By the Grace of God We Will Endure

                Last Friday, November 8, one of the strongest typhoons in history hit the Philippines. Typhoon Haiyan (local name Yolanda) wreaked havoc in Eastern Visayas, leaving death and destruction in its wake. This was the first time the country has experienced such monstrous typhoon and no one imagined the kind of devastation caused. Over a thousand deaths have been confirmed, while a lot more are missing. Thousands of families have lost their homes, and other infrastructures are leveled to the ground. Due to lack of communication, reports from isolated places have just started coming in, so death toll and reports on other damages continue to rise.

                People have not eaten for days. They don’t have food. There’s no water, and no electricity. Decomposing bodies are just laid along the side of the streets. People are looting closed down malls, supermarkets, and restaurants. They have not only lost their homes. They have lost their dignity as well. Everyone is on survival mode. There’s chaos everywhere. (See some photos here and video here.)

               The situation in Visayas is heartbreaking. Pictures and footages are too painful to see. It is impossible not to cry whenever there are news reports about the disaster. It is hard to enjoy food when I think about people who have nothing to eat while I’m in the comfort of our home, having a full meal. It is difficult to sleep at night as I think about my people sleeping in the streets.

               How depressing is this? Barely a month ago, Visayas was also hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake which also killed people, and leveled buildings to the ground. And now, even worse, is this disaster. But we’re Filipinos. We have an indomitable spirit, and we will rise from the ashes as what the country has done in the past. This tragedy, though incredibly painful, will eventually make us stronger, and will make us one.

               But there’s something more that Filipinos need to understand rather than relying on the Filipino spirit. We need to realize that our hope is on One who quiets the storm. He is in control. It is not by our strength that we can surpass this, but by the strength of Him who carries us in times of trouble.  By the grace of God, the Filipinos will endure, and rise above it all. Only by the grace of God!

 

 

Please continue to remember the people in Eastern Visayas in your prayers. Please send help if you can. They are in need of food, water, clothes & medicines. There are a lot of ways that you can send your help. Thank you very much!

 

Kenotic Christology: The Emptied Christ

INTRODUCTION

Throughout history, Jesus Christ has always been an object of controversy. Many had doubted his divinity, and some questioned his humanity. In the year 325 AD, the first ecumenical council was formed in Nicaea due to the prevalent issue concerning the divinity of Jesus. This later resulted to the Creed of Nicaea, which became a turning point in Christian history. The creed declared that Jesus is undoubtedly of the same essence as the Father, thus establishing his divinity. In the years that followed, it was not only the divinity of Jesus that was questioned, but its relationship to his humanity as well. The rise of heresies propagated by Nestorius of Constantinople, Euthychius of Alexandria, and Apollinarius of Laodicea led to the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD. The creed formulated in the council declared the two natures of Jesus Christ, one divine, one human, and these should be confused, interchanged, divided and separated. In other words, Jesus is both fully God and fully man: He is God-man. Christological controversies continued to thrive especially since the Creed of Chalcedon never fully explained how such union of two natures can exist together in one person. Because of this, theologians eventually felt the need to explain the hypostatic union.  The main passage used as basis is the one found in Philippians 2, using the phrase “emptied himself” (ekenosen) in v.7, hence the term Kenotic Christology. However, Kenotic Christology does not suffice and is inconsistent with the creed of Chalcedon. Ironically, some of them had the guise of the former heresies that Chalcedon sought to address. KENOTIC CHRISTOLOGIES The middle of the nineteenth century saw the rise of Kenotic Christology. By 1840, several theologians began to construct their own interpretation of kenosis.[1] Kenotic Christology may be classified into 4 types as identified by A. B. Bruce: absolute dualistic, absolute metamorphic, absolute semi-metamorphic, and real but relative.[2] These classifications are based on the views of Thomasius, Gess, Ebrard and Martensen. Absolute Dualistic Kenosis Gottfried Thomasius was a Lutheran theologian who tried to formulate a Christology to answer the issues prevalent during his time. He was the first to renew the kenotic view in the nineteenth century. He wrote the three-volume Christi Person und Werk (Christ’s Person and Work) which presented his own view on kenosis. Though Thomasius agreed with Chalcedon that Jesus is both fully God and fully human, he saw the problem of how these two natures could exist together without compromising the integrity of each other. In order to work out that dilemma, he postulated that incarnation must be seen as the assumption of human nature by the Son, and his self-limitation in the act of assuming human form.[3] He then defines kenosis as:

