What do we have to do with God’s kingdom, power and glory?

God’s elect, His Church, is part of God’s eternal purpose. We are directly related to God’s kingdom, power, and glory.

Ephesians 3:9-11 “…and to bring to light what is the fellowship of the mystery which from eternity has been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ; so that now to the rulers and powers in the heavenlies might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord…”

The glory of God has three aspects: His nature, His work, and His satisfaction.

If God’s glory were only related to his nature, there would be no part for us in his glory. God is self-sustaining, lacks nothing and needs no one’s help for his well-being.

But our God is a God of purpose, so his glory radiates beyond his nature itself and comes to also rest upon his work. And our God is also infallible. Whatever he chooses to do, he will be able to do, he will be able to accomplish, and he will be able to finish to his final satisfaction. Therefore his glory also rests upon his total satisfaction.

But once God starts to work, he is executing his will, and his will includes the church. We can only thank God for that, because it is on that basis that we become partakers of God’s glory. In fact the church did not just get picked up on the way by God out of mercy, but rather plays a positively critical role in God’s eternal purpose.

Let’s take heed of what happened in the heavenly even before the creation of man. The arch angel Lucifer was corrupted by his own vainglory and eventually became the enemy of God.

If it were just a matter of who wins and who is stronger, the outcome of the battle between God and Lucifer would have been determined instantly with little for us to talk about, and much less for us to actually participate.

But God chose not to defeat His enemy directly using his sheer power. He chose to defeat his enemy with his wisdom, and his wisdom is to defeat, convict and condemn the enemy, and put his enemy under shame through a creature called man who is not only weaker than the arch angel , but is smaller than any angels.

Defeating Satan this way, God would not only be victorious, and would further not only have gained a new universe which includes a new heaven and earth, but he would have also gained a Kingdom with his beloved people as the object of his love in His Son Jesus Christ.

This is a mystery of God’s eternal purpose.

To fulfill this purpose, salvation must come to man in the way it did, which is through Jesus Christ; and Jesus had to overcome Satan by destroying his power over man.

And what power does Satan have over men? It is sin and nothing else.

And to do that, Jesus must do it on behalf of man, that is, as the son of man, not as the son of God (which he is), so that his victory can be counted as man’s.

This includes not only his personal victory of perfection as the Man as manifested on the Mount of Transfiguration, but more importantly his sacrificial victory of submission on the Mount Calvary.

Thank God for his plan. As a result of his wisdom and love, in the eternity, our story will be forever a sweet story of salvation, in which the legitimate Heir of the Kingdom sacrificed himself for our sake and came down, down, and down, to the point of death, and was subsequently elevated by God up, up and up, followed by those who are saved.

If this does not mean much to us, then just imagine the opposite: We live in an eternity in which the only story there will be is so dishonorable that it cannot be told openly but can only be kept in secret as a scandal, which is that the dis-honored leader was not a legitimate heir of the kingdom, and he grasped what did not belong to him by trying all his might to go up, up, and up to elevate himself, but was eventually thrown down, down and down by God as a result of his unrighteousness.

Let’s not even think about our fate in the hands of someone of such character and history (shouldn’t it be clear how someone who tried to steal from God is likely to treat his companion?). Isn’t the contrast of these two stories alone enough for us to thank God for his salvation, which comes not only with his power, but with his wisdom, character and glory?

That is our salvation accomplished in Jesus Christ according to the eternal love of God.

But God’s plan does not stop here. God wants not only the redeemed to be an object of his mercy, but also an object of his rich grace which leads to glory. That is, God not only saved us from the suffering in sin, he wants us to be partakers of his glory, partakers of his life, partakers of the good character of his Son Jesus Christ, to an extent that he will not be ashamed as a Father to call us his children, and our Lord Jesus will not be ashamed to call us his brothers.

In that, God worked in history, patiently did he, in man’s lives, so that he will gain a people who become partakers of God’s divine life through Jesus Christ the Savior, and partakers of God’s glory.

This work of God was illustrated vividly in the Old Testament. Abraham and Moses are two great examples.

Through the life of Abraham, God obtained an individual who saw, knew and testified that God is the true and only God of this universe.

The principle of Abraham’s life is a very simple and clear one: leave the world and enter into God’s glory

Through the life of Moses, God obtained a people to demonstrate his power.

The principle of Israelites’ life is still the same, that is, to leave the world and enter into God’s glory. Only difference is that Abraham was called as an individual, but Israelites were called as a people.

