Tuesday, November 28, 2017

"Mr. Enoch, how to be you po?"

From the free stock photos of pixabay.com

Key verses: Gen. 5:21-24, Heb. 11:5-6, Jude 14-15

"How to be you po?" is a common remark by social media users addressed to persons they admire or look up to. In effect it means "How do I emulate you?" or “How can I be like you?”. Suppose a good public school teacher received a plaque with the words "Most Outstanding Teacher 2017" engraved on it, and then she posted photos of the awarding ceremony, one of her admiring students may post this comment: "Lodi, How to be you po?”In response, the outstanding teacher would then give tips on how to excel in one's work.

Our ultimate model of godly living is Jesus Christ himself. The Father predestined us to be conformed to the likeness of His son (Rom. 8:29). Yet the Bible also encourages us to learn from the life of the faithful and imitate them (Heb. 13:7).

We have a long line of heroes worthy of emulation.
Among the dead,
  •  We have notable Old Testament saints
  •  We have New Testament standouts
  •  We have luminaries from church history
Among the living,
  •  We have contemporary inspirations
  •  We have ordinary Christians inside and outside of the local church whose lives spur us toward love and good deeds (Heb.10:24).

Out of that long and rich roster, I have chosen Enoch for today's blog post. One may ask: "Why Enoch? What's so remarkable about him?" There are two reasons for this:

First, the Genesis account of Enoch's life is one of the earliest hints of death's defeat, perhaps second only to the protoevangelium (Genesis 3:15). The most telling effect of man's fall in Eden is the penalty of death (Gen.3:19; Rev.21:8). The protoevangelium is the first announcement of the gospel. It says that in the future, one of Eve's offspring will give the serpent a fatal blow to the head thereby destroying Satan and his works. That is the first hint of death's defeat.

For the next hint of death's defeat, we have to go to the genealogy in Genesis 5. There's a clause that repetitively appears at the end of each person's life account: "then he died". Adam died (v.5); Seth died (v.8); Enosh died (v.11); Kenan died (v.14)... We could go on and on with the genealogy, and we can find this clause again and again: "then he died". It continues to our very own ancestry; that's why your great grand father and your great grand mother are no longer around. They lived, then they died because of the penalty of sin imposed at Eden.

The hint of death's defeat is found in Genesis 5:21-24. The refrain "then he died" is not found here:
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
It is further made clear in Hebrews 1:5,
"By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away."

The other remarkable thing in the life of Enoch is how he was commended by the Holy Scriptures. Hebrews 11:5c says, "For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God."

This saying is almost an axiom, "You cannot please everybody." Some will find delight in you. Yet some will also be unimpressed with you, or worse, some will be hostile to you. Enoch identified whom he cannot afford to displease, and that is God. So should we. We can afford to offend everybody as long as we know that the One who sits on the throne is pleased.

Because we believe pleasing God is the only thing that matters, we go to Mr. Enoch and ask him: "Mr. Enoch, how to be you po?"

From the limited biblical data we have, here I present this list on how to be like Enoch.

FIRST, to be like Enoch, you have to be consistent in your walk of godliness.

The key fact here is that he walked with God 300 years.

The ideal path of spiritual growth is an ever increasing progress in sanctification. But because of carelessness in playing with sin, our growth is derailed by our inconsistencies in many areas of Christian life. We fall, we rise again, only to be entangled again and fall by the same sin or another.

Enoch's life is an evidence that a consistent Christian walk in a period of 300 years is achievable. It may be tough and difficult, but it is doable. We should also take into account that our lives are much shorter. We will not even live half of 300 years. If Enoch could sustain a life of holiness for 300 years, then you could consistently pursue righteousness till 70 or 80 depending on the length of your earthly life.

One may say, "it is much easier to live a holy life in Enoch's day. For the modern generation, there is just so much evil influence around that it makes it difficult." But it is wrong to think Enoch was living in some golden age of holiness and morality on earth. We could cite two pieces of evidence:

1st, the Bible's description of the The Pre-Flood inhabitants of the world is this: "The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time." (Gen.6:5)

2nd, when Enoch prophesied (Jude 14-15), the content of his message was mainly judgment against wicked acts and wicked words indicating that the people around him are evil in their words and deeds. It was the message Enoch received from God because it was the need of the day.

So what can we conclude then? We conclude that even if we are living in an age of rampant evil, a consistent walk in godliness is doable.

SECOND, to be like Enoch, you have to find delight in fellowship with God.

The phrase "walked with God" indicates friendship and intimacy. If walking with someone is not a delightful experience, would it last 300 years? No way! Relationships are broken when at least one party no longer find delight in it. The same is true with our relationship with God. We will not walk with God if we find no delight in his friendship and intimacy.

Do you enjoy spending time with God? Do you find delight in feasting on his word? Do you find pleasure in prayer? Is there joy in your heart when you worship him? Without delight in God's presence, you will never be like Enoch.

THIRD, to be like Enoch, you should submit your will to God in which way to go.

For two people to continue walking together, there should be an agreement on which way to go (Amos 3:3). They cannot walk together if they insist going to opposite directions. They will just quarrel so we could not count them as two less lonely people in world 😞

In walking with God, it will not be the Almighty who will adjust to your wills and desires. He is Lord; you are not. You submit to Him! Find delight in submitting to him knowing he is the all-wise God. He knows the best destination for your journey with him.

