

首先我们注意到,启示錄是:『耶稣基督的启示,就是神赐给他,叫他将必要快成的事指示他的眾仆人。他就差遣使者晓谕他的仆人约翰。』 (启示錄 1:1) 圣经說的七个教会是:『你所看见的,当写在书上,达与以弗所、士每拿、別迦摩、推雅推喇、撒狄、非拉鐵非、老底嘉那七个教会。』 (启示錄 1:11) 这七个教会的地理位置是在亚西亚,正好是从以弗所教会开始,按顺时针方向最后到了老底嘉教会。在这七个教会中,都有一句共通的话:『圣灵向眾教会所說的话,凡有耳的,就应当听!』 (参启示錄 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22) 所以我们实在是要有一个能听的耳。旧约也不是有许多经文是这麼說吗?其中就有下面两节经文。『主每早晨提醒,提醒我的耳朵,使我能听,像受教者一样。』 (以赛亚书 50:4) 『现在我可以向谁說话作见证,使他们听呢?他们的耳朵未受割礼,不能听见。 (耶利米书 6:10)

我们首先看看以弗所的教会,它有两个优点就是:『我知道你的行為、劳碌、忍耐,也知道你不能容忍恶人。你也曾试验那自称為使徒卻不是使徒的,看出他们是假的来。你也能忍耐,曾為我的名劳苦,並不乏倦。』 (启示錄 2:2-3)  『然而,你还有一件可取的事,就是你恨恶尼哥拉一党人的行為,这也是我所恨恶的。 (启示錄 2:6) 也很明顯的說到了它的缺点,『然而,有一件事我要责备你,就是你把起初的愛心离棄了。所以应当回想你是从哪里坠落的,並要悔改,行起初所行的事。你若不悔改,我就临到你那里,把你的灯台从原处挪去。』 (启示錄 2:4-5) 是的,要悔改,『我们若认自己的罪,神是信实的,是公义的,必要赦免我们的罪,洗淨我们一切的不义;』 (约翰一书 1:9) 在其中仍有得胜者:『得胜的,我必将神乐园中生命树的果子赐给他吃。』 (启示錄 2:7)

第二个提到的是士每拿的教会,优点是:『我知道你的患难,你的贫穷,(你卻是富足的!)也知道那自称是犹太人所說的毀谤话,其实他们不是犹太人,乃是撒但一会的人。』 (启示錄 2:9) 沒有說到任何的缺点但给了他们鼓励:『你将要受的苦你不用怕。魔鬼要把你们中间几个人下在监里,叫你们被试炼,你们必受患难十日。你务要至死忠心,我就赐给你那生命的冠冕。』 (启示錄 2:10) 而且很清楚說明有得胜者和其冠冕,『得胜的,必不受第二次死的害。』 (启示錄 2:11)

接著為別迦摩教会的优点,『我知道你的居所,就是有撒但座位之处。当我忠心的见证人安提帕在你们中间、撒但所住的地方被杀之时,你还坚守我的名,沒有棄絕我的道。』 (启示錄 2:13) 从这节经文就可以看到撒但不能无所不在,所以撒但得在地上走来走去,寻找可吞吃的人。『务要谨守、警醒,因為你们的仇敌魔鬼,如同吼叫的狮子,遍地遊行,寻找可吞吃的人。』 (彼得前书 5:8) 缺点為:『然而,有几件事我要责备你,因為在你那里,有人服从了巴兰的教训;这巴兰曾教导巴勒将绊腳石放在以色列人面前,叫他们吃祭偶像之物,行姦淫的事。你那里也有人照样服从了尼哥拉一党人的教训。所以你当悔改!若不悔改,我就快临到你那里,用我口中的剑攻击他们。』 (启示錄 2:14-16) 得胜者的冠冕為,『得胜的,我必将那隐藏的吗哪赐给他,並赐他一塊白石,石上写着新名,除了那领受的以外,沒有人能认识。』 (启示錄 2:17)

第四个說到的是推雅推喇教会,优点為:『我知道你的行為、愛心、信心、勤劳、忍耐,又知道你末后所行的善事,比起初所行的更多。』 (启示錄 2:19)  『至於你们推雅推喇其余的人,就是一切不从(耶洗別)那教训,不晓得他们素常所說撒但深奧之理的人,我告诉你们:我不将別的担子放在你们身上,但你们已经有的,总要持守,直等到我来。』 (启示錄 2:24-25) 缺点是:『容让耶洗別教导我的仆人,她卻不肯悔改她的淫行。我又要杀死她的党类,叫眾教会知道,我是那察看人肺腑心肠的,並要照你们的行為报应你们各人。』 (启示錄 2:20-23) 其中得胜者有这样的酬报,『那得胜又遵守我命令到底的,我要赐给他权柄制伏列国。他必用鐵杖辖管他们,将他们如同窰戶的瓦器打得粉碎像我从我父领受的权柄一样。我又要把晨星赐给他。 (启示錄 2:26-29) 

第五个為撒狄教会,缺点相当的大及其有的警告。『我知道你的行為,按名你是活的,其实是死的。你要警醒!坚固那剩下将要衰微的,所以要回想你是怎样领受,怎样听见的,又要遵守,並要悔改。若不警醒,我必临到你那里,如同贼一样。我几时临到,你也決不能知道。』 (启示錄 3:1-3) 优点為,『你还有几名是未曾污秽自己衣服的;他们要穿白衣与我同行,因為他们是配得过的。』 (启示錄 3:4) 得胜者的獎赏為,『凡得胜的,必这样穿白衣,我也必不从生命冊上涂抹他的名,且要在我父面前和我父眾使者面前认他的名。』 (启示錄 3:5)

接著讲到了应该是教会都要成為这样的非拉鐵非教会,因為『看哪,我在你面前给你一个敞开的门,是无人能关的。 (启示錄 3:8) 只是因為『我知道你的行為,你略有一点力量,也曾遵守我的道,沒有棄絕我的名。 (启示錄 3:8) 我们看到了神实在是有恩典有怜悯的神。在这教会只有鼓励,『看哪,我在你面前给你一个敞开的门,是无人能关的。我要使他们(撒但一会的人)来在你腳前下拜,也使他们知道我是已经愛你了。你既遵守我忍耐的道,我必在普天下人受试炼的时候,保守你免去你的试炼。我必快来,你要持守你所有的,免得人夺去你的冠冕。』 (启示錄 3:8-11) 而得胜者得到了报偿:『得胜的,我要叫他在我神殿中作柱子,他也必不再从那里出去。我又要将我神的名和我神城的名(这城就是从天上、从我神那里降下来的新耶路撒冷),並我的新名,都写在他上面。』 (启示錄 3:12)

第七个提到了需要开门的老底嘉教会。只說到了缺点,『我知道你的行為,你也不冷也不热;我巴不得你或冷或热。你既如溫水,也不冷也不热,所以我必从我口中把你吐出去。』 (启示錄 3:15-16) 从人的角度看,『你說:我是富足,已经發了财,一样都不缺。』 (启示錄 3:17) 从神的角度看完全不同,『卻不知道你是那困苦、可怜、贫穷、瞎眼、赤身的。我劝你向我买火炼的金子,叫你富足;又买白衣穿上,叫你赤身的羞恥不露出来;又买眼药擦你的眼睛,使你能看见。「『凡我所疼愛的,我就责备管教他,所以你要發热心,也要悔改。看哪,我站在门外叩门,若有听见我声音就开门的,我要进到他那里去,我与他,他与我一同坐席。 (启示錄 3:17-20) 即使如此也提到了得胜者可得到的,『得胜的,我要赐他在我寶座上与我同坐,就如我得了胜,在我父的寶座上与他同坐一般。 (启示錄 3:21)

从这七个教会中,我们可以看到一些主所看重的什麼,其中之一是好几次提到要悔改。最后我们用路加福音 8:5-8 作我们的结语,『有一个撒种的出去撒种。撒的时候,有落在路旁的,被人践踏,天上的 飞鸟又来吃尽了。有落在磐石上的,一出来就枯干了,因為得不着滋润。有落在荊棘里的,荊棘一同生长,把它挤住了。又有落在好土里的,生长起来,结实百倍。」 耶稣說了这些话,就大声說:「有耳可听的,就应当听!」』 耶稣告诉我们要有一个能听的耳,且撒种絕对不要落在不好的地方,至少要落在好土里

(你可以在『 https://a-christian-voice.com/ 』看到所有的文章,到这网站后要按『对属灵生命的了解』。)

啓示錄中的七個教會和能聽的耳 (旋風著) 2004

啓示錄在七個教會中都說要有一個能聽的耳,在這篇短文中,我們簡述這七個教會的優點,缺點或鼓勵。也就是說,我們不要採取『見樹不見林』的觀念去解釋個別的經文,而指出『林』的方向。

首先我們注意到,啓示錄是:『耶穌基督的啓示,就是神賜給他,叫他將必要快成的事指示他的眾僕人。他就差遣使者曉諭他的僕人約翰。』 (啓示錄 1:1) 聖經說的七個教會是:『你所看見的,當寫在書上,達與以弗所、士每拿、別迦摩、推雅推喇、撒狄、非拉鐵非、老底嘉那七個教會。』 (啓示錄 1:11) 這七個教會的地理位置是在亞西亞,正好是從以弗所教會開始,按順時針方向最後到了老底嘉教會。在這七個教會中,都有一句共通的話:『聖靈向眾教會所說的話,凡有耳的,就應當聽!』 (参啓示錄 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22) 所以我們實在是要有一個能聽的耳。舊約也不是有許多經文是這麼說嗎?其中就有下面兩節經文。『主每早晨提醒,提醒我的耳朵,使我能聽,像受教者一樣。』 (以賽亞書 50:4) 『現在我可以向誰說話作見證,使他們聽呢?他們的耳朵未受割禮,不能聽見。 (耶利米書 6:10)