Let’s consider the lives of Abraham and Moses.



When God made the first explicit manifestation of His glorious eternal purpose to an individual, God chose Abraham to do so.

(1) The relationship between Abraham and God is represented by the alters he built.

The altar is a proclamation of God’s sovereignty and God’s right as the only master of heavens and earth. Altar is a confession that only God is and man is not.

(Here, note that Abraham is representing himself and confessing that he himself is not. He isn’t speaking on behalf of others as a leader, nor was he speaking on behalf of God as a prophet to call judgment upon the sinful world. This is the only right position for an individual, unless the person was called to be a prophet or leader. As individuals, everyone must have his own altar to proclaim such truth at a personal level.)

But most personally, the altar is consecration. Consecration does not suggest a status of perfection, it is in fact a progression, but nevertheless a wholehearted dedication. There is great meaning in when and where Abraham built his four alters, but that is another topic.

(2) The life of Abraham on earth is epitomized by his tent-living.

It would be a foolish mistake for us to belittle or slight this by assuming that Abraham was just a country bumpkin who had a backward lifestyle and didn’t know better.

First of all, we all know Abraham was a rich man, and second, we also know that even back the time, the rich and powerful already knew how to enjoy the luxuries of living in a big city. Pharaoh did. Abraham’s nephew Lot did. You may suspect that Abraham simply was being nomadic and enjoyed nomadism. And sometimes we might feel Abraham did that because that is a natural living style that must have pleased God. But none of these is relevant to the most significant side of the story.

Abraham, while living in a tent, saw a city, the eternal city of God, a city that represented the true nobility of a people and their living, far beyond anything on earth. No one before him ever saw that. And he didn’t take what he saw in the vision as being just one of many things in his life, but instead he knew it was the vision God gave him to tell him about God’s eternal purpose.

Abraham was rich and had abundant on earth, but he chose to live a heavenly life. He saw what was being built by God and what was promised by God in eternity, and he was willing to forsake all luxuries on earth.

What does the Holy Spirit say about Abraham thousands of years later:

Hebrews 11:8-10: “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.“

Abraham saw a city which lasts until eternity. In contrast, his nephew (and companion) Lot lived in a city which led to destruction.

If there had been the greatest story of Tales of Two Cities, that would be it.

Some of the most heart-touching words in the Bible are those words that described how God appeared to Abraham at his tent while God was on the way to Sodom to destroy that city, especially when it is put in contrast with how God subsequently appeared to Lot at the city gates of Sodom.

Underneath the seemingly similar greetings to God by Abraham and Lot, what contrast it was with regard to the actual relationship between the two men and God, their spiritual condition, their family condition, and the result that came to the city on which they each set the hope, and the final result to themselves.

Abraham knew God, and took God to be the only God he may worship, and trusted him and was willing to do whatever his God asked of him. The test that Abraham’ heart went through was the ultimate test of a human being could sustain, namely willing to sacrifice his own son when tested by God.



God used Moses to call His people out of Egypt. God never intended to give salvation to just some individuals. He wants a people to himself because he has a kingdom to establish. God’s work starts with choosing and training a leader in Moses.

(1) Recognizing God’s authority is the necessary beginning and the foundation of heavenly living.

One must first come to a correct understanding of who is the true authority in this universe.

In the days of Moses, at a place where Moses lived, there was only one authority, which was Pharaoh. Humanly speaking, it was the most difficult environment for God to manifest his power, because people’s will were already subdued to the singular power, and their minds were conditioned to understand and accept no other power but Pharaoh’s.

Yet Moses was to learn about God’s authority in this very situation which God chose by design, not encountered by accident.

In today’s world, we no longer have a singular worldly power that’s being exerted on us. We live in the so-called “free society”, yet our hearts are so easily turned to worldly powers. Virtually anything that demonstrates some power attracts our attention, our affection or even idol worship.

How do I know my heart is blessed and inclined heavenward? It first starts at what authority I would recognize and submit myself to.

Dear brothers and sisters, what true authority do you recognize and submit yourself to? It should hurt us to see Christians contemplating certain matters concerning God as if these matters were theoretical and philosophical questions subject to our personal opinion with no actual regard to God’s authority.

God’s authority is a legal matter (I’m not talking about the laws of this world). It is also a basis for God’s judgment of the world. God judges his own people with his holiness, but God judges the world with his authority. God’s authority not only has to do with God’s reputation, it also has to do with God’s government over the heavens and earth.

