Previously, we wrote for help to adopt the poor village of Chinna Karagraharam. This initiative blessed some 550 poor families. They came on foot and bicycles. Thanks to you, the church was able to be relevant to the village. This was a video taken on 18-Apr in Chinna Karagraharam (We also posted an update on our Facebook page the next day):
Since then, our attention was directed to more than 10 churches who have reached out to Ps Johnson for help. We were unable to reach them all, but these are the churches that we have managed to help:
Church in Kanuru
$20 for each family
Church in Jonnalavari Modi
$20 for each family
Church in Pedda Agraharam
$20 for each family
Church in Navin Mittal Colony
$20 for each family
Church in Thallapalem
$20 for each family
However, there are still many churches and people who are in need, and our funds and doners have dried up. How many rounds of $1000 can one give? Needs are everywhere locally in Singapore too. We have read about how fellow Singaporeans have stepped up to respond to the poor in our midst. I won’t be surprise that there is now a donation fatigue.
Before we could die of famine, the devil gets us through sin in the form of stress, despair, worry, depression, anger and violence. Singapore is nowhere as dire, but even my own youths are sharing how restless they are in this lockdown – and how that leads them into sin.
The Word of God becomes more relevant than ever now. The depth of our relationship with God becomes the key to whether we as a people of God will make or break. People of God must know that Covid-19 is merely the beginning. Worse times than now are described in Matt 24:21-22:
“Forthen there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved;but for theelect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
Covid-19 is a smaller test for us, before we face the ultimate test. If we cannot even survive through this lockdown, how can we face the great tribulation? If we put what the Lord had already prophesied in the Bible into perspective, shouldn’t we even in our pain, wrestle till we overcome? For “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Mat 24:13)
Still, I can’t help but lament for the needs of the poor in India that is seemingly within our reach. Surely, we could still do more to help? What if a family that could have been saved by $20 have their peace and lives robbed by the devil? Yet I must know – we would not be able to reach everyone in India. We aren’t people’s saviours. God alone is. The solution is also never solely found in money. I prayed for these Indian brothers and sisters that the Lord will find them, before the devil robs them. Lord, please.
Then, my wife Roxanne and I texted brother Johnson. He is on our heart. He is our brother. We are burdened to check-in with him on the larger purpose we must all remember.
Leo: “Brother, how do the Indian poor cope? They have been poor for a long time. When famine and disasters hit, how do they adapt?”
Johnson: “There are different kinds of answers.. people like social activists, economists, politicians etc, give different kinds of answers. As a pastor, my answer is Jesus said to help the poor.. The question is, “How long do we help them?” I think there is no answer in the Bible. My personal opinion is, “as long as there are kind people.” (Gal 6:9; Isa 58:3-14). When the funds dried, I think God has used us for that time. Let us see what God will do. It may be time to give the final call.”
Roxanne: “How can we make this sustainable? Are there creative ways to help? In Singapore, there are people who will pick up thrown vegetables. In ancient Israel, Ruth went to pick up grains off Boaz’s land..”
Johnson then described how the poor coped, including collecting the thrown-aways. But the problem with India now is everything is stopped. He then sent a picture of people he met who are going to fish in the pits to feed their family: “People are trying to find their own ways.”
Leo: “I am grieving together with you.. I appreciate your response that at the end, we must recognise it is not us but Jesus.. We as mankind are a small part of His bigger purposes. Your answer tells me you understood that. Nevertheless, I am grieved, and I hope God will still open the barn house to tie them through this crisis. Do you recognise in end times, there will come a time worse than this? We must all be prepared.”
Johnson: “Yes brother, that is what I am speaking to my church now..”
Thank you for reading thus far. We hope this article blessed you to see Jesus too. God knows our hearts. May God find our hearts and prayers worthy and meet our brothers and sisters in India in their need. Perhaps, He will open the barn house once more.
PS: If you wish to support this final push to help the poor in India, please text Roxanne @ 90016790 (also the Paylah account number to India). All doners are invited to join a Telegram group with Ps Johnson. All accounts are transparent and available for scrutiny of donors. Thank you!
“It was very enlightening and useful, especially since it discussed the major issues a Christian is currently facing today.” – Cheryl
“It was an invaluable contribution to the Christian landscape in Singapore..” – Ruth
Features and highlights
Exposed Session 1: Panel – “A broken spirit and a contrite heart O God You will not despise..”
Moderator: ..[C]an you give a headline of why you are here today?
Henry: First of all, I am very glad to be able to share my story with all of you today, and to have my wife alongside. We flew in from Hong Kong and arrived yesterday afternoon. About 8 years ago, I had been in jail for engaging in taking naked photos of underaged girls. The court psychiatrist clinically diagnosed me to be suffering from paedophilia, and he wrote in the court report that there will be no treatment for me as it is incurable.
Privin: ..I am a little more poetic.. Light (has come) – darkness cannot understand. If I should label myself with a worldly tag I call myself gay. Say gay and you will think of happy people, rainbows, parties, what not. Yes that is what they are but they are not. It is a pit of darkness actually. It is a pit of darkness that leads you to many other dungeons of darkness. Ten years ago I found light. And it is the light of our world. The Lord lifts me out of this pit. But each time I scurried back inside. And when I scurried back inside He still lifts me up and He turns me back from the pit.
Moderator: Thank you.. Henry you mentioned you were struggling with pedophlia.. Were you born that way or were there influences that you think might have resulted in your very unique attraction?
Henry: When I was 4, 5 years old, there were a few occasions that my dad led me to touch my mother breasts while they were having sex. I couldn’t remember whether I witnessed the whole sex process, but I am sure this happened a few times.
