Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ang Talinghaga ng Kaibigang Nangangailangan

See part 1 Here

Hating-gabi, at palibhasa'y buwan ng Enero, malamig ang simoy ng hangin. Kaya naman mahimbing na natutulog sina Mang Panchito, Aling Chichay, at kanilang anim na mga supling. Nagsisiksikan man sila sa munting kubong iyon, masarap pa ring matulog sa ibabaw ng banig na nakalatag sa kawayang sahig.

Biglang may bumasag sa katahimikan ng gabi. "Kumpare! kumpare!" tawag ng isang tao mula sa labas ng kubo. Kahit hirap na hirap si Mang Panchito sa pagdilat ng kanyang mga mata, nakilala pa rin niya ang pamilyar na tinig na tumatagos sa dingding. Ang tinig na iyon ay sa kaibigan niyang si Mang Dolphy.

"Pahingi naman ng dalawang gatang ng bigas o kahit kaning-lamig. Sapagkat habang ako'y natutulog nang mahimbing kagaya mo, ginising ako ni Kumpareng Cachupoy. Naglalakbay siya patungo sa ika-pitong burol at minarapat niyang sa tahanan ko magpalipas ng gabi. Hiyan-hiya ako dahil wala man lang akong maihain sa kanya. Tulungan mo naman ako, Pare!" ika ni Mang Dolphy.

May bahid ng galit ang tugon ni Mang Panchito, "Huwag mo akong gambalain! Wala akong maibibigay sa iyo. Heto nga't malalim na ang gabi at nagpapahinga na ako sampu ng aking pamilya."

Ngunit hindi natinag si Mang Dolphy. Sa tindi ng kanyang pangangailangan ay nagpakapal ng mukha at hindi tumigil sa pangungulit. Sa wakas ay sumuko si Mang Panchito. Hindi siya nakatiis kaya't siya'y bumangon. Iniabot niya kay Mang Dolphy hindi lamang ang kaning-lamig kundi pati ang isang lata ng sardinas at dalawang piraso ng saging.

At iyon ay kanyang ginawa hindi sa ngalan ng Pagkakaibigan kundi sa ngalan ng Tulog.

Kaya't sinasabi ko sa inyo: humingi kayo at kayo'y bibigyan; humanap kayo at makakasumpong; kumatok at kayo'y pagbubuksan.

Kayong mga ama na naririto: kung hihingi ba ang inyong anak ng ulam, bibigyan ba ninyo ng ahas? Kung siya'y hihingi ng lugaw, susubuan ba ninyo ng buhangin? Kung gayon na kayong mga masasama ay nagkakaloob ng mga bagay na mabubuti sa inyong mga anak, eh 'di higit pang tutugunan ng Mabuting Ama sa langit ang inyong mga pangangailangan. Hindi lamang mga bagay na pansamantala ang ibibigay Niya, kundi pati ang Banal na Espiritu na siyang bukal ng ginhawa't kapanatagan.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Parable of the Persistent Friend

About half a decade ago, Pastor Onofre Malazo, Jr. of Guiding Light Christian Church (Dagupan) picked a handful of church members and assembled a class. Week after week, he patiently taught them lessons on bible interpretation, church history, Biblical Greek, various subjects of theology (Trinity, inerrancy, etc) and some contemporary theological trends (pragmatism, easy believism) etc.

Lately, from the mixed pile of garbage and precious things in my room, I recovered a three-page homework which I prepared for that class.

One of the earliest books we studied page by page in that class was Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart's How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. In the chapter on parables, Fee translates the Parable of the Good Samaritan into our own context. He retells it in modern points of reference in an attempt to give the contemporary audience the same emotions that the original hearers experienced. In Fee's version, the counterpart of the half dead man is a stranded family, a bishop for the priest and a Kiwanis Club president for the Levite.

Pastor Malazo asked each member of the class to choose a parable translate in in our own context the way Fee did.

My chosen parable is the one found in Luke 11:5-8 Some call it  The Parable of the Persistent Friend.
For this post, I will include only the exegetical portion of the homework I prepared. I shall post the contemporary retelling of the  parable for the next blog entry.

The Parable of the Persistent Friend

"Then he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, `Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.'

"Then the one inside answers, `Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs."
(Luke 11:5-8 NIV)

Friend A and Friend B are neighbors. One midnight, while Friend A is in deep slumber with his wife and children in an overcrowded single-room house1, Friend B knocks at the door and with a sense of urgency he calls, "Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him (11:5-6).