FOURTH, to be like Enoch, you have to be a man of faith.

When the author of Hebrews understood the fact that Enoch pleased God, his conclusion was faith must be present in Enoch. For in the theology of the author, it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). His logic goes like this:
  1. It is impossible to please God without faith
  2. Enoch pleased God.
  3. Therefore, Enoch was a man of faith.

Enoch's faith consists of two components (verse 6):

  • Belief in God's existence.
  • Belief that he rewards those who seek him.

The world lives for power and gold. If you don't possess power and gold, the world will brand you as a loser. They will think you're living a miserable life. But if you are a man of faith, you are fully convinced that as long as you are seeking God, you will never be left empty-handed. He rewards men of faith.

FIFTH, to be like Enoch, you have to be a bearer and herald of truth (Jude 14-15).

The revelation Enoch received was scarce. He didn't have a copy of the New Testament. He didn't even have a copy of the Pentateuch. We have a fuller and richer deposit of truth. We have more protection against sin (Psalm 119:9,11). We have a fuller and richer message to share (Hebrews 1:1). We have all the tools that were unavailable in Enoch's day.  If Enoch was faithful bearer and herald of truth with the little amount of revelation he received, then you should be a more faithful bearer and herald of the full revelation we possess.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Give Us Today Our Daily Bread (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 6)

You may have had noticed that none of the petitions mentioned so far are concerned with the disciple's personal needs. They are all God-ward in focus: God's name, God's kingdom and God's will. So our prayers should not be motivated by self-centeredness but by a desire to exalt God.

"Give us today our daily bread"-- this is the first petition focused on the disciple's personal need.Yet even this request must be grounded upon the desire to glorify God. We want to feed our body that it might have the energy, strength and vitality to advance causes that are related to the first three petitions:

  • the cause of hollowing God's name
  • the cause of expanding his kingdom
  • the cause of fulfilling God's will

We can understand this better if we have a correct view of the human body:
1. Since God is the Creator of all, every human body belongs to him (Psalm 24:1-2)
2. God's ownership of the human body has a richer sense among us Christians because we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
3. The human body must be used to glorify God (1 Corinthians 6:20; Colossians 1:16)
If these three principles are clear in our minds, then it will be easy for us to see that taking care of the human body must have a God-centered focus. There are just so many shallow reasons to be health conscious like having the abs to impress the girls or having the curves to attract the boys. The only reason that matters is so that we can have the strength and vitality to serve God.

This petition also reminds us that our very survival depends on God. The word "bread" here is symbolic of all our physical needs. These are necessities, not luxuries: food, shelter, clothing, and for the sick, medication. And if ever we have so much in life to cover these needs, let us not forget that these blessings are from the Lord's hand (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).

Monday, November 20, 2017

Your Will Be Done (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 5)

In a world where selfishness reigns, praying for the Lord's will to be done is radical. The knees bow before the Sovereign ruler and the heart submits it's wills and desires to Him who knows what's best. Let us learn this discipline from someone who actually prayed "Your will be done."

Clothed in the frailties of human flesh, he was then thinking about the horrors and pains of his impending crucifixion, plus the experience bearing the weight of sin when he himself is sinless. So he prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." (Luke 22:42). For our lives to be consistent with this petition...

  • We must prioritize God's will over life's necessities (John 4:34)
  • We must strive to do whatever is pleasing to the Father (John 5:30 and 8:29)
  • We must be obedient to God even if it means suffering for him and dying for him (Philippians 2:8)

"On earth as it is in heaven"
In heaven, there is no rebellion. In heaven, all the angels obey. So we long for the same thing to be true on earth when men submit to God's will without reservation.


Your Kingdom Come (A Sample Prayer for the Lord's Followers, 4)

We just know there is something terribly wrong in this world. There is pain, sickness, suffering, poverty, calamity, crime, injustice, deception, wars, and many other things. Man has proposed different solutions: education, change in government, economic reforms, etc., yet all these had apparently failed.The petition "Your kingdom come" comes from a heart that longs for the end of all the wrong things in this world.

In a sense, God has always ruled. He owns this planet and all it's inhabitants are his subjects (Psalm 24:1). Yet there is also a sense in which darkness reigns (1 John 5:19). The good news is the rule of the evil one will not last forever. It will be cut short (Rev. 11:15).

The early church went through some of the toughest times in history. So one of it's prayers was "Marana tha" (Our Lord,come!; 1 Corinthians 16:22b). The petitions "Marana tha" and "Your kingdom come" are very similar, for both are expressions of the longing for all the wrong things to end upon the return of the Messiah. I fear that the modern church has become too comfortable in this present world that it no longer prays these prayers with as much earnestness as they did in the early church. We could only say these petitions with sincerity if we are putting our hopes on the the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior (Titus 2:13). We look forward to the day when all earthly miseries end. No more death. No more grief. No more crying. No more pain (Rev. 21:4).

Professor Charles L. Quarles puts it this way:
"Praying for the coming kingdom prevents the disciple from being so focused on this present life that he neglects to prepare for the next. Praying for the coming kingdom empowers him to live selflessly now with the awareness that enormous reward awaits Him in the future. Praying for the coming kingdom reminds the believer that God’s work is not finished and that the best is yet to come."1

1. Sermon On The Mount: Restoring Christ's Message to the Modern Church (B&H Academic)