Thursday, November 19, 2009

Spiritual Formation on the Run

My book, Spiritual Formation on the Run has been selling steadily since it's launch in January this year. Many persons have been blessed by reading it and I am so happy. I pray that the Lord will continue to use the book to touch lives.

2nd print of the books arrived today.

I hope you will support the ministry by buying copies for friends to give as Christmas presents.
I do not receive a single cent from my writing and publishing. The proceeds for this book goes to support the 1st Johor Bahru Boys Brigade's activities.

You can order copies from your local bookstores (it will help me if you ask them to order if they do not have stock), or from me via


Monday, November 09, 2009

Gifts of Healings

Text 1 Cor.12:7-11; James 5:14-18

Sermon Statement

Jesus continues his ministry using signs and wonders through the church today. The giving of spiritual gifts has not ceased. The gifts of healings and prayers of faith are for the healing of the sick. Supernatural healings are rare. God works healing through natural means.


Healing or rather the gifts of healings has generated a lot of interest recently. I shall begin by differentiating healing into (1) spiritual, (2) emotional, and (3) physical or organic. Spiritual healing is in our reconciliation with God through the Cross and allows us to enjoy eternal life with Christ. Emotional healing is when our deep inner emotional wounds are being deal with. Physical or organic healing is healing of diseases that affect our bodies. This is usually the type of healing referred to when people talk about healing. It is also referred to as divine healing, miracles, or signs and wonders. I shall refer to it as ‘supernatural’ healing as opposed to natural healing that takes place with the help of medical treatment. I will define supernatural healing as an extraordinary healing event wrought by God through a human agency, an event that cannot be explained by natural laws and forces. This is a modified definition of miracles given by pastor-theologian John MacArthur in his book, The Charismatic Chaos.

I shall approach this subject from the perspective of a doctor who has been studying the subject of supernatural healing for more than 30 years and I have four whole shelves of books to prove it. I shall also approach it from the perspective of a clinician who deals with life and death situations in the lives of patients for the same period.

We shall approach this subject by asking questions:

(1) Does God heal?

(2) Does God heal today?

(3) How does God heals today?

(1) Does God heal?

The Old Testament shows that God heals either directly or through men. Reproduced below is an interesting list reproduced from pastor-theologian Richard Mayhue, Dean Professor of Theology and Pastoral Ministries, The Masters University from his book, The Healing Promise.

The Old Testament

The Healing Ministry of God Directly

1. Genesis 21:1 – Sarah

2. Genesis 29:31 – Leah

3. Genesis 30:22 – Rachel

4. Exodus 4: 6-7 – Moses

5. 1 Samuel 1:19-20 – Hannah

6. 1 Samuel 6:3 – Philistines

7. 2 Kings 13:21 – unknown man

8. 2 Chronicles 30:20 – Israel

9. Job 42 – Job

The Old Testament

The Healing Ministry of God Through Men

1. Genesis 20:17 -Abimelech, his wife and maids

2. Numbers 12:1-15 – Miriam

3. Numbers 16:41-50 – Israel

4. Numbers 21: 4-9 – Israel

5. Numbers 25: 1-9 – Israel

6. 2 Samuel 24: 1-17 – Israel

7. 1 Kings 13:4-6 – Jeroboam

8. 1 Kings 17: 17-24 – widow’s son

9. 2 Kings 4: 18-37 –Shunammite’s son

10. 2 Kings 5: 1-14 – Naaman

11. 2 Kings 20:1-11 – Hezekiah

From the time of Abraham (about 2200 B.C.) to the time of Isaiah (about 750 B.C.) there are only 20 specific healing incidents.

· Time of Job and Abraham (5)

· Moses (5)

· Samuel (2)

· David to Isaiah (8)

From 750 B.C. there were no recorded healings until the time of Christ. We would have expected more healing incidents in the Old Testament. Using the Synoptic Gospels, there are 29 recorded incidents of Jesus’ healing of individuals and 13 incidents of Jesus’ healing of ‘multitudes.’ Altogether there were 42 healings events.

Dr Brad Burke, in his book, Does God Still Do Miracles? noted the characteristics of Jesus’ healing ministry.

1. Christ healed completely

2. Christ healed immediately

Except for three instances where healing takes a few minutes, all healing takes place instantaneously.

3. Christ healed in public

No healing rallies.

4. Christ healed mostly visible organic disease

5. Christ healed even those without faith

Jesus healed a man of blindness who didn’t even know he is (John 9:25)

JN 9:25 He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

6. Christ healed with a purpose

· To authenticate his claim to be the messiah (John 5:36)

JN 5:36 "I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.

· Show that he has authority to forgive sin (Matt. 9:6-8)

6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7 And the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.

· Prove that his message is from God (Acts 2:22)

AC 2:22 "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.

· Give Glory to God and launch the church (Eph. 2:19-22; John 11:4)

EPH 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

JN 11:4 When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."

· Jesus didn’t heal everyone who was sick (John 5:3-5)

3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"

· Jesus did not heal on demand (Matt.12:38-40)

MT 12:38 Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you."

MT 12:39 He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth

Jesus healed with a purpose. He did not seek to heal everybody he meets.

(2) Does God still heal today?