In fairness to Friend b, he was the first one who was disturbed. Friend C is on a journey and he visits Friend B on the worst possible time. Is there no inn around? Is he on a cost cutting measure? Or does he simply miss his friend badly? I don't know.

In the ancient east, "hospitality is a sacred duty"2. Alfred Edersheim says "Israel was always distinguished for hospitality" not only in the Bible but also in the Rabbinical tradition3.

Friend B is not asking for much-- just three loaves of bread; a simple meal for an unexpected visitor. It was not unusual for homes way back then to run out of bread. The poor operates under a subsistence economy-- that is they live under the barest means to sustain life. Furthermore, Barclay points out that "only enough for the day's needs was baked because, if it was kept and became stale, no one would wish to eat it."4

Friend A responds. The door is still locked but his voice passes through it. The first words that came out of his mouth were "DON"T BOTHER ME !!!"

Yet Friend B did not give up. He kept on shamelessly pounding the door. Finally he succeeds. "Though he will not get up and give him bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man's boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs." (11:8)

The Greek word translated as "boldness" is "anaideia. Joseph Thayer defines it as "shamelessness" and "impudence" 5.

In other words, Friend A gave NOT in the name of friendship but in the name of sleep. He gave NOT out of compassion but out of irritation for Friend B's "annoying persistence"6.
The Parable's Intended Response

First, what is not intended in the text: The parable is not saying that our prayers will be answered by annoying God or irritating him. No one could twist the arm of God. The point of the parable is explained in the verses that follow (v.9-13)

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Our Lord wants us to be bold and persistent in prayer because of the goodness of the Father. The most generous persons, even the best dads in the world are sinners. If sinners give upon request, how much more will the Father, who is perfectly holy-- untainted by sin, will give good gifts to His children. We should not give up praying because the Father will not withold the things beneficial to us. He is willing to give not just the temporal things we need, but even the Holy Spirit, the source of all comfort.

1. Howard Vos, New Illustrated Bible Manners and Customs
2. William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible
3. Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life
4. Barclay, ibid
5. Joseph Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
6. John Macarthur, GTY broadcast 702 DZAS

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rejoicing in Present Hardships and Sufferings

Part 4 of 4: Some Fruits of Justification Series
Gleaned from Romans 5:1-4

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (NIV)

Because we have been justified, we could rejoice even in the most difficult times of our lives.

Of course rejoicing here is not denying our pains. It's not moving around the street shouting “Hallelujah!, my only son has cancer!" Christians still mourn over the pain they are going through. For how could we call it suffering if it is pleasant? Heb. 12:11 “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful..."

Rejoicing in present hardships means finding comfort in the fact that God is doing something and what he is doing is beneficial to us.

" Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Heb.12:11)

When we suffer, we can rest in confidence that God is for us not against us, and he is using our sufferings to make us better.

It says here that our sufferings produce perseverance. Hebrews 12:1 presents the Christian life as a race. And it seems to me that this is a long distance run. This is not a sprint. If this is a hundred meter dash, the emphasis would have to be speed. But the quality emphasized here that the runners need is endurance.

Heb.12:12-13 reveals that sometimes we become to weary and weak too finish the race. Here in Rom.5, it is shown that the means by which God builds endurance among the weaklings is by subjecting them to suffering.

Verse 4 of our text says that after endurance is built, then comes character development. Suffering weans us away from sin. We see more and more of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23). We see more and more of love for God, the brethren and the rest of humanity (1 Cor.13).

Enduring hardships is also a test of the genuineness of our faith:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." (1 Peter 1:6-7).

You are not as Christlike as you are today without those pains you experienced in the past. Do you have a model Christian in mind? Why don't you try interviewing him or her for the post-justification sufferings he or she has to go through.

When perseverance is built up and character honed, the last link will be hope. It will only build your hope for the future. Your faith will be strengthened. His faithfulness to us amidst our present sufferings is just a preview of his faithfulness to fulfill promised future blessings.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Zodiac Change and the Unchanging God

The next time he opens the newspaper to the horoscope column, what Zodiac sign applies to him? Will he read the Aries forecast or should he shift to Pieces?

You see people are somewhat confused about this news on shifting zodiac signs.

I don't understand the various astrological systems. I don't understand the difference between the Western system vs. Vedic System vs. Chinese system. But why should I entrust my life to the positions of the sun, moon, stars and planets? I would rather put my trust in the Creator rather than on created things.

Moreover, the biblical data shows that God hates astrology.
When Israel was about to enter the Promised Land, God warned them against the pagan practices of their neighbors. One of these abominable practices in the sight of God is divintion-- and Astrology is a form of divination.

