Monthly Archives: July 2008

“He’s a devout Christian.”

I’ve heard this comment several times. At times in reference to me. At times in reference to others.

But it’s such a contradictory term.

An oxymoron.

Many often view the act of becoming a Christian as one of saying a prayer, or framing a conscious decision along the lines of “I am a Christian”. They then proceed to start reading the Bible, pray at mealtimes, surround themselves with Christian friends, and sprinkle the word God into their conversations.

“I think God wants me to…”

“I feel really close to God…”

“I believe God is…”

Now don’t get me wrong. Becoming a Christian may involve saying a prayer. It will certainly involve making a conscious decision. It will definitely lead to habits of Bible reading, prayer, getting connected with the local church, and will almost certainly result in Godward thoughts and attitudes.

But perhaps the nature of that ‘conscious decision’ requires further introspection.

The devil is clever. If he can keep our concepts, our realities, our truths, our beliefs vague, they will never become concrete enough to weigh on us. And so he keeps us in the realm of jargon.

“Are you a Christian?”

“Yes, I prayed the prayer. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.”

Pretty jargon. The question remains whether these are hazy hoo-has, or concrete convictions. If you truly understand the depth of our fall, the weight of our sin, the terror of divine wrath, and the futility of our situation, and then and only then are you driven to lay everything down at the foot of the cross, then and only then can you see the wonder of the cross, the sufficiency of His blood, the newness of life, and the glorious love of the Heavenly Father.

That is the essence of the ‘conscious decision’. This is what it means to put our faith in Jesus. This is what it means to be Christian. A Christian is not one who merely claims he is one. Or one who goes through the motions of Christianity. It is the person who, by the grace of God, has his eyes open to the reality of imminent destruction, and, by the grace of God, clings to his only means of rescue – the cross of Christ, where the love of God was made manifest to us. And he clings to it. He does not just stop by and then move on. He keeps clinging on to it, tighter and tighter and tighter.

And the saving grace that comes to us does not result in a life of continued rebellion towards God. That the grace of God may abound more and more in our lives will be the result of increasing obedience to God. As Luther put it, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.”

if you are truly Christian, one who clings to the cross as the source of His righteousness before God, as the place where God’s favour, His grace, was irrevocably secured for us, able to sustain and strengthen and empower us for the rest of our lives, you will by definition be ‘devout’ – one eager to please the God who loved us first. There’s no such thing as a devout Christian. Our desires may weaken, but the cross is solid rock.

You either leave everything in your hands at the foot of the cross so that you may cling to it, or be merely content to stand in its shadow. Perhaps you might have relief from the scorching sun for a while. But be certain when this world crumbles, the only thing that remains standing will be the cross of Christ. And unless you’re clinging to it, you too will fall into destruction.

And it is this inevitable future that causes me both sadness and much rejoicing. I rejoice because I am saved from the destruction to come. But I am sad because not everyone is. And so it is my eager prayer that you would consider these things more. That you do not leave Jesus as some vague person, the Bible a vague collection of stories, the seriousness of our sin as something to laugh about, the cross of Christ as some symbol in a church. But wholehearterdly seek the truth. For the Bible considers our relationship with Jesus as a matter of life and death. Treat it then as a matter of life and death.

An update

So my wireless modem router finally died. Lesson: Don’t buy DLink.

In the meantime I’ve finally managed to embark on that summer reading list. Humility: True Greatness is a nice and simple, yet profound book. And it’s a topic that resounds closely with my life. Pride is indeed the ‘great sin’ as C.S. Lewis describes it. And it’s pervasive and deceptive. Thinking that you have it under control is but a deadlier version of pride. And it is empowering to know that God has given us means to help defeat our pride and cultivate humility, being humble and contrite just as Jesus was. A highly recommended book, and it’s a book anyone can easily pick up and understand, but don’t be deceived – humility is to be practiced, not analysed, and there lies the true test.

And now I’ve turned to The Screwtape Letters and The Cross of Christ. I’m eagerly looking forward to see what gems there are in these two books.

Also, Passion Kuala Lumpur is nearly upon us! I am eagerly looking forward to that day. I can’t believe the 4000 passes are already sold out, although I guess there’s more than meets the eye on that little fact. You would think having gone to London would have tide me over, but it’s a bit different when it’s on home soil. Funnily enough though, I had a dream that Charlie fell sick and David came instead. Heh. But I couldn’t be happier about these two. Can’t wait to hear the new material.

Yes, new material! 2 weeks to getting my hands on Hello Love and the Bright Sadness! I am definitely bringing a sizeable wad of cash on this trip. Especially the Bright Sadness – sounds stellar. I think Charlie did an amazing job on this album. Google around – you’ll be able to hear the single “My Brightness. And you can also catch Chain Breaker on YouTube, and Jesus Mystery on GoogleVideos. My Brightness is quite a lyrical work.

Speaking about new album releases, there’s also the Remedy Tour DVD. I can’t wait to get my hands on it. It’s going to be a blast watching it.

I believe that’s all for the moment. My theological posting is going to be reduced or non-existent somewhat for the next couple of weeks, because they are quite time consuming and draining, and I do want to use the time to do some reading. Also, the process of preparing for Saturday’s lessons tend to take whatever extra time I have. Alternatively, if I wanted to, I could probably post transcripts of those lessons.

But it’s a decision I’ll make some time in the future.

LOL.

I do promise to update soon.

But this made me laugh:

No, John Piper hasn’t joined a gang.

And yep, Mr Louie G., this did in fact involve me Laughing Out Loud.

It’s been a whirlwind of a ride

I’ve always questioned the nature of God’s blessings. Is it right that I should prosper all the time? Is it right that my life always seems to be working out great? As a Christian, shouldn’t I be facing trials? Should my Heavenly Father not be disciplining me, for He will always discipline His children out of love for their good?

We can probably exclude ‘and temptations’. Because I am sorely tempted to do all sorts of God-dishonouring things every minute of every day.

Yet perhaps, I’m not ready for such a trial. Or maybe, God wants me to stay on the top of the mountain just that bit longer, so that I may behold His goodness gladly. Or perhaps there’s the matter of this question which requires pondering over: Is it harder to be satisfied in God in the good times or in the bad times?

But one thing I do not do is this: I do not question the origin of those blessings. It is the Heavenly Father who gives us good gifts. His definition of good is one tempered by His sovereign love and wisdom. Our definition of good is one muddied by the stain of sin. And He has seen it good for me to be blessed as such.

One year ago, I nearly missed out on a place at Cambridge. Today, I’ve achieved a First in my first year exams. Being in the 7th percentile, that places me at 12th I think.

It’s been a whirlwind of a ride. And through it, my Father has been working all things for my good, and I know He always will, though the circumstances may seem otherwise.

For now, the circumstances are good. And I rejoice all the more.

Thank you.

And thank you for your Son Jesus, who took my sin, died in my place as the propitiation for my sin, lived a perfectly obedient life and became my righteousness, so that I no longer stand condemned, but stand in the light of new life, not by my own merit or effort, but on that sure foundation of grace that God freely showed to me before the creation of the world, thus confident that nothing will ever separate me from the love of Christ, which is all I’ll ever need for this life and the next.