Because Jesus is unique, there are many respected pastors and theologians who suggested that spiritual gifts ended with the time of the early church. Part of their argument is that signs and wonders appeared at three times in history and during the rest of the time they were not available. John Piper quoted a respected popular pastor, who says,

According to Scripture, miracles or signs and wonders occurred in three major periods: the days of Moses and Joshua, the time of Elijah and Elisha, and the time of Christ and the apostles. Each of these periods lasted something less than one hundred years, but in each period there was a proliferation of miracles. Miracles were the norm. God can interject Himself into the stream of history supernaturally any time He wishes. But it seems that He chose to limit Himself essentially to these three periods.

In each of these periods God allows signs and wonders to show his power and glory. Now that the church has been established, there is no longer need for signs and wonders and the Holy Spirit has cease giving out spiritual gifts.

While some argued that gifts ended with the times of the apostles, there are others who argued that it ended with the final canon of the New Testament when the full revelation of God has been given.

Some of these pastors and theologians include

· John Calvin

· Martin Luther

· John Owen

· Jonathan Edwards

· George Whitefield

· Charles Spurgeon

· Benjamin Warfield

· John MacArthur

Personally I am not convinced that miracles or signs and wonders ended with the apostolic age.

In John 14:12 Jesus said

12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

“these” means the miracles that Jesus has been doing. This implies that Jesus sees continuity between himself and his disciples. There is continuity between Jesus’ ministry and the church’s ministry. And how will he ensure that? Jesus will send the Holy Spirit who will give spiritual gifts (John 14:16-17)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

The Holy Spirit or Counselor will equip the church with spiritual gifts so that the church may manifest signs and wonders. Again, like Jesus, the manifestation of signs and wonders is to bring glory to the Father and not for individual gain.

(3) How does God heals today?

1. Spiritual Gifts

What are Spiritual Gifts for?

1 Cor 12:7-11

1CO 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

The different spiritual gifts listed are:

· Gift of wisdom

· Gift of knowledge

· Gift of faith

· Gifts of healing

· Gift of miraculous power

· Gift of prophecy

· Gift of distinguishing between spirits

· Gift of tongues

· Gift of interpretation of tongues

There are many more spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. Note that these spiritual gifts or manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good of the community of faith or the church.

Jesus continues his ministry using signs and wonders through the church today. The giving of spiritual gifts has not ceased. The gifts of healing and ‘prayer of faith’ are for the sick.

Later in 1Cor 12:12-26, Paul uses the analogy of a human body to show how the parts fit together and how each part is essential to the proper functioning of the body.

Each gift is independent of each other but interdependent on one another. Paul goes on to say in 1 Cor 12:27-28 thus emphasizing the uniqueness of each gift and the important role each gift have to the church.

1CO 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

The Holy Spirit “he gives them to each one, just as he determines” meaning that gifts are given. We may ask for it but it is the Spirit who decides who to give his gifts to.

Can we heal ‘supernaturally’ as Jesus does?

Here are some of John Piper’s comments “Jesus was the embodiment of the kingdom. He was the King. His demonstration of the kingdom was unique. Believers may do the kind of works he did (John 14:12), but there will always remain a uniqueness about the way he did them. And we should not assume that our demonstration of the kingdom and Jesus' demonstration of the kingdom will be the same.”

For example, when Jesus turned the water into wine, John says, "This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory" (John 2:11). And that glory John tells us is the glory as of the only Son of the Father (John 1:14). Therefore I think it is wrong to say that the signs and wonders wrought by Jesus are simply the work of a Spirit-filled man that we can copy in the same measure if we will only be Spirit-filled. John said that when Jesus demonstrated power he did it in a way that manifested his glory. There was an inseparable connection between the signs of Jesus and the glorious Sonship of Jesus.

Therefore the gifts of healing we receive from the Spirit may not be similar to those which Jesus manifested. The gifts of prophecy we receive are different from the gift of prophecy of the Old Testament prophets. And Jesus did not speak in tongues nor interpret tongues.

Can we interpret the gifts of healing to the supernatural healing done by Jesus?

This is an important question because it will impact how we understand the role of healing in the church and in the healing ministries. This is especially relevant in our understanding of ‘miracle’ rallies and ‘healing’ houses.

In the NIV it is translated as “gifts of healing” but in the NKJ and NASB it is translated as “gifts of healings.”

Pentecostal New Testament scholar Gordon Fee in his commentary The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT) notes that the gifts of healings,

Probably this language reflects two things: (a) The use of charisma itself suggests that the “manifestation” is given not to the person who is healed, but to the person God uses for the healing of another, (b) the plural charismata probably suggest not a permanent “gift” as it were, but that each occurrence is a “gift” in its own right. (p.594)

Pastor John Piper concur and notes, “the phrase "gifts of healings" (two plurals) in 1 Corinthians 12:9 and 28 suggests rather that at different times for different sicknesses God gives to different people different "gifts of healings."

Therefore the gifts of healings is not a permanent gift but given by the Holy Spirit specifically for certain people at certain time. This call into question people who claim to be faith healers and have a permanent gift of healing to heal all type of diseases.

