Google Simply Katherine, a Christian on campus: November 2011

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Common Faith of All Christians

All throughout my college years, Christians on Campus has taught me to contend for the common faith. I've heard rumors before about members of Christians on Campus being exclusive, but whoever has come to their gatherings would quickly realize that Christians on Campus receives all genuine Christians. Yes, all genuine Christians who believe in the common faith (this term is used in Titus 1:4 and Jude 3).

The common faith is not a doctrine that someone wrote. I didn't come up with it, nor Christians on Campus, nor Martin Luther. It's the Bible, it's God Himself, who defines our faith. Thus, I simply appreciate the fact that I was given the opportunity to learn how we need to fight for the faith and not fight for anything else that is not part of the common faith.

According to the Bible, there are eight items in our common faith:
  • The Bible is the complete divine revelation inspired by God, word-by-word, through the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16
  • The Son of God, even God Himself, was incarnated to be a man by the name of Jesus Christ. (John 1:1, 14
  • Christ ascended to the right hand of God to be the Lord of all. (Acts 1:9; 2:33, 36
These are the specific, absolute items that God defines to be the bases of our identity as Christians. In other words, we are Christians based upon our believing in these items. Yes, very specific and special indeed. That is why, the Apostle Paul said he fought the good faith and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). The Book of Jude specifically urges us to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered unto all God's people (Jude 3).

This past week I was reminded once more, our faith is the ground of all the Christians' genuine oneness. We are one not because of some kind of agreement, we are one because we are of the same faith. All Christians are the same in the faith. There is no argument.

Although we are the same in the faith, many of us may be very different in the doctrines. Shall we be divided then? Why emphasize differences when we have the common ground? Must the Body of Christ be divided due to our doctrines?

I have a personal experience to share in my next post

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Rich Young Man Entering the Kingdom

Cherry picking God's Word is definitely faulty, yet it seems impossible for me to apply God's Word in its entirety. For instance, the Bible tells me not to covet but "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). I continuously fail in fulfilling this matter of not coveting. So what then shall I do?

There is a particular fellowship from one of the Christians on Campus gatherings that has greatly helped me. I can't remember exactly which gathering but at that time, one of the speakers mentioned about the passage of a rich young man trying to enter into the kingdom in Matthew 19 (please read Matthew 19:16-26 for context).

riches

This rich young man asked the Lord what good deed he must do to have eternal life. The Lord pointed out that there is only One that is good and that if he would enter into this life, he should keep all the commandments. Afterward the Lord showed him which commandment he should do, to sell his possessions and give them to the poor, but then the rich young man went away in sorrow because he had great possessions. 

Does this sound familiar to you?

The implication of the Lord's response highlights the fact that the rich young man can never be and do good, only God is goodness Himself, and that he can never keep all the commandments. However, this account does not stop here at the dead end of impossibility. The verses (Matthew 19:25-26) following this interaction between the Lord and the rich young man are very enlightening indeed:

"When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, 'Who then can be saved?' But Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"

Actually the Lord knew very well that the rich young man would not be able to fulfill all God's commandments. Jesus said, "With man this is impossible,..." So then what was the main problem with this rich young man?

The Lord didn't stop with the impossibility, He specifically showed all of us the way, "... but with God all things are possible." The main problem was the rich young man did not stay with the Lord, with God, in whom all things are possible! He gave up and left.

The Lord knows that I cannot entirely fulfill God's Word. The Lord knows that, in myself, I have no strength to follow and say "Amen" to everything that He has spoken to me. He knows yet He never give up on me. He is always there ready to be the supply, the strength, for me to say "Amen." All He wants me to do is just to say "Amen," agreeing with His Word, confess that I cannot, but then stay with Him and open to Him, letting Him be the One who can within me. The answer to Romans 7:24 is actually the next verse, Romans 7:25, which begins with:

"Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Monday, November 14, 2011

Joining Ourselves to God's Desire through His Word

The question from my last post on Christians on Campus Fall 2011 College Conference - how can we join ourselves to God's desire through His Word?

Many times our application of God's Word is a cherry-picking business. Yes, it's a fallacy indeed. Let me explain what I meant by that. Believe it or not, most of us have a hidden motive when we come to God's Word. That hidden motive varies with every person but usually it's in the form of expectations, hoping for certain things to be found in the Word.

cherry picking God's word

For example, a couple years ago a Christian man was sharing with me a story about his mother. His mother had to work hard to feed her many children. So one time, she told people that her favorite verse in the Bible was 2 Thessalonians 3:10, "... If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat." Actually I knew another hard-working person who appreciated the Bible's encouragement to labor for our living in a similar way. But a lazy person may take Psalm 127:2 as his/her favorite verse, "It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, for He gives to His beloved sleep."

Basically, the point is we hardly accept God's word in its entirety. We only pick and apply certain things that we favor or agree with. I'd be the first one to confess that I'm guilty of this fallacy, but then again, how can we fulfill all the requirements from God's Word?

On one hand, we must simply accept and be one with what the Word says. We need to practice "obedience to the truth" (1 Peter 1:22) and "holding to truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). In other words, saying "Amen" to what God says. On the other hand, our joining ourselves to God's desire through His Word is only possible with God Himself. This is probably better depicted from the passage in Matthew 19:16-26 about the way for a rich man to enter into the kingdom.

We'll get into that in my next post, entitled The Rich Young Man Entering the Kingdom.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Christians on Campus Fall 2011 College Conference (Part 4)

The next message after the early rising session was entitled, Daniel and His Three Companions - God's move through Young People. Christians on Campus arranged this message to be "by-the-students-and-for-the-students" format. 

Daniel and his three friends
So we were given materials to be read together in small groups. The entire message was divided into sections. Each small group would focus on a particular section for the first thirty minutes or so. The group came together to fellowship based on that reading. Then the next event was to gather the small groups and present what we had learned from the section we read to this bigger group of audience. So when all the groups presented their sections, the audience ended up with an entire message, spoken by multiple people from the small groups.


Continuing on with the message itself, I was blown away by the reading material that we got. It opens with a section, God calling young people to turn the age.

"The young people need to realize that this is their golden time to be used by the Lord. The Lord needs you as a channel through which He can carry out His move. The way for you to grasp this opportunity is to go to the Lord to open and empty yourself. You need to give yourself to Him and allow Him to take you, to possess you. Never have something within your being set, settled, or occupied. Keep yourself empty, open, fresh, new, living, and young with the Lord. Then the Lord will be able to go on through you in a marvelous way. We all need to consecrate ourselves once again to the Lord for His eternal purpose." 

The next section is the characteristics of the men who turn the age. The first being separation from an age that follows Satan. The ones who turn the age (from the age of grace to the age of the kingdom) must be those who consecrate themselves voluntarily to God, against the tide of this age. 

The second characteristic is, being joined to God's desire through His Word. Daniel did not read God's Word for knowledge but he read to receive and keep God's commandments. He accepted God's desire revealed in His word and applied them to himself. His action in rejecting the choice food from the king was due to his reading and joining himself to the Pentateuch, the five books that Moses had written. To Daniel, the Scripture was not separate from his person. 

Many of us, Christians, read the Bible daily. Yet the Bible remains the Bible, and we are still who we are. We read but we don't quite live by God's Word, let alone join ourselves to His Word. In my case, often I just have no strength to fulfill the requirements in the Word. So this was my question during my time in the small group, reading this section with my companions. How can we join ourselves to God's desire through His Word?