Afterthoughts

Only personal ideas about general things, spiritual or secular. A keepsake of some realizations I especially encountered in my student-life.


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When John failed

In the past I shared about how John the baptist came to be a wonderful pattern in living a life that is an anti-testimony in that age who became the turning point of the Old Testament Age into the New Testament Age. As he ended the dispensation of the law and the prophets, he started the dispensation of grace, preaching the gospel of repentance. From this we can see that his ministry was to introduce men to Christ that Christ might become their Redeemer, their life, and their all. Indeed, he was a forerunner of Christ to pave the way for Christ and introduce Christ.

Despite this, some of Johns disciples have deviated from John’s goal of bringing them to Christ. In John 3 (vs. 26), we can see that his disciples were perplexed as to why John was baptizing while there is another Man who was also baptizing. His answer was quite impressive. John said,

28 You yourselves testify of me that I said, aI am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.

29 aHe who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices with joy because of the bridegroom’s voice. This joy of mine therefore is made full.

30 He must 1increase, but I must decrease.

It seems that he knows very well that Jesus is the Christ. But when he was thrown into prison, John came to doubt whether the Lord Jesus was really the Christ. This is seen in Mattew 11:2-3 and Luke 7:19-20. In response to this, the Lord said,

Blessed is he who is not 1astumbled because of Me.

John might have been stumbled by the fact that he wasn’t delivered by the Lord. The footnotes on verse 23 of Luke 7 says,

231 When it looks as if the Lord will not act on our behalf, we are blessed if we are not stumbled.

Why didn’t the Lord act on John’s behalf?

I was quite astonished to learn the cause of John’s beheading. It turned out that it was necessary for God to arrange the environment to remove John and terminate his ministry. This is because, when the Lord Jesus came as the reality of the gospel that John preached, he did not stop his doing. His baptism of repentance became an out-of-date truth yet it was still being received by people, thus creating a rivalry between him and Christ. John’s disciples had made a religion out of it that they were even called as the ‘disciples of John’ (Matt. 9:14;John 3:25). His disciples has indeed drifted away from his goal, Christ.

To be religious means to do things for God without Christ. Even to do anything scriptural and fundamental, yet lacking the presence of Christ, is religious.

This is such a warning! May we be delivered from all self-effort and Christless labor. The brother who gave the message on this lesson shared that “in the church, we are not following persons. Rather, we follow Christ as our only Head. If the persons who ushered us to the Lord deviate from Him, the Truth, we should not go along with them. We follow them because the Truth is in them.”

Aside from John, several persons in the Bible were ceased to be mentioned especially in the Book of Acts because of being not in one accord with the Body. Some of them were Apollos and Barnabas. Today, the Lord is in the Body. His work is also with the Body. If we work apart from Him and His Body, He might be forced to terminate us in our work no matter how unintentional it may be.

Lord, have Your way in us! Increase in us, Lord. Subdue us that we may be absolute to You. Don’t let us work apart from You, Lord. Deliver us from any unconscious form of religion!

(Post is based on Lesson 17, Level 1, Volume 2 of Truth Lessons enjoyed during the young people’s meeting just this evening.)

Life’s Too Short to Waste a Single Day

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At times when a storm passes by, what else is best to do? Hymn singing!

No electricity, light, nor fan. With just a piece of flashlight, a phone recorder, a guitar and a couple of hymn books, the day is saved.

Just like the bird that sings in the midst of the storm, that should also be our experience having Christ as our peace within our being. The Peacemaker is in our spirit!

Romans 8:6 “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.”


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I am a John!

Why don’t you be like us? We celebrate birthdays, you don’t. We have Christmas, you don’t. We have girlfriends and boyfriends and you don’t have. Why? It’s because I am a John!

When John the Baptist came, he lived in a manner that was against the Jewish tradition. Having been born from a family of priests, he should have served in the temple, ate the highest quality of food from the offerings in the altar and worn the finest linen as clothing. Instead, he lived in the wilderness, ate locusts and wild honey, and wore clothing from camel’s hair. Moreover, when people come to him, he preaches to them a weird gospel and then went to immerse people into water. What an anti-testimony!

In order for the Lord to come the first time, there were certain important persons needed for Him to come. One of them was John the Baptist. He was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah as seen in Matthew 3:3 and Luke 1:76.

Matt. 3:3 For this is he who was spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying, a“A voice of one crying in the 1wilderness, 2bPrepare the way of the Lord; 2make straight His paths.”

 

Luke 1:76  And you also, little child, shall be called a aprophet of the bMost High, for you will go cbefore the 1Lord to 2dprepare His ways

Then verse 80 of Luke 1 says,

And the little child agrew and became strong in 1spirit, and he was in the bwilderness until the day of his presentation to Israel.

His being in the wilderness, according to the footnotes, means that “he was apart from man’s culture and religion that God might have a free and clear way to use him as the forerunner of the Savior.

John was an answered prayer of his father Zachariah (as seen in Luke 1:13). His father must have prayed for a revival (though his prayer was not written in the Bible) due to the degraded condition of the Jews at that time in which they have become a culture and a religion.

Then in Luke 16:16,

The 1law and the prophets were 2until John; from that time the 3kingdom of God is proclaimed as the 4gospel, and everyone5aforces his way into it.