In other words, you might find yourself drawn to pray for one person with remarkable, expectant faith and see that person healed, but then pray for others and not experience that same gift.” Obviously this is different from Jesus’ healing ministry which is supernatural in nature.

If the gifts of healings are different from Jesus’ type of supernatural healing, so does supernatural healings still occurs?

I have been searching for 30 years and I have yet to come across a single case of what I call supernatural healing - an extraordinary healing event wrought by God through a human agency, an event that cannot be explained by natural laws and forces. I have been asking my oncologist friends to inform me if they come across any cases that they are satisfied is a supernatural healing and cannot be explained away by medical sciences. None. Two years ago I was invited by a Christian Doctor Organisation to attend a meeting in Sweden to present certified cases of supernatural healing. I did not attend because I did not have any cases to report.

Dr Brad Burke in his book, Does God Still Do Miracles? suggests only one patient whom he suspect may be supernaturally healed by God. He personally investigated Benny Hinn’s crusades and interviewed Benny Hinn.

He wrote to Dr Paul Brand, a pioneer in hand surgery with leprosy patients in India and Paul replied in his extensive experience, he has not come across a single patient that he can claimed to be supernaturally healed. Another doctor who shares Dr Brand’s view is C. Everett Koop, former Surgeon-General of the United States.

American surgeon, Dr Nolen investigated Kathryn Kuhlman’s claims by her healing ministries but could not come up with any documented cases. He volunteered to be an usher in her crusade. He wrote a book about this – Healing, A Doctor in Search of a Miracle.

Lourdes in France is a pilgrimage place for healing. Since 1858 there have been many claims of supernatural healings. Every year five million people visited the shrine to the Virgin Mary for healing. The Roman Catholic Church set up a medical board to examine these claims. Out of 6,000 healings claims, only 66 were authenticated by the doctors on the board. It is interesting to note that in the last forty years (where about 20 millions people have visited), there are only 4 confirmed claims. Does this means that the claims decrease as medical science improves?

What I am trying to show here is that God still heals supernaturally. I strongly believe that God still heals supernatural. However I am of the opinion that he prefers to use other ‘natural’ ways of healing. Supernatural healings occurs but very rarely.

What happens during a faith-healing service?

· Incredible optimism

· The ‘battlefield anesthesia’ effect

· Power of suggestion

· Clearing the mind

· Strong desire to please

All this may contribute to the many testimonies of healing we hear about.

Like all spiritual gifts, the temptation for self-glorification and making the gift their “god” is very strong. We all have heard stories of abuses. Those who have the gift or gifts of healing and have developed a fruitful healing ministry is especially vulnerable. Like all ministry leaders they are prone to fall. Satan will like nothing better than to see a leader fall. Satan can also produce counterfeit healings. The danger signs are when the ‘gifted healer’ exhorts their gift over the Giver.

  • They begin to see themselves as the key to their ministry.
  • They add or reinterpret the bible to fit their experiences while giving lip service to God.
  • They regard medical doctors as agents of the Satan.

Will everyone be healed?

Paul provides an example in his life. He is able to heal

  • the crippled man in Lystra (Acts 14:10)
  • many people in Ephesus (Acts 19:12)
  • demonized girl in Philippi (Acts 16:18)
  • Eutychus (Acts 20:9-10)

Paul was not able to heal

  • His thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:8-9)
  • His sickness in Galatia (Gal.4: 13-14)
  • Timothy of his stomach problems (1 Tim. 5:23)
  • Epaphrodicus - life threatening illness (Phil.2:26-27)
  • Trophimus (2 Tim.4:20)

Paul, however, did not elaborate further about the types of gifts of healing. Whenever we receive a sense that we need to pray for the healing of someone, we should follow that prompt and pray. It is a gift and those who have the gifts should use it.

Is the Gift of Tongues essential to the Gifts of Healing?

The gift of tongue is the most exciting and enticing of the spiritual gifts and the Corinthians had taken to it with much gusto. This led Paul to comment on it in details in 1 Cor 14:1-18.

1CO 14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.

1CO 14:6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

1CO 14:13 For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say "Amen" to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.

1CO 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Note that no where did Paul link the gift of tongues to the gifts of healing. Each has their specific role as Paul notes in 1 Cor 12: 28

28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

2. Prayers of faith

It is worth noting that James did not call for people with healing gifts in James 5:14-18. Did you ever ask why not? Why call for the elders? I believe there is another element for healing in our churches, that of prayer.

James 5:14-18

JAS 5:13 Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

There are three types of prayers here:

· Praying for ourselves (v.13)

· Praying for the sick (v.14, 15)

· Praying for one another other (v.16)

Paul goes on to reassure us that God listens to prayer. He uses the example of Elijah as “a man just like us” (James 5:17). By his prayers Israel suffered a three and a half year drought. And also by his prayers, the rain came.

It is interesting to note that James writes “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well” (James 5:15a). A ‘prayer in faith’ seems to be a condition for healing. I will like to suggest that the key for an effective prayer for healing is a gift of faith that God will heal this person. This leads us back to 1 Cor 12:9. and spiritual gifts.