Starting from that time, I started to have a lot of sex fantasies. I fantasised on sexual scenes all the time, like when I was about to sleep, and traveling on MRT.
I started to engage in sex games with another young girl who is my close relative. She was only about 2 years old while I was about 5 years old, and we had these activities for 8 years until I was 13 years old when I became a Christian. Luckily, we didn’t have sexual intercourse. After I became a Christian I confessed my sexual activities to my church mentors, who advised me to stop of course. They came to visit my mum and told her about the sexual activites. Since then, we stopped these acts.
However, even though I stopped those acts with my relative, I continued to struggle with sexual fantasies of puberty girls. When I was 19, it was the time the Internet became popular. I found some preteen girls websites and I was highly attracted. I don’t think pedophilia is a sexual preference I was born with, but the cause is highly related to my childhood sexual experience and the preteen girls websites.
(Note: Henry would later clarify with us that by “preteen,” he primarily refers to the age range of between 13-15.)
Moderator: Henry just to clarify – you were five years old when your dad got you in to “touch your mum?” That’s really young.
Henry: Yes it was. I could remember during that time when I was in kindergarten, I fantasised a lot – to have sex with my classmates and teachers.
Moderator: Wow. Often times we look at children as if they are invulnerable. I would tell you, as a professional counsellor. My own experience was that at five years old, I stumbled upon a pornographic magazine in my home. I didn’t know what I was seeing but I felt high within me. So my dad kept the magazine but you know what, within days, I was climbing onto the bed opening up his shelves. I didn’t know what I was doing but I wanted to see the magazine again. Your story kind of reminded me.. 5 years old.. it affected me in later part of my years as I struggled with pornography.. I really want to say this as a counsellor that kids are very vulnerable. When you introduce a doorway into sexuality at a very young age, where you place stimulants before them, it can influence and affect their lives tremendously. We don’t need more encouragement to experiment with sex at that young age. I am very sure that your dad would not have done that if he knew the kind of influence it would have made in your life..
We are going to come back to this story. Now over to Privin. How about yourself? What’s very common out there is that if you are having same-sex attraction then you are born this way. I want to hear your opinion on that or what you think might have influenced you.
Privin: I have to work this in the reverse. 10 years ago, I became Christian in the darkest hour of my life. I was in a top school. It was a boys’ school. I was effeminate. The boys were not the kindest to me. They noticed. They bullied me. It got to a point when I started rejecting myself. There are two ways to go. One, I can reinforce my identity. The other, I try to fit in. Thank God I tried to fit in – because it failed miserably. So it was double the rejection.
When it was double the rejection, I rejected myself as a whole, depression set in. When depression set in, my grades started dropping. I was not myself. Willpower was gone. I was referred to the school counsellor. The school counsellor heard from me what kind of weird ideas I had of the world. I was so depressed that I even rejected myself – there was no “ME”: I had these ideas of how we are born into the world with a brain that we have no control; it was given to us by our parents and their brains were given to them by their parents and so on and so forth. This brain when you come out of your mother’s womb interacts with an environment which you have no control over. Where is YOU? So I had no willpower at all.
I told this to my school counsellor and I believe she got a shock out of it. She’s seated amongst you today actually. I haven’t talked to her in about ten years. She’s now going to see the fruit the Lord has borne.
When I was referred to the school counsellor she referred me to Leo. Leo was a counsellor back then and you would think he would go through the routines of secular counselling – he did not. He listened to me and at the end of the session he asked me if I was willing to go for a talk with him and his cell group which I agreed to. I do not know why I agreed to it as well.
Moderator: I was very nice during the session maybe?
Privin: (Laughs.) We went to the talk – it was a talk by a prophet. The prophet just turned to me, he said my life is going to change. You know I was new to all this and I thought prophet would always say such things. Little did I know such big words do not come by daily. And it did change. So that night, Leo prayed for me. And when he prayed for me there was revelation:
It brought back me back to a traumatic incident when I was five years old. My cousin was home and my father was around. He made my cousin sweep the floor and he threw sweet wrappers onto the floor. I got offended by that and I went up to him to just give a light slap on his cheeks. He got really angry. He carried me and he held me out of the window. It was so traumatic I was crying for hours after that. God brought me back to that incident just to tell me that I had resented my father and my problematic identity was because of that.
So you can see how gays out there without God in the equation will never come to such realisations. That traumatic incident would just have been a traumatic incident. But the Lord had to tell me I resented my father through that. It is very easy for gays to be thinking they are born that way because such traumatic incidents happen very early in their childhood and that’s the earliest memory they had of themselves being gay.
Moderator: Thank you Privin. Maybe I can help you share it in a chronological order. At 5 years old, a little incident at home – the dad held him out of the window. His life dangled before him – you didn’t know whether your dad will let go or not. But from that day onwards you rejected your dad. You have two main caregivers. One is the masculine version one is the more feminine version. So you rejected your dad. Then the only person you can turn to was your mum because you are going through so much turmoil, so you associated more and modelled after your mother. When you went to school you didn’t know that your mannerism was more like your mum and the children saw it. Kids being kids, don’t know how to handle friends who are slightly different from them. They started laughing; they started bullying and that wasn’t helpful. That caused you to be rejected further.
Privin: Yes my mother was my safe place. I took her as my role model in more ways than one. I became like her – my mannerisms – and the kids did not take well to it. They saw me as different.
Later on, a few months after I became Christian, the Lord again, showed me through a spiritual encounter…
(Click on the audio to listen to the whole panel from 17min onwards.)