We are in the midst of a great conflict between God and his enemy, and the conflict will quickly come to a climax and then an end. If we can’t do great things for God, we at least should be the faithful ones who stand on the right side of God’s authority.

May we be as little controversy as possible to God’s authority.

(2) Learning how to live a heavenly life is the biggest part of our faithful living on earth.

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they immediately entered into the wilderness to start a different kind of life, which turned out to last 40 years. The life in the wilderness was to train God’s people to start to live a heavenly life. It taught them what source they could rely on in their life.

How do I know my living is blessed and inclined heavenward? It starts at what source I turn to and rely on for my daily living. This is the case for everyone.

And this takes time. It took less than two weeks for God to demonstrate his power in Egypt and convince Pharaoh and the people of his power, but it took 40 years for God to train his people to be used to a different kind of life.


Becoming Christlike by growing His life and character

Outcome of following God’s calling and living heavenward is always connected back to God’s character. God’s glory starts with his nature, goes on to his work, but the work always remains true to God’s character, or else it would not bring him total satisfaction.

There is a heavenly task which requires not power nor might but a nobility in the heart to accomplish. We seem to have only fictions to illustrate this element, because in our earthly reality, it seems that nobility in character is always but an ideal only, not the reality.

But this is the reality in a spiritual war. In the spiritual war, the physical strength that draws from ourselves never carries us to a victory. Only the noble character of one’s spiritual life that draws from the Lord’s life does. We cannot be blind to this truth.

Forgive me to use a secular fiction as an illustration, because I think it gives a great metaphor in this matter. The movie “The Lord of the Rings” is based on a novel written by Tolkien who was from a Christian background. I don’t believe any serious Christian can see it as Christian literature because it has at best a very inaccurate representation of salvation, but the story had several elements that are outstanding depictions of certain spiritual truth.

The first is the depiction of sin and its treacherous effect on a person through corruption. I am not aware of a more vivid and striking illustration of that truth in any other literature. But I will not go on elaborating that point here. What is relevant to today’s subject is another point that is also masterfully depicted in The Lord of the Rings, which is character and nobility being the strongest strength one can possess.

The story tells a fictional final war to determine the fate of the Middle Earth and the mankind. Everything is hinged upon good people’s attempt to destroy a master ring which is an embodiment of evil force. The ring can only be destroyed at the original place where it was made, and someone has to carry the ring to that place. But not a strong man can do. Only one who has a noble heart can do, because the ring exerts on its carrier an evil temptation, which effects as a terribly heavy burden that only the noblest could bear. It is hard to imagine a better illustration of this point than what Mr. Tolkien did.

Come back to our real life.

Who is the true Noble One but Jesus Christ? And what life has true nobility but the life of Jesus? And who will be the victor through the end but those who have the life of Jesus?

Very often, we have a wrong idea that God is like a police trying to enforce a good legal rule to ensure that we people make fewer troubles. But if that were all in God’s purpose, he wouldn’t have bothered to create us in the first place.

God has a glorious purpose. If put in our human language, God is so proud of his only begotten Son that he wants many to be just like his Son, that is to share his Son’s character.

Our God is always positive. Far more positive than just saving us from sin. If God only wanted to save us from the misery of sin, his work would have ended 2000 years ago after our Lord Jesus overcame Satan and his agent sin on the cross.

But God is building a Kingdom, to apply his goodness, exert his authority and manifest his glory. And he has appointed his only begotten Son Jesus Christ to be the King of Kings, and he has made sure that the Kingdom will be consisted of a noble people who run noble blood in their veins because they have inherited the noble life from the King.

We are part of that work. Regardless of how difficult and how everything may seem so indifferent to the physical eyes, there is something big and dramatic going on behind the scene in the spiritual reality. We are called to serve the King, not merely as bystanders to receive a few pities bestowed by the King who happens to be passing by our place.

I’m never afraid of losing my salvation, but I’m afraid every day that I may disappoint the King and let him down. And I admit that I still don’t have the full courage to utter those words of an elderly sister who went to the Lord a long time ago. She said these words when she was in her late 80s, when she was widely known by God’s people not only for her rare gifts but more for a sacrificial life lived before the Lord:

“If He would ask of me even today, I will not let him be disappointed.”

But I remember those words, and let us all remember them to encourage each other.

Romans, Bible study introduction

To begin to study a book in the New Testament, we should pay attention to a few essential matters which are covered in An essential introduction to Bible study of the New Testament.