John Piper notes,

“It seems to me that what we have in Mark 11:23-24 and 1 Corinthians 12:9 and 13:2 and James 5:15 is an unbroken line of teaching about a gift of faith that enables a person to pray a completely assured prayer because God has given extraordinary assurance. This is why the "prayer of faith" in James 5:15 WILL heal the sick person. It is certain because this faith is God's special gift of assurance about what he intends to do.”

Note that the faith required is that of the elders and not the person prayed for. Many persons who did not receive healing get a dose of bad theology by being told that they do not have enough faith.

3. Community of believers

An important component of healing is the loving fellowship of a community of Christians.

Paul continues his teaching on spiritual gifts in 1 Cor. 12 and 13.

1CO 12:14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

1CO 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1CO 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But eagerly desire the greater gifts.

And now I will show you the most excellent way.

1CO 13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

He uses the metaphor of a body to describe the community of Christ. He talks about foot, hand, eyes, head and how each need each other and is integral to the survival of the body. Then he brings in the spiritual gifts as equivalent to the organs of the body. Finally he ties it together with the word ‘love.’

Our bodies are created to be self healing. It is a wonderful creation. So the community of Christ is also healing. The powerful of healing comes from love. Love manifested as care and concern for one another as described in 1 Cor. 13.

4. Improvement in healthcare

It is not a lack of faith to see to seek medical help when you are sick. Nowhere in the Bible were we forbidden to seek the services of doctors. God who created our wonderful bodies also created the natural laws that heal these bodies. Doctors, nurses, pharmacist and other healthcare professionals are only using these natural laws created by God to help in our healings.

John R. Rice observes in Healing in Answer to Prayers,

“God can save a sinner without use of any human aid, but certainly He does not usually do so. If God can use a man, with consecrated wisdom and love and skill in winning a soul, why should he not use a doctor, a pharmacist, or a nurse with their consecrated skill in healing the sick?”

That is an important point. God uses people to evangelise or share the gospel. S why not in doing his work of healing of bodies?

I believe that God is still healing people today. I believe that he can intervene supernaturally. However he chose not to but allow healing through the principles of natural laws that he has created.

Lessons for us

(1) Jesus’ ministry of signs and wonders continues to this day (by his church)

(2) The ministry of signs and wonders glorifies God alone

(3) The Holy Spirit equips different people with different spiritual gifts

(4) We should seek for spiritual gifts

(5) Those with the gifts of healing should exercise their spiritual gifts

(6) We should all pray for the sick

(7) Those who are sick should also see a medical doctor (who utilize the natural laws of God’s creation)

(8) God is sovereign

Closing hymn: Our God Reigns

Soli Deo Gloria

8 November 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Thou Shalt not Commit Adultery

Text: Exodus 20:14

Sermon Statement
Adultery is bad for you and your marriage

In 1631, someone discovered an omission in the hot-off- the-press King James Version of the Bible. The omission has to do with one word in the seventh Commandment. The 1631 King James Version of Exodus 20:14 read ‘Thou shalt commit adultery.’ The little word ‘not’ had been omitted! Archbishop Laud, leader of the Church of England was so enraged by this mistake that he fined the printers £300, which was a lifetime’s income then. From that time onwards, the 1631 edition of the King James Version of the Bible became known as ‘The Wicked Bible.’ Now check your Bible by turning to Exodus 20:14.

Exodus 20:14 is one of The Ten Commandments (20:1-17 pp—Dt 5:6-21)

Ex 20:1 And God spoke all these words:
Ex 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
(1) Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
(2) Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
(3) Ex 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
(4) Ex 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(5) Ex 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
(6) Ex 20:13 “You shall not murder.
(7) Ex 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.
(8) Ex 20:15 “You shall not steal.
(9) Ex 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
(10) Ex 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

The Webster Dictionary defines adultery as ‘voluntary sexual intercourse of a married man with a woman other than his wife or of a married woman with a man other than her husband.’

In 1988 Christianity Today, a Christian magazine started by Billy Graham and others conducted a poll of its readers. The results are:
• 23% of its readers has have extramarital intercourse
• 45% has done something that they considered is sexually inappropriate.
• Readers of Christianity Today are considered committed evangelical Christians
Most of its readers are in North America. I wonder what the results will be if we do a similar poll among Christians in Malaysia?

In today’s sermon, I shall deal with the following;
1. What is wrong with adultery?
2. What are the roots of adultery?
3. How do we prevent adultery?
4. How do we deal with adultery as God’s people?

1. What is wrong with adultery?

a. The sacredness of marriage
When God formed Adam and Eve, our first parents, he initiated the marriage relationship, a relationship in which ‘a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (Gen. 2:24, NIV).

In Matthew 19:5–6 Jesus quotes this verse from Genesis, and states that it is the Creator who has made the pronouncement. Then Jesus adds, ‘So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate’ (NRSV). The ‘one flesh’ relationship of marriage involves a joining together of the man and the woman at all levels, social, economic, emotional, and physical. Adultery is the violation of this one-flesh relationship, the intrusion of an outsider into the total, unique and exclusive commitment which husband and wife are to have to each other.