…the exchange of one form of existence for the other; Christ emptied himself of the one and assumed the other. It is thus an act of free self-denial, which has its two moments the renunciation of the divine condition of glory, due to him as God, and the assumption of humanly limited and conditioned pattern of life.[4]

Thomasius first made a distinction between immanent and relative divine attributes. For the divine Logos to live the life of a man, he needed to divest himself of his relative attributes and still be God. These attributes, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, are what characterize God in relation to the world, and are not part of God’s personality. So then, he stripped himself of his omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence, and retained his immanent attributes such as absolute power, truth, holiness, and love.[5] These immanent attributes are retained because they characterize the divine Logos in relation to the Godhead. Giving these up would mean a denial of his divinity. His “emptying” of relative divine attributes meant a cessation of possession of those attributes at the time of incarnation. Absolute Metamorphic Kenosis German theologian Wolfgang Friedrich Gess promoted a different concept of kenosis in his works Die Lehre von der Person Christi and Christi Person und Werk. He believed that in the incarnation, the Logos lost his eternal consciousness and ceased his divine function. It was “incarnation by divine suicide.”[6] According to Gess, because life flows from the Father, upon the incarnation of the divine Logos, the influx of the Father’s life to the Son and the Spirit was suspended. Because of this, not only did the relative divine attributes parted with the Logos, as what Thomasius had earlier declared, but the immanent attributes parted as well. [7] So as not to promote a duality of egos in Jesus, Gess held that at the moment of conception of every man, God creates a soul that will inhabit the physical body. This is the same way with Jesus. At the time of his conception, instead of God creating a human soul to inhabit the flesh, the Logos replaced that human soul instead. However, there was a period of time when there was no self-awareness on the part of the Logos, and upon ascension, he reclaimed his substance, the fullness of glory that he had before incarnation. Such substance became unconscious from the moment of his conception until the time when he regained his self-consciousness. No one can determine when the Logos regained self-consciousness. It could be from the time, when being a boy of twelve, he was found in the synagogue teaching, until his earthly ministry was completed. Gess held what is probably the most controversial brand of kenosis. His theory has some problems.  One major problem with this is the Trinitarian view. There is an obvious disruption in the relationship among the Godhead, and this can never happen. He introduced an inequality among the Trinity. Absolute Semi-metamorphic Kenosis Reformed theologian August Ebrard was the proponent of what Bruce termed as absolute semi metamorphic kenosis. According to this view, kenosis is an exchange of the Logos’ pre-existent eternal form to a temporal one. He agreed with Gess that the Logos takes the place of a human soul. Contrary to Thomasius who believed that Christ divested himself of some divine attributes, Ebrard believed that the Logos retained those attributes and exercised them. He said that  when the Logos entered into time, he retained his relative attributes of omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence but in a form applicable to his human existence. His omnipotence is shown in his ability to perform miracles; his omnipresence applied through his ability to be wherever; and his omniscience through his ability to see through things or persons. As for Ebrard, the Logos did not assume the form of man, but rather assumed human attributes. His theory is docetic in nature. And since Ebrard seemed to dehumanize Jesus, his kenotic theology appears to be similar with Apollinarianism as well. Real but Relative Kenosis In order to define kenosis, Danish theologian Hans Lassen Martensen distinguishes between the Logos revelation and Christ revelation.[8]  Jesus is the Savior and Mediator between God and man. As the divine Logos, he is the Creator and Sustainer of creation. But in this state, he cannot be a real savior and mediator between the Father and man, so was necessary for him to become man. In doing so, the Logos would be supplemented with the revelation of Christ. And so the Word became flesh and lived among us. However, the incarnate Logos did not cease to be a conscious Being, but he is also under the limitation of his humanity. The Logos then began to live a double life. As the eternal Logos, he is the Creator and Sustainer of creation, but as the depotentiated Logos, he is the man Jesus Christ. But as Jesus, he knew nothing of his Trinitarian relation and cosmic function, but was only aware of being God in a way that is limited to man. This could mean that the two natures are totally separate and there is no communication idiomatum. But how could the eternal Logos function within the Trinity, but at the same time, as the depotentiated Logos be totally oblivious to his other function? Could the Logos really live a double life? This is either a reprise of Nestorianism, or a serious case of divine schizophrenia.   