With a correct understanding that salvation was accomplished by Jesus alone as recorded in the Gospels, and explained in other books of the New Testament, we can come to study this book of Romans.

Romans is a fundamental epistle as the exposition of the result of Christ’s work: His death and Resurrection.

The Romans is also an exaltation of the center of the Truth — salvation by God’s grace, not by man’s work.

In Romans, we will find the Holy Spirit carefully and thoroughly explain the result of the glorious work of grace by Jesus Christ, by which man is placed on an entirely new ground with God in reconciliation with Him, as well as the development of the counsels of God in Christ, according to which this new world is established and ordered.

In Romans, apostle Paul, under the guidance of Holy Spirit, reveals the true righteousness before God, the ground on which a man can be truly righteous before God.

But before one can come close to that wondrous righteous ground, one must come in agreement with apostle Paul’s prerequisite conclusion about man’s natural condition: no one is righteous, not even one. If we quarrel with the Holy Spirit on this basic point, we cannot possibly get much further with the book of Romans.

Having concluded that all men are sinners before God, it would suddenly become a most improbable thing for men to then become righteous before God, even receive the very righteousness of God Himself.  That a sinner may become righteous before God is thus a great miracle that a man’s heart can perceive and man’s spiritual eyes can see.

Being slaves of sin and death, our only hope is a victory over Satan.  It would have been a hopeless battle if it were pitched between Satan and man.  Who can be the victor to save us from sin, the agent of Satan?  In our lives, we have heard about victories of great heroes, but all that have been accomplished by these heroes are just victories over their fellow men or at best over his personal adverse conditions.  Their victories may be inspirational to us, but one man’s victory, no matter how just and grand it may appear, is no gospel of salvation to others.

But thank God that Jesus Christ fought and won the battle on our behalf.  In the gospel, we have already learned that Jesus Christ has overcome the enemy.  The enemy He faced was Satan the very author of death himself.  There has been no true victory other than the Victory by Jesus Christ.  This is the only victory that one can trust and rely on for a matter as serious as eternity.

An essential introduction to Bible study of the New Testament

The Bible has a total of 66 books (39 in the Old Testament and 27 in the New Testament), authored by different individuals at different times.   The New Testament itself has Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Revelation.

When more broadly defined, the book of Acts belongs to Gospels, while Revelation, the last book in the Bible, belongs to Epistles because it is a letter written by apostle John on behalf of the Lord to His church.  In this sense, the New Testament is basically consisted of Gospels and Epistles.

There is infinite divine wisdom behind this seemingly casual division.  The Gospels recorded the historical events surrounding Jesus Christ when He lived on earth, and the historical events surrounding the Church of Jesus Christ during a period of time after Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven.  These are the actual work done by the Lord Himself. While the Episodes explain the meaning of the facts.

When we study Gospel books, we notice that the focus of the Holy Spirit in the gospels is on what the Lord has done (which includes what He has said), not on explaining the meaning of what the Lord has done.

In a strict sense, Jesus didn’t mainly come to preach the gospel (the good news of salvation); He primarily come to accomplish the gospel, most specifically accomplish the victory that is the substance of the gospel.  Without the actual victory, there would be no gospel, or at most there would only be a gospel in theory.  This is analogous to a war situation in which the news of victory and delivered by a messenger, but the actual victory itself must be won in the battlefield.

What a victory has Jesus won!  It has immense significance.  In order for us to fully understand the victory and what it brought to us, God used apostles such as Paul to reveal the heavenly mysteries to us.

But we need to always bear in mind that the Apostles only explained what the Lord has accomplished.  The salvation itself was accomplished (not merely preached) by Jesus and Jesus alone.  Very often, people have a misunderstanding of this matter. They think that Jesus is like a great teacher who came to teach great doctrines, and his disciples further helped him to explain what he had tought.  This would be a misunderstanding that is far from the truth.

The complete salvation

If we blindly emphasize a “simple Gospel” without giving heed to the whole counsel of God on the matter of salvation, we may fail to look beyond the basic truth to attain a deeper and more complete one.

First of all, we must take it as an unshakable foundation that salvation is all grace and all by faith, not our own deeds and own righteousness, even when it comes to sanctification.  It is the first step of the salvation to realize that it is all based on God’s grace that we are saved.

Then a Christian must come to the second step to realize that God has work to do in us after we are saved.

And soon, a Christian realizes that when it comes to growth, God doesn’t do anything until the Christian takes action first.