我們首先看看以弗所的教會,它有兩個優點就是:『我知道你的行為、勞碌、忍耐,也知道你不能容忍惡人。你也曾試驗那自稱為使徒卻不是使徒的,看出他們是假的來。你也能忍耐,曾為我的名勞苦,並不乏倦。』 (啓示錄 2:2-3)   『然而,你還有一件可取的事,就是你恨惡尼哥拉一黨人的行為,這也是我所恨惡的。』 (啓示錄 2:6) 也很明顯的說到了它的缺點,『然而,有一件事我要責備你,就是你把起初的愛心離棄了。所以應當回想你是從哪裏墜落的,並要悔改,行起初所行的事。你若不悔改,我就臨到你那裏,把你的燈台從原處挪去。』 (啓示錄 2:4-5) 是的,要悔改,『我們若認自己的罪,神是信實的,是公義的,必要赦免我們的罪,洗淨我們一切的不義;』 (約翰一書 1:9) 在其中仍有得勝者:『得勝的,我必將神樂園中生命樹的果子賜給他吃。』 (啓示錄 2:7)

第二個提到的是士每拿的教會,優點是:『我知道你的患難,你的貧窮,(你卻是富足的!)也知道那自稱是猶太人所說的毀謗話,其實他們不是猶太人,乃是撒但一會的人。』 (啓示錄 2:9) 沒有說到任何的缺點但給了他們鼓勵:『你將要受的苦你不用怕。魔鬼要把你們中間幾個人下在監裏,叫你們被試煉,你們必受患難十日。你務要至死忠心,我就賜給你那生命的冠冕。』 (啓示錄 2:10) 而且很清楚說明有得勝者和其冠冕,『得勝的,必不受第二次死的害。』 (啓示錄 2:11)

接著為別迦摩教會的優點,『我知道你的居所,就是有撒但座位之處。當我忠心的見證人安提帕在你們中間、撒但所住的地方被殺之時,你還堅守我的名,沒有棄絕我的道。』 (啓示錄 2:13) 從這節經文就可以看到撒但不能無所不在,所以撒但得在地上走來走去,尋找可吞吃的人。『務要謹守、警醒,因為你們的仇敵魔鬼,如同吼叫的獅子,遍地遊行,尋找可吞吃的人。』 (彼得前書 5:8) 缺點為:『然而,有幾件事我要責備你,因為在你那裏,有人服從了巴蘭的教訓;這巴蘭曾教導巴勒將絆腳石放在以色列人面前,叫他們吃祭偶像之物,行姦淫的事。你那裏也有人照樣服從了尼哥拉一黨人的教訓。所以你當悔改!若不悔改,我就快臨到你那裏,用我口中的劍攻擊他們。』 (啓示錄 2:14-16) 得勝者的冠冕為,『得勝的,我必將那隱藏的嗎哪賜給他,並賜他一塊白石,石上寫着新名,除了那領受的以外,沒有人能認識。』 (啓示錄 2:17)

第四個說到的是推雅推喇教會,優點為:『我知道你的行為、愛心、信心、勤勞、忍耐,又知道你末後所行的善事,比起初所行的更多。』 (啓示錄 2:19)   『至於你們推雅推喇其餘的人,就是一切不從(耶洗別)那教訓,不曉得他們素常所說撒但深奧之理的人,我告訴你們:我不將別的擔子放在你們身上,但你們已經有的,總要持守,直等到我來。』 (啓示錄 2:24-25) 缺點是:『容讓耶洗別教導我的僕人,她卻不肯悔改她的淫行。我又要殺死她的黨類,叫眾教會知道,我是那察看人肺腑心腸的,並要照你們的行為報應你們各人。』 (啓示錄 2:20-23) 其中得勝者有這樣的酬報,『那得勝又遵守我命令到底的,我要賜給他權柄制伏列國。他必用鐵杖轄管他們,將他們如同窰戶的瓦器打得粉碎像我從我父領受的權柄一樣。我又要把晨星賜給他。 (啓示錄 2:26-29) 

第五個為撒狄教會,缺點相當的大及其有的警告。『我知道你的行為,按名你是活的,其實是死的。你要警醒!堅固那剩下將要衰微的,所以要回想你是怎樣領受,怎樣聽見的,又要遵守,並要悔改。若不警醒,我必臨到你那裏,如同賊一樣。我幾時臨到,你也決不能知道。』 (啓示錄 3:1-3) 優點為,『你還有幾名是未曾污穢自己衣服的;他們要穿白衣與我同行,因為他們是配得過的。』 (啓示錄 3:4) 得勝者的獎賞為,『凡得勝的,必這樣穿白衣,我也必不從生命冊上塗抹他的名,且要在我父面前和我父眾使者面前認他的名。』 (啓示錄 3:5)

接著講到了應該是教會都要成為這樣的非拉鐵非教會,因為『看哪,我在你面前給你一個敞開的門,是無人能關的。』 (啓示錄 3:8) 只是因為『我知道你的行為,你略有一點力量,也曾遵守我的道,沒有棄絕我的名。 (啓示錄 3:8) 我們看到了神實在是有恩典有憐憫的神。在這教會只有鼓勵,『看哪,我在你面前給你一個敞開的門,是無人能關的。我要使他們(撒但一會的人)來在你腳前下拜,也使他們知道我是已經愛你了。你既遵守我忍耐的道,我必在普天下人受試煉的時候,保守你免去你的試煉。我必快來,你要持守你所有的,免得人奪去你的冠冕。』 (啓示錄 3:8-11) 而得勝者得到了報償:『得勝的,我要叫他在我神殿中作柱子,他也必不再從那裏出去。我又要將我神的名和我神城的名(這城就是從天上、從我神那裏降下來的新耶路撒冷),並我的新名,都寫在他上面。』 (啓示錄 3:12)

第七個提到了需要開門的老底嘉教會。只說到了缺點,『我知道你的行為,你也不冷也不熱;我巴不得你或冷或熱。你既如溫水,也不冷也不熱,所以我必從我口中把你吐出去。』 (啓示錄 3:15-16) 從人的角度看,『你說:我是富足,已經發了財,一樣都不缺。』 (啓示錄 3:17) 從神的角度看完全不同,『卻不知道你是那困苦、可憐、貧窮、瞎眼、赤身的。我勸你向我買火煉的金子,叫你富足;又買白衣穿上,叫你赤身的羞恥不露出來;又買眼藥擦你的眼睛,使你能看見。「『凡我所疼愛的,我就責備管教他,所以你要發熱心,也要悔改。看哪,我站在門外叩門,若有聽見我聲音就開門的,我要進到他那裏去,我與他,他與我一同坐席。』 (啓示錄 3:17-20) 即使如此也提到了得勝者可得到的,『得勝的,我要賜他在我寶座上與我同坐,就如我得了勝,在我父的寶座上與他同坐一般。』 (啓示錄 3:21)

從這七個教會中,我們可以看到一些主所看重的什麼,其中之一是好幾提到要悔改。最後我們用路加福音 8:5-8 作我們的結語,『有一個撒種的出去撒種。撒的時候,有落在路旁的,被人踐踏,天上的飛鳥又來吃盡了。有落在磐石上的,一出來就枯乾了,因為得不着滋潤。有落在荊棘裏的,荊棘一同生長,把它擠住了。又有落在好土裏的,生長起來,結實百倍。」 耶穌說了這些話,就大聲說:「有耳可聽的,就應當聽!」』 耶穌告訴我們要有一個能聽的耳,且撒種絕對不要落在不好的地方,至少要落在好土裏。

(你可以在『 https://a-christian-voice.com/ 』看到所有的文章,到這網站後要按『對屬靈生命的瞭解』。)

Seven churches in Revelation and ears can hear (by Whirlwind) 1004

In the book of Revelation, all seven churches say that we should have ears which can hear. In this short article, we’ll briefly discuss the pros and cons of the seven churches. In short, we’ll try to see the overall theme of the passage instead of a detailed look at individual verses.