GENERAL OBJECTIONS TO KENOTIC CHRISTOLOGY

Kenotic Christology failed to totally find a solution to the issue that it sought to address. Kenotic Christology teaches the depotentiation of the Logos by divesting some of his divine attributes. However, this poses a Trinitarian problem, in that there would be a disruption in the relationship of the Trinity. If the Logos did give up some of his divine attributes, then he would cease to be co-equal in essence with the Father and the Spirit.

Not only does this brand of Christology presents a Trinitarian problem, it also gives us, according to B.B.Warfield, a shrunken deity. Jesus, would be a lesser god, or worse yet, he would be so powerless as to be considered God at all. Keeping up with the concept of the divestiture of divine attributes, the controversial book The Shack by William P. Young has this to say about Jesus’ divinity in his incarnation: “Jesus as a human being, had no power within himself to heal anyone.[9]  This is very problematic. If Jesus had no power to heal, how could he have the power the save? How could a Christ who is not omnipotent function as the Savior? If that were true, then mankind is doomed to be face eternal damnation. The doctrine of God’s immutability would also be affected. God cannot change. But if the claims of Kenoticists were true, they divestiture of some divine attributes would definitely mean change. Change in power, change in knowledge, change in presence. KENOSIS IN PHILIPPIANS 2

 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  Phil. 2:5-7

  The controversial v.7 has been the primary basis of Kenotic Christology; that Jesus emptied himself.  However, as what is done in poems, hymns are not supposed to be interpreted word for word, but should be understood in its entirety.[10] In that sense, v.7 cannot be interpreted as a lone verse. He “emptied himself.” Of what? Kenoticists would say he emptied himself of divine attributes, his glory, his power, or his authority to exercise such power. However, v.7 does not mention of what he emptied himself. Rather, he took on the form of a servant and was born in the likeness of man. Jesus did not empty himself of any attributes, he did not give up anything. Perhaps the best description would be he clothed himself with humanity. So if anything, kenosis is that of addition and not subtraction. What the hymn presents is a poetic way of saying that Jesus Christ poured out himself for the people, became available to them, and became one with them. He became what he was not. “The real humiliation of the incarnation and the cross is that one who was himself God, and who never during the whole process stopped being God, could embrace such a vocation.[11]

CONCLUSION

Kenotic Christology does not support the declaration of Chalcedon, but in different ways, even defies it. It may not be intentional to do so, since the purpose was to shed light to the doctrine of hypostatic union. However, in this case, it was not enough. Jesus is not half God, half man, but indeed fully God and fully man, two natures in one person. None of the nature is superior over the other, not one subordinate to the other.

The hymn in Philippians 2 cannot be taken as a literal emptying of Jesus Christ. It was the pouring out of himself to like that of a slave in order to serve the humanity that he was sent to save.

 

 


[1] David R. Law, Kierkegaard’s Kenotic Christology (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 38.
[2] Alex B. Bruce, The Humiliation of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 1955), 138.
[3] Bruce., 139.
[4] Gottfried Thomasius, qtd. in Gregg Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 381.
[5] Law, p.39.
[6] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Banner of Truth, 1984), 327.
[7] Bruce, 144.
[8] Bruce, 160.
[9] William P. Young, The Shack (Los Angeles, Windblown Media, 2007), 100.
[10] Gerald F. Hawthorn, Word Biblical Commentary: Philippians (Thomas Nelson, 2004), 121.