The Christian decides to obey, starts to grow and enjoys peace.  But soon the Christian finds that the thrill of growth disappears.  Not only can’t he do anything in order to make himself grow, but also he is often the very obstacle to God’s plan in his growth. That is when the Christian starts to experience the Cross deeper and starts to recognize that like his rebirth, growth too is all by faith according to God’s grace.

The above is how we grow.  But being curious as we are, we secretly ask the next question:  if it’s all by faith, why do I need to struggle to grow at all?

We tend to think that when we ask a question like that, we mostly ask as a matter of intellectual curiosity, rather than out of spiritual disobedience.  But by the grace of God we will see that the reality is the opposite at a deeper level.

On one hand, the above “why?” is of such a nature that a serious Christian tends to consider it improper to even ask.  In fact, under a religious veil, few Christians explicitly ask such a question.

On the other hand, many of us harbor that question in our heart.  The confusion over Bible verses that teach “salvation by grace” in contrast with other verses that teach, or indeed command, righteous deeds, is evidence.

I’ve even read theological writings on this subject that simply demonstrate the writer’s confusion.  In fact I believe that the modern Christian language itself reflects that deep confusion.  The term “salvation” in nearly all modern contexts is used to refer to the initial acceptance of Christ, in contrast to “sanctification” and “glorification.”  Such a differentiation has helped God’s people to escape from legalism such as that in the dark ages, but didn’t help God’s children grasp the more complete truth.

From God’s own Word, a Christian life is better described by “justification”, “sanctification”, and “glorification”, and all these three together constitute our complete “salvation,” instead of first “salvation” and then followed by “sanctification” and “glorification.”

If you allow me to use a formula, we should have: salvation = justification + sanctification + glorification; rather than: salvation = justification, but optionally decorated by sanctification, even glorification.

In numerous places in God’s Word, Christians (by definition those who have already been justified and born again into a new life) are called to work out our salvation.  If one is supposed to have obtained the compete salvation when justified and born again, how is that he is still asked to reach to his salvation?

There is of course no contradiction in Bible.  When the Holy Spirit speaks to us who are already reborn (that is, already received justification), He naturally speaks  about a deeper part of our salvation.  The plain truth is, because Christ finished the complete and objective salvation for the mankind on the Cross, the salvation He prepared for a Christian to subjectively experience is also a compete one, which is much richer than a mere rebirth, but rather to attain a mature Christ-like life.

You may say, doesn’t everyone agree with that point?  Thank Lord if everyone does.  But I am trying to expose here a hidden “religion” on this point which prevents God’s children from meeting the Lord’s eyes directly.  Many of us, despite acknowledging the above truth in principle,  secretly believe that as far as salvation itself is concerned, God’s work is completely done when a person is justified.  The rest (growth) is our gratuitous response to God. Many even base a Christian’s freedom on that notion.

But the above understanding is a false religion built on false “freedom”.  It misguides us, and make us forget that a Christian must subjectively experience all that Christ has objectively accomplished for him on the Cross in order to attain his complete salvation, which includes not just justification, but more importantly attaining a mature Christ-like life.

In other words, a Christian’s sanctification and glorification is necessary, rather than optional, for his complete salvation.  God showed this principle clearly in His dealings with His people at the Old Testament time. Israelites were justified on the Passover night by the blood of Lamb spread on the door, but can you even imagine that the next morning an Israelite decides that he’d rather stay in Egypt (that is, remain unseparated from the world)?

We must not stumble on this.  I know that some brothers and sisters resist the above fundamental truth in various ways.  But I found that in every case the reason behind the resistance is not because we cannot agree with each other upon the truth but always because there is a misunderstanding of what is actually meant by the truth.

Out of our defensive human nature, many often have an automatic response upon hearing “complete salvation by not only accepting Christ but also by being Christ-like.”  Specifically, some automatically assume that the above statement means a forfeiture of what a Christian is commonly believed to have already received from God by the initial believing.

But the truth is the opposite.  The revelation of the “complete salvation” is not a denial of our common belief in new life upon receiving Christ, but only an enrichment added to our former narrow understanding. It is to reveal that God has prepared much more beyond what we think we have obtained.

“I have come that they may have life, and they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.  We all have life because of our receiving the Lord, but are we receiving the “more abundant” life and becoming Christ-like?

Note that the “more abundant” life is Christ-like life, rather than a result of “trying to be Christ-like in order to receive the more abundant life.”