Exposed Session 2: Finding Freedom in Surrender
“I believe that we were created to have our identity and intimacy to align. I believe that it’s very important to everyone because we were designed that way. I believe that we are able to love when we know who we are. I believe that we discover who we are in the process of loving as well. I think that all these things have to be approached together. I believe that God is the original embracer of your individuality.. but not just in a physical way, but your spirit and your soul as well.. People are impacted when you see pass every layer to their spirit.. people are so used to being seen in boxes.” – Charis.
Exposed Session 3: Millennials ARISE – a Redemptive Vision and Mission of the Honour Generation
“The trait in itself is neither good nor bad. It’s how we use it, how we express it that makes a difference. When teenagers go through a phase called individuation the healthy expression of that is that they gain autonomy.. the unhealthy expression of individuation is rebellion. It is not an inevitable outcome that kids will grow up to be rebellious teenagers.. See millennials in a redemptive way… ARISE.. Authentic; Relational..; Inquisitive..; Socially Responsible..; Entitled.. hear me out, I will redeem this term..” – Raphael
Moderator: In the context of what we have been talking about – redeeming sexuality etc – do you think that biblical laws are still relevant in our lives?
Leo: .. The Law reveals who God is. Let me substantiate.. Now this conference – do you think we had objectives, or did we run it randomly? We had objectives. Same thing for law. Do you think God set his laws with objectives and purpose? Yes He does. Then you ask the second question. If He has a purpose for His laws, how about His purpose? Is it grounded on anything? Again if you ask this question, you realise His purpose and objectives are grounded on WHO HE IS. It’s not random. It’s not based on His whims and fancies. But the laws of God lends you perspectives into knowing WHO GOD IS.
Moderator: Do you have a concrete example?
Leo: If you study into the laws of God.. God has two principles behind His judicial system / law. The first principle – His laws are primarily corrective, or educative. This means that when God gives a judicial sentence, He does not seem to be so much to be doing so for the sake of punishment, but for correction or education. Secondly, I discovered that His laws are primarilypreventive. What do I mean by this? If God has to remove an individual for the sake of safeguarding (protecting) the larger community, He would do it objectively and execute His justice.
Moderator: Since we are all presumably bible-believing Christians, are you able to show us how you got these principles, otherwise, why must we believe you?
Exposed Session 6: Biblical Justice and the Gospel
Part 1: What is God revealing prophetically through “1111” and the Gospel of the Kingdom
“This conference is not by chance. There is a divine arrangement, collaboration that God had put all of us through.” – Ps Ian, 3:16 church
“I saw a picture of a spade, and I heard ‘dig deeper.’ I felt that God would use the conference to dig deeper into the foundations of things to strike at the core, to show everyone the heart of the matter. I sensed that God will use the conference to shine a spotlight on what He wants people to really pay attention to and focus on. When light is shone on these issues, it’s clear as day what they are and will be impossible to ignore.” – Raphael
“As I sit and listen intently, I can’t help but realised that it was a powerful prophetic moment where God’s spirit downloaded His vision and critical revelations. There was such congruence in the things each speaker shared that was beyond expectation – truth as indisputable, indispensable foundational bedrock for love; honouring our church fathers; justice and kingdom. Many teared when ministered to at the end. God proved to us that it was possible to impart His truth uncompromisingly and still carry it out with a strong spirit of love that will touch hearts.” – Leo, VOW
Around mid-July, my wife and I separately felt a prompting from the Lord that we should go up to Muar House.
Muar House is the historicbirthplace of the intercessory movement in Malaysia and Singapore in the 1960s.
We prayed and God confirmed the trip. So on Monday, 7th Aug 2017, we drove up.
Little did we expect the Lord would have a message for us to bring back to His church. This is an account of the events that happened.
– On 8th Aug (Singapore’s National Day eve), it was raining heavily at Muar. At about 2:50pm, there was a black out at the Prayer House (caused by a short circuit), followed by flooding at the Muar House. The last time it flooded was in 2014 (then 1997). So flooding at Muar House is rare, and there have been occasions where Muar is flooded but Muar House is not.
– The night before the flood, M’s great grand niece had a strange dream. (M is the caretaker of Muar House and she was also part of the intercessory team in the early days). She dreamt of M and the Muar House, and there was an earthquake! The scene then quickly changed to her and her family running for their lives. She was terrified! Just then, an angel suddenly appeared and caught her up to safety.
– This girl is only 7 years old and she probably does not have a concept of rapture. She does not attend Sunday school or services or any Christian meetings because of parental objection. However, she told me her heart is full of Jesus.
– This girl does not live at Muar House. Her mother brings her over occasionally. She hadn’t come at all the previous week, but on 8th August, her mum brought her there. So the little girl couldn’t contain her strange dream and shared it with M. Imagine the timing!
– At first, M didn’t take the dream seriously. Then the flood came. And as M surveyed the extent of the flood, she saw a snake right at the entrance of the Prayer House! It held its head upright, all ready to pounce. M tried to use a rake to crush its head but it escaped.
– My family and M ended up gathering at the Prayer House to pray (Singaporeans were gathering at Suntec City to pray that evening too). While praying, my wife heard ship’s horns sounding. She thought it might be from the ships at Muar Harbour. M said it was impossible to hear the ships as the harbour is too far from the house. We interpreted that as “the ship is moving.”
– What could God be saying to the Singapore Church?
Lightbearers: Repent and Shine
Singapore and Malaysia are intricately linked in our historical roots. Other than the prayer movement, Muar was also the last defended stronghold against the Japanese during World War II. When Muar fell, the Japs marched on almost unhindered into Singapore.
The timeliness of this encounter at Muar House is unfathomable, yet unsurprising. It is the message Voice of Wilderness has been trying to proclaim. Frankly, it is not the easiest message. Few people like warnings. Yet there has to be people to sound the call of urgency, of repentance, of alignment. “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near!” That was how John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus to arrive as the Lamb. More so when He returns with a sword.