First, let use notice in Revelation 1:1, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John.” The book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. We can what the seven churches are in Revelation 1:11: saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” The seven churches geographic locations are in Asia clockwise from Ephesus to Laodicea. In these seven churches, there is one sentence in common, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Refers to Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22) Yes, we must have an ear which can hear. In the Old Testament, does it say the same? Among them are these two verses, “…He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.” (Isaiah 50:4) and “To whom shall I speak and give warning That they may hear? Behold, their ears are closed And they cannot listen…” (Jeremiah 6:10)

First, let us take a look at the church of Ephesus, there are two good points: “I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary.” (Revelation 2:2-3) “Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:6) It apparently says about the cons, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore, remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place-unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4-5) Yes, we have to repent. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Among them, there are overcomers as the verse says: “…To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7)

Secondly, it mentioned the church of Smyrna, and its pro is “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:9) No con is mentioned, but instead there was encouragement. “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) And apparently there are overcomers, “…He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.” (Revelation 2:11)

Next is the church of Pergamum. Its pro is, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” (Revelation 2:13) From this verse, we can be see that Satan has a dwelling place and is not omnipresent. Thus, he has to roam about on the earth and walk around on it as Job 1:7 says. It also says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Its con is, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.” (Revelation 2:14-16) The crown of overcomers is, “…To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17)

Fourthly, the pros for the church of Thyatira, “I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.” (Revelation 2:19) ” and “But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them-I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.” (Revelation 2:24-25) Its con is that they, “…tolerate the woman Jezebel…teaches and leads My bond-servants astray…and she does not want to repent of her immorality. …And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” (Revelation 2:20-23) The crown of overcomers is, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.”(Revelation 2:26-28)

The fifth church mentioned is in Sardis. The con is pretty big and there were even warnings. “…I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die;  …So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore, if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.” (Revelation 3:1-3) The pro is, “But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” (Revelation 3:4) The price won by overcomers is, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Revelation 3:5)

Then the church in Philadelphia, which should be the one everyone has hopes for since “I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut.” (Revelation 3:8a) From “because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” (Revelation 3:8b), we can deduct that God is full of grace and mercy. In this church, there is no con but an encouragement instead, “…Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, …Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan …come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you. Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Revelation 3:8-11) And the overcomers get their rewards, “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.” (Revelation 3:12)

The seventh church is in Laodicea which needs to open its door. There is only cons. “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16) From the aspect in human: …you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” (Revelation 3:17a) But it is totally different in the aspect of God, “…and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:17-20) Even though this way, it still mentioned what overcomers can get, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:21)

From the seven churches, we can see what Lord emphasizes. Among them repentance is mentioned several times. Finally, we use the verses in Luke 8:5-8 as our ending: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”” Jesus tells us that we must have an ear which can listen and the sown seeds definitely must not fall into places which are not good. At least, they should fall into good soil.

(Verses refer to those in NASB unless otherwise specified.)

(You can get all articles in “https://a-christian-voice.com/” under “On spiritual understanding about life.”)

行道胜听道 – 三部曲的第三部 (旋风著) 3003

我们从三方面簡单的谈谈这个问题。雅各书 1:22 說得很清楚,『只是你们要行道,不要单单听道,自己欺哄自己。』在我们一但因信称义后 [1],就需要走上成圣的路,模成耶稣的形像 [2]。首先我们不要忘记,神有絕对主权的事实,『因他对摩西說:「我要怜悯谁,就怜悯谁;要恩待谁,就恩待谁。」』 (罗马书 9:15) 我们不可能在这短文中谈到所有关於行道的事情,这必须要看圣经,因此我们只是指出几个重点。

首先我们看到圣经告诉我们,『我赐给你们一條新命令,乃是叫你们彼此相愛;我怎样愛你们,你们也要怎样相愛。你们若有彼此相愛的心,眾人因此就认出你们是我的门徒了。」 (约翰福音 13:34-35) 弟兄相愛是我们可做的,而且『你们务要常存弟兄相愛的心。』 (希伯来书 13:1)

新旧约都說,神是愛的神,也是公义的神。新约很清楚的告诉我们,『於是,耶稣对门徒說:「若有人要跟从我,就当舍己,背起他的十字架来跟从我。』 (马太福音 16:24) 在模成耶稣形像的过程中,我们要背主量给我们的十字架(不是自找苦吃),这就是神对祂子民的公义。同时祂也给了我们这样的应许,『我将这些事告诉你们,是要叫你们在我里面有平安。在世上你们有苦难,但你们可以放心,我已经胜了世界。』 (约翰福音 16:33) 而且『你们所遇见的试探,无非是人所能受的。神是信实的,必不叫你们受试探过於所能受的。在受试探的时候,总要给你们开一條出路,叫你们能忍受得住。』 (哥林多前书 10:13) 我们要查考圣经,不只可以知道有其他这样的应许,更能『穿上了新人。这新人在知识上渐渐更新,正如造他主的形像。』 (歌罗西书 3:10)

第二,在约翰福音 5:39-40,耶稣說:『你们查考圣经,因你们以為內中有永生;给我作见证的就是这经。然而你们不肯到我这里来得生命。』 (约翰福音 5:39-40) 所以查考圣经的目的是要得生命,而不只是知识上的得著。接著我们就簡单的讨论一下如何得生命这个话题。

首先要知道的是生命从神来。『我栽种了,亚波罗浇灌了,惟有神叫他生长。可见栽种的算不得甚麼,浇灌的也算不得甚麼,只在那叫他生长的神。』 (哥林多前书 3:6-7) 所以要想了解圣经,就要像圣经在路加福音 24:45 所說:『於是耶稣开他们的心窍 (G3563, 希腊原文是Nous),使他们能明白圣经。』[3]

在新约的时代,我们可以像保罗一样的祈求,『求我们主耶稣基督的神,荣耀的父,将那赐人智慧和启示的灵赏给你们,使你们真知道他。』 (以弗所书 1:17) 启示的灵会带领我们查经,告诉我们该知道的。请注意,启示不只是指超自然的事,有时是借著別人的话语,有时是借著圣经的话语,等等。神有絕对主权,我们怎麼可能侷限的說祂一定要採取某种固定的方式,要知道:『耶和华說:「我的意念非同你们的意念,我的道路非同你们的道路。天怎样高过地,照样,我的道路高过你们的道路,我的意念高过你们的意念。』 (以赛亚书 55:8-9) 我们要做的就是:『不要消灭圣灵的感动。』 (帖撒罗尼迦前书 5:19) 要相信三位一体的神是又真又活的神,是有怜悯有恩典的神,会赐给我们启示。在希伯来书 7:25 有这样的应许:『凡靠着他(耶稣)进到神面前的人,他都能拯救到底,因為他是长远活着,替他们祈求。』 我们要持续地以信心住在基督耶稣里,这是神定规了解圣经和得生命的道路。

最后我们要谈到圣经如何說愿神家有粮的奉献问题。关於这,我们首先要问的是旧约对奉献的教导是什麼?很顯然,第一个是要甘心乐意,这就像摩西建会幕时耶和华告诉他的一样 [4] 也很清楚的說到了十分之一是耶和华的 [5]。就像在玛拉基书說的一样,奉献的目的是要使神家有粮 [6]。那麼旧约时代到底要奉献多少呢?看律法或从玛拉基书 3:8 就很清楚。『就是你们在当纳的十分之一和当献的供物上。』簡言之,在旧约的时代要求是要甘心乐意的奉献超过十分之一。这就是所谓的从圣经的角度看,也就是圣经怎麼說就算数。因為圣经都是神所默示的 [7],这也是从神(作者)的角度看。请注意,不能說从神的角度看就是从圣经的角度看,因為反过来讲是不对的。

那麼从圣经的角度看,新约对奉献的教导是什麼?直接的教导只有耶稣称讚穷寡妇的两个小钱。『因為眾人都是自己有余,拿出来投在捐项里;但这寡妇是自己不足,把她一切養生的都投上了。』 (路加福音 21:4) 因此对这个问题的回答很单纯,因人有自由意志,奉献的多少是看和神的关系如何,自己可以做決定的。在新约的时代,是不可能有明文规定的讲、要至少要奉献十分之一的律法的。因為只遵守这样,新约明說是耶稣所讨厌的。[8]

我们不能說,在玛拉基书所提到的当献的供物都和献祭有关,因此在新约的时代,献祭沒有了,所以只剩下了要奉献十分之一。新约沒有这样讲,这是加上了人的逻辑,也就是所谓的从人的角度看。请注意,我沒有說不到十分之一的奉献就是和神关系不好,因為不见得每个人都有资源可奉献十分之一的。要強调的是,新约的时代沒有十分之一的规定,十分之一最多只是参考!如果真沒有足夠的资源,神大概也会告诉这个人,不必去遵守律法,神要看的是这颗心。 [9]

这不是把福音和金钱连在一起,而是讲和神的关系!如果一个人关心另一个人,自然会希望那一个人夠吃夠用,同样,如果关心神,自然会想到要神家有粮,金钱只不过是簡单的方法之一而已!还有其他的事奉。新约强调的是甘心乐意,絕对不像旧约一样有订下规则的律法。

但新旧约都是一位神,旧约說到十分之一是属神的,这从来就沒有改变过,新约的时候沒有这样律法的要求,如果和神关系好,自然会尽可能想要还给神属於祂的东西。

我们最后用两个別人的见証作為结束。第一个见証是有一位弟兄在讲到神的信实时,透露了他的奉献是超过十分之一。那位弟兄本来是沒有办法奉献到超过十分之一的,但有这个心,神是信实的,他最终能在金钱上奉献超过十分之一,加上了更多其他的事奉。

另一位姊妹的见証是她在传道时谈到了奉献的问题,突然在那年报稅时意识到超过百分之五十不能減稅。我查过网路的讯息,知道不同的非盈利机构有不同的上限,现在最高的是教会的上限為百分之六十。这个见証一个主要的目的是說法律有个上限,她的奉献程度,我想都不会想!