Since sanctification is part of our salvation, when Bible calls a child of God to be sanctified (i.e., separated, holy and righteous), it is not calling him to “try to be holy and righteous in order to exchange for salvation,” but rather simply calling him to “be saved.”

That is, the command to live a Christian life is not a method or means by which we are saved, but rather a mere description of the status of having been saved.

We must not forget our real condition even as Christians.  Before rebirth we were dead, but even after rebirth we are still in the water (drowning) if we do not live a sanctified holy life.  When a drowning person is asked to reach out to a rescuing boat and be separated from the water, his being aboard is his salvation itself, rather than a “price” he has to pay to the boat owner in exchange for salvation.

How perverted our hearts are that we think our becoming separated from the ways of the world, becoming holy and more like the Lord is a “price” to pay in order to exchange for a salvation!   The Lord Himself is our salvation.  The moment we see that truth, we ought to pray: “Lord, change my life to be like you, or I will surely perish.”  It has nothing to do with legalism relying on human effort to attain salvation but everything do with seeing God’s glorious complete salvation for each of His children.

At this point, one may, in fact should, ask,”if a Christ-like life is our salvation, what then is the way to attain that?”  One would have already answered the question once he asks the question, because he should be brought back to Romans 1:17 now, where our question regarding the complete salvation may have started.  Once you see that truth, you will shout halleluiah when you read Romans 1:17, because it clearly stands for living by faith, the only thing that God has commanded us to do.  The living is manifested in our abiding in Christ, and further manifested in our both inwardly and outwardly living a Christ-like life.

Furthermore,  we will also come to realize that even our faith itself is by God’s grace.  Such faith is indeed faith of Christ, not merely faith in Christ. Galatians 2:20, Darby (a more truthful translation of this verse.)

Only when the Spirit reveals to us that our “being Christ-like” is our salvation, and we cannot afford losing that, will we start to truly understand that the “Christian life” is what we are, not what we do.  This is a proposition far deeper than merely contrasting “sincere” to “insincere”.

And it is the faith in (and of) Christ that changes what we are.  As Brother Steven Kaung once said: “Only one person can live a Christian life, and that person is Christ Himself.”  You see, our faith in Him is not merely to believe that He is, but also believe that He is in us.

This is so important that I wish to say it in yet another way.

Although we know in principle that we are supposed to grow in life as Christians, many treat growth as a supplemental or ornamental aspect of Christian life. It’s our human tendency to think that “be Christ-like” is “work by us,” that is, something we do in order to exchange for something extra God has promised.

As a result, because many also know that, as a doctrinally correct answer, our salvation is supposed to be by faith only and not by works, we naturally but incorrectly conclude that “being Christ-like” could not be part of our salvation, for otherwise it would contradict the doctrine.

The tendency is so strong among God’s children that if one ever says “my salvation is my being Christ-like,” that person is immediately labeled as “legalism” and “lacking the understanding of grace.”  The above fallacy is not in its logic but in its premise in assuming that “be Christ-like” is “work by us.”

Such is the poor belief of many God’s children. No wonder many never grow, and no wonder many who wish to grow do not understand the true meaning and true reason of growth.

Oh, we lift an empty banner of “living by faith” so high that we no longer see what we are called for and why.  How sad and dangerously foolish it is that God’s children think we are supposed to have already attained everything God wants us to be when we first believed, and therefore treat “being Christ-like” as a mere afterthought, a hubby, a self-motivator, a respectable gesture of the do-gooders, a special gift possessed by the more diligent believers, and our “grace” to God, as it certainly seems almost like it were!

May the Lord reveal Himself to us.  God’s words do not need human wisdom to be knitted together.  It just takes revelation by the Spirit Himself for us to see that they are together as the Word.

Expect nothing from the world

(A letter)

Recently God once again brought me to reexamine the foundation of my faith.  Daily He reveals to me how much more He desires me to know His Son, in whom He had hidden all glory, holiness and blessings. 

I started to read a book about some godly people God raised during the last two centuries.  I never thought I’d want to read about other people in such a serious way, for I believed, and still do, that the ultimate truth is in His own Word, not in people’s lives. 

But how loudly God spoke through His servants!  The revelation God has given to His holy servants and the great work He has done in their lives make my heart filled with joy and yet desire more.  I have come to realize that if there are a thousand levels of heavens God has hidden in Christ, I have barely seen the first.

