Categories
Anti-Dotes-For-Modern-False-Teachings-Like-Hyper-Grace Problem Bible Passages Practically Explained

Does the Philippians 2:12 phrase, ‘Work out your salvation with fear and trembling’, Imply Salvation By Works?

Duke Jeyaraj answers this question and brings out the main message of Philippians 2

The reading of Philippians 2 reveals a clear pattern. This pattern compares two categories. Jesus put sinners ahead of himself and died for them on the cross (Phil. 2:6-10). Timothy put the welfare of the church at Philippian before his own welfare (Phil. 2:19-24). Epaphroditus placed the life of Apostle Paul ahead of his life (Phil. 2:25-30). We must keep this pattern in mind as we interpret Philippians 2:12 where we read this: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (ESV). The very next verse says this: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13, ESV). This is the pattern of comparison in Philippians 2:12-13: the work of God in the life of the believer who works out his salvation with fear and trembling. As pointed out above, the second category in the comparison pair is more important than the first category (sinners were more important than himself for Jesus; the welfare of the church at Philippi was more than his own welfare for Timothy; the life of Apostle Paul was more than his own life for Epaphroditus). Keeping the same pattern in mind, we can confidently say this: the work of God in our salvation is more important than we ourselves working out our salvation for the simple reason that it is God who enables, empowers us to do that work. It is not a self-work, but a God-powered work! So, the glory goes to God, not to us! The credit goes to God, not to us! So, Philippians 2:12-13 when it is seen in the clearly seen full context of Philippians chapter 2 does not teach salvation by works. “Christians are recipients of God’s initiatives of motivation and empowerment”.[1]

One principle we must follow to correctly interpret the epistles is this: we must read the letter in one sitting (don’t we do the same when it comes to any normal letter?).[2] When I wrote a letter proposing marriage to the Chennai-located Evan (my wife) in the year 1999 as a 25-year-old Bible College student in Bangalore, she read that letter of several paragraphs in one sitting! So, if we read Paul’s letter to the Philippi church in one sitting we will not stop until we read the last verse of the letter which is this: “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with your spirit” (Phil. 4:23 ESV). So, what is the implication of this verse? All the things that Apostle Paul wanted the Philippian believers to do (including ‘working out their salvation with fear and trembling’) must be done enabled by the grace of the Lord Jesus, and through self-effort!

So, a total trust in God’s enabling grace would enable obedience to the command, ‘work out your salvation with fear and trembling’ (Phil. 2:12; Eph. 2:8-9). Elsewhere, in two places, Paul couples the gracious enablement of God with this choice use that enablement to work hard. Colossians 1:29 is one such place: “To this end I strenuously content with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (NIV). Though it is Paul who strenuously contents, we must not forget the complete enablement for this came from energy that Christ gave him! I Corinthians 15:10 is the another place where Paul places God’s enablement along his choice to work hard: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (NIV). So, even if I as a believers work out my salvation with fear and trembling, it is not me who works, but the grace of God that is within me (I Cor. 15:10 adapted into Phil. 2:12-13).

What will be the fruit of working out our salvation with fear and trembling? Paul describes this in Phil. 2:14-18. There are things that we will not do: (1) we will not ‘grumble’ (Phil. 2:14), (2) we will not question authorities God has placed over us unfairly (Phil. 2:14), and, (3) we will not copy the crooked and depraved generation around us (the porn-watching, bi-sexuality embracing, bad-language-using generation). There are things we will do: (1) we will hold fast to the Word of Life (Phil. 2:16) – we will be diligent in Bible Study,(2) we will be ready to pour our very life for the sake of the Gospel (Phil. 2:17) – like how Jim Elliot, John Allen Chau were ready to do) and, (3) we will be glad and rejoice with our fellow believers (Phil. 2:18) – our happiness will not be dependent on happenings, but on Him (Paul was in a prison as he wrote this letter – Phil. 1:7). And if we worked out our salvation with fear and trembling enabled by God’s grace what is the reward? “In the day of Christ” (the final day of judgment) we will make our spiritual mentors proud (Phil. 2:16). Notice this here: holiness is as important as forgiveness to inherit eternal life on the final day of Christ!

Yes, salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8-9), but it will always result in good works (Eph. 2:10). Doing these good works will not save us. But if we are truly saved, we will produce Grace-enabled, Holy Spirit empowered good works as described in Phil. 2:14-18.