Marriage is the basic building unit of a society. A marriage will produce children so a family is formed. These children grow up and marry. A community is formed, then a clan, a tribe and then a nation. Social studies have shown that societies that build strong marriages and families thrive. Broken marriages produce broken children and social disorder.

b. The marriage covenant
Christians are a covenant people so we should be familiar with covenant. A covenant is like a contract. As God has made a covenant with us, in a marriage, the man and woman have made a covenant with each other. This is a serious covenant, often known as the marriage vows. In a Christian wedding, this vow is made publicly so that God and members of the congregation are witnesses.

c. Issue of trust
Adultery is also an expression of disloyalty to the marriage partner, to whom alone one is to be united through sexual encounter: ‘she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant … do not break faith with the wife of your youth’ (Mal. 2:14–15, NIV).

In most places where the word ‘adultery’ is used, it refers to a physical act. However, Jesus also applied the term (Matt. 5:27–28) to the thought and intent of the heart. The act of adultery most frequently results from allowing an illicit attraction to move from thought into action, and Jesus identifies the lustful look as the beginning of the sin. That first step, the lustful mental dalliance, is in itself disloyalty to one’s spouse. The sin of adultery begins in the mind and heart (Matt. 15:19; Mark 7:21); adultery usually takes place because, to use Jeremiah’s vivid picture (5:8), people are like ‘well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife’, or another woman’s husband. Job (31:1–12) recognized the temptation which results from letting one’s eyes and imagination linger upon the sexual attractiveness of another person (Prov. 6:23–29). And 2 Peter 2:14, possibly in an allusion to the words of Jesus, speaks of those who have ‘eyes full of adultery’.

d. Sexual union
‘Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit’ 1 Corinthians 6:19. on v.18, Paul says “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”
Sexual intercourse is not just a physical act. It is also an emotional and spiritual act. It involves joining to two bodies and souls. Adultery is destructive because it of its physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions.

2. What are the roots of adultery?

Adultery does not occur suddenly. Though most divorces cited adultery as the cause, the marriage is usually in trouble long before the adultery occurs.

a. Breakdown in marriage
Marriage breaks down because married couples do not work at it. We work hard at our jobs building relationships and networking. We work hard in church building and mending relationships with each others. We put priorities in these relationships and work at it. Yet, how many of us can honestly say we work hard at building relationship with our spouses.
Newly married couple,
Husband: “Darling, may I have a glass of water?”
Wife: “Sure, sweetheart, let me get it for you”
After one year of marriage,
Husband: “Darling, may I have a glass of water?”
Wife: “Okay, but let me finishing wiping the table first”
After five years of marriage,
Husband: “Darling, may I have a glass of water?”
Wife: “Get it yourself!”

b. Romantic notion of love
Most of us grow up with fairy tales that ends with the prince and the princess living ‘happily ever after.’ Ever heard of a fairy tale that ends with living ‘unhappily ever after.’ Then in our adolescence we are exposed to the Hollywood type of love. Boy meet girl or girl meet boy. Fell in love at first sight. They meet obstacles but overcome it against incredible odds. Then they lived happily ever after. The boy or man looks incredible handsome and the girl or woman incredibly beautiful. Unlike 90% of people on this planet. Or in Bollywood where they dance around a coconut tree. There is always a tree and always plenty of people dancing. Even when they are alone in a desert! We are feed on a diet of romantic love and we expect this romantic love in our marriage. Unfortunately we discovered that it is not so in real life.

c. Covenant people- commitment and responsibility
Marriage is about love but not romantic love. When the Bible uses the word love, it does not refer to a feeling but to a commitment and a responsibility. Paul gave good advice in Ephesians 6: 22-28
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing a her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (NIV)

Wives, submission is not to be a doormat and let your husband step on you. Submission is to be a co-partner and helpmate to your husbands.

Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the church. Note, as Christ loved the church. The church has not been always nice, clean and loving. The church is often selfish, nasty, smelly, unforgiving and hostile. Yet Christ loved the church. So husbands are also called to love their wives even when they are selfish, nasty, smelly, unforgiving and hostile. Tough job. So much for romantic love and coconut trees.

3. How do we prevent adultery?

a. Work hard to maintain your marriage
Married couples, the most important person in your life is your spouse. Not your children. Not your elders. Not your cat. Your children are a gift from God. They will be around for about 18 years. Then they leave home, go to university and you have an empty nest. They come back for a while and then get married and leave. They only come back to ask you to be their baby sitters. In the end, there is only your spouse.

Maintaining a marriage
• Remember birthdays and wedding anniversaries
• Talk to one another
• Listen
• Do little things to show that you care
• Learn to Forgive and not keep score
• Keep sexually active

b. Avoiding crossing the line of ‘more than a friend’ with the opposite sex
A marriage break down when there is communication breakdown. When communication breaks down, there is often frustration. “My wife/husband does not understand me.” Then along come a SYT (sweet young thing), often someone we work with who seems to listen and understands us. So we become good friends. We begin to enjoy each other’s company and begin to spend more time together. By then red flags should be flying all around.