[11] N.T. Wright., qtd. In Gordon D. Fee, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 1995), 211.

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REFERENCES

Allison, Gregg. Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine . Grand Rapids: Zondervan,      2011.

Bavinck, Herman. Our Reasonable Faith: A Survey of Christian Doctrine. Translated by Henry Zylstra.     Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1956. Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Banner of Truth, 1984. Bruce, Alex B. The Humiliation of Christ. Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 1955. Fee, Gordon D. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians. Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 1995. Hawthorne, Gerald F. Word Biblical Commentary: Philippians. Vol. 43. Thomas Nelson, Inc, 2004. Law, David R. Kierkegaard’s Kenotic Christology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Lightfoot, J.B. Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956. Young, William P. The Shack. Los Angeles: Windblown Media, 2007.

Sin in the Community of God’s People: A Narrative Analysis of Joshua 7

Sin is something that should not dwell in the community of God’s people. If one does commit a sin, not only is the individual responsible, but also the community. If sin remains and left uncorrected, and the gravity is great, it not only affects the one who sinned, the ones who are aware of the sin, but its effect also affects the whole community of God’s people. This is exactly what happened to the Israelites in Joshua 7, the sin of one man becomes corporate. This also happens in some churches today.

The story is set right after the victory of the Israelites, when Jericho had fallen. Joshua had prior instruction to the people to “keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction and bring trouble upon it. But all silver and gold, and every vessel of bronze and iron, are holy to the Lord; they shall go into the treasury of the Lord” (6.18). But at the outset of chapter 7 and without the knowledge of Joshua and his men, the narrator lets the reader in on what had transpired: Achan disobeyed, taking with him the spoils from the previous conquest, hence violating the covenant. It is interesting to note that at the outset of the story, both the individual and corporate effects of sin is told. That Israel broke faith, Achan was named and his sin exposed, then the clause “the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel” (7.1). Divine anger was already made known, then eventually, how the sin of one man was taken as the sin of the entire community would unfold.[1] This theme was already made clear.

The conquest would be set against Ai next, and Joshua sent his spies to survey the land. Having been sent to Ai, the spies gave a positive report to Joshua, confident that they could easily defeat and conquer Ai (vv. 2-3). The advised Joshua to send two to three thousand men only for the people of Ai could easily be defeated. Ai’s population was said to be around twelve thousand inhabitants and a city of this size could probably have an army fewer than three thousand. However, fresh from their Jericho victory, the Israelites were incredibly emboldened thinking that they would win the battle again.[2]   However, in the end, they were humiliated through their defeat. The people of Ai rallied them to the gates and struck them at the descent (v.5). Being struck at the descent here gives a more vivid picture of the humiliation the Israelites faced. Thirty six of the three thousand Israelite were killed. Thirty six may be a small number for casualties for three thousand men army. But just the same, there were defeated. Something seems terribly wrong with the turn of events here. Perhaps their overconfidence led to their humiliating defeat, or there could be something more behind it. Where was God in all this?

Going back to Joshua and the spies, the reader is left to think that Joshua planned the conquest out of his own idea. There is nothing in the narrative that would say that he asked the guidance of the Lord. Even the spies’ confidence seemed to border on arrogance. It seemed like the Lord had no say in the plan. However, the narrator has already prepared the reader on what was going to happen next, and the reader begins to anticipate how the spies’ advice would not be good one. Joshua and the Israelites were oblivious of God’s anger that burned against them. They had no clue about Achan’s sin. Because of God’s displeasure over Israel, even their judgment was clouded. The Lord had taken away his guidance over the people, leaving them to their own devices. Their pride had had taken over them, and they had rested their faith on their own strength. They believed they could defeat the army of Ai. Even Joshua never thought about seeking the counsel of God and went on with the carnal advice of his spies. Also, there was no indication that the Lord was with Joshua in all this. This happens when sin does not go uncorrected, or unpunished, and the Lord’s anger burned against his people. His guidance, his presence are withdrawn. This scene shows that when man plans on his own against the backdrop of God’s anger, everything will fail. [3] The Israelites were victories, but this became a bane laced with pride and self-confidence. In the face of victory, one should be watchful so as not to give in to temptation and boasting.[4]

