Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj is no Agabus

Abdul's comment is just one of the many this blog received a few hours after ABS-CBN's late night news program Bandila aired that shameful hoax. Though I have already posted about my general feeling about these comments, I decided to write a separate post on this one.

Abdul asserts that if I were present in the early church, I would brand Agabus as a false teacher just as I have done to Selvaraj. He claims that Agabus uttered two prophecies that did not came to pass:
i. that there would be a famine in the Roman world (Acts 11:28)
ii. that Paul would be bound and turned over to the Gentiles (Acts 21:10-11)

But is Abdul correct?

I. The Predicted Famine
"One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius." (Acts 11:28 NASB)

There are records written by ancient historians of a series of bad harvests during the reign of Claudius that resulted in famine conditions:
  • Suetonius (Vita Claudius)
  • Tacitus (Annales)
  • Dio Cassius (History of Rome)
  • Orosius (History)

In addition to the historians mentioned above, there is a reference to a famine in Josephus' account of Queen Helena's conversion to Judaism. Josephus records that Helena's pilgrimage to Jerusalem at around 46 A.D. was advantageous to the people because:
"at that time the city was hard pressed by famine and many were perishing from want of money to purchase what they needed. Queen Helena sent some of her attendants to Alexandria to buy grain for large sums and others to Cyprus to bring back a cargo of dried figs. Her attendants speedily returned with these provisions, which she thereupon distributed among the needy. She has thus left a very great name that will be famous forever among our whole people for her benefaction." (Antiq. XX, 51-52 [ii.5]).
II. The Predicted Arrest of Paul
"As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul's belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says: 'In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" (Acts 21:10-11 NASB)

This one makes me scratch my head. How could Abdul miss this? Unlike the first prophecy, one does not need to consult extra-bibical sources on this one. The fulfillment of the prophecy is indicated clearly in the text itself! (see verses 27-33)

Agabus and Sevaraj belong to two different categories. The former is a genuine prophet affirmed by Luke's account and secular historians while the former is a false prophet by the standards of Deuteronomy 18:20-22 for serious blemishes in his recent track record (click HERE)

Works consulted:
1. John Macarthur, The Macarthur Study Bible
2. Richard Longenecker, Acts in the Expositor's Bible Commentary (1st edition)

Facebook Public Posts (March, 2014)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Comments received a few hours after Bandila aired that irresponsible "special report"

It's been more than a month now since ABS-CBN broadcasted that irresponsible special report on a "flesh-eating" skin disease "gradually spreading" in Pangasinan through it's late evening newscast Bandila. The 2nd part of the report was never shown on TV for in less than 24 hours, other media organizations and government authorities have conclusively shown that the report from the giant network was a hoax. The matter is now in the hands of the network's internal Ombudsman for investigation. For how long will this investigation process last? I have no idea.

The intent of this post however is not add more criticism to ABS-CBN for they received many already except from loyal fantards who would sing praises to the the network no matter what. This post is a personal lament. Though I'm glad and thankful that the Lord speedily exposed the falsehood of the report, I'm lamenting the fact that the incident manifested the gross lack of discernment in a large portion of the Filipino evangelical community. When I say "discernment", I simply mean the ability to distinguish what is right from what is wrong, the ability to identify the gem of truth from a pile falsehoods.

The Spirit of truth resides in us, right? The Spirit guides us, right? But why is it that within the hours immediately following the report of Bandila, the most vocal accessories in spreading the falsehood in social media are professing Christians? They are quick to tell the world, "See? We told you our prophets are for real!" They were also quick to confront fellow believers who questioned the credibility of their Indian prophets. Some of them found their way to my November 28 post Should Pangasinan Fear the Skin Disease Prophecy?: an Examination of Sadhu Sundar Selvaraj's Recent Track Record.

I've created a Facebook photo album of the comments I received the hours immediately following Bandila's special report. Click HERE

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Purpose of Peace

China's constant acts of bullying within our seas energized intercessions for peace. That is of course the right thing to do; we should ask for God's intervention. No one wants war; no one wants bloodshed especially if your nation's armed forces are weaker compared to the bully nation. But perhaps we should go deeper than just praying for peace. We should ask ourselves "What is the purpose of peace?" Without a proper answer to this question, we may be praying for purely selfish reasons.

Living in London at the onset of the Second World War, Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a witness of how men and women crowded places of worship to pray for peace during those troubled times. Here's an excerpt from one of his sermons. The principles were drawn from Acts 9:31 and 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
It is not enough that we should desire peace merely that we avoid the horror and suffering of war, and all the dislocations and hardships and interference with ordinary life that are consequent upon it. Our real desire for peace should be based upon the further desire to have the fullest opportunity to live the godly and the holy life, and to have the maximum amount of time in which to build ourselves up in the faith. Man's chief business in life is to serve and to glorify God. That is why we are here on earth; all other things are subservient to this-- all the gifts and the pleasures which God gives us so freely. That is the chief end and object of man's life; and consequently he should desire peace because it enables him to do that more freely and fully than he can during a state of war.

But is that our reason for desiring peace? Is that the real motive in our prayers for peace? It is not for me to judge, but one cannot be blind to facts. Far too often, I fear, the motive has been purely selfish-- merely the avoidance of the consequences of war. Indeed, it has frequently failed to rise even to that level, and one has felt that many have desired peace merely in order to avoid a disturbance of the kind of life which they were living and enjoying so heartily.

What kind of life was that? In a word, it was almost the exact opposite of that described in our two passages of Scripture (Acts 9:31; 1 Timothy 2:1-2). Under the blessing of peace, men and women, in constantly increasing numbers, have forsaken God and religion and have settled down to a life which is essentially materialistic and sinful.

Why Does God Allow War?
p.91-92; Crossway Books