一些相关的经文

[1] 我们既因信称义,就借着我们的主耶稣基督得与神相和。(罗马书 5:1)

[2] 因為他预先所知道的人,就预先定下效法(模成 to be conformed 被动语气)他儿子的模样(形像 image),使他儿子在许多弟兄中作长子。 (罗马书 8:29)

[3]『心窍』这辞,和合本只出现两次,另一处為:『惟獨长大成人的,才能吃干粮,他们的心窍习练得通达,就能分辨好歹了。』 (希伯来书 5:14) 这地方的『心窍』是 G145,不是 nous

[4] 耶和华晓谕摩西說:「你告诉以色列人当為我送礼物来,凡甘心乐意的,你们就可以收下归我。 (出埃及记 25:1-2)

[5] 地上所有的,无论是地上的种子是树上的果子,十分之一是耶和华的,是归给耶和华為圣的。(利未记 27:30)

[6] 万军之耶和华說:「你们要将当纳的十分之一全然送入仓库,使我家有粮,以此试试我是否為你们敞开天上的窗戶,倾福与你们,甚至无处可容。」(玛拉基书 3:10)

[7] 『圣经都是神所默示的, (提摩太后书 3:16) 虽然新约在保罗这样說的时候並沒有完成,如启示錄还沒开始写,但基督徒相信整本圣经都是神所默示的。

[8] 你们这假冒為善的文士和法利赛人有祸了!因為你们将薄荷、茴香、芹菜献上十分之一,那律法上更重的事,就是公义、怜悯、信实,反倒不行了。这更重的是你们当行的,那也是不可不行的。(马太福音 23:23)

[9] 耶和华卻对撒母耳說:「不要看他的外貌和他身材高大,我不拣选他。因為耶和华不像人看人:人是看外貌,耶和华是看內心。 (撒母耳记上 16:7)

(你可以在『 https://a-christian-voice.com/ 』看到所有的文章,到这网站后要按『对属灵生命的了解』。)

救恩的计划 – 三部曲的第二部 (旋风着) 3002

     救恩的计划基本的概念就是代赎。就象我们在第一部所提的,代赎的概念从亚当犯罪后神用皮子为他们做衣服时就有 [1],亚伯拉罕献以撒也是讲到代赎 [2],在新约时代耶稣钉十字架成为了我们的代罪羔羊。然后我们谈到了,当我们因信称义得救后,要走上成圣的道路。

     我们首先看到神是照祂的形象造亚当和夏娃 [3]。因为亚当不顺服神而堕落 [4],所以罪就因此沾污了亚当而进入了这世界 [5],他也就因此有了被罪沾污的神的形象。

     耶稣是由圣灵感孕 [6],是无罪的,因而祂有被罪沾污前人的形象。祂虛己,在道成肉身这段时间中,虛空神的本性这部分 [7]。祂在地上完全顺服圣灵的带领,沒有犯罪 [8],和父合一 [9],看见了祂就是看见了神 [10]

     世人都被罪沾污了,只有耶稣道成肉身,才有机会回到从前沒有被罪沾污时的情景。罪的工价是死 [11],救赎的计划就是由耶稣代替我们受死开始,使我们能因信称义 [12],让我们有个机会模成耶稣的形象 [13]。神愛世人,道成肉身实在是神拯救世人的唯一的路,给了世人一个机会 [14]

     人是由灵、魂、体三者构成 [15],因信称义只是开始,这时我们有一个新灵 [16],圣灵內住在我们里面 [17],我们已有了灵的得救。关于体的拯救,则要等到耶稣再来的日子 [18]。至于魂的得救,我们在信而受浸时,就已经在地位上成圣了 [19]。但经验告诉我们,成圣之路是需要一生之久,因为我们不能立刻被模成耶稣的形象,即使保罗,仍在年老时往标竿直奔 [20]。请注意,我们是被动的被模成,因为生命是从神来 [21]

     在成圣的过程中,我们要十分小心,要警醒 [22],不要落入假装光明天使的撒但差役手中[23]。但要记住耶稣已胜了这世界 [24] ,且在希伯来书 7:25我们有这样的应许,『凡靠着他进到神面前的人,他都能拯救到底,因为他是长远活着,替他们祈求。』 我们要持续地住在基督耶稣里。在耶稣基督里,我们就能在每一次的试探中有力量遵行神的旨意,因为在约翰福音 8:36 中说得很清楚,『所以天父的儿子若叫你们自由,你们就真自由了。』

一些相关的经文

[1] 『耶和华神为亚当和他妻子用皮子做衣服,给他们穿。』 (创世记 3:21)

[2] 『亚伯拉罕举目观看,不料,有一只公羊,两角扣在稠密的小树中,亚伯拉罕就取了那只公羊来,献为燔祭,代替他的儿子。』 (创世记 22:13)

[3] 『神就照着自己的形象造人,乃是照着他的形象造男造女。』 (创世记 1:27)

[4] 『耶和华神吩咐他说:「园中各样树上的果子,你可以随意吃,只是分別善恶树上的果子,你不可吃,因为你吃的日子必定死。」』 (创世记 2:16-17)  『于是,女人见那棵树的果子好作食物,也悅人的眼目,且是可喜愛的,能使人有智慧,就摘下果子来吃了;又给她丈夫,她丈夫也吃了。』(创世记 3:6)

[5]  『这就如罪是从一人入了世界,死又是从罪来的,于是死就临到众人,因为众人都犯了罪。』(罗马书 5:12)

[6] 『正思念这事的时候,有主的使者向他梦中显现,说:「大卫的子孙约瑟,不要怕,只管娶过你的妻子马利亚来,因她所怀的孕是从圣灵来的。』 (马太福音 1:20)

[7] 『反倒虛己,取了奴仆的形象,成为人的样式。既有人的样子,就自己卑微,存心顺服,以至于死,且死在十字架上。』 (腓立比书 2:7-8)

[8] 『因我们的大祭司并非不能体恤我们的软弱,他也曾凡事受过试探,与我们一样,只是他沒有犯罪。』 (希伯来书 4:15)

[9] 『你所赐给我的荣耀,我已赐给他们,使他们合而为一,象我们合而为一。』 (约翰福音 17:22)

[10] 『耶稣对他说:「腓力,我与你们同在这样长久,你还不认识我吗?人看见了我,就是看见了父,你怎么说『将父显给我们看』呢?』 (约翰福音 14:9)

[11] 『因为罪的工价乃是死,惟有神的恩赐,在我们的主基督耶稣里,乃是永生。』 (罗马书 6:23)

[12] 『我们既因信称义,就借着我们的主耶稣基督得与神相和。』 (罗马书 5:1)

[13] 『因为他预先所知道的人,就预先定下效法(模成  be conformed 被动语气)他儿子的模样(形象 image),使他儿子在许多弟兄中作长子。』(罗马书 8:29)

[14] 『神愛世人,甚至将他的独生子赐给他们,叫一切信他的,不至灭亡,反得永生。因为神差他的儿子降世,不是要定世人的罪,乃是要叫世人因他得救。信他的人,不被定罪;不信的人,罪已经定了,因为他不信神独生子的名。』 (约翰福音 3:16-18)

[15] 『愿赐平安的神亲自使你们全然成圣。又愿你们的灵与魂与身子得蒙保守,在我主耶稣基督降临的时候,完全无可指摘。』 (帖撒罗尼迦前书 5:23)

[16] 『「『我也要赐给你们一个新心,将新灵放在你们里面。又从你们的肉体中除掉石心,赐给你们肉心。我必将我的灵放在你们里面,使你们顺从我的律例,谨守遵行我的典章。』 (以西结书 36:26-27)

[17] 『岂不知你们的身子就是圣灵的殿吗?这圣灵是从神而来,住在你们里头的;并且你们不是自己的人,』 (哥林多前书 6:19)

[18] 『我如今把一件奧秘的事告诉你们:我们不是都要睡觉,乃是都要改变,就在一霎时,眨眼之间,号筒末次吹响的时候。因号筒要响,死人要复活,成为不朽坏的,我们也要改变。这必朽坏的总要变成不朽坏的,这必死的总要变成不死的。』 (哥林多前书 15:51-53)

[19] 『我们凭这旨意,靠耶稣基督只一次献上他的身体,就得以成圣。』 (希伯来书 10:10)

 [20] 『弟兄们,我不是以为自己已经得着了,我只有一件事,就是忘记背后,努力面前的,向着标竿直跑,要得神在基督耶稣里从上面召我来得的奖赏。』 (腓立比书 3:13-14)

[21] 『我栽种了,亚波罗浇灌了,惟有神叫他生长。可见栽种的算不得甚么,浇灌的也算不得甚么,只在那叫他生长的神。』 (哥林多前书 3:6)

[22] 『务要谨守、警醒,因为你们的仇敌魔鬼,如同吼叫的狮子,遍地遊行,寻找可吞吃的人。』 (彼得前书 5:8)

[23] 『那等人是假使徒,行事诡诈,装作基督使徒的模样。这也不足为怪,因为连撒但也装作光明的天使。』 (哥林多后书 11:13-14)

[24] 『我将这些事告诉你们,是要叫你们在我里面有平安。在世上你们有苦难,但你们可以放心,我已经胜了世界。 (约翰福音 16:33)

(你可以在『 https://a-christian-voice.com/ 』看到所有的文章,到这网站后要按『对属灵生命的了解』。)