The defeat came as a shock to the Israelites, thinking that God was always with them. Joshua’s prayer (vv. 6-9) was one of bewilderment and anguish. Though he still addressed God in a reverent manner, calling him Sovereign Lord, it did not stop him from expressing his disappointment with God. He echoed the similar complaint made by the Israelites when they were taken out from Egypt. Why had the Lord taken them over to Jordan? To be destroyed? Why the defeat? If victory comes from the Lord, surely defeat could be his own doing, too. Joshua’s complaint was not one that questioned the Lord. It was not a prayer of rebellion. It was a prayer of a man of faith that was combined with bitterness and honestly towards God, especially since he still had no idea of what Achan had done. Joshua tore his clothes and fell before the ark, and the elders did the same, putting dust on their heads. As previously mentioned, Joshua never sought God’s counsel with regards to their attack on Ai, but now, ironically so, the ark of the Lord was once again given attention. Had this been done earlier, then victory could have been achieved.

The Lord answered Joshua, not gently, but in an abrupt and blunt manner. It was obviously a rebuke. The narrator perfectly shows the reader that the Lord’s curt answer was an evidence of his burning anger. His reply was not an announcement of good news. It was not an assurance of victory the next time. It was an accusation against the people of Israel. It was like Joshua was called to a court and was given a guilty verdict. Israel was guilty of violating the covenant.[5] The sin that was mentioned by the narrator in v.1 with regards to the things devoted to destruction, was specified by the Lord v.11, thus strengthening the case against Israel.

 Once again, the communal responsibility became evident in vv. 11-13. The narrator used the pronoun “they” as against “he” which could mean that only one was guilty. And having been found guilty as a corporate people, the Israelites needed to consecrate themselves. The consecration would once again provide a distinction between what was holy and common. God is holy and he would not tolerate the presence in the community of the things devoted to destruction. The Israelites would never win. The guilty must be punished and purged out of the community. The narrator effectively expresses the importance of purity among God’s people. Fellowship with God would be impossible if sin remained in their midst. Defeat was inevitable.

The naming of the guilty was through the slow process of elimination. This was done by the casting of the lots. The people needed to present themselves to the Lord by tribe, or clan, or family. As the lots were cast, there would be a narrowing down of tribes, until it came down to the person who was responsible. The casting of the lots was not done by chance as some people in the modern times would think. This was done so that there would not be any manipulation from the leaders, and the decision would only be left in the hands of the Lord.[6] When the guilty person is finally found out, then he would have the just punishment he deserved. This was good news to the community since they would finally be absolved from the consequence of the sin of one man. The offender would then be destroyed. Per the Lord’s instruction, the offender and everything that he has shall be burned with fire (v.15).

Early in the morning, Joshua set to carry out what the Lord had commanded. When the process of elimination ensued, Judah was chosen. Then it went down to the Zerahites were chosen, then down to the family of Zimri, until it was narrowed down to Achan. Achan’s name, which incidentally means “trouble,” was first mentioned in v. 1, but was never mentioned again until v.18 when he was finally discovered. His genealogy was presented in v. 1 not without a purpose. Some critics say that Achan’s genealogy was important in the story because it takes the readers back to the Zerah, Judah’s son out of his incestuous relationship with Tamar in Gen. 38. This gives justification to the concept of sins of the father reaching down to the succeeding generation.[7] However, this does not seem to hold water. The obvious purpose of the narrator in presenting the genealogy of Achan was in order that the readers may see and better understand the slow process of elimination done in vv. 16-18. With the verse 1 as basis, it becomes easier for the reader to follow the family line that was chosen before it got to Achan.