So don’t despise warnings. The nature of warnings is good. Warnings are biblical. God loves, so He warns.
The Bible is full of warnings. In the parable of the ten virgins (Mat 25:1-13), ALL the virgins went out to meet their bridegroom. All of them! But NOT ALL of them are prepared. We may ALL know that Christ is returning, but NOT ALL will be prepared.
When the bridegroom was delayed, ALL ten virgins got drowsy and fell asleep. All of them again!There comes a time when it’s night and we can’t work anymore. During that time, everyone will despair. Love will grow cold. Hearts will falter. Who can stand? Only the ones who are prepared with more oil. They have reserves. Oil is still burning in their lamps! There’s still light!
It’s the 11th hour! The players of Ezekiel 38 and 39 are in place and we are living right at the edge of the Armageddon showdown.
The 11th hour is a defining hour. The Bible describes that at the end of it, “the last will be first and the first will be last” (Mat 20:16, Mat 19:30). I believe this to be a time of sharpening such that those who are willing to answer His call will be enabled supernaturally to pierce into the darkness as His light.
On the other hand, those seasoned in ministry will need to reexamine our hearts and attitudes. Even the persevering church of Ephesus was warned by Christ for having forsaken their first love! (Rev 2:1-4) We need to repent and overcome – as per Christ’s warnings to the seven churches in Revelations.
For when the bridegroom arrives, even the virgins who were prepared, hardly have enough oil for themselves! (Mat 25:9) They are unable to help those who were unprepared. They themselves will feel like they are barely surviving. We will all be tested!
What foundations are we building our house upon? (Matt 7:24-27) Would we be one of those virgins who “went in with him to the marriage“?(Mat 25:10, KJV)
Consider Paul’s words regarding this,
“that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, IF, BY ANY MEANS,I may ATTAIN TO THE RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD.“ – Phi 3:10-11. (emphasis mine)
Paul contended to be one with His Lord, not shying even from suffering and death, that he might ATTAIN TO BE AMONG THOSE RESURRECTED FROM THE DEAD(Rev 20:6 terms this the “first resurrection”; ) at rapture (1 Thes 4:16-17 tells us first resurrection and rapture occur at the same event). If even Paul had not assumed to be automatically included among those in the first resurrection, I wouldn’t dare assert anybody, including myself, to be automatically included among those raptured.
Why did Paul strive so hard to ATTAIN TO THE RESURRECTION? Could it be these are the virgins who “went in with him to the marriage”? (Mat 25:10, KJV) In other words, this is the bride of Christ! And Paul strives to be!
Lighthouses: Turn on your Lights
The timing and manner at which the snake appeared at the doors of the Prayer House has great symbolism. The Prayer House is the most consecrated part of the whole Muar House. It represents the house of God. Snake often symbolises the devil. Remember the black out? The light of God’s house – the Church – has stopped shinning. Then, the flood came in. Water seeping into the house seems to signify that the foundation of the Church is being compromised. And the enemy awaits at the door, ready to ransack His people.
Water in the Prayer House
Prayer House corridor flooded
Many Christians have been taught erroneously that because we are Christians, by His grace, He will grant us salvation from all difficulties. No! Paul warns the church of how even Israel, whom we the gentile church has been grafted into, was rejected by God.
“Do not be arrogant, but be afraid, for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.” Rom 11:20-21
Similarly, John the Baptist – called to prepare the way of Christ’s first coming – warns,
“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” – Luke 3:8-9
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but ONLY he who DOES THE WILL of My Father in heaven.” – Mat 7:21 (emphasis mine)
So where have we failed? I believe it’s aplenty. But this is where I sensed is THE issue God wants highlighted.
M tried to crush the snake’s head but failed. She said it signifies that the enemy has been identified, yet the collective church is unable to overcome it. I believe the enemy will be allowed to test the church, because the church had compromised. (c.f. Judges 2:20-22)
The passage M perceives God to be speaking from is Isaiah 59. Isaiah 59:19 says,“When the enemy comes in like a flood..” Interestingly, Isaiah 59:5 mentions the viper too. The passage of Isaiah 59 would give us the clue to what’s wrong with us collectively.
In Isaiah 59, God’s people has lost His favour. He stopped responding because of our iniquities. What iniquities? The theme of justice and truth keeps repeating:
v4 – “No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth”;
v8 – “there is no justice in their ways”;
v9 – “Therefore justice is far from us”;
v11 – “We look for justice, but there is none”;
v13 -15 – “In transgressing and lying.. uttering from the heart words of falsehood, Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity cannot enter. So truth fails.. there was no justice.”
The people of God are apathetic towards justice and lacking in love for truth. Instead, they became partakers of lies (v3- “Your lips have spoken lies”); partakers of murder (v3 – “your hands are defiled with blood”) and perversity (v3 – “your tongue has muttered perversity”).
I can’t help but relate these things to our time as well. Abortion. Morality. By our silence or apathy, we become complicit in supporting murder and perversion. And we are silent because we are apathetic towards truth and justice, which are priorities of God’s kingdom. Landa Cope, Darrow Miller, Dutch Sheets, Myles Munroe etc, have all implied we have practiced a “reduced” gospel.
For example, when the Great Commission says, “make disciples of all nations.. teaching them to obey ALL that He has commanded us” – it is reductionistic to see “souls saving” as the end of church. Souls, when truly saved, is meant to be the means towards kingdom as the end.
And when Jesus taught, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” He is not expecting earth to be physically alike as heaven e.g. earth to be filled with gold-paved streets – if that’s what you imagine heaven to be like. Instead, He is calling for earth’s culture – a non-physical element – to be a reflection of heaven’s!
