Friday, August 21, 2015

Jesus Commissions the Twelve: Responsibility to bring the Message and to Care for the Messenger

I doubt Jesus looked like this. Just a picture.
Don’t take any money in your money belts – no gold, silver, or even copper coins. Don’t carry a traveller’s bag with a change of clothes and sandals or even a walking stick. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve to be fed. Whenever you enter a city or village, search for a worthy person and stay in his home until you leave town. When you enter the home, give it your blessing. If it turns out to be a worthy home, let your blessing stand; if it is not, take back the blessing. If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave. I tell you the truth, the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah will be better off than such a town on the judgment day” (Matthew 10:9-15, NLT).

Jesus commissioned the twelve (read Matthew 10:1-8). These instructions were given to them. It seem, at first, to be contrary to normal travel plans (I’m thinking of our last Timor Leste medical mission trip. We brought lots of medical stuffs and our bags are heavy), but they simply reveal the urgency of the task and its temporary nature. This was a training mission only; the apostles were to leave immediately and travel light, taking along only minimal supplies. Instead of being sent out as an isolated individuals, Jesus sent them in pairs (Mark 6:7). Each pair of disciples would enter a city or village and stay in the home of a “worthy person.” What does it mean by “worthy person”? “Worthy person,” based on the context, is someone who are eager to “welcome” and “listen” to their message.

The disciples’ dependence on others had four good effects: 1) It showed that the Messiah had not come to offer wealth to his followers; 2) It forced the disciples to rely on God’s power and not on their own provision; 3) It involved the villages, making them more eager to hear the message; and 4) it built long-term relationships. As we do mission, let us take notes of these four dependence effects of Jesus’ command to his disciples.

Jesus also had harsh words concerning those who would reject them and their message. Shaking the dust from their feet would demonstrate to the people that the disciples had nothing further to say and would leave the people to answer to God. Jesus was clearly stating that the listeners were responsible for what they did with the Gospel. As long as the disciples had faithfully and carefully presented the message, they were not to blame if the townspeople rejected it. Likewise, we have the responsibility, but we are not responsible when others reject Christ’s message of salvation.

Think about this: These days, with instant communication, modern transportation, and other high-tech resources, we can be tempted to maintain our independence or to rely on impersonal ministry methods. But God created us to live in relationship and to do his work with others. This training assignment implies that we have clear responsibility to care for those who minister among us, especially those who visit from out of town or those who are not normally among us. What can you do to relate more personally to those who minister in your community? Also this training shows that we are very much responsible to bring the message of the Kingdom of God to the town, village, campus or community that we are in right now. Besides ministering the message through social media (like what I do with my Blog and Facebook now) are you building a long-term and personal relationship with the people you’re ministering now? One more lesson: There is no “lone ranger” in the work of God. Find your partner.

I have to rethinking my own ministry now. Pray.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jesus commended Mary for having Good Priorities (Bible Study is the One Supreme Necessity)

Let’s consider the lives of Mary and Martha of Bethany. Mary is a great biblical example of a person whose desire was to be taught by Jesus: Every time she appears in the Bible, she’s kneeling before Lord Jesus. In John (chapter) 11, she’s at Jesus’ feet in sorrow. In John 12, she’s at Jesus’ feet in adoration. In Luke 10, she’s at Jesus’ feet to learn truth. Mary, the worshiper, wants her soul fed by Jesus – her sister, Martha, the worker, wants to feed Jesus.

Mary and Martha had welcomed Jesus into their home. With good intentions, Martha took steps to prepare a meal for the honoured guest. Mary is now introduced into the story: “And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word” (Luke 10:39). Martha was in the kitchen cooking food, and Mary was in the living room, learning from Jesus. Martha, annoyed that Mary wasn’t helping with the work, interrupted the Lord, saying, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40). She was giving a command to Jesus – that’s dangerous.

Jesus, in His divine wisdom, analysed the situation and told Martha she was filled with unnecessary anxiety that had harmfully affected her priorities. The things she worried about really weren’t important. “One thing is needed,” Jesus told Martha, “and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

Jesus commended Mary for having good priorities, namely, learning the Word of God. Bible expositor G. Campbell Morgan calls this “the one supreme necessity.” Mary’s experience was that of being taught by the incarnate Christ. Each of us can experience the blessing of being taught by the risen Christ – by the power of his Holy Spirit, through the study of God’s amazing Word. Come, God’s people, let us study the Bible, apply it, teach it and live the Word together.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory,
Both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
2 Peter 3:18
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So You Often Quote Him? Augustine of Hippo on the Divine Election

Has the potter no right over the clay,
to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?