What the connection between the humiliation and exaltation of Christ as described in Phil. 2:5-11 and the call the quit ‘grumbling and questioning’ in Phil. 2:14? Phil. 2:1-2 provides the clue. It is a call for unity among church believers. They were perhaps arrogantly opposing the leadership of the church. They were surely grumbling against the leadership of the church. This had to stop. Gordon Fee explains: “Go to Phil. 2:12-13. Now what is the point? Notice, how ‘therefore’ clearly signals that this is the conclusion. Given Christ’s example, they are now to obey Paul. In what? Surely in having unity, which also requires humility’.[3]

Even today what Paul wrote is applicable. Yes, church leadership should be held accountable. But at the same time, we must not fight with church leadership for petty, silly reasons. When the church leadership embraces hell-populating false teaching we must oppose them. When they act in a way that the kingdom of God is destroyed we must act. Otherwise, we must humble ourselves and work alongside the local church leadership.


[1] Richard R. Melick Jr., The HCSB Large Print Study Bible (Nashville, TN: 2015), 2044.

[2] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth (Hyderabad, India: Authentic Books, 2008), 59.

[3] Ibid., 68.

(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. Watch Duke at http://www.youtube.com/visitduke).

Categories
Bible Truth Around Contemporary Events

Cricket, Hockey & Bible Interpretation Basics!

Duke Jeyaraj

If someone says, “Australia lost to the Netherlands” you immediately and without realizing it ask, “in what game?”. Because the context colors the meaning. If Australia had lost to the Netherlands in a game of Football as they did in the World Cup 2014, it is not a shame. But if they did in a game of cricket, it is a shame and its an upset! When we read a verse in the Bible, we must also ask questions that leads us to the context of the verse. Otherwise, we will misunderstand Author’s Intended Meaning (AIM) of that Bible verse. If Paul writes, “I do not allow a woman to speak” we must ask “in what context”? If he writes, “Christ is the firstborn of creation…” we must ask “in what context?”. Otherwise we will use the Bible to teach doctrines the original God-inspired writers of the Bible never intended us to teach.

Categories
Anti-Dotes-For-Modern-False-Teachings-Like-Hyper-Grace

“Only Reward Loss, But Place in Heaven Guaranteed!” Does I Cor. 3:13-15 Teach That?

Duke Jeyaraj answers.

Who said believers will not be judged? Heretic, hell-populating Bible Teachers will say that. Because their final court of appeal is not the Bible. But this: “Whatever sounds like music to people’s ears!”. Sad! Terrible! Deplorable! And what’s more the rise of such cultic false teachers is predicted in the Bible (see 2 Tim. 4:3 which goes this way: ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables’).

The Bible says, like others believers will be judged. Romans 14:10 is clear: “We all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

I Cor. 3:13-15 does not teach believers living in sin will be excused on judgement day. If Paul meant that why would he write in SAME BOOK this: “Or do you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not men who practice homosexuality will inherit the Kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9). What I Cor. 3:13-15 is teaching is this: we will be rewarded as per the quality of ministry we do. This should concern the hyper-grace cult folks a lot. They have lowered and flouted Bible standards just as a fleshly way to attract crowds. They have made MBA Marketing Principles (‘always look to please the customer as your customer is god’) as their Bible.

However, for me the Bible is the final court of appeal, not MBA Marketing Techniques. I Cor. 3:13-15 does not teach that those stubborn-in-sin if they are believers will be somehow be saved. This is how I Cor. 3:13-15 reads (for those of us who are not familiar with those verses Apostle Paul penned): their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.  If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

David Pawson’s brilliance in explaining this verse – I Cor. 3:15 and what is above it – is simply unbeatable: “Once again, the whole verse needs to be quoted, including the first clause: ‘If it is burned up….’ If what is burned up? What a man has ‘built’ during his ministry to the body of Christ., whether ‘pioneer’ or ‘maintenance’ (here pictured as planting and watering). In other words, what is being judged here is a believer’s service, not his sins. There are great variations in quality of service. The fire of divine judgment will leave some intact (like gold, silver, and costly stones) but bring others to nothing (like wood, hay and stubble). But someone who at least sought to serve the Lord will survive, even though he is left with nothing to show for his labor or deserving a reward. That this is irrelevant to a believer’s sins, as distinct from his service, is immediately apparent from the very next verses: ‘Don’t you know that you are God’s temple, and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him’ (I Cor. 3:16-17). In this context, the sin is to divide the Church into jealous and quarreling groups who ‘follow’ different servants of Christ rather than Christ himself. Elsewhere he applies the same charge to sexual immorality (I Cor. 6:18-19). We may get away with poor service (but only just), but WE WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH SIN!” (David Pawson, Once Saved, Always Saved?, page 160-161).