Watch out for the danger signs
• You think of the person more than you think of your spouse
• You wish your spouse is more like that person
• You begin to fantasies about a sexual encounter

Flee from temptation
• Break up the relationship
• Be honest
• Never be alone with the person
• Never initial physical contact. Hard to stop.

c. Accountability
Every married couple in church should belong to a small group. In a small group, there are more opportunities to build relationship. Everyone should have a spiritual friend you can talk to – of the same sex. If you cannot find one, ask God to send you one. Everyone in church should be aware of the red flags and danger signals in married couples. Leaders and persons gifted with the counseling gifting should be available to troubled marriages. If necessary, seek marriage counseling before adultery occurs.

4. How do we deal with adultery as God’s people?

Illustration: Shock Treatment For Unfaithful Husband as reported in Christian Victory
An unfaithful husband reportedly has been cured of his infidelity by electric shock treatments. The treatment was administered by two psychiatrists in a London hospital, who reported the experience in an issue of Pulse, an English medical journal.

The psychiatrists showed the guilty man (Mr. “X”) colored pictures of his wife and mistress alternately on a screen in a darkened room, for 30 minutes each day for six days. When his mistress’ picture was flashed on the screen the unfaithful husband received a 70-volt electric shock on the wrist. When his wife’s pictures appeared, a tape recording told him of the harm he was doing to her and to their marriage by the affair he was having with his neighbor’s wife. The unfaithful husband had been married for ten years, and his adulterous relationship had gone on for two years before he sought help.

a. Avoid it like the plague
b. Accountability
c. Confession, repentance and reconciliation
d. Church discipline

Gordon MacDonald was a success. He wrote several best-selling books. He lectured throughout the country. He was pastor of a large evangelical church in Lexington, Mass., until he left to take over the $200 million World Vision Christian relief agency. He parlayed that post into the presidency of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, one of the nation's largest collegiate missionary organizations.

MacDonald left his job at Grace Chapel in 1987 after publicly admitting adultery with little hope of returning. For two years, he went through a "restoration process" much like the one he outlined for President Clinton, supervised by the elders of Grace Chapel. MacDonald outlines the restoration process in "Rebuilding Your Broken World" who prescribes a course of reflection, confession and change that requires time, discipline and, perhaps most important, a separation from daily duties. In 1993, after a contentious vote, the congregation took him back. The church's elders invited him back then in recognition of MacDonald's successful completion of his spiritual probation.

The offer split the church's members: Most believed bringing MacDonald back would be the ultimate expression of forgiveness, but a large minority argued that their minister had forfeited his claim to leadership. Some members left the church after losing the vote in which MacDonald was rehired by a 3-to-1 margin.

MacDonald’s adultery was damaging and painful to many people.

Adultery was the second most commonly mentioned theme in the Bible. The most common theme is the prohibition of idolatry. It was such an important issue that God gave it as a commandment. The reason is that its damages the sacred institution of marriage. Adultery is a bad thing. May God have mercy.

Soli Deo Gloria

picture source

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The World's Greatest Mum

How to be the Worlds’ Greatest Mum

Sermon Statement

Seven principles of how to be the world’s greatest mother


Mother is a role not a title. Unless you belong to convent and they appoint you in a supervisory role and give you a title like Mother Teresa, motherhood is a role. What this means is that motherhood is not limited to those who have biological children. It applies to all those who function as the role of mother to children, teenagers and even adults. Note Jesus with his dying breath commits his mother Mary to the care of John the disciple. Mary became John’s mother. Thus mother in this sermon refers to anyone who takes on the role of a mother – a biological mother, a step-mother, adopted children, a guardian, a god-mother, a grandmother or a single parent. All these may be properly called mothers and today I shall teach you how to be the world’s greatest mother.

There are seven principles of how to be the world’s greatest mum. They will say of you as the woman in Proverbs 31

PR 31:28a Her children arise and call her blessed;

1. Don’t be a kiasu person

From the Wikipedia
“Kiasu (Traditional Chinese: 驚輸; POJ: kiaⁿ-su) is a Hokkien (a Chinese spoken variant) word that literally means 'fear of losing' (Mandarin Chinese 怕輸). However its actual usage would imply a meaning more approaching that of "dog in a manger", and yet not quite. Examples of kiasu behaviour includes accumulating too much food on one's plate during a buffet lunch in case there is no more later, or joining a queue many days in advance just to ensure that one successfully gets hold of the limited free tickets to events, promotions and shows such as Singapore's annual National Day Parade.

This word is so widely used by Singaporeans and Malaysians that it is incorporated into their English vocabulary (in the form of Singlish). It is often used in describing the social attitudes of people, especially about South East Asian society and its values. Its widespread use is often because these attitudes are common—to not lose out in a highly competitive society (e.g. by above-cited examples), or to the extent of parents imposing heavy study labour on their children in their wish to make them at the very top of all other students. Growing up with this attitude, these students often become ambitious businesspeople, with the desire to be on top in wealth and prestige regardless of whether the most prestigious careers are aligned with their true capabilities.

It is often perceived as part of Ah Beng culture.
The word kiasu was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2007”

a. Kiasuism is self-centeredness

One prime example of kiasuism is running to head of buffet queue so as to get the top choice of the food on the table
• piling your plates full of oysters, lobsters and other expensive seafood
• taking more than you can eat because you have paid for it

Kiasuism is basically saying I want what is rightfully mine and I don’t care about you

b. Kiasu mothers produce kiasu children

One incident I always remember is when one of my daughters was still in secondary school in Johor Bahru. She and one of her classmate were tied for the first position in class with the same marks. This classmate’s mother went to see the teachers and when the results were released; her daughter was in the first position beating my daughter by half a mark. Where did this half mark come from I never did find out because we did not bother to go to the school to make a ruckus. The irony was compounded when she brought her daughter to see me because she was sick. At the end of the consultation, the mother has the audacity to ask for a discount!