Finally, the guilty person was singled out and named. In what seemed to be done in a fatherly manner, Joshua confronted Achan and charged to give glory to God in the form of a confession. This he did as he enumerated everything that he had taken: the beautiful cloak, the silver and the gold. He told Joshua that he kept them hidden in the earth in his tent. He might have been enticed by the beautiful things that he saw among the spoils, as evidenced by how the cloak was described, so he took them. He admitted to covetousness (v.21) which was a violation of the tenth commandment (Exo. 20:17). It was not only the sin of covetousness that Achan was guilty of. All along, he was silent and never said a thing. Even though he knew that the search for the offender was ongoing, and that families were being chosen and narrowed down, he still maintained his silence. It was hard to tell if he had an inkling that he would soon be discovered. There could also be a possibility that his sin already hardened his heart already led to a total disbelief in Yahweh. Whatever the reason may be, he held on to his sin until the time when he could no longer run away from it. This was an obvious sign of a hard heart. Achan never intended to confess. If he did, then he would have done so even before the selection and narrowing down of the tribes. He was caught, and that was the only reason for his confession. However, his confession was not an indication of his repentance. The gravity of his sin, which was initially covetousness, was made heavier by his silence and hard-heartedness.

The story further unfolds as Joshua dispatched his messengers to locate Achan’s loots. They did find them, and they were brought to Joshua and to the people of Israel, and laid all of them down before the Lord (v.23). Here, the people of Israel were once again involved, and the narrator brings the reader back to the concept of communal responsibility. Together with Joshua, they took Achan, his plunder, his sons & daughters, his oxen, sheep and donkeys, even his tent, and everything that he had to the Valley of Achor to be punished. (The valley was named as such to remember the one who brought trouble to Israel, who in turn was also brought to trouble by the Lord.)

The punishment that was mentioned in v. 15 was by burning. However, v. 25 also speaks of stoning. It could be that the stoning was done so that all of Israel could participate in the act.[8] Since the whole of Israel became responsible for the sin of one man, and the wrath of God fell upon the community, it could also be proper that the community be responsible for the punishment of the offender. If the sin became communal, the execution of justice was also communal.

So the stoning of the offender was put into action. Everything and everyone who was with Achan were stoned with him. Criticisms were raised against the punishment of Achan’s sons & daughters. But they were obviously part of the guilt. It was quite apparent that it would have been impossible for the father to hide all his plunder without the knowledge of his children. It only meant that they knew about Achan’s sin, and like their father, they never spoke about it.

The third person singular pronoun used in v. 25 “And all Israel stoned him with stones,” does not mean it was only Achan who was stoned, but it was an indication that the use of such pronoun points to him as the main offender. [9] They were burned after the stoning, then piles of stones were heaped on them. Only then was the Lord appeased.

The story of Achan’s sin presented a cycle of sin, defeat, and punishment. This was similar to the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. In the present time, even in churches, we can see this cycle. Unconfessed sins that linger in the congregation carry devastating effects in the church. Many have experienced setbacks and other troubles brought about by sins of immorality in the church. All the more devastating are sins that are known, but are tolerated. Sadly, some churches fall to that prey, and consequences are usually grave.

However, the story of Achan helps the community of God’s people to see their responsibility in this. It is important to be discerning of the condition of each individual. It is not only the reality of judgment that the people of God should be concerned about, but rather, the accountability they have for each one. Achan and his family were stoned to death by all of Israel. The church does not have to wait until the “stoning” of the offender is ready to take place. The gravity of God’s judgment might be lessened, if not avoided all together, if the community does its role in correcting one another.

Could there be a possibility that Achan may have been spared if someone who knew of his sin convinced and encouraged him to turning himself in before it was too late? Perhaps no one will never know. But what the community of God can do today is to be more discerning and be genuinely caring for one another so as to avoid the judgment that befell upon the people of Israel, and then later on, to Achan.