(Romans 9:21,

Augustine here argues that all humanity are contaminated by sin, with the result that salvation is a human impossibility. In his grace, God chose to save some from this “mass of perdition.” [A doctrine that I’m still struggling with and of course this (and many other statements by Augustine) contributed to The Augustine & the Pelagian Controversy]. Note the appeal below to the analogy of the potter and the clay (Romans 9:21), which becomes a frequent element in Augustinian and Reformed discussions of election and predestination. He said,

There are lump of perdition (massa perditionis) out of Adam to which only punishment was due; from this same lump, vessels were made which are destined for honour. For the potter has authority over the same lump of clay (Romans 9:21). What lump? The lump that had already perished, and whose just damnation was already assured. So be thankful that you have escaped! You have escaped the death certainly due to you, and found life, which was not due to you. The potter has authority over the clay from the same lump to make one vessel for honour and another for contempt. But, you say, why has He made me to honour and another to contempt? What shall I answer? Will you listen to Augustine, if you will not listen to the Apostle [Paul] when he says, ‘O man, who art you who argues with God’? (Romans 11:33). Two little children are born. If you ask what is due to them, the answer is that they both belong to the lump of perdition. But why does its mother carry the one to grace, while the other is suffocated by its mother in her sleep? Will you tell me what was deserved by the one whom its sleeping mother suffocated? Both have deserved nothing good; but the potter has authority over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel for honour, and the other for contempt.”


1) Sermo 26, xii, 13; in J. P. Migne, Patrologia Latina, 38.177A-B.
2) The Christian Theology Reader, edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishers, Inc., 1995), p.217 
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So You Often Quote Him? Augustine of Hippo on the Relation of God and Evil

In his early period, Augustine was attracted to Manicheism, partly because it provided a simple explanation of the origin of evil (You can read this in Augustine’s autobiography The Confessions). According to this movement, evil had its origins in an evil or defective deity, who was opposed to the true and righteous God. On becoming a Christian, Augustine rejected this dualism, and was therefore obligated to give an alternative explanation of the origins of evil. In this passage, written in Latin during the period 388-395, he argues that evil represents a free turning away from God, rather than a positive entity in its own right. However, he is unable to provide a convincing explanation of why someone should wish to turn away from God in this manner. He writes:

If there is a movement, that is a turning away of the human will from the Lord God, which without doubt is sin, we can then say that God is the author of sin? God, then, will not be the cause of that movement. But what will its cause be? If you ask this question, I will have to answer that I do not know. While this will sadden you, it is nevertheless a true answer. For that which is nothing cannot be known. But hold to your pious opinion that no good thing can happen to you, to your senses or to your intelligence or to your way of thinking which does not come from God. Nothing of any kind can happen which is not of God… For all good is from God.

Hence there is no nature which is not from God. The movement of turning away, which we admit is sin, is a defective movement; and all defect comes from nothing. Once you have understood where it belongs, you will have no doubt that it does not belong to God. Because that defective movement is voluntary, it is placed within our power. If you fear it, all you have to do is simply not to will it. If you do not will it, it will not exist. What can be safer than to live a life where nothing can happen to you which you do not will? But since we cannot rise by our own free will as we once fell by our own free will spontaneously, let us hold with steadfast faith the right hand of God stretched out to us from above, even our Lord Jesus Christ, and look forward to receiving the certain hope and love which we greatly long for.”

You might want to read this quote one more time… maybe twice and slowly.

1) de libero arbitrio, II.xx.54; in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, vol. 74, ed. W. M. Green (Vienna: Hoelder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1961), 87.18-88.20
2) The Christian Theology Reader, edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 1995), p. 104

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Examine the Evidence of Jesus' Resurrection: 6 Most Significant Evidences

Investigative journalist Lee Strobel was once a critic of the Bible and a sceptic of the Resurrection. Through a series of circumstances, he began and all-out investigation of the truth of Christianity. He writes in his book, The Case of Christ:

Setting aside my self-interest and prejudices as best I could, I read books, interviewed experts, asked questions, analysed history, explored archaeology, studied ancient literature, and for the first time in my life picked apart the Bible verse by verse.
            I plunged into the case with more vigour than with any story I had ever pursued. I applied the training I had received at Yale Law School as well as my experience as legal affairs editor of the Chicago Tribune. And over time the evidence of the world – of history, of science, of philosophy, of psychology – began to point toward the unthinkable.
[Quote from The Case of Christ: A Journalist’s personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998), p.14]

Eventually, the evidence of the life of Jesus and the Resurrection so changed Lee Strobel’s life that today he is a Christian speaker, author, and filmmaker living in Southern California. What evidence did Lee Strobel and other investigators discover in their search for the truth of the Resurrection?