神原先的旨意 – 三部曲的第一部 (旋风著) 3001

     我们来看一看部份神原先的旨意。在创世记第一章就提示到神是三位一体的神,虽然圣经在新旧约都一致的告诉我们这点,我们也在信心中知道是这样的,但这仍是一个奧秘。  

     如果我们看创世记第一章,就知道神原先的计划是『各从其类』。因此冠状病毒能从蝙蝠到人是很可怕的,我们看到了不是各从其类。  

     在创世记 1:26,很清楚的说到人是按着神的形象和样式造的 [1]。首先请注意到,形象和样式是两个字。从腓立比书 2:5-7,我们看到了耶稣有人的样式 [2] ,也看到耶稣就是看到了神 [3] ,我们要被模成耶稣的形象如在罗马书 8:29 所说,『因为他预先所知道的人,就预先定下效法 (模成 to be conformed) 他儿子的模样 (形象 image),使他儿子在许多弟兄中作长子。』

     神原先要亚当的就是信靠顺服,他要做的事就是修理看守伊甸园,他只需遵守一个命令,就是分別善恶树上的果子不可吃,因为吃的日子必定死 [4],但是他选择了不顺服而吃了那果子。可是在创世记 5:3 说,『亚当活到一百三十岁,生了一个儿子,形象样式和自己相似,就给他起名叫塞特。』难道神是说谎的吗?绝对不是的。新约中很清楚的在帖撒罗尼迦前书 5:23 告诉我们,人由灵、魂、体三部份构成的 [5] 。因此在时间上是灵立刻就死了,其余的还存活了一段时间。  

     在这里我们要強调一点的是,引用经文不要断章取义,一定要看整本圣经如何说,我虽然不能号称整本圣经绝对有一致性,但我所看见的有限的例子,都是如此。也请注意一点,塞特是形象样式都和被罪沾污后的亚当相似,因此所有亚当的后代包括我们在內都是如此的被罪沾污。  

     在犯罪前,亚当的灵是可以和神交通而知道要做什么的,然后灵告诉魂,体就执行魂的命令。如果亚当好好地遵守命令和做对了选择,他是可以不死的 [6]  

     在犯罪后,灵死了,魂有着被罪沾污后神的形象,体付代价因此会死 [7] ,这都在亚当不遵守神的命令时同时发生了。那时,他们被赶出了伊甸园 [8],但创世记 3:21 说:『耶和华神为亚当和他妻子用皮子做衣服,给他们穿。』这说明有动物为他们流血而死,代赎的概念在那时就有。『耶和华说:「我的意念非同你们的意念,我的道路非同你们的道路。天怎样高过地,照样,我的道路高过你们的道路,我的意念高过你们的意念。』 (以赛亚书 55:8-9)

一些相关的经文和知识

[1] 神说:「我们要照着我们的形象,按着我们的样式造人,使他们管理海里的鱼、空中的鸟、地上的牲畜和全地,并地上所爬的一切昆虫。」 (创世记 1:26)

[2] 你们当以基督耶稣的心为心。他本有神的形象,不以自己与神同等为強夺的,反倒虛己,取了奴仆的形象,成为人的样式。 (腓立比书 2:5-7)

[3] 耶稣对他说:「腓力,我与你们同在这样长久,你还不认识我吗?人看见了我,就是看见了父,你怎么说『将父显给我们看』呢? (约翰福音 14:9)

[4] 耶和华神将那人安置在伊甸园,使他修理看守。耶和华神吩咐他说:「园中各样树上的果子,你可以随意吃,只是分別善恶树上的果子,你不可吃,因为你吃的日子必定死。」 (创世记 2:15-17)

[5] 愿赐平安的神亲自使你们全然成圣。又愿你们的灵与魂与身子得蒙保守,在我主耶稣基督降临的时候,完全无可指摘。 (帖撒罗尼迦前书 5:23)

[6] 耶和华神说:「那人已经与我们相似,能知道善恶。现在恐怕他伸手又摘生命树的果子吃,就永远活着。」 (创世记 3:22)

[7] 你必汗流满面才得糊口,直到你归了土,因为你是从土而出的。你本是尘土,仍要归于尘土。 (创世记 3:19)

[8] 于是把他赶出去了。又在伊甸园的东边安设基路伯,和四面转动发火焰的剑,要把守生命树的道路。 (创世记 3:24)

(你可以在『 https://a-christian-voice.com/ 』看到所有的文章,到这网站后要按『对属灵生命的了解』。)

行道勝聽道 – 三部曲的第三部 (旋風著) 2003

我們從三方面簡單的談談這個問題。雅各書 1:22 說得很清楚,『只是你們要行道,不要單單聽道,自己欺哄自己。』在我們一但因信稱義後 [1],就需要走上成聖的路,模成耶穌的形像 [2]。首先我們不要忘記,神有絕對權的事實,『因他對摩西說:「我要憐憫誰,就憐憫誰;要恩待誰,就恩待誰。」』 (羅馬書 9:15) 我們不可能在這短文中談到所有關於行道的事情,這必須要看聖經,因此我們只是指出幾個重點。

首先我們看到聖經告訴我們,『我賜給你們一條新命令,乃是叫你們彼此相愛;我怎樣愛你們,你們也要怎樣相愛。你們若有彼此相愛的心,眾人因此就認出你們是我的門徒了。」 (約翰福音 13:34-35) 弟兄相愛是我們可做的,而且『你們務要常存弟兄相愛的心。』 (希伯來書 13:1)

新舊約都說,神是愛的神,也是公義的神。新約很清楚的告訴我們,『於是,耶穌對門徒說:「若有人要跟從我,就當捨己,背起他的十字架來跟從我。』 (馬太福音 16:24) 在模成耶穌形像的過程中,我們要背主量給我們的十字架(不是自找苦吃),這就是神對祂子民的公義。同時祂也給了我們這樣的應許,『我將這些事告訴你們,是要叫你們在我裏面有平安。在世上你們有苦難,但你們可以放心,我已經勝了世界。』 (約翰福音 16:33) 而且『你們所遇見的試探,無非是人所能受的。神是信實的,必不叫你們受試探過於所能受的。在受試探的時候,總要給你們開一條出路,叫你們能忍受得住。』 (哥林多前書 10:13) 我們要查考聖經,不只可以知道有其他這樣的應許,更能『穿上了新人。這新人在知識上漸漸更新,正如造他主的形像。』 (歌羅西書 3:10)

第二,在約翰福音 5:39-40,耶穌說:『你們查考聖經,因你們以為內中有永生;給我作見證的就是這經。然而你們不肯到我這裏來得生命。』 (約翰福音 5:39-40) 所以查考聖經的目的是要得生命,而不只是知識上的得著。接著我們就簡單的討論一下如何得生命這個話題。

首先要知道的是生命從神來。『我栽種了,亞波羅澆灌了,惟有神叫他生長。可見栽種的算不得甚麼,澆灌的也算不得甚麼,只在那叫他生長的神。』 (哥林多前書 3:6-7) 所以要想瞭解聖經,就要像聖經在路加福音 24:45 所說:『於是耶穌開他們的心竅 (G3563, 希臘原文是Nous),使他們能明白聖經。』[3]

在新約的時代,我們可以像保羅一樣的祈求,『求我們主耶穌基督的神,榮耀的父,將那賜人智慧和啓示的靈賞給你們,使你們真知道他。』 (以弗所書 1:17) 啓示的靈會帶領我們查經,告訴我們該知道的。請注意,啓示不只是指超自然的事,有時是藉著別人的話語,有時是藉著聖經的話語,等等。神有絕對主權,我們怎麼可能侷限的說祂一定要採取某種固定的方式,要知道:『耶和華說:「我的意念非同你們的意念,我的道路非同你們的道路。天怎樣高過地,照樣,我的道路高過你們的道路,我的意念高過你們的意念。』 (以賽亞書 55:8-9) 我們要做的就是:『不要消滅聖靈的感動。』 (帖撒羅尼迦前書 5:19) 要相信三位一體的神是又真又活的神,是有憐憫有恩典的神,會賜給我們啓示。在希伯來書 7:25 有這樣的應許:『凡靠着他(耶穌)進到神面前的人,他都能拯救到底,因為他是長遠活着,替他們祈求。』 我們要持續地以信心住在基督耶穌裏,這是神定規瞭解聖經和得生命的道路。

最後我們要談到聖經如何說願神家有糧的奉獻問題。關於這,我們首先要問的是舊約對奉獻的教導是什麼?很顯然,第一個是要甘心樂意,這就像摩西建會幕時耶和華告訴他的一樣 [4] 也很清楚的說到了十分之一是耶和華的 [5]。就像在瑪拉基書說的一樣,奉獻的目的是要使神家有糧 [6]。那麼舊約時代到底要奉獻多少呢?看律法或從瑪拉基書 3:8 就很清楚。『就是你們在當納的十分之一和當獻的供物上。』簡言之,在舊約的時代要求是要甘心樂意的奉獻超過十分之一。這就是所謂的從聖經的角度看,也就是聖經怎麼說就算數。因為聖經都是神所默示的 [7],這也是從神(作者)的角度看。請注意,不能說從神的角度看就是從聖經的角度看,因為反過來講是不對的。

那麼從聖經的角度看,新約對奉獻的教導是什麼?直接的教導只有耶穌稱讚窮寡婦的兩個小錢。『因為眾人都是自己有餘,拿出來投在捐項裏;但這寡婦是自己不足,把她一切養生的都投上了。』 (路加福音 21:4) 因此對這個問題的回答很單純,因人有自由意志,奉獻的多少是看和神的關係如何,自己可以做決定的。在新約的時代,是不可能有明文規定的講、要至少要奉獻十分之一的律法的。因為只遵守這樣,新約說是耶穌所討厭的。[8]