Thank God, my daughter did not take that incident to heart. Both of them actually went together to Trinity College in Melbourne to do their foundation course. Unfortunately, away from her mother, this child mixed with bad company. She did so badly that she had to repeat a few of her courses.

Mothers are a model for their children. Kiasu mothers produces kiasu children.

c. Kiasu uses the culture of shame

Some mothers uses shame to get their children to behave.

“Why can’t you be a good as Auntie Janice’s son?”

Instead of telling the child what is the right way to do things, they say compare their child to other people’s children and ask why they cannot behave like them.

“Mummy will be very unhappy if you do that”

This implies that if the child do not do what their mother wanted, they are failing or shaming their mother.

The lesson children learned from this way of teaching by shame is that love is conditional to the mother not be shamed. They therefore have to behave well not because it is the right thing to do but to avoid shaming the mother.

2. Speak the five love languages of children

Prov 3:1-6
PR 3:1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,

PR 3:2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you prosperity.

PR 3:3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.

PR 3:4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

PR 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;

PR 3:6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Psychologist Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell discovered that we need to show our children we love them by using love languages that they understand. Their book, The Five Love Languages of Children (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1997) is worth reading. Mothers need to “fuel” their emotional tank with love.

These are:

a. Physical touch
i. Infants and toddlers
ii. School-age child
iii. Adolescent

b. Words of Affirmation
i. Words of affection and endearment
ii. Words of praise
iii. Words of encouragement
iv. Words of Guidance

c. Quality time
i. Being together
ii. Positive eye contact
iii. Sharing thoughts and feelings

d. Gifts
i. Grace of giving
ii. Distorted gift giving
iii. Meaningful gift giving

e. Acts of service
i. You should do for your children what they cannot do for themselves
ii. Loving service

f. Discover your child’s primary love language

3. Don’t expect instant results

EPH 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

COL 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

a. Repeat, repeat, repeat

b. Set appropriate boundaries

c. Behavioural modification
i. Positive reinforcement
ii. Negative reinforcement
iii. Punishment
1. punishment fits the crime
2. immediate
3. not out of anger

d. Age appropriate teaching

e. Teach them to learn

4. Be and teach gratefulness

Col 3:16, 17
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

a. Be grateful yourself: children are a gift of God

PS 127:3a Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.

b. Teach gratefulness

5. Learn to let go

Proverb 22: 6

PR 22:6 Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

a. Be ready to let go

One of the more difficult things for a mother to do is to let their children go. As when a child is learning to walk, there will come a time when you have to let go and let him or her walk alone. The child will fall and fall and fall. However, one day he or she will be able to walk alone without help. The difficulty is for mothers to let go.

b. Develop spiritual and social immunity

Sometimes I think Christian mothers (and fathers) especially tend to be overprotective of their children. Afraid of the evil influence of the outside world, they keep their children in an artificial cocoon. Some of them even opt for home schooling to protect their children. They over-control the books they read, the television and movies they watch and their internet access. Here I may clarify that I am not saying we do not exert some control over our children media exposure. What I am saying is that some Christian parents over-control and that is a sign that they do not trust God and their children enough to let go.

The danger of this is that their children are not streetwise. They have not developed the social techniques of dealing with evil or undesirable influences. They do not have spiritual and social immunity. That may be the reason why so many Christian children rebel against Christianity when they leave home. Nowadays they leave home after their form five to do foundation or pre-university courses away from home. These children are totally unprepared to handle the outside world because they have been so protected in their Christian homes.

c. Cut the umbilical cord

I have a doctor friend of mine who is a specialist. He is married with children. His mother, who has a house in Skudai, however stays with him. Everyday, his mother will serve his breakfast, lunch and dinner. His mother forbade his wife to do that, saying she has been looking after his son for more than forty years and will continue to do so until she dies.

6. Walk in the faith

Deu 11: 18-21

18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 20 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, 21 so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

a. Most of our faith is caught not taught

This Deuteronomy passage teaches enculturation. Enculturation is teaching the faith by total immersion. Instead of a set of rules to be memorised, the children are actually introduced to the faith by seeing it being lived out and also living it out themselves.

b. Routine, rituals and telling of Truths

Part of the process of enculturation is have certain consistent routine like family prayers, saying grace before food and reading the Bible together. Then rituals such as going to church service, Holy Communion, acts of service are incorporated. Finally, interpretation of Biblical teachings at the level of the understanding of children must be done at the family level.