Jer.8:1-2, 10:2
Those who inquired of the the sun, moon and stars were condemned.

Isaiah 47:13-15
I shall just copy from my bible software and paste it here without commentary:

    Let your astrologers come forward,
  those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
    let them save you from what is coming upon you.

  Surely they are like stubble;
    the fire will burn them up.
  They cannot even save themselves
    from the power of the flame.
  Here are no coals to warm anyone;
    here is no fire to sit by.

  That is all they can do for you--
    these you have labored with
    and trafficked with since childhood.
  Each of them goes on in his error;
    there is not one that can save you.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

5th Halo-halo Huwebes

"... we should likewise see in those affairs reported in our daily paper the sovereign hand of God just as much as we see it in the Bible. Of course, we don't have the advantage of the divinely revealed explanation of today's events, as we do of those recorded in the Bible, but that does not make God's sovereign rule today any less certain. God recorded in His Word specific instances of his sovereign rule over history in order that we might trust Him in the affairs of history as they unfold before us today. we should remember that, for those experiencing the events recorded in the biblical narratives, God's hand was no more apparent to them in those events than His hand is apparent to us today in ours."
- Jerry Bridges
Trusting God, p.80

The Peter Syndrome

"The Peter Syndrome is a deadly disease rampant amongst modern Roman Catholic apologists. And it is a disease that makes you see every reference to Peter anywhere in an early father as somehow relevant to the bishop in Rome even if that father never makes that connection himself, never shows that he believes the bishop of Rome is the vicar of Christ on earth, never says that Peter's successor sit only on the sit in Rome, it doesn't matter as long as an early father says something nice about Peter, therefore he is in support of the bishop of Rome."
- James R. White

Grace Changes Our Vocabulary
"Filthiness, foolish talk, and crude joking are 'out of place'-- they're forbidden not because they're on some arbitrary "banned words" list, but because they reflect the heart and attitude of those who disregard God and his Word. Living in a way that's distinct from the world means speaking in a way that's distinct from the world. Grace changes us from the inside out, and a changed heart will lead to a changed vocabulary.."
- Craig Cabaniss
God, My Heart, and Media
chapter 5 in "Worldliness"
C.J. Mahaney, editor 

What is "Sixpence None the Richer"?

Leigh Nash: A little boy asks his father is he can get a Sixpence which is a very small amount of English currency for the boy to go and get a gift for his father and then the father gladly accepts the gift; he's really happy with it but he also realizes that he is not any richer for the transaction because he gave his son the money in the first place.

David Letterman:
He bought his own gift

Leigh Nash:
... C.S. Lewis was comparing that to his belief that God has given him the gift and us the gifts that we posses and to serve him the way we should. We should do it with humble hearts realizing how we get the gifts in the first place.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rejoicing in the Hope of Future Glory

Part 3 of 4: Some Fruits of Justification Series
Gleaned from Romans 5:1-4

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (NIV)

The word “hope” here is not how we usually use it. Hindi ito yung walang katiyakang "SANA" lang. Hindi ito tulad nang kanta ni Ariel Rivera:

“Sana kahit minsan ay mapansin ako..."

There is certainty in Christian hope. For instance, the return of Jesus has been called the blessed hope in Titus 2:13. there is nothing uncertain about the Lord's return. It will surely come to pass. And so here “hope of the glory of God” is certain that's why it is worth rejoicing in. When Jesus came, his followers saw his glory, full of grace and truth (John 1:14), but the fullness of his glory is yet to be revealed. That is the hope we are rejoicing in.

Not only that, when he finally reveals the fulness of his glory, we will be given the privilege of sharing in that glory. I am not saying we will be gods, leave that doctrine to Mormonism. But Scripture reveals that we will never be the same again when God finally grants us glorified bodies

1 John 3:2-- "...  But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."

Col.3:4-- "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory."

By then, we will no longer be subject to pain and sickness, and death. We will face death and taunt him: “O death where is your victory, O death where is your sting” (1 Cor. 15:55)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Access to and Standing in God's Sphere of Grace

Part 2 of 4: Some Fruits of Justification Series
Gleaned from Romans 5:1-4

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (NIV)

This could be treated in two separate points; one point for our access to God's grace and another point to our standing in God's grace. But because the two verbs are both used in relation to grace, I'll put them together.