我們不能說,在瑪拉基書所提到的當獻的供物都和獻祭有關,因此在新約的時代,獻祭沒有了,所以只剩下了要奉獻十分之一。新約沒有這樣講,這是加上了人的邏輯,也就是所謂的從人的角度看。請注意,我沒有說不到十分之一的奉獻就是和神關係不好,因為不見得每個人都有資源可奉獻十分之一的。要強調的是,新約的時代沒有十分之一的規定,十分之一最多只是參考!如果真沒有足夠的資源,神大概也會告訴這個人,不必去遵守律法,神要看的是這顆心。 [9]

這不是把福音和金錢連在一起,而是講和神的關係!如果一個人關心另一個人,自然會希望那一個人夠吃夠用,同樣,如果關心神,自然會想到要神家有糧,金錢只不過是簡單的方法之一而已!還有其他的事奉。新約强調的是甘心樂意,絕對不像舊約一樣有訂下規則的律法。

但新舊約都是一位神,舊約說到十分之一是屬神的,這從來就沒有改變過,新約的時候沒有這樣律法的要求,如果和神關係好,自然會儘可能想要還給神屬於祂的東西。

我們最後用兩個別人的見証作為結束。第一個見証是有一位弟兄在講到神的信實時,透露了他的奉獻是超過十分之一。那位弟兄本來是沒有辦法奉獻到超過十分之一的,但有這個心,神是信實的,他最終能在金錢上奉獻超過十分之一,加上了更多其他的事奉。

另一位姊妹的見証是她在傳道時談到了奉獻的問題,突然在那年報稅時意識到超過百分之五十不能減稅。我查過網路的訊息,知道不同的非盈利機構有不同的上限,現在最高的是教會的上限為百分之六十。這個見証一個主要的目的是說法律有個上限,她的奉獻度,我想都不會想!

一些相關的經文

[1] 我們既因信稱義,就藉着我們的主耶穌基督得與神相和。(羅馬書 5:1)

[2] 因為他預先所知道的人,就預先定下效法(模成 to be conformed 被動語氣)他兒子的模樣(形像 image),使他兒子在許多弟兄中作長子。 (羅馬書 8:29)

[3]『心竅』這辭,和合本只出現兩次,另一處為:『惟獨長大成人的,才能吃乾糧,他們的心竅習練得通達,就能分辨好歹了。』 (希伯來書 5:14) 這地方的『心竅』是 G145,不是 nous

[4] 耶和華曉諭摩西說:「你告訴以色列人當為我送禮物來,凡甘心樂意的,你們就可以收下歸我。 (出埃及記 25:1-2)

[5] 地上所有的,無論是地上的種子是樹上的果子,十分之一是耶和華的,是歸給耶和華為聖的。(利未記 27:30)

[6] 萬軍之耶和華說:「你們要將當納的十分之一全然送入倉庫,使我家有糧,以此試試我是否為你們敞開天上的窗戶,傾福與你們,甚至無處可容。」(瑪拉基書 3:10)

 [7] 『聖經都是神所默示的, (提摩太後書 3:16) 雖然新約在保羅這樣說的時候並沒有完成,如啓示錄還沒開始寫,但基督徒相信整本聖經都是神所默示的。

[8] 你們這假冒為善的文士和法利賽人有禍了!因為你們將薄荷、茴香、芹菜獻上十分之一,那律法上更重的事,就是公義、憐憫、信實,反倒不行了。這更重的是你們當行的,那也是不可不行的。(馬太福音 23:23)

[9] 耶和華卻對撒母耳說:「不要看他的外貌和他身材高大,我不揀選他。因為耶和華不像人看人:人是看外貌,耶和華是看內心。」 (撒母耳記上 16:7)

(你可以在『 https://a-christian-voice.com/ 』看到所有的文章,到這網站後要按『對屬靈生命的瞭解』。)

救恩的計劃 – 三部曲的第二部 (旋風著) 2002

救恩的計劃基本的概念就是代贖。就像我們在第一部所提的,代贖的概念從亞當犯罪後神用皮子為他們做衣服時就有 [1],亞伯拉罕獻以撒也是講到代贖 [2],在新約時代耶穌釘十字架成為了我們的代罪羔羊。

我們首先看到神是照祂的形像造亞當和夏娃 [3]。因為亞當不順服神而墮落 [4],所以罪就因此沾汚了亞當而進入了這世界 [5]也就因此有了被罪沾汚的神的形像。

耶穌是由聖靈感孕 [6],是無罪的,因而祂有被罪沾汚前人的形像。祂虛己,在道成肉身這段時間中,虛空神的本性這部 [7]。祂在地上完全順服聖靈的帶領,沒有犯罪 [8],和父合一 [9],看見了祂就是看見了神 [10]

世人都被罪沾汚了,只有耶穌道成肉身,才有機會回到從前沒有被罪沾汚時的情景。罪的工價是死 [11],救贖的計劃就是由耶穌代替我們受死開始,使我們能因信稱義 [12],讓我們有個機會模成耶穌的形像 [13]。神愛世人,道成肉身實在是神拯救世人的唯一的路,給了世人一個機會 [14]

人是由靈、魂、體三者構成 [15],因信稱義只是開始,這時我們有一個新靈 [16],聖靈內住在我們裏面 [17],我們已有了靈的得救。關於體的拯救,則要等到耶穌再來的日子 [18]。至於魂的得救,我們在信而受浸時,就已經在地位上成聖了 [19]。但經驗告訴我們,成聖之路是需要一生之久,因為我們不能立刻被模成耶穌的形像,即使保羅,仍在年老時往標竿直奔 [20]。請注意,我們是被動的被模成,因為生命是從神來 [21]

在成聖的過程中,我們要十分小心,要警醒 [22],不要落入假裝光明天使的撒但差役手中[23]。但要記住耶穌已勝了這世界 [24] ,且在希伯來書 7:25我們有這樣的應許,『凡靠着他進到神面前的人,他都能拯救到底,因為他是長遠活着,替他們祈求。』   我們要持續地住在基督耶穌裏。在耶穌基督裏,我們就能在每一次的試探中有力量遵行神的旨意,因為在約翰福音 8:36 中說得很清楚,『所以天父的兒子若叫你們自由,你們就真自由了。

一些相關的經文

[1] 『耶和華神為亞當和他妻子用皮子做衣服,給他們穿。』 (創世記 3:21)

[2] 『亞伯拉罕舉目觀看,不料,有一隻公羊,兩角扣在稠密的小樹中,亞伯拉罕就取了那隻公羊來,獻為燔祭,代替他的兒子。』 (創世記 22:13)

[3] 『神就照着自己的形像造人,乃是照着他的形像造男造女。』 (創世記 1:27)

[4] 『耶和華神吩咐他說:「園中各樣樹上的果子,你可以隨意吃,只是分別善惡樹上的果子,你不可吃,因為你吃的日子必定死。」』 (創世記 2:16-17)  『於是,女人見那棵樹的果子好作食物,也悅人的眼目,且是可喜愛的,能使人有智慧,就摘下果子來吃了;又給她丈夫,她丈夫也吃了。』(創世記 3:6)

[5]  『這就如罪是從一人入了世界,死又是從罪來的,於是死就臨到眾人,因為眾人都犯了罪。』(羅馬書 5:12)

[6] 『正思念這事的時候,有主的使者向他夢中顯現,說:「大衞的子孫約瑟,不要怕,只管娶過你的妻子馬利亞來,因她所懷的孕是從聖靈來的。』 (馬太福音 1:20)

[7] 『反倒虛己,取了奴僕的形像,成為人的樣式。既有人的樣子,就自己卑微,存心順服,以至於死,且死在十字架上。』 (腓立比書 2:7-8)

[8] 『因我們的大祭司並非不能體恤我們的軟弱,他也曾凡事受過試探,與我們一樣,只是他沒有犯罪。』 (希伯來書 4:15)

[9] 『你所賜給我的榮耀,我已賜給他們,使他們合而為一,像我們合而為一。』 (約翰福音 17:22)

[10] 『耶穌對他說:「腓力,我與你們同在這樣長久,你還不認識我嗎?人看見了我,就是看見了父,你怎麼說『將父顯給我們看』呢?』 (約翰福音 14:9)

[11] 『因為罪的工價乃是死,惟有神的恩賜,在我們的主基督耶穌裏,乃是永生。』 (羅馬書 6:23)

[12] 『我們既因信稱義,就藉着我們的主耶穌基督得與神相和。』 (羅馬書 5:1)

[13] 『因為他預先所知道的人,就預先定下效法(模成  be conformed 被動語氣)他兒子的模樣(形像 image),使他兒子在許多弟兄中作長子。』(羅馬書 8:29)

[14] 『神愛世人,甚至將他的獨生子賜給他們,叫一切信他的,不至滅亡,反得永生。因為神差他的兒子降世,不是要定世人的罪,乃是要叫世人因他得救。信他的人,不被定罪;不信的人,罪已經定了,因為他不信神獨生子的名。』 (約翰福音 3:16-18)

[15] 『願賜平安的神親自使你們全然成聖。又願你們的靈與魂與身子得蒙保守,在我主耶穌基督降臨的時候,完全無可指摘。』 (帖撒羅尼迦前書 5:23)

[16] 『「『我也要賜給你們一個新心,將新靈放在你們裏面。又從你們的肉體中除掉石心,賜給你們肉心。我必將我的靈放在你們裏面,使你們順從我的律例,謹守遵行我的典章。』 (以西結書 36:26-27)