We can see here that John was the turning point from the dispensation of law to the dispensation of grace where the gospel of the kingdom is preached.

Now, in order for the Lord to come back a second time, changing the age from the age of grace to the age of the kingdom, He needs some Johns to be the anti-testimony of this age in which culture, tradition, and religion predominate. We, as the Johns of today, don’t care for tradition and religious practices. We are for life, we are for Christ! Our living is against this age because we want the Lord to come back. We want to be the dispensational instrument who will be used by the Lord to turn the age.

As those who are in His recovery, we are not a religion. The Lord’s Recovery is not the name of a religion. Rather, we are the church and the Lord’s Recovery refers to the recovery of the building up of the church. This church is an organism and as such it grows by our enjoyment of the Lord and the functioning of the members. As such a living organism, we in the church are not in a religion filled with lifeless systems. We are filled with Christ as life instead! By being filled with this life-giving Christ as the Spirit in our spirit, we are strengthened to live the life of John, the life of living in the wilderness as an anti-testimony of this age to bring in the Lord back and His kingdom!

We are the many Johns! May the Lord be our consecration that He may use us to be His testimony on the earth today.

(This post is inspired from the young people’s meeting just this evening on the Truth Lessons: A Key View of the New Testament – John the Baptist).


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Why should you “Consider your ways”

This is my very first blog and I chose it’s title to be ‘Consider your ways’ taken from a verse in the Bible, Haggai 1:5.

Now, what’s with this title?

The book of Haggai is the 37th book in the Bible belonging to the books of the Minor Prophets and is one of the shortest book having only two chapters at all. It was written at the time when the children of Israel had returned from their captivity from Babylon during the second year of king Darius of Medo-Persia. This book unveils what was on God’s heart regarding the delay of the building of His house.

It is striking for me that in this book Jehovah had said, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your panelled-up houses, while this house lies waste?”(v.4) which is why in the following verse is the conclusion “Consider your ways”.

Today, rich or poor, all of us wants to be in a well-roofed nice house, a place where we can have full rest and satisfaction. How much more our God is! No wonder He said in Isaiah 6:6, “Heaven is my throne, and the earth the footstool for My feet. Where then is the house that you will build for Me, and where is the place for My rest?”

Then the next verses in Haggai reveal the consequences of the people having been ignorant to Him. Verse 6 says, “You have sown much but you bring in little; you eat but there is no satisfaction; you drink but there is no being filled with drink; you dress yourselves, but there is no warmth in doing so; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put them into a bag with holes”. Verses 9-11 continues, “You looked for much, and yet it amounted to little; and when you brought it home, I blew on it. Why? declares Jehovah of hosts. Because of My house that lies waste while you each run to your own house. (10)Therefore over you the heavens withhold their dew, and the earth withholds its yield. (11)Indeed I called for a drought upon the land and upon the mountains and upon the grain and upon the new wine and upon the fresh oil and upon that which the ground brings forth and upon man and upon beast and upon all the toil of the hands.”

Isn’t this word from Jehovah clear? Why do we toil and gather less? Why do we seem ‘unblessed’ or unfruitful in anything we do? As believers in Christ, our hearts must only be set on one thing, the thing which is on God’s heart, His house. All our attainments, success, achievements or whatever is actually not for us, but for the sake of His building. And we need to see that the reason why we suffer is due to our not taking care for His building. For this, we need to consider our ways.

A more practical view concerning Jehovah’s rebuke is on the Life-Study of the  Minor Prophets message 31:

  • The word “run” in verse 9 indicates that the people were busy caring for their own houses. Today some saints are so busy caring for their own houses that they have no time to attend the meetings. As we consider this, we need to realize that in the entire universe there is no such thing as neutrality. We must be absolute. We must either take care of our houses first or take care of the Lord’s house first. My point here is that we need to learn to save some time for the Lord’s interests. How many sinners are waiting for our visitation? How many saints, especially younger ones, are waiting for our cherishing and nourishing? We may excuse ourselves today, but we need to consider how we will answer the Lord Jesus when He comes. We may have many relatives who are unsaved. Their being unsaved may be our fault, not theirs. If so, when the Lord comes to settle accounts with us (Matt. 25:19), He will surely rebuke us. It has been difficult for us to get the increase, not mainly because of our environment but because of our excuses.

In line with this, we also need to be clear that His building does not refer to a physical one but to God’s spiritual building, the church, which is composed of His believers expressed locally as the local churches in every city. Since the building refers to people, this means then that our need is to care for the people around us, our relatives, classmates, colleages, and friends for the gospel. Brother Lee has a word for this:

  • “I hope that all the dear saints will be busy in going out to visit people and in contacting their relatives, classmates, and colleagues for the gospel. All the saints should be occupied by the Lord Jesus in preaching the gospel, feeding the new believers, and taking care of others. I hope that concerning this the whole atmosphere and environment among us will be revolutionized. (http://www.ministrybooks.org/books.cfm?id=22DBAD

Oh, may we be delivered from all our excuses! May we be absolute for the Lord! May we all redeem our time to take up the Lord’s charge – “Go up to the mountain and bring wood and build the house, and I will take pleasure in it and will be glorified, says Jehovah”(v.8). Let us not delay His building work! Let us consider now our ways!