If I Cor. 3:15 taught that the worst thing that can happen to a believer on the day of judgment was only a reward-in-heaven loss, but never a place-in-heaven loss, why would Paul write in the SAME BOOK, this: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified” (I Cor. 9:27). Paul had a healthy fear that he would be disqualified from heaven, if kept yielding to his body’s desires (in our context – he kept watching porn, he kept indulging in sexual immorality, etc). This view is further underlined by this fact: the next chapter – I Corinthians 10 – warns New Testament believers that they could be ‘destroyed’ (go to hell), if they indulged in sin with impunity (vs. 9,10,11). So Paul did not subscribe to the meaning and implication the hyper-grace cult teachers ascribe to I Corinthians 3:13-15. So, when Paul writes, “he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved”, he did mean this: God will not send anyone to hell, because of low ministry quality. But he clearly did not mean what the hyper-grace cultists teach: “God will not send any believer to hell, even if they live in stubborn sin!” If Paul believed this lie, he will not have penned I Cor. 6:9-11 (HELL FOR BELIEVERS STUBBORN IN SIN), I Cor. 9:27 (HELL FOR EVEN STUBBORN-IN-PREACHERS) and I COR. 10 (THE GOD WHO DESTROYED HIS STUBBORN-IN-SIN PEOPLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WONT HESITATE TO DO THE SAME FOR NEW TESTAMENT PEOPLE OF GOD DOING THE SAME THING).

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Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission (G4 Mission – www.dukev.org). This is a listener/reader supported Indian ministry to presentday people functioning since 2006. 

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Categories
Bible Truth Around Contemporary Events Carona Pandemic Bible Meditation

DID PROPHET JEREMIAH (IN 7:30-34) PREDICT THE CORONA VIRUS DEATH SITUATION IN TOPHET, ITALY? THE BOOK OF REVELATION CURSE FOR ‘ADDING TO THE BIBLE’ UPON CATHOLIC DOMINANT ITALY?

Duke Jeyaraj answers via a Family Bible Study during Corona Virus Lockdown on 31st March, 2020.

The ultimate question is whether Jeremiah 7:30-34 is speaking about the contemporary pandemic (COVID -19) situation in Italy?

Read Jeremiah 7:30-34. This passage was supposedly referring to the deaths in Corona-hit Italy according to a forward in WhatsApp. 10,779 deaths have already taken place and 97,689 have been infected in Italy (as I speak on 31 March 2020). Though USA has more infections (141,000), Italy is the most affected nation because of the number of deaths (Of course, USA eventually overtook Italy in the number of deaths, but Italy has remained the nation with the highest death density as a result of the Corona Pandemic).

This passage under question (Jeremiah 7:30-34) makes a very sad reading. Jeremiah speaks about the people of Judah and something terrible happening in Topheth. Some people believe that this passage is a reference to the Topheth in Italy because of the escalation of the deaths there.  I hear that corpses are left in the open without a burial site and the birds of prey eating them in Tophet, Italy.

If we Google search the geography of Topheth, we find 3 places with that very name in our world, presently. One Topheth in Italy, another is in Carthage (Tunisia) and yet another one outside Jerusalem’s South Bend in Israel. The third venue reminds me of Pete Buttigieg, a US Presidential candidate for 2020, who was a mayor of a US City named South Bend!

We must note that we have cities with same name but in different countries in our world even today. There is a Salem in Tamil Nadu, India and a Salem in Massachusetts, USA. There is a Hyderabad in India (I live there!) and a Hyderabad in Pakistan! So as there are three Topheths in the world today – one in Israel, one in Tunisia and one in Italy – we must ask ourselves which Topheth did Jeremiah 7:30-34 talk about?

The venue that Jeremiah refers to the Topheth in the southern part of Israel (also called Judah, just outside of Jerusalem).

There are 3 lessons from this passage I learnt for our life, here and now. Before we look for a prophecy in a Bible passage, we must seek to ask, “What does God want me to learn for my life here and now from that passage?” Why do I say that?

The Bible is a book of prophecy and is God’s daily bread for us. It has nearly 700 predictions and about 600 of those have been already fulfilled. Approximately 20% (the remaining percentage of prophecies yet to be fulfilled) is slated for future fulfillment. What is the Bible primarily for? The Bible is primarily for the spiritual purpose of ‘growing in godliness’, for the ‘purpose of training in righteousness’. II Timothy 3:16,17 says – “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” The main good work that God gave his people is the work of propagating the Gospel and the work of making disciples of Jesus.