[17] 『豈不知你們的身子就是聖靈的殿嗎?這聖靈是從神而來,住在你們裏頭的;並且你們不是自己的人,』 (哥林多前書 6:19)

[18] 『我如今把一件奧秘的事告訴你們:我們不是都要睡覺,乃是都要改變,就在一霎時,眨眼之間,號筒末次吹響的時候。因號筒要響,死人要復活,成為不朽壞的,我們也要改變。這必朽壞的總要變成不朽壞的,這必死的總要變成不死的。』 (哥林多前書 15:51-53)

[19] 『我們憑這旨意,靠耶穌基督只一次獻上他的身體,就得以成聖。』 (希伯來書 10:10)

[20] 『弟兄們,我不是以為自己已經得着了,我只有一件事,就是忘記背後,努力面前的,向着標竿直跑,要得神在基督耶穌裏從上面召我來得的獎賞。』 (腓立比書 3:13-14)

[21] 『我栽種了,亞波羅澆灌了,惟有神叫他生長。可見栽種的算不得甚麼,澆灌的也算不得甚麼,只在那叫他生長的神。』 (哥林多前書 3:6)

[22] 『務要謹守、警醒,因為你們的仇敵魔鬼,如同吼叫的獅子,遍地遊行,尋找可吞吃的人。』 (彼得前書 5:8)

[23] 『那等人是假使徒,行事詭詐,裝作基督使徒的模樣。這也不足為怪,因為連撒但也裝作光明的天使。』 (哥林多後書 11:13-14)

[24] 『我將這些事告訴你們,是要叫你們在我裏面有平安。在世上你們有苦難,但你們可以放心,我已經勝了世界。』 (約翰福音 16:33)

(你可以在『 https://a-christian-voice.com/ 』看到所有的文章,到這網站後要按『對屬靈生命的瞭解』。)

神原先的旨意 – 三部曲的第一部 (旋風著) 2001

我們來看一看部份神原先的旨意。在創世記第一章就提示到神是三位一體的神,雖然聖經在新舊約都一致的告訴我們這點,我們也在信心中知道是這樣的,但這仍是一個奧秘。

如果我們看創世記第一章,就知道神原先的計劃是『各從其類』。因此冠狀病毒能從蝙蝠到人是很可怕的,我們看到了不是各從其類。

在創世記 1:26,很清楚的說到人是按著神的形像和樣式造的 [1]。首先請注意到,形像和樣式是兩個字。從腓立比書 2:5-7,我們看到了耶穌有人的樣式 [2] ,也看到耶穌就是看到了神 [3] ,我們要被模成耶穌的形像在羅馬書 8:29 說,『因為他預先所知道的人,就預先定下效法 (模成 to be conformed) 他兒子的模樣 (形像 image),使他兒子在許多弟兄中作長子。

神原先要亞當的就是信靠順服,他要做的事就是修理看守伊甸園,他只需遵守一個命令,就是分別善惡樹上的果子不可吃,因為吃的日子必定死 [4],但是他選擇了不順服而吃了那果子。可是在創世記 5:3 說,『亞當活到一百三十歲,生了一個兒子,形像樣式和自己相似,就給他起名叫塞特。』難道神是說謊的嗎?絕對不是的。新約中很清楚的在帖撒羅尼迦前書 5:23 告訴我們,人由靈、魂、體三部份構成的 [5] 。因此在時間上是靈立刻就死了,其餘的存活了一段時間

在這裏我們要強調一點的是,引用經文不要斷章取義,一定要看整本聖經如何說,我雖然不能號稱整本聖經絕對有一致性,但我所看見的有限的例子,都是如此。也請注意一點,塞特是形像樣式都和被罪沾汚後的亞當相似,因此所有亞當的後代包括我們在內都是如此的被罪沾汚。

 在犯罪前,亞當的靈是可以和神交通而知道要做什麼的,然後靈告訴魂,體就執行魂的命令。如果亞當好好地遵守命令和做對了選擇,他是可以不死的 [6]。

在犯罪後,靈死了,魂有著被罪沾汚後神的形像,體付代價因此會死 [7] ,這都在亞當不遵守神的命令時同時發生了那時,他們被趕出了伊甸園 [8],但創世記 3:21 說:『耶和華神為亞當和他妻子用皮子做衣服,給他們穿。』這說明有動物為他們流血而死,代贖的概念在那時就有。『耶和華說:「我的意念非同你們的意念,我的道路非同你們的道路。天怎樣高過地,照樣,我的道路高過你們的道路,我的意念高過你們的意念。』 (以賽亞書 55:8-9)

一些相關的經文和知識

[1] 神說:「我們要照着我們的形像,按着我們的樣式造人,使他們管理海裏的魚、空中的鳥、地上的牲畜和全地,並地上所爬的一切昆蟲。」 (創世記 1:26)

[2] 你們當以基督耶穌的心為心。他本有神的形像,不以自己與神同等為強奪的,反倒虛己,取了奴僕的形像,成為人的樣式。 (腓立比書 2:5-7)

[3] 耶穌對他說:「腓力,我與你們同在這樣長久,你還不認識我嗎?人看見了我,就是看見了父,你怎麼說『將父顯給我們看』呢? (約翰福音 14:9)

[4] 耶和華神將那人安置在伊甸園,使他修理看守。耶和華神吩咐他說:「園中各樣樹上的果子,你可以隨意吃,只是分別善惡樹上的果子,你不可吃,因為你吃的日子必定死。」 (創世記 2:15-17)

[5] 願賜平安的神親自使你們全然成聖。又願你們的靈與魂與身子得蒙保守,在我主耶穌基督降臨的時候,完全無可指摘。 (帖撒羅尼迦前書 5:23)

[6] 耶和華神說:「那人已經與我們相似,能知道善惡。現在恐怕他伸手又摘生命樹的果子吃,就永遠活着。」 (創世記 3:22)

[7] 你必汗流滿面才得餬口,直到你歸了土,因為你是從土而出的。你本是塵土,仍要歸於塵土。 (創世記 3:19)

[8] 於是把他趕出去了。又在伊甸園的東邊安設基路伯,和四面轉動發火焰的劍,要把守生命樹的道路。 (創世記 3:24)

(你可以在『 https://a-christian-voice.com/ 』看到所有的文章,到這網站後要按『對屬靈生命的瞭解』。)

A doer of the word is better than a hearer – the third one of trilogy (by Whirlwind) 1003

We discuss briefly this topic using three subtopics. James 1:22 says clearly, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Once we are justified [1], we need to be sanctified become conformed to the image of His Son [2]. First, let us acknowledge the fact that God has absolute authority as Romans 9:15 mentioned: For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It is impossible for us to talk about every aspect of the doer in this short article. For this, we need to study the Bible. Therefore, we merely point out certain issues.

First, we can see that the Bible in John 13:34-35 says: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. Furthermore, Hebrews 13:1 says, “Let love of the brethren continue.”

Both New and Old Testaments not only say that God is the God of love, but also the God of justice. New Testament in Matthew 16:24 tells us clearly: Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” In the process of sanctification, we must deny ourselves and take up the cross which is given to us by Him. It is not a cross if we initiate tribulation by ourselves. That is the justice that God gives His children. Meanwhile, He also gives us the promise, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) And, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) Through studying the Bible, not only will we learn promises like these, but we also “…have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” (Colossians 3:10)

Secondly, Jesus says in John 5:39-40, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” Having life is the real goal of studying the Bible, not merely gaining knowledge. In the following, we’ll briefly discuss some issues about having life.

We need to know first that the life comes from God as 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.; So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” Therefore, to understand the Bible, we need to read what Luke 24:45 says, “Then He (Jesus) opened their minds (G3563, Greek nous) to understand the Scriptures.” In the era of New Testament, this can only be done by Holy Spirit. 

In the era of New Testament, we can pray like Apostle Paul in Ephesians 1:17, NIV to have a Spirit of revelation, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” [3] The Spirit of revelation will lead us to do the Bible study and tell us what we need to know. Please notice, revelation is not only by supernatural things, but also through other means such as others’ and the Bible’s words, and so on. God has absolute authority, so how could one say that there are only certain ways to know things? We must know: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9) What we need to do is “Do not quench the Spirit.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Believe that Holy Trinity is the true and living God, and is full of mercy and grace. He will give us the revelation to lead us. ln Hebrews 7:25, we see such a promise “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” We just need to continuously abide in Christ Jesus in faith. This is the only way we can understand the Bible and have life.

Thirdly and lastly, we will discuss the issues involved in the offerings regarding having enough food in God’s house. The first question we want to ask is what the offering system in Old Testament is? Apparently, like when Moses built Tabernacle, contributions had to come from every man whose heart moved him [4]. It is also said clearly that one tenth of our earnings belongs to God [5]. Like what Malachi 3:10 says, the goal of offering is to give the house of God enough food [6]. Then, how much is required in the offering system of Old Testament? Let us examine the law or from Malachi 3:8, “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” In short, in the era of Old Testament, it is required that every man moves to offer more than one-tenth. This is what we mean when we say to look at things in aspect of the Bible. That means, whatever the Bible says counts. Because the Bible is inspired by God [7], this also means we are looking at things in the aspect of God or the author. Please notice that we cannot say both are equivalent since it is not true to look at things in aspect of the Bible is sufficient to fully understand all aspects of God.