Culture is the ground zero reflection of a people’s values. God commanded us His salt and light to steward creation (Gen 1:28) i.e. transform cultures. We do this by carrying His image (Gen 1:26) which He made it into our nature. When we become Christians, we are transformed first of all in our nature to carry the King’s values, through which we together form a counter-cultural community that impacts communities and societies – with God’s partnership (Mat 28:18; c.f. Esther, Daniel who impacted pagan kings).
This is why the Great Commission says, to makedisciples OF ALL NATIONS (Mat 28:18-20). It has a personal (becoming a disciple ourselves), communal (make disciples of others) and societal (disciple nations) component. Many churches misunderstand or forsake their mission in part or in full. When lighthouses have not shone for their communities, darkness sets in. Worse, some lighthouses become partakers of darkness against His truth and justice.
So in Isaiah 59, God judges His people that they will themselves live with injustice, unrighteousness, and darkness rather than light (v9) etc. To what extent? Isaiah 59:15 hints of the kind of evil that perpetuates the culture: “he whodeparts from evil makes himself a prey.” If an evil doer even “departs from evil,” he becomes a target for attacks i.e. “makes himself a prey”! We are talking about a totally fallen culture where being righteous comes at a heavy price!
15 So truth fails, And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.
Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him That there was no justice.
16 He saw that there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor;
– Isaiah 59
What would God do then? God’s nature couldn’t allow it. But because light bearers and lighthouses have abdicated their role to shine, God will take it upon Himself to restore justice.
Therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
And His own righteousness, it sustained Him. 17 For He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
And a helmet of salvation on His head;
He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing,
And was clad with zeal as a cloak. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay,
Fury to His adversaries,
Recompense to His enemies;
The coastlands He will fully repay. 19 So shall they fear
The name of the Lord from the west,
And His glory from the rising of the sun;
– Isaiah 59
Which leads us to the verse about the flood,
When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.
– Isaiah 59:19
As the literal meaning here in v19 is unclear, and knowing that God also speaks allegorically or through parables (Mat 13:13; Luke 8:10), I am inclined to interpret this as possibly a prophecy of the rapture. When the enemy comes, God will “lift up” – rapture; “a standard” – the remnants who had lived according to His standard; “against him” – against the evil plan of the devil. Interestingly, the Hebrew root verb for “lift up a standard” is nus, which means to flee; escape. This befits the idea of rapture.
I remain open that I may be wrong, but it helps that I haven’t seen how this interpretation compromise Truth or right living. And considering the manner of how this message had come, remembering the girl’s dream of how she got raptured, I find impetus to share this interpretation.
God’s word says,
“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:18)
There are many interpretations for this. Interestingly, if you read the passage in context, it is about the assurance of a just God who will return for His “chosen ones” crying out in prayer against injustice – day and night! For that, it implies two things. First, that injustices are grave but His elect are not partaking in that culture, and are persecuted for it. Two, there’s such a hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice that it drives them to cry out to God day and night. Would God find such a community in times of grave injustice? Or might He find the churches compromising?
This is the 11th hour to pray that God in His mercy will wrestle with us, like how he did with Jacob, turning the “deceiver” into Israel, the “overcomer,” from the inside out. Jesus wants to come for a purified, spotless bride. If God is yet our King i.e. if our flesh still rules over His will in our life; we must start praying that God will not give us rest – until we become His bride!
Do we know of the God who is alive and still speaks today? Do we still have ears to hear Him? Would we be prepared and be among those who “went in with him to the marriage” if He comes back today?
Watch this to understand why indifference to injustice is a sin God judges:
It is scripturally well supported that there remains a journey – upon God’s first call to us – expected for the called to walk in, with God and towards God. It is also scripturally clear that God will judge how we have walked this journey, and He will be justified in whatever He judges.
This is applicable in the case of Israel, when they were called “out of slavery” in Egypt, beginning a journey, with a goal of “entering their promise land.” This physical-literal description is also symbolic of the spiritual journey God expects of Israel then, and of all Christians today. Unfortunately, the Moses generation didn’t fulfil what was prophesied and promised to them, because of disobedience and faithlessness.
Similarly, with respect to individuals, like how Abraham was tested to sacrifice Isaac; Daniel was tested in his civil disobedience to king Darius – and was thrown into the Lion’s den; God expects all who are called to journey faithfully. We also read of how the unfaithful like Judas, Ananias and Sapphira, fell short, because they would not surrender to God, but chose options that betrayed – and lied to – God. These are New Testament examples, and they are completely consistent with Old Testament ones, like king Saul etc. In Revelations too, the churches are expected to “overcome” or they will be judged by God.
But many of us subscribe to a salvation doctrine that is based on a one-time prayer made. I had written on this to explain why easy-believism is erroneous. As much as we like to comfort and encourage one another, salvation is a core doctrine we need to preach it right.
Hyper Grace Error
One doctrine that has caused confusion to large groups of Christians is the hyper grace doctrine. Hyper grace draws a distinction between New and Old Testament times, claiming that God of the OT saves by obedience to the law, while God of the NT saves effortlessly by grace.
This claim is wrong. God has always saved men by grace, even during the OT times. For example, God instituted the feast of atonement, and ordered the high priest of Israel to make atonement for all Israel through animal sacrifice. Choosing to forgive the sins of Israel by animal sacrifice is an act of grace.
Truth is, men can never be saved purely by their works and their obedience to law. Even in the OT, we are all saved by God’s grace. So hyper grace draws a wrong analogy between OT and NT by comparing works vs grace.