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[1] Marten H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua (Grand Rapids: Eerdsman, 1981), 120.

[2] Frank E. Gaebelien, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 3 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992),284.

[3] Woudstra, op. cit., p.121.

[4] Arthur W. Pink, Gleanings in Joshua (Chicago:Moody, 1964), 178.

[5] Trent C. Bulter, Word Biblical Commentary: Joshua, vol. 7 (Waco: Word Books, 1938), 80).

[6] Gaebelein, op. cit., p.287.

[7] Pink, op. cit., p.179.

[8] Woudstra, op. cit., p.130.

[9] Gaebelein, op. cit., p. 288.

Gearing Up for this Semester

Amazingly, I survived my first year in the seminary. Enrollment is next week so I need to gear up again for the next mind-blowing, but gut-wrenching semester. I’m expecting to have my hands full again since I’m teaching and studying at the same time. The good thing, though, is that I was able to relieve myself from teaching Academic Writing, so I hopefully things will be a bit less stressful. It was so hard to write my own papers and check my students’ papers at the same time. 

I still have a long way to go before I finish my master’s degree, but I know that though it won’t be a breeze, I’ll still have a blast in the process. 

Thank God for the opportunity to study! Soli Deo Gloria over and over again!

 

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Hello, books. We meet again!

ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE

The following is an exegesis of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. This is also my first exegetical paper, and the final requirement for my hermeneutics class. 

Read here.

Journeying with The God Who Is (A Reflection on Exodus)

Life is a journey, as the cliché goes. And in this journey, we are constantly faced with struggles, sins, and even defeat.  All these can lead one to ask the questions, “What kind of God do we worship? Is He even trustworthy? Will He carry me  through?”  The book of Exodus paints a wonderful picture of who this God is. From the Israelite’s captivity, to liberation, to the wilderness experience, to the Promised Land, we get to know this God.

God introduced Himself to Moses with the name I AM WHO I AM in Exodus 3. The name alone says a lot about His character. I AM implies that He exists and is unchanging. It is folly to think that God doesn’t exist when everything around speaks of His presence. He is ever present. But what if He changes His character, or even His mind? Then He cannot be trusted. But He is not a God who is arbitrary and capricious. He is One who stays true to His promise. In Exodus, He had always been with the Israelites, watching over them, and eventually fulfilling the promise that He gave to their forefathers.

Clearly, our God is a compassionate God who is actively involved in the affairs of His people. Exodus shows us how He was moved when He heard the cries of His people. He was their Savior for he came down to rescue His people. It is a remarkable fact that God Himself led the Israelites out of Egypt, then eventually to the Promised Land.

In the midst of Israel’s journey, God was their Provider. He provided them with food, shelter from the heat of the sun by day, and a source of light and heat by night. He gave them protection even during their escape from Egypt.

It is already a staggering fact that this Sovereign God who rules the world came down to save His people.  But more overwhelming was the fact that His presence went with them, and settled among them.

The Exodus story is a mirror of our own journey in life. We were once slaves to sin, but God heard our cries and was moved with compassion. Then He came down to rescue us. We all have our wilderness. It is where the Lord shapes us and conforms us to His. But in our journey, His provides and protects us, and His presence stays with us until we get to the Promised Land.

What then could be the cause of fear for us? Nothing! We can all sleep soundly at night knowing that the God who rules the universe is with us all the way. And no matter what happens, He will never leave us as he carries us through until the end of our journey.

Seminary, Finally!

Finally!! After years of thinking, praying and waiting, I’m now officially a seminary student!  I’m currently taking the program MA in Theology at the Asian Theological Seminary.

I’m ecstatic to have this dream of mine a reality. I’ve prayed and planned for this for years, but somewhere in the course of time, I almost felt like it wasn’t meant to be. But now my work load, class schedule, even my finances, etc.  have amazingly fallen into place.

I praise God for such privilege, and I pray that I will grow more as I learn more, and be more effective in my ministries. To God be the glory!