Child’s Faith

Q. Since I was a child, I have always believed in John 3:16 but had no concept of Eph 1:4-7 or 2 Co 5:21. All I knew was that Yahweh is the only true god instead of Buddha. Was I saved as a gentile child?

A. Only God who knows your heart, then and now, can answer your question. However, I can offer a few comments:

1. Being saved depends on your relationship with God, not how much you know:
Jn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
• Jn 3:36 He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.
• Jn 20:31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.
• 1 Jn 5:11-13 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

Note that John’s consistent testimony is that:
• Eternal life is in the Son
• Has the Son = Has life
• Does not have the Son = Does not have life.
How do you have the Son? By believing in Him.
What does believe mean? Not intellectual assent, but:
• Trusting that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God or God the Son;
• Obeying the Son to demonstrate that the trust is genuine.
John said nothing about head knowledge, how much theology you know. It’s all about trust, as a child trusts in his/her parents, and depends totally on them for everything. It is a matter of the heart. I’ve heard lectures and read books by unbelieving “theology professors” with several doctorates, but I don’t think they are saved. Now whether you have the simple, complete, faith of a child, only God knows and you know.

2. You quoted Eph 1:4-7 and 2 Co 5:21, both deep truths penned by Paul:
Eph 1:4-7 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace
• 2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Eph 1:4-7 teaches:
1. Election (He chose),
2. Sanctification (holy),
3. Perfection (blameless),
4. Predestination,
5. Adoption,
6. God’s will,
7. Free grace,
8. Redemption,
9. Forgiveness, while
2 Co 5:21 teaches:
10. Jesus as perfect Man (no sin),
11. Substitutionary atonement (to be sin on our behalf),
12. Imputation (righteousness of God).

I doubt any new Christian would have a full grasp of these dozen subjects, yet they are saved the moment they placed their trust in Christ alone and commit to follow Him. Christ gave them the right to become children of God (Jn 1:12). I do not mean to belittle theology, but it’s the heart that counts, not the head.

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Abortion

Q. In general Christians are against abortion but abortion is not in the Bible. If my own daughter got raped, I won’t hesitate to support her in getting an abortion. What do you think?

A. The word “abortion” does not occur in the Bible but the idea does. The principle is in “You shall not murder”, which is reiterated 5 times in Ex 20:13; Deut 5:17; Mt 5:21, 19:18 and Rom 13:9. The word “murder” translates:
• the Hebrew verb ratsach, which means to slay, kill, whether premeditated, accidental (manslaughter), as avenger, or intentional, to assassinate
• the Greek verb phoneuo, meaning to kill, slay, commit murder.

Contrary to what pro-choice claims, the fetus is not part of the woman’s body. It has its own DNA distinct from that of his/her mother. According to the Bible, life begins at conception, not after the baby is born:
Ps 51:5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
• Ps 139:13-16 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.

So to kill an unborn baby for the sake of convenience is premeditated or intentional murder, and trespass the sixth commandment.

Having said that, I sympathize with anyone’s wife or daughter who was impregnated when raped. It is not her fault that the violence was forced upon her, nor the fetus’ fault who is simply a passive recipient of the violence. It is the rapist’s fault who should be punished for his crime. So why kill the innocent baby for the perpetrator’s crime?

The victim may not want to raise up an unwanted child, a reminder of the wrong done to her. But why commit a second wrong by abortion, when it can’t rectify the first wrong of rape? Hard as it is to ask, if she does not want the child, can she deliver the child and then give him/her up for adoption? There are many couples lining up to accept and love the innocent child. Can the mom do good by bearing with the pregnancy and then place her child with a loving family? This is redemption by turning a bad thing into good. I hope and pray more would consider it.

Humanity of Jesus

Matthew 26 38 b

Q. Mt 26:38 “Jesus said to them, My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.” If Jesus can look through the corridors of time and see generations of people from every nation and walk of life being redeemed and reconciled to God through His blood shed on the cross, and the glory that awaits Him when He rose from the dead, why would He have this deep sorrow feeling? Is this because He is also a man?

A. It is true that Jesus knew that countless will be saved by His sacrifice and the glory of the resurrection. He was not afraid of the physical pain and the shame of the cross, yet He was deeply grieved:
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
• Rev 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
• Heb 12:2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
• Mk 14:34 And He said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.”
• Jn 12:27 Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.

I believe this is because He is also a man, particularly in two aspects:
Positively, the Son had never been separated from the Father in eternity past, but was about to be abandoned by the Father:
Mt 27:46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?” that is, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?

Negatively, the sinless Holy One was about to take on the sins of the whole world (1 Jn 2:2):
2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The enormity of this burden must have weighed on Him so much that He was grieved to the point of death. We were sinful and alienated from the Father, and would not have understood these emotions which were unique to Jesus.

Redemption Money (2 of 5)

Matthew 17 24-27 b

(Continued from yesterday)

(2) Evidently Peter had to pay this temple tax too (otherwise there was no need for Jesus to pay it for him), but why didn’t the tax collectors also chase Peter for payment? Some commentator said their primary target was Jesus not Peter, so they didn’t bother chasing him. Again my question is the same as above. Would this constitute eisegesis?

The “temple tax” was tribute money started by Moses for the upkeep of the tabernacle, and collected from every male 20 years old and over:

Ex 30:13-14 This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to the LORD. Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD.
• Ex 38:26 a beka a head (that is, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary), for each one who passed over to those who were numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men.
• 2 Chron 24:9 They made a proclamation in Judah and Jerusalem to bring to the LORD the levy fixed by Moses the servant of God on Israel in the wilderness.

To outsiders, both Jesus and Peter would fall under this law and have to pay the tax. The commentator’s assertion that they may be after Jesus and not Peter is remotely possible, but highly unlikely given the background. Again, I do not see this as eisegesis. He does not seem to be pushing his own preconceived ideas. It is just one not carefully thought out explanation without a systematic bias behind it.

(3) There are different interpretations on Jesus paying the tax. These include:-
a) The temple belonged to God, so as Son of God, Jesus need not pay temple tax. On the other hand, as Son of Man He had to pay it as it was universal for men aged over 20, so it’s a case of struggle within His duality. Other disagreed saying that apart from being used to maintain the temple, this tax has the inherent meaning of redemption of sin and since Jesus did not sin, so even though He was Son of Man, He still need not pay.

The key turns on Jesus’ question and answer:
Mt 17:25b, 26b From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” … Then the sons are exempt.

Jesus asked “sons”, not “Son”. He was not referring to Himself as the Son of God, and the Son of Man was never in the picture. So this is not a struggle within His duality, especially when Jesus knew sons are exempt.

Regarding redemption of sins, it is true that when Moses levied this tax, it carried the meaning of atonement:

Ex 30:12 When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them
• Ex 30:15-16 The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to the LORD to make atonement for yourselves. You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves.

Jesus did not sin and did not need to make atonement for Himself. So He did not have to pay the tax.

(To be continued)