Photo Credit: Virtual Math Museum

By using the phrase “sphere of Grace”, I see grace here as an area. We have entered into this area of grace, we are standing in this area of grace where we receive nothing but grace. An area where we receive all God's blessings that john calls grace upon grace.

What do you mean by access into God's grace?
When the government has finally solved the Oakwood Mutiny, with Antonio Trillanes and the rest of his cohorts already in jail, the authorities pursued Sen. Gringo Honasan  for his alleged participation in the mutiny, yet they could not find him. GMA-7 was able to track him down. Reporter Sandra Aguinaldo asked why was he hiding. The Senator replied, “I am not hiding, I am just inaccessible”.

Well, whether he was hiding or not, my point is it is possible for a person to be not hiding but inaccessible. You may see the the city mayor daily. He is not hiding from you. But you have no access to him. You cannot pour out your complaints heart to heart. You have no means to make your personal requests known. He is so near yet so far.

Eph.2:11-13- "Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ."

What does in mean to stand in the grace of God?
“...It is a state in which a believer lives. God's free giving to us does not stop when we become Christians. It continues to be poured out on us so much that we can be said to live in a constant state of grace.” (Douglas Moo, NIVAC)

Hindi paminsang-minsan lamang ang pagtangap natin ng pagpapala; ito ay walang patid, tuloy-tuloy tila agos ng batis na kailanman ay hindi natutuyuan.

After justification, we live in this place where God's blessing is being poured out on us unceasingly--- totally opposite of our condition before justification: the state of condemnation.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Tragedy in "The Book of Eli"

I watched The Book of Eli because BARM's Justyn M. recommended it in one of the threads. I do admire some elements of the film:
  • It calls us back to Bible reading. Eli read it everyday.
  • It calls us back to Scripture memorization.Eli dictates the whole English Bible to a secretary from his memory.
  • I like Eli's strong conviction like the way he resisted the temptation of Solara
  • It reminds me of Pastor Jun Malazo's teaching that we are immortal until the work assigned to us is finished. Eli was supernaturally bullet-proof until the later part of the film.
But it did not solve a large problem. Its tragic because in the film, the Hebrew and Greek texts were lost forever!

The tragedy is aggravated further because the bible that will be used in the new world will be the NKJV (which Eli mistakenly calls the KJV!!!).

"The only reason for retaining the NKJV is if you are among the less than one-tenth of one percent of all textual critics in the world who actually think the KJV and NKJV did use the better manuscripts... Time to put the NKJV on the shelf if you own one and get a modern translation that uses an accurate textual base." (-Craig Blomberg)

"... the NKJV revisers eliminated the best feature of the KJV (its marvelous expression of the English language) and kept the worst (its flawed text)... This is why for study you should use almost any modern translation rather than the KJV or the NKJV." (-Gordon Fee)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peace with God

Part 1 of 4: Some Fruits of Justification Series
Gleaned from Romans 5:1-4

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." (NIV)

Photo Credit:

One of the things I realized with the recent Maguindanao Massacre is that in some places, warlords still reign. Imagine your self having to live in a province where all the powers belong to one family. And let's suppose further that they are wrathful towards you. Your life is in danger don't you think? Perhaps its time to migrate.

Unlike evil men, God is gracious towards his creatures. He gives them things to enjoy like life, breath and food. He is all-righteous and all holy. The bad news is God is righteously wrathful towards sinners who continually rebel against him. (Rom.1:18). Psalm 7:11-- “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath everyday”

If the warlords in the province are furious against you, you can seek asylum in a faraway province. But how could you flee from the fury of God? Where will you go? You can go as far as the Netherlands and be with Jose Maria Sison, and still you cannot flee from the wrath of God. Even if you fly to another galaxy, you cannot hide from him.

Jeremiah 23:24
“Can anyone hide in secret places
    so that I cannot see him?"
        declares the LORD.
    "Do not I fill heaven and earth?"
But look at our text, it says we have peace with God as a result of this justification.

The Christian concept of peace (Eirene in Greek) is very much influenced by the Hebrew equivalent “Shalom”. In English, we say we are at peace with your neighbor simply for the reason that there is no hostility between the two of you. Even if you don't talk to each other or even greet one another, we say its peace as long as we don't quarrel. I'll mind my own business, you mind yours. That is peace-- absence of conflict. But the Hebrew Shalom which is carried over in Christianity is more than the absence of hostility. . There must be a harmonious relationship for it to be called Shalom.

This is the concept here. We have peace with God not just because of the absence of war between us and God but because we live in harmony and intimacy with our God. This is the first fruit of justification we have gleaned from our text.