But there is something that changed with the coming of Christ. (Hebrews 8:13 says that the first covenant is made obsolete and the new covenant is better) So what changed? The thing that changed, is that the “fulfilment” that the OT’s temple rituals foreshadowed, or symbolised, is finally here – Christ Himself! The perfect Lamb of God!
And since Christ has come, temple rituals in the OT are now obsolete. You no longer have to wait for the high priest to physically make atonement in the Holy of Holies once a year, but you yourself can enter into the throne of the Father in spirit, intimately and freely, with confidence you have through your relationship with Christ! Isn’t this a better covenant?
But this isn’t a change of God’s character. This is a fulfilment revealing of His character in greater measures!
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? – Hebrews 9:13
God is unchanging. He has intended, since the beginning, to have Himself made known in fuller measures through Christ. So we certainly are reading about the same God, of the same character, and we should draw lessons from the Old Testament, as how we learn from the New.
Jesus Himself, only had the Old Testament as Scriptures. The New Testament was not yet written during Jesus’ timeon earth; much less – canonised.
So God did not have have a major brain surgery, or a Dr Jerkyl and Mr Hyde shift of character, between the Old and New Testament, as hyper grace doctrine seems to imply. God is consistent throughout. He is love. He is patient. He is kind. He is merciful. He gives grace. He forgives. He expects us to surrender and obey. He expects us to have faith in Him. He is jealous for us. He likes us to wait on Him. He judges. He saves. And the standard by which He judges and saves is consistent, clear, just – and revealed.
My Journey towards Lordship
My journey with God began even before I know Him or had ever made any prayer to God. I was 13 years old. One day, on my way home, an older teen stopped me and shared Christ with me. Because of that, I missed my bus. Later, I found out that bus got crushed by a huge tree – where my favourite seats were.
I did not “give my life to Christ” then. Not till when I hit 21 years old, where I prayed to “accept Christ as my Saviour” at a rally. I did it half-heartedly to “give God an opportunity” to show me He is true. After saying the sinner’s prayer, I continued to smoke. I had no desire to follow God, to pray or to read His word. I consider this phase of my belief in Christ “exploratory”.
It wasn’t till God gave me a dream that my faith turned “serious”. I stopped smoking.
Nevertheless, I struggled with relationship issues and had difficulties surrendering relationships to God. After months of struggling, I fell and lit up a cigarette from a newly bought pack. God intervened and spoke to me halfway through my smoke. I cried and threw that cigarette away – along with the whole pack and my lighter. I prayed to God to make my faith 100%. He did and at some point, I became fully “convicted” in my faith.
By then, I decided I would put God first regardless of whatever struggles I have, and found that God speaks through my pain and obedience. I never touched cigarettes again. This is when I believe I begin to actively partner God in all He is doing for me and wants to do for me, who then justifies me because of my obedience. I truly became a disciple (Jn 8:31), and I began to know His truth and experience true freedom. I never looked back. God’s word says,
“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” – Jn 8:31-32
The prerequisite for freedom in our soul is to “continue” in Christ’s words. To “continue” means we are already living out His word in the past, and we continue to do so, and we will keep on at it. ONLY IF we do this, Christ says, “then you are truly disciples of Mine.”
Sinner’s prayer begins a process of exploration; don’t stop short of Lordship
Hence, I am more than aware that this is a journey which has an element of pursuit by the King; yet, there needs also a willingness on my part to submit. Throughout the journey, I could turn away, give up on God, as per the parable of the sower:
Seed along the path:Before I decided to “explore” the faith, I was like the seed that fell along the path and the devil took it away. E.g. Despite the bus incident, I didn’t begin my journey with Him. (Luke 8:12)
Seed on the rock:Even after I began “exploring”, I could still fall away in times of testing as I have no root. E.g. I continued to live in deliberate sin, e.g. smoking, even after I had prayed to receive Christ. (Luke 8:13)
Seed among thorns:Evenas I became “serious” in my faith, I could still be choked up by cares, riches and pleasures (Luke 8:14) – and my fruit does not mature – if I do not surrender these idols to Him.
Seed in good soil: But because of God’s great pursuing love, I did decide to surrender to Him and became “convicted” in my faith. From then on, He helped me on hearing His word to keep it – in a good and honest heart. And with patience, I began to bear fruit (Luke 8:15).
Sinners’ Prayer and Salvation – what Christian Leaders should clarify
Therefore, beginning a journey with God isn’t a sign that we have arrived, nor is there scriptural substantiation that one is saved the moment God calls us – and when we respond with the sinners’ prayer. Yes a journey might have been initiated, but this is just the start of a new relationship that we can still choose to close our doors to, though the goal of this journey is that we would become His disciple. (In the first instalment, I explain how discipleship really is about Lordship).
With this laid out, God will judge us attitudinally, and He alone knows whether we are faithful to obey all that He has commanded us (as per Great Commission; Mat 28:20).
That said, I did start out my journey in becoming a disciple with the sinners’ prayer, which began the “exploratory” phase of my Christian faith. Did the “sinners’ prayer” moved me somewhere away from my hardened heart to a closer place to Jesus? The answer is yes. But do I believe I was saved with this prayer? The answer is no. Could I have left the Christian faith at that point? Absolutely.
In fact, I had then declared to my church mates if God still doesn’t reveal Himself to me substantially in a month’s time, I will revert to my previous religion. Regardless of what hyper grace doctrine advocates, God’s grace certainly won’t be able to save me if I had fallen away, even though I had prayed the sinners’ prayer.
But where God’s grace is not applicable yet, God’s love is. God pursued me even before I had believed in Him. God answered me even when I was haughty and proud. God patiently waited for me while I was in sin and reached out to me when I became lost, weak and in need. God loved me unconditionally while I was still wilful. In spite of all this, we retain our free will to love and embrace, or hate and reject Him.