Then, what does the New Testament teach us about offerings? Direct teaching on this is only that Jesus approved of the offering of the poor widow in Luke 21:4, “for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.” Thus, the answer to this question is very simple. Since man has free will about how much he offers which depends upon the relationship he has with God, man can determine the offering amount by himself. In the era of the New Testament, it is impossible to have a law saying something like one has to offer at least one-tenth. Jesus says clearly that He didn’t approve obeying any such law. [8]

We shouldn’t say that the offerings mentioned in Malachi 3:8 are all related to sacrifices and thus they don’t matter in the era of New Testament. As a result of this thinking, are tithes the only sacrifice left and do we need to offer one-tenth in the era of New Testament? No, the New Testament doesn’t say so. By this way of thinking, logic not derived from the Bible is added on top of what New Testament says. This is what it means to look at things in the aspect of a human. 

Please notice that I don’t say that giving less than one-tenth of your earnings as an offering means your relationship with God is poor.  Not everyone has the resources to offer one-tenth, even if they have a good relationship with God. What I want to emphasize is the fact that there is not a requirement of an offering of one-tenth in the era of the New Testament. It can be used as a reference. That’s all. If one person thinks about offering one-tenth but does not have adequate resources, God might tell that person in His way that there is no need to obey such a law like in the era of Old Testament. The Lord looks at the heart. [9]

This is not to connect the Gospel with money, but instead we are talking about the relationship with God. If a person cares about the welfare of an another, he will naturally think about the other person, who should have sufficient foods to eat. Likewise, if someone cares about God’s house, shouldn’t he ensure that it has sufficient foods? Offering money is just one among the simple ways to serve God. There are definitely other ways to serve. The era of New Testament is to emphasize our heart should move us to offer, not obey the rules in the law like in the era of Old Testament.

But the God in New and Old Testament is one. The one-tenth belonging to God is still true and will not change. There is no such requirement in the era of New Testament. If one has a good relationship with God, that person will endeavor to give back to God what belongs to Him.

We end these discussions with two testimonies of others. The first testimony is about one brother who was talking about that God’s faithfulness, he accidentally revealed at the same time that he offered over one-tenth. He at that time originally has no way to offer one-tenth but had the heart to pray about doing it. God is faithful, and he eventually can offer more than one-tenth.

The second testimony is about one sister. When she preached about offerings, she mentioned that she suddenly realized that over 50% offering to her organizations cannot deduct taxes. After checking online, I realized that there are different upper limits for various nonprofit organizations. The highest one is the offering to churches, which is 60%. One purpose of this testimony is to tell everyone that there is a limit in the law for offering to churches. Of course, I never think about such offering in the past and dare not to think about it in the future.

Some related verses and knowledge

[1] Romans 5:1, Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

[2] Romans 8:29, For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.

[3] In James 1:5, NASB, it says “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” It is clear from this verse, if we want to get wisdom, we need God working on us. In the era of New Testament, Holy Spirit will do the work. That is why we uses NIV for Ephesians 1:17, since NASB is translated as “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” From the consistency of the Bible, we have to use Bigger letter Spirit, not our spirit.

[4] Exodus 25:1-2, Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.”

[5] Leviticus 27:30, Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.

[6] Malachi 3:10, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

[7] 2 Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, …” Although the New Testament was not finished at the time when Paul said so, Christians believe that it is true for the whole Bible. For example, Book Revelation is not finished for sure at that time.

[8] Matthew 23:23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”

[9] 1 Samuel 16:7, But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

  (Verses refer to those in NASB unless otherwise specified.)

(You can get all articles in “https://a-christian-voice.com/” under “On spiritual understanding about life.”)

The plan of salvation – the second one of trilogy (by Whirlwind) 1002

The basic idea of the plan of salvation is substitution. Like what we said in part 1, the idea of the substitution was already there when Adam fell and God made coats of skins [1]. Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice also talks about the substitution [2]. In the era of the New Testament, Jesus was crucified and became the sacrificial lamb to substitute our death penalty, as the price of sin is death.

First, we see that God created Adam and Eve in His own image [3]. Because Adam disobeyed God, he fell [4]. Therefore, Adam was contaminated by sin and sin entered the world [5].  Adam was made in the image of God but was contaminated by sin.

Jesus was begotten by Holy Spirit [7] and is sinless. Thus, He has the image of a human before sin contaminated the world. He emptied Himself when He was here on earth [7]. That is, He emptied the portion of His nature as God. When He was on earth, He totally obeyed the leading of the Holy Spirit, and didn’t sin [8].  He was united with God [9], and thus seeing Him is the same as seeing God [10].

All humans are contaminated by sin, and only Jesus coming to earth can give us a chance to go back to that time when sin has not contaminated the world. The wages of sin are death [11].   The plan of salvation is to have Jesus be substituted for us to pay the death penalty. In this way, we can be declared to be righteous due to faith [12], which let’s have a chance to be conformed to the image of Jesus [13].  God loves us. Jesus coming to the earth is the only way that God can save us by giving us an opportunity [14]. 

Man consists of three portions – spirit, soul, and body [15]. Even when we are declared to be righteous because of faith, it is only a beginning. At that time, we will have a new soul [16], and Holy Spirit will abide in us [17]. Therefore, we already have the salvation of spirit. Regarding the salvation of body, we have to wait until Jesus comes again [18]. In terms of the salvation of soul we are already sanctified and are declared as righteous [19] although our experience tells us that the road to be fully sanctified takes a lifetime. It is because we can’t be conformed to the image of Jesus right away. Even Apostle Paul made an effort to reach the goal [20]. Notice that the passive tense is used when being conformed in the image of Jesus, since only God can give the increase of life [21]. 

In the process of sanctification, we have to be very careful. Be sober [22], and not fall into the hand of the servant of the devil who pretends to be an angel of light [23]. But remember that Jesus has overcome the world [24]. Furthermore, we have the promise in Hebrews 7:25, “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” We have to keep on abiding in Christ Jesus. In Jesus Christ, we are able to have the power in every trial to obey the will of God. It is clearly said in John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

Some related verses

[1] Genesis 3:21, Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

[2] Genesis 22:13, And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

[3] Genesis 1:27, So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

[4] Genesis 2:16-17, And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 3:6, And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

[5] Romans 5:12, Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

[6] Matthew 1:20, But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

[7] Philippians 2:7-8, But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

[8] Hebrews 4:15, For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

[9] John 17:22, And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 

[10] John 14:9, Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 

[11] Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

[12] Romans 5:1, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

[13] Romans 8:29, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

[14] John 3:16-18, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 

[15] 1 Thessalonians 5:23, And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

[16] Ezekiel 36:26-27, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

[17] 1 Corinthians 6:19, What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

[18] 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

[19] Hebrews 10:10, By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

[20] Philippians 3:13-14, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

[21] 1 Corinthians 3:6, I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

[22] 1 Peter 5:8, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

[23] 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

[24] John 16:33, These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. 

 (Verses refer to those in King James Version – KJV unless otherwise specified.)

(You can get all articles in “https://a-christian-voice.com/” under “On spiritual understanding about life.”)

The original will of God – the first one of trilogy (by Whirlwind) 1001

Let us take a look at part of the original will of God. In Genesis 1, it already indicates that God is the Holy Trinity. Although the Bible consistently says so in both New and Old Testaments and we believe that because of faith, it is still a mystery.

If we examine Genesis 1, we can see that the original will of God is to have all living things “after their kind” and that Covid-19 is awful since it can propagate from bats to humans which is apparently not “after their kind”.

In Genesis 1:26, it is clear that man is made in God’s image and likeness [1].  First, please notice “image” and “likeness” are two different words. From Philippians 2:5-7, we can see that Jesus was made in the likeness of men [2]. We also see that anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father [3]. And we need to be conformed to the image of Jesus as Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

The original will of God is to want Adam to trust and obey, and his original duty is to dress the garden of Eden and to keep it [4]. He has only one command to obey, which is not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Unfortunately, he chose not to obey and ate its fruit. But in Genesis 5:3, it says “And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.” Is God lying? No, definitely not. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, it says clearly that man definitely consists of three parts – spirit, soul, and body [5]. Thus, it is the spirit that died immediately and the other two have survived longer. 

Here, we want to emphasize that one has to look at the whole Bible when quoting. With the limited examples I have encountered, I cannot claim that I know that the whole Bible is absolutely consistent. But with what I have encountered so far, it is always consistent. Please also notice that Seth has the likeness and the image of Adam after he was contaminated by sin. So do Adam’s offspring, including us. 

Before sin came, Adam could communicate with God in spirit and know what to do. The spirit then passed the knowledge to soul, and body listens the command of the soul to perform whatever tasks asked. If Adam followed his command and made a right choice, he would have lived forever [6].

After the sin entered the world, the spirit died. The soul is still in the image of God but was contaminated by sin. The body paid the price, and died eventually [7].  At that time, they were also driven out of the garden of Eden [8].  Nevertheless, in Genesis 3:21, it says “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Thus, animals died because of them. The concept of the substitution of salvation even exists at that time. It is really consistent with what in Isaiah 55:8-9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Some related verses

[1] Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

[2] Philippians 2:5-7, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

[3] John 14:9, Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 

[4] Genesis 2:15-17, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

[5] 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

[6] Genesis 3:22, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.”

[7] Genesis 3:19, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”

[8] Genesis 3:24, “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

 (Verses refer to those in King James Version – KJV unless otherwise specified.)

(You can get all articles in “https://a-christian-voice.com/” under “On spiritual understanding about life.”)