This passage (Jeremiah 7:30-34) teaches us about three things: PARENTING THROUGH CELL PHONE, PEOPLE​ WHO ARE​ HELL-BORNE, PHONY BIBLE TEACHERS WHO ​’​SELL​’​​-PRONE (THEY SELL ​ A DRONE-LESS VIEW OF BIBLE​)​!

1.PARENTING THROUGH CELL-PHONE – Leviticus 18:21 says, “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of Thy God; I am the Lord.”

People sacrificed their children to Molech, the fire god. In Aramaic, Molech means ‘fire.’ They believed that they and their land will be more fertile as well as the land if they sacrificed their eldest child. These days, the economy is focused on the corporate companies and ​manufacturing​industr​ies​​. Those days it was​ primarily​ an agrarian economy. People made big money with agriculture and needed fertile land to maintain their agrarian economy. So the backsliden people of Israel whose goal was to make money, would do anything – include sacrifice their kids to a pagan god – just to ensure the land is fertile!

II Kings 21:5,6 speaks about King Manasseh, who was the most  evil king who ruled the southern part of Israel, Judah. He built altars and sacrificed his own son in the fire.

According to Jeremiah 1:2, the Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in the 13th year of reign of King Josiah. Jeremiah was a contemporary of Josiah and influenced by the message of the prophet, King Josiah ended the sacrifice of children introduced by King Manasseh. “Then Josiah demolished the Topheth, the iron furnace griddle set up in the Valley of Ben Hinnom for sacrificing children in the fire. No longer could anyone burn son or daughter to the god Molech” (II Kings 23:10, The Message). 

Topheth was also called the Valley of Ben Hinnom (Hebrew) and  was also known as Gehenna (Greek).  Jesus used this Greek word for hell. It was a dumping ground for the city’s waste. Outside some cities today, we do see dumps of garbage which burn continuously. I have seen one in Chennai.  Priyanka Thirumurthy describes the Chennai garbage dump for us: ‘Standing there on 228 acres of land, in an I-T hub of Tamil Nadu’s capital, were mountains of garbage, each of them the size of a two-storey building. We had arrived at the Perungudi landfill, where half the city’s waste is deposited every single day’ (The News Minute, July 11, 2017).

​King Manasseh was notorious for his brazen sacrifice of his own son to Molech in Topheth!​ And we modern-day parents are notorious for a similar sin! Let me explain:

We absolve our responsibilities as parents and spend very little time with our children​. Instead​, we allow ​cellphones and other screens to parent our kids on our behalf​. Is that not a kind of ‘child-sacrifice’? Are we sacrificing our kids on the altar of the technology god? Since we ourselves are gadget-addicted, we give a gadget in our little children’s hands to occupy them with it, so that we will be able to remain in our shameful addictions! How sad! Let’s repent!

2. ​PEOPLE​ WHO ARE​ HELL-BORNE​ – When Jesus talked about Hell in the New Testament, he ​used the phrase for Topheth/Ben Hinnom we read about in Jeremiah 7:30-34. He was the greatest hell-preacher who ever lived!  Read Matthew 5:28,29. Jesus ​equates lust with adultery there. ​ ​He equates ​anger​ with ​murder​ in the Sermon on the Mount​. Our destination​ too will be​  Gehenna​ (Hell) which Jesus talked about​, if we keep dabbling with lust and anger. As believers, let us live holy lives, enabled by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13).

3. ​PHONY BIBLE TEACHERS WHO ​’​SELL​’​​-PRONE (THEY SELL ​ A DRONE-LESS VIEW OF BIBLE​)​!​ ​Drones  fly in the air and are used for capturing the bigger picture​ from the air​.​ We need to have ‘drone-view’ of the Bible when it comes to formulation of doctrine. Our doctrines/teachings must take into consideration ‘ALL SCRIPTURE’ (2 Tim. 3:16-17). However, phone Bible Teachers are sell-prone! They sell a view of the Bible based on a few Bible verses they twist without taking into consideration the full-message of the Bible. This keeps happening because these false teachers do not have ‘drone’ view of the Bible. ​Their cultic false teachings take people to hell. 

On such group is the Hyper Grace Preachers/ Prophets . They say​,​ “You are the righteousness of God​​”​ (even when in stubborn sin).​ ​But we must see the full message of the Bible.​​ Read Romans 2:4,5. ​ If God doesn’t strike me down dead​ when I sin,​ as ​he did in the case of ​Ananias and Sapphira, ​ what do I do? Do I keep living in stubborn sin, thinking God is mighty pleased with me and is smiling at me (as hyper-grace cult teachers’ suggest)? What is his message for me in Romans 2:4,5? I need to immediately repent. If I do not, I store up wrath the God on myself.  