I understand what you described.  It is just as hurtful for me to realize the pressure acted upon us by others, particularly through the beloved ones.  But I started to understand that just as others persecute us (often not purposefully), even more do we ourselves persecute us.  It is the fleshly “twin brother” Esau who is in us that persecutes Jacob the spiritual one, as it has always been like that since Cain and Abel. 

Self-blaming and self-pity together with self-expectation and self-centeredness…, these are all secretly planned by the enemy to destroy our spiritual life from God.

We’ve got no right to remain on our mat, much less so when we hear the Lord’s command “Rise and walk!”  We’ve got no right to gaze upon our own wounds, much less so when we know that only gazing upon the One who is hung on the Cross may heal. 

Recently the Lord constantly reminds me to expect nothing from the world, including from myself, but expect everything from Him.  May we all feel the Lord’s hand and willingly submit ourselves to Him.  He has wonderful things to do in our lives.

The way of the Lord is always death first and life follows

(A letter)

Thank you for the message.  I share the joy the Lord has given you.  It’s a deeper joy that lasts even during the difficult times like you are facing now.

When I first became a believer, I didn’t understand why God would allow difficulties in our lives.  I understood and even believed that God would help us through difficulties, but I thought it would be so much better if there weren’t any such trials. 

But gradually I started to see how amazing it is that God’s hands work in the lives of His children.  He does not desire that His children merely fare well on the earth.  Instead His true desire is that His sons and daughters grow up and be like His only true Son, Jesus Christ.  When we start to see that, we are no longer afraid, but instead looking forward to the days and times ahead of us, regardless of what the situation is.

Every time when a brother (or a sister) is in need, I not only pray that God in His mercy deliver him, but also that he gain life and grow in stature through the trials.  It amazes me that with just a little bit of our faith, no matter how imperfect that faith might be, a miracle of life always takes place through trials.

We know that God’s only way of giving us life is through Jesus Christ.  But as your brother, I wish to share with you that the way through our Lord is always death first and life follows. 

By death I mean our being nailed to our own cross, manifested in our willingness in the sufferings to humble ourselves, to obey the Lord and to let go of our rights, even all rights.  It is not that God takes pleasure in our suffering through death, but that only when the old dies, the new may come forth to live.  This is the principle of the resurrection life and the foundation of our growth.  The principle is forgotten, even despised, by too many Christians who as a result easily doubt God’s will when trials come. 

I am often overwhelmed by a sense of humility and indebtedness due to my weakness and lack of faith.  But once I saw God’s grace through His working hands, I can only praise God.  And we all need each other’s fellowship.

May the Lord keep you and your wife’s faith and preserve you for a glorious end which is being revealed to all saints.

To a friend who starts to see the light

A letter to a friend once wrote to share her joy in the commencement of a journey to knowing God. 

We just received and read your letter.  The letter brought us true joy. Praise God our Lord for the work in your lives by His Holy Spirit.

No one has ever changed anyone’s life except with the help of the Holy Spirit of God. If you saw light when you first heard the good news from your friend, it is only because God’s life is in her and that life is the light that shines through.

The Son of God came and said: “I am the Light,” and  “I am the Way, Truth and Life.”  Before I became a believer, when I heard that, I thought it was some beautiful poetic language, just like what I heard many times before.  But poetic language, no matter how beautiful it may be, had nothing to do with my life and did nothing to my life.

Until one day God lifted the veil over my earthly eyes and opened my spiritual eyes to let me see the true reality behind and beyond everything our physical eyes see, and see that what Jesus said was literally true.

It is the ultimate truth, light and life hidden with love in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The truth does exist, only different and immeasurably better than what the idealists think it is.

The greatest thing that has ever happened in my life is to know Jesus Christ as my personal Savoir.  I did not expect such great things when I came to America.  And my heart is again blessed whenever I see a friend starting to know God, being awakened from all the earthly teachings and fleshly inspirations (which are lies of Satan), and walking away from the dark ways of this world which ultimately lead to death.

It is therefore our constant prayer that both of you will eventually come to truly know the salvation from God and are saved to the eternity. God’s salvation will surely bring hope to your life and change it for the better.  But do not mistakenly think that the Salvation of God is yet another religion, philosophy, or a self-help theory that might help to create a more positive attitude in one’s life.  It is much more than merely a positive attitude toward life.  It is even much more than just a profound and good world view.  Those things, if they are real and good, will be manifested by life, but God’s salvation is the life itself that lasts to the eternity.