Thankfully, I did decide to become His disciple, which according to Jesus’s definition, is someone who loves Him above everything else. And this is the only time when once saved always saved is applicable. If I truly love God above all things else, wouldn’t that mean I would never ever be swayed away from my King? Literally, it implies that. However, even if true, only Christ knows. For my heart is deceitful. And from my position of man, I know I have to stay alert and watchful, and keep on continuing in His word (Jn 8:31).
But not everyone will end up making Christ as their King in this journey. Scriptures warns that many self professing “Christians” will be surprised when they are turned away by our Lord in the end, for they do not seek His will like how a disciple will.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’– Matt 7:21-23
In closing, while easy-believism and sinner’s prayer are not the essence of Christ’s call for discipleship, it nevertheless, might be a useful step to draw sinners to Him. However, it is imperative that ALL Christian teachers must – even if not at the start, then at least at some point – teach Lordship as the goal for all who are in the journey of knowing God. Ultimately, salvation belongs to God. We can never say for sure when a person is saved. But it is our responsibility to teach wholly and faithfully according to Scriptures. To this end even the great apostle Paul emphatically declares,
“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” – Acts 20:26-27.
Note: This is Part 2 of the Salvation Series by VOW. Part 1 can be found here:
Many Christians no longer see the importance of theology. But it is most important to me. Theology informs practice, and in my years of ministry, I have met too many Christians who don’t know what the gospel is. 95% of Christians (my estimate) do not know that the gospel is about the kingdom of God. Though salvation through Christ is a central theme, it is not the END of the gospel. Salvation is THE MEANS to KINGDOM as the END.
A reduced gospel has led to a church who has lost her mission of Kingdom. Churches largely work today AS IF Church is the END. Again, it is not. Church is the MEANS to KINGDOM as the END. Kingdom is the context of our gospel. If we lose the context, we don’t know what our salvation is for. We don’t understand what church is for.
If Church does not know her mission, how can we be prepared for Christ’s return?
To the end of preparing the Bride of Christ, I have been equipping churches with the Biblical Worldview. Last year, I began to feel a tug that I needed to start writing again. There are many who seeks clarity – truth must be made available to them without restriction. Since Voice of Wilderness‘s mission is to proclaim and reveal God’s heart with clarity, I decide we need a “blog” so I can start writing. I hope truth will benefit you as much as it has flourished me and my family – because that’s the inevitable result of knowing and living out truth.
And perhaps the most important point to clarify, is the place where it all supposedly begins – how are we saved?
The Salvation Debate: Lordship Salvation vs Easy-Believism
In 1988, John MacArthur published his position on salvation in The Gospel According to Jesus. It teaches that submitting to Christ as Lord goes hand-in-hand with trusting in Christ as Savior. Laying out the case for lordship salvation, MacArthur summarises his teaching this way:
“The gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority.”
In other words, a sinner who refuses to repent is not saved, for he cannot cling to his sin and the Savior at the same time. And a sinner who rejects Christ’s authority in his life does not have saving faith, for true faith encompasses a surrender to God.
Thus, the gospel requires more than making an intellectual decision or mouthing a prayer; the gospel is a call to discipleship.
Lordship salvation is the opposite of what is sometimes called easy-believism – the view that one needs only to “believe” in Jesus in order to be saved. Another common usage of easy believism is in reference to those who believe they’re saved because they prayed a prayer – with no real conviction of sin and no real faith in Christ. Praying a prayer is easy, thus the term easy believes. From this, they conclude that no corresponding need exists for those who hold on to sola fide (“faith alone”). (Do not be confused. Being saved by faith alone does not nullify the importance of works. Essentially, while we are NOT saved by works, works IS a reflection of true faith. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” – Jam 2:17; “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. – James 2:24”)
The Scriptural Case for Lordship Salvation
While I had not read John MacArthur’s book, I agree with the position of “Lordship” salvation. I arrived at my position independently – I shall take the rest of this post and the next to explain how. Though it won’t be as thorough as what I do in my worldview equipping talks, it should be sufficient for those who need a scriptural context for this position.
First of all, Lordship salvation isn’t new. Other than John MacArthur, many other notable teachers like David Pawson, David Platt (see video below), Charles Spurgeon believed and implied it through what they preach, write.
David Platt questioning Christian’s dependence on the “sinner’s prayer” as the sign or assurance that we are saved
However, truth must be founded in Scriptures and not men. Yet even scriptures cannot work its effect in you if you don’t approach it with the right heart. By that, I mean we must subject our paradigm to truth. If God makes a point unambiguously, He does not need to repeat Himself in order to be believed; it is as binding as if He had said it a thousand times. If you don’t think you can approach truth with this attitude, it is pointless to continue. You need to address the sinful attitude towards truth first. If you think you are humble enough to be taught by Scriptures, read on.
What does Christ say about discipleship
In Luke 14:26, Jesus exclaimed:
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:26
Many of us struggle with this verse because of the word “hate”. But is Christ really asking us to hate our parents and spouse literally? No of course! The same God has called us to love our spouse: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her – Eph 5:25; and to honour our parents: “Honor your father and mother” – which is the first commandment with a promise – Eph 6:2. God’s word does not self-contradict. Even if we think it has, it is because we are lacking in understanding His Word. So what Christ is really saying here is that we have to place God as our priority, as our first love, such that every other loves are secondary to our love for Him. We cannot(see emphasis in verse 26) be a disciple when we don’t do that.