​Another group is the ​Hyper-healing Preachers​. ​If you have a sickness, problem, God will heal you then and there if you have faith​ – these preachers claim​. Hebrews 2:4 tells us that God has given us gifts. The gifts of the holy spirit will operate according to God’s will and not according to our whims and fancies.​ That is what Hebrews 2:4 teaches.​

Hyper-life preachers say since Jesus died on the cross and rose again, we can be immortal and not die at all. I Timothy 6:16 states that God alone is immortal.​ We are not immortal, here and now, before the return of Jesus.​ To say one will never die or be immortal before the return of Jesus is a false teaching. If you are alive when Jesus returns, you will be given an immortal body or if one dies in Christ before this, they will be given an immortal body​ at his return (I Thess. 4:16-17; I Cor. 15)​. It is a blasphemy to say that humans can be immortal before​ the​ glorification​ (second coming)​.

So as per Revelation 22:18,19 there will be plagues for those who add to God’s Word​.    

Is God judging Italy? Italy is a nation with many Catholics and many books have been added to the​ Catholic​ Bible – Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Wisdom, Tobit, Judith, I Maccabeus, II Maccabeus​ (to name a few)​. These books were not part of the original Bible. II Maccabeus 12:45​-46 is quoted by Roman Catholic theologians in support​ ​of​ praying to dead saints. ​But you will not find support for the same in the original Bible (with 66 books). I Timothy 2:5 is clear that we have only one mediator between God and Man, and he is Jesus. We should not pray to dead saints. ​ Hebrews 9:27 speaks of no salvation after death, only judgement awaits the dead.

​Is it a sin to add to God’s Word? It is. But however we cannot say that Italy is being punished for its Roman Catholic faith. As I have pointed above, even we Protestants have twisted God’s Word through harmful teachings like hyper-grace, hyper-healing, hyper-life. We are not without blame in this matter of adding or twisting God’s Word. Luke 13:1-5 teaches that those who have survived a disaster should not think they are more righteous than those who have died of that disaster. Those are the Words of Jesus. All of us need to repent. Not just Italians or Catholics. Not just Americans. Not just Britishers. ​ 

​Read Jeremiah 7:33,34.​ And imbibe the above-three  lessons. ​​

The prophecy of Jeremiah 7​:30-34​ was ​already ​fulfilled twice​. The first time​ this prophecy came to pass was in 586 B.C. when ​the ​Babylonians came ​ to invade South Israel (Judah) ​and many ​Judeans​ ​were burnt​​ as prisoners of war​ ​at Topheth/Gehenna of Jerusalem (read Jeremiah 19:1-15, esp vs. 6,11,12,13,14). The second time this prophecy perhaps came to ​pass was in  A.D. 70 when Jerusalem​ city​ was burned​ down and several bodies thrown in Topheth/Gehenna outside Jerusalem (as secular history records what the Bible clearly predicted in Luke 19:41-44;21:6,20-24; Matt. 22:7; 23:37-38; 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2)​. Only when we go to heaven, Jesus will reveal where​-all​ and in whom-all the prophecies ​concerning Geographical locations/historical persons were fulfilled after the completion of the canon of Scripture!​ So we cannot say for sure that Topheth of Italy was referred to in Jeremiah 7:30-34!

​This is not an assault on the prediction-accuracy of the Bible. It is a book which has predicted over 700 historical events. Out of this, nearly 600 prophecies have been accurately fulfilled only leaving the rest of the prophecies for the future (like return of Jesus, judgment day, heaven, hell, etc). ​

Meanwhile, we must rather focus on the these events that the Bible has made a clear prediction about: the any-second-possible return of Jesus, the no-escape-for-anyone day of judgement following that, the reality of eternal heaven and hell of eternal conscious torment. 

We will be wise to avoid speculations concerning fulfillment of prophecies, we will have no way of verifying, like the Topheth prophecy of Jeremiah 7:30-34. 

(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Gen from Gehenna Mission. This is a reader-supported Indian ministry. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org. WhatsApp him via +91-8886040605. Duke’s SoundCloud audio message accounts and Youtube video message accounts have a wide following. Mrs. Malini Prabakar worked on this transcription from a live Bible Study that Duke did on 31 March 2020 now available on YouTube here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozOMyLdFPKo​). ​​