7. Stay close to the Source

John 15: 5
JN 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

a. Living a life in Christ

b. Prayers

c. Bible


The seven principles to be the world’s greatest mum are:
1. Don’t be a kiasu person
2. Speak the five love languages of children
3. Don’t expect instant results
4. Be and teach gratefulness
5. Learn to let go
6. Walk in the faith
7. Stay close to the source

Soli Deo Gloria

10 May 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Famous Last Words on Good Friday

The last seven sentences of Jesus Christ

Sermon Statement

Jesus’ famous last words revealed who he is and what he had done for us – God incarnate and the penal substitution for our sins


The climax of the passion week started in Gethsemane when Jesus agonized with God over what he is to do. Finally he surrendered in obedience and took the path to the cross.

  • Jesus was betrayed and arrested
  • Jesus before the Sanhedrin (and Peter’s denial)
  • Jesus delivered to Pilate
  • The trial before Pilate
  • Jesus before Herod
  • Pilate declares Jesus innocent
  • Jesus or Barabbas?
  • The scourging and mockery
  • Pilate delivers Jesus to be crucified
  • The road to Golgotha
  • Jesus derided on the cross
  • the two thieves
  • The death of Jesus
  • Jesus’ side pierced
  • The burial of Jesus

In the synoptic gospels, it was recorded that Jesus uttered seven sentences while he was dying, crucified on the cross. It was often said that the last words or dying words are often the accumulated wisdom of a person’s lifetime. These seven sentences are his last words. What can we learn from them? These sentences are not in any particular order because we do not know when he said them.

The First Sentence

Luke 23:33-34 -- "Forgive them, Father! They know not what they do."

In this time of pain and suffering, it is striking that the first “sentence” of Jesus from the cross is of forgiveness. Who is ‘them’ that needed forgiveness? Peter later explained that though it was the Jewish and Roman leaders which crucified Jesus, they acted out of ignorance because they did not know he is the Messiah. He also explained that this happened because God planned it - the ‘them’ that need forgiveness is every single one of us (Acts 3:17-18).

As we take time to reflect upon the forgiveness Christ offers to each and every one of us through his sacrifice, may we not forget to forgive one another. If Jesus is willing to forgive those who crucified him then we should also be willing to forgive others who had hurt us.

The Second Sentence

Luke 23:39-43 -- "I tell you this: Today you will be in Paradise with me."

The second sentence is of grace. Jesus did not promise only that the crucified man would be in Paradise, but that he would be with Jesus in Paradise. So the thief, who is a sinner, received grace which he did not deserve. Grace was freely given. If we know that, beyond this life, we’ll be with Christ, then we need not fear. The grace of Christ cannot be earned. It is given freely to all.

The Third Sentence

John 19:25-27 -- "Woman, here is your son."

Jesus is entrusting the care of his mother to John so that she will be well looked after when he is gone. It is heart warming to note that Jesus still thinks of his mother’s welfare in this moment of excruciating pain.

As we reflect upon the meaning of Christ’s death, Mary’s presence at the cross reminds us that God is deeply involved in the human drama that we are daily living. It reveals a God that is caring in the smallest details of our lives.

The Fourth Sentence

Mark 15: 33-34 -- "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani

Jesus quoted from Psalm 22:1 as he is being crucified. In his moment of greatest anguish Jesus drew upon the Psalms to express how he felt. Jesus isn’t simply a man crying out to God as he is being tortured. This is also the divine Son of God crying out to God the Father. Through the fourth sentence from the cross we enter into the essence of Christ’s sacrifice. God is forsaking his Son in that he is allowing Jesus to bear the sin of the world. God is regarding his Son as if he were sin itself!

The Fifth Sentence

John 19:28 -- "I thirst."

The thirst of Jesus reminds us that he is human like the rest of us. He feels pain and he is thirsty. Jesus had to be fully human in order to save humans from sin and death. Because he is human, Jesus understands our weaknesses and our sufferings.

The Sixth Sentence

John 19:29-30 -- "It is finished."

What is finished? Jesus is dying. With his death, Jesus knew his passion will be over. His time of pain and suffering on the cross is finished. On another level, Jesus is proclaiming that God’s great plan for salvation has been completed. The penalty for human sin has been paid. The gap between sinful humanity and a holy God has been bridged by the sinless Son of God who was fully God and fully human. Now, because of what Jesus has done, we can be reconciled to God and be saved from eternal damnation.

The Seventh Sentence

Luke 23:46 -- "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!"

Jesus again quoted from the Psalms. By quoting from Psalm 31, Jesus is not only entrusting his spirit to God, but also affirming his ultimate trust in God, even the God who has laid upon him the sin of the world. It is affirming that in spite of all that has happened, Jesus still uses the word, Abba/Father to show the close relationship they have.

As we meditate on the seven last sentences of Jesus of Nazareth during this Lenten season, let us again be reminded of forgiveness, of grace, of care and concern, of sacrifice, of being human, of the completeness of God’s plan of redemption and of our trust in God.

(1) Luke 23:33-34 -- "Forgive them, Father! They know not what they do." (forgiveness)

(2) Luke 23:39-43 -- "I tell you this: Today you will be in Paradise with me." (grace)

(3) John 19:25-27 -- "Woman, here is your son." (care and concern)

(4) Mark 15: 33-34 -- "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (sacrifice)

(5) John 19:28 -- "I thirst." (humanity)

(6) John 19:29-30 -- "It is finished." (redemption)

(7) Luke 23:46 -- "Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit!" (trust)

Soli Deo Gloria