As if this isn’t clear enough, Jesus went on to give two examples. The first was about a man contemplating if he should build a tower:
“For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” – Luke 14:28-30
The second was about a king going to war with another:
“Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.” – Luke 14:31-32
Both examples stress on the need to deliberate on the cost of following something. If Christ costs you everything, would He still be worth you following?
Jesus reiterates this conclusion once more in the next verse:
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:33 (emphasis mine)
Can I say that up till this point, Jesus is unambiguously clear on the cost of discipleship. TO SURRENDER EVERYTHING SO AS TO FOLLOW CHRIST – or LORDSHIP – is the first step to becoming a disciple of Christ. Either we make this decision, or we CANNOT be His disciple (v26; 33).
The way Christ ended Luke 14 is sobering. Right after He talked about cost of following Him, He immediately brought up the example of salt which lost its saltiness.
“Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” – Luke 14:34
Reading this in context, we have to conclude that Christ is implying that “Christians” who do not surrender all of themselves to Him are like salt without saltiness. And of what use is salt without saltiness? Jesus explains,
“It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” – Luke 14:35
A Christian who is not surrendered to Christ in everything is of no use for the King at all. We see this in Judas, whom despite following the Lord faithfully for most parts of His journey, fell in the end because he did not surrender his love for mammon to God. What we cannot surrender to Him is an idol – and king – of our life. God required Abraham’s full worship when He called him to sacrifice his promised son, Isaac. Christ Himself modelled a fully surrendered life when He prayed to the Father, “yet not my will but Yours be done” – Luke 22:42.
“If Christ is not the Lord of all, He is not the the Lord at all.”
Just “believe” and we will be saved?
However, in Christian culture today, it seems like there is a belief that not all Christians are required to be a disciple. Nominal Christianity is the norm, and many believe that they are saved as long as they have said the sinner’s prayer, and are attending Sunday services religiously. This idea, perpetuated by easy-believism, seems to have its roots in verses that seem to imply – one needs only to mentally “believe” to be saved e.g. John 3:16 which says “whosoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life”. Is such an interpretation correct?
In my study of scriptures, I realised that the original Greek for the word “believe” has a much deeper essence to it. This word, “pisteuo” is a verb, and it is derived from its noun – “pistis“. “Pistis” in Greek means “be persuaded; come to trust”. “Pistis” is translated “faith” in English. When you understand the root word where “pisteuo” comes from, you will see that “pisteuo” presupposes an element of persuasion – such that the persuaded (or the one who now “believes”) holds on to this belief with entrustment; confidence; faith.
Hence, “pisteuo” is not merely an intellectual shift of opinion, but consists of elements that convey to us that believing in Christ MUST BE followed by the compulsion to act according to that which is believed.
The English word, “believe,” on the other hand, is not associated with elements of “persuasion” or “entrustment.” Take for example, one can “believe” mentally that exercise is good for health, but DOESN’T HAVE any compulsion to exercise at all. This is not the same as “pisteuo.” Hence, the English translation “believe” shortchanges the essence of “pisteuo.”
This has allowed some to misinterpret John 3:16 as a substantiation for easy-believism.
Also, many often quote John 3:16 in isolation. But John 3:16 does not exist in isolation. If you read the whole paragraph, four verses down, it becomes quite clear John wasn’t talking about easy-believism.
“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light..But whoever does what is true comes to the light – John 3:20-21.” (emphasis mine)
John was saying to “believe” is not merely to have an intellectual shift of opinion. The practical outworkingof biblical living – to DO what is true – is expected of believers of the light.
And 20 verses down, still within the same Chapter, John 3:36 (ESV) becomes even more pointed:
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (ESV)” – John 3:36
Here, those who “believes” is contrasted with those who “does not obey”. The essence of “pisteuo” clearly stands out. When the bible says “believe” in Christ, it implies that we decide to “obey” Him as well. For Christ is not just our Saviour, but our King.
Does Lordship mean I will never sin again?
The distinction of Lordship salvation is this: Upon believing, our attitudes change from being sin-led, to being King-led.This does not mean we will never sin again, but as we are disciples in Christ, led by Him as our King, provision is made for sin in our weaknesses, as according to Romans 8:1
“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” – Romans 8:1
The context of Romans 8:1 is found in Romans 7, where the great apostle Paul lamented about his sinful flesh, “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (verse 19). Note that Paul does not want to be sin-led. He wants to do good. He wants holiness and righteousness. He wants to be King-led!But he recognises he has a corruptible body which falls again and again to sin. It is in this context of Paul’s inability to overcome his sinful nature that he cried, “Wretched man I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (verse 24) Then he declared in the same breath, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”(verse 25)
What an encouragement! God who calls us into an uncompromising life of Lordship, is in full knowledge of our weaknesses, struggles and inabilities. He has already made provision for our sin, so we can be in victory against condemnation! Such grace is for those who repent of our sin-led attitudes, and decide to be King-led henceforth.
Today, when I lead anyone in prayer to confess Christ as Lord, I make sure I explain to them what Lordship means – how from sin-led, they will need to be King-led henceforth. This attitude means everything to what being a Christian is all about. I explain to them the attitude of Lordship in our hearts is more important than our actual performance – whether we do achieve 100% obedience to the Lord (see additional resource: Kehilanews’ article: The Concept of Sin from a Hebrew Perspective). I explain to them that if their attitudes are such, Christ’s provision of grace will be with them as promised in Romans 8:1. They will not be condemned in their struggle. God’s grace is more than able to help us through. In this, all who believe are empowered to become disciples, and to lead a King-led life.
May we align with truth and be sanctified by His Word. May Christ be exalted as the unrivalled King of our lives today.
Read Part 2: http://vow.sg/once-saved-always-saved-my-journey-towards-lordship/