I am very glad and thankful to hear that both of you are humble before God. Indeed, humility before God is the beginning of wisdom.  I hope you will continue to search for God, reading Bible which is the word of God, and seek fellowship with Christians.

I realize that the spiritual environment is not very good in the place you live.  But there are many faithful delivers living near you and you just don’t know them.  I even feel that, if the Lord permits, the tidings of God’s blessings, which swept Europe many centuries ago and America in the most recent centuries, are turning to Asia, particularly China.  God has promised that the Gospel (the Good News) will be preached to the ends of the earth before the time is up.

Never be led away by the schemes and illusions set by the devil to confuse you and frustrate you.  It is not easy to know God.  It is so because our ungodly condition keeps us away from God, not because God delights in hiding from us.

Never expect knowing God to be a “natural process.”  If you know yourself and others, you know that the nature of human being is hostile to the knowledge of God.  So violent is the natural incompatibility that when the Son of God came to the earth, we not only despised him but eventually crucified and killed him.

The evilness of human being is declared and manifested on the Cross on which the Son of God was crucified.  Once you see that, you will cry out to God and ask Him to help you to believe, because the very fact that we don’t believe is evidence that we need to believe, and our condition is in a pit and snare set up by the devil to trap us into unbelieving.

May you find favor in God’s eyes and hold on to that blessing.  I pray that we will meet soon in the future to share the fruits of God’s goodness.

From Judges to Ruth

Reading “Judges” and continuing on to “Ruth” is like traveling from a hopeless land to a place of joy. My heart suffers along with the Holy Spirit while reading “Judges” because of everything Israelites did before the Lord. It hurts me deeply because what the Israelites did were a vivid type of what our old life is and what it does to the Lord.

Then just to the same extent, my heart is blessed while reading “Ruth”.  In contrast with the long-suffering and patience the Holy Spirit must have been taken while writing Judges, how much the heart of our Lord must have been pleased when revealing His redemption through a little one’s (Ruth’s) faithfulness in a painfully humbling situation!

Then your heart starts to understand the continuity from “Judges” to “Ruth”, and how the Holy Spirit patiently recorded “Judges” and looked forward to writing “Ruth”.

A letter to a brother going through trials

Dear brother, I recall the years in which the Lord purposefully blocked the sight on the path ahead of me and patiently waited for the growth of my faithfulness.  (He still does, but only in a different way in my life at this time.)

I was no Ruth, the blessed Moabite who with her pure and simple heart followed her mother in law Naomi, so faithfully and so beautifully, through death and humiliation, all the way to salvation by her Lord.

I wish I had been just a bit like Ruth, who must be a delight to the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the faithless and corrupted Israelites in the time of Judges. They only brought sorrow and grief to the Holy Spirit.  How weak I was and how much I must have grieved the Holy Spirit during that period of time of my experience!

But even at my lowest point and the most difficult time, the Lord preserved me so that I never fell victim of the snares of disobedience.  Such is my faith in the situation you presently face because you have grown to greater maturity in the Lord.

Since I learned of your situation, I have constantly come before the Lord to pray that He strengthen you. If my brother is in the hot furnace of Daniel’s friends, the only thing that comforts me is to see that you know the Lord is also in it with you.

A fearful destruction

I remember the several days after the event of 9/11 in the year of 2001.  I struggled through to come back to my senses then.  There are no right words for it.  Terror, sorrow, anxiety, anger, and all.

But one night as I was praying, my heart sensed a gentle voice of the Holy Spirit asking me not to be buried under the rubble but look upon Him and Him only.

The Holy Spirit pointed to a hidden distrust cast upon the Father in heaven, a distrust that was harbored in my heart in the midst of all this.  The intention of terrorists may be to inflict pain and invoke fear in us, but the intention of Satan, who is the one behind these schemes, is precisely to create that distrust toward God. The latter is where the real spiritual war is being waged, and I realized that I had fallen victim in this war.

The Lord led me to repent.  Since then my prayers have become more on urging God’s Kingdom to come than living in sadness; and more on supplicating that people may be humbled and turn to God of resurrection, instead of merely asking that the evil will pay back.

The destruction inflicted by men should not be feared more than the coming eternal judgment by God.  Thank our Lord that the God’s elect will be saved, and indeed have already been saved, from the final Terror.  If what we saw in these events of fearful destruction is a shadow of what is to come in the end, let us encourage one another, and pour our hearts and love to others so that they may also have hope – the hope that is based on an unshakable eternal foundation that cannot be destroyed, rather than temporal human power and resolutions.