6 Evidences are the Most Significant Ones. Click title to Read:
1) The Empty Tomb (Click Here)
2) The Lives of the Disciples (Click Here)
3) The Historical Record (Click Here)
4) “Blood and Water” Flowed Out of Jesus’ Side (Click Here)
5) Eyewitness Accounts (Click Here)
6) The Change in the Apostle Paul (Click Here)

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.”
(Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism)

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Monday, August 17, 2015

So You Often Quote Him? Augustine of Hippo on Philosophy and Theology

Pic from the Movie 'Restless Heart' based on Augustine's The Confession
In this writing, originally written in Latin around 397, Augustine of Hippo deals with the relation between Christianity and pagan philosophy. Using the exodus from Egypt as a model, Augustine argues that there is no reason why Christians should not extract all that is good in philosophy, and put it to the service of preaching the gospel. Just as Israel left behind the burdens of Egypt, while carrying off its treasures, so theology can discard what is useless is philosophy, and exploits what is good and useful. He writes:

If those who are called philosophers, particularly the Platonists, have said anything which is true and consistent with our faith, we must not reject it, but claim it for our own use, in the knowledge that they possess it unlawfully. The Egyptians possessed idols and heavy burdens, which the children of Israel hated and from which they fled; however, they also possessed vessels of gold and silver and clothes which our forebears, in leaving Egypt, took for themselves in secret, intending to use them in a better manner (Exodus 3:21-22; 12:35-36)….

In the same way, pagan learning is not entirely made up of false teaching and superstitions… It contains also some excellent teachings, well suited to be used by truth, and excellent moral values. Indeed, some truths are even found among them which relate to the worship of the one God. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and their silver, which they did not invent themselves, but which they dug out of the mines of the providence of God, which are scattered throughout the world, yet which are improperly and unlawfully prostituted to the worship of demons. The Christian, therefore, can separate these truths from their unfortunate associations, take them away, and put them to their proper use for the proclamation of the gospel

What else have many good and faithful people from amongst us done? Look at the wealth of gold and silver and clothes which Cyprian – that eloquent teacher and blessed martyr – brought with him when he left Egypt! And think of all that Lactantius brought with him, not to mention Marius Victorinus, Optatus, and Hilary of Poitiers, and others who are still living! [at the time of Augustine writing this]. And look at how much the Greeks have borrowed! And before all of these, we find that Moses, that most faithful servant of God, had done the same thing: after all, it is written of him that “he was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians’ (Acts 7:22)” [bracket mine].

I would like to add, not only Moses was a learned man from pagan Egypt; but Daniel, Shadrach, Mishael and Azariah also men learned pagan philosophies of the Babylon empire. And yet, all of these men are considered great among God’s people and who showed great theology of the One true God and remain faithful until their last breathe.

1) de doctrina Christiana (or On Christian Doctrines or On Christian Teachings), II.xI.60-61; in Florilegium Patristicum, vol. 29, ed. H. J. Vogels (Bonn: Peter Hanstein, 1930), 46.7-36.
2) The Christian Theology Reader, edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishers Inc, 1995), p. 6

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Jesus Commissions the Twelve: Announce (Costly Message) and Give Freely (No Cost)

Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness. Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James’s brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him). Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: ‘Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, but only to the people of Israel – God’s lost sheep. Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!’”
(Matthew 10:1-8,

Many people followed and listened to Jesus, but the twelve listed above composed the inner circle and received authority and the most intense training. They had authority over the forces of evil, as well as the ability to speak the word to have God’s power to cast out evil spirits. They also had power “to heal every kind of disease and illness.” First verse above says they are “disciples” but verses after that call them “apostles,”* meaning “sent ones” or “the Messenger.” The fact that Jesus limited their ministry “to the people of Israel” doesn’t mean he opposed evangelizing Gentiles and Samaritans. In fact, Jesus himself had already ministered to both groups (for example, Matthew 8:28-34). But the message was to go to “the Jew first” (Romans 1:16). Another factor may be that the disciples weren’t ready to branch out beyond their own people. Eventually Jesus would commission them to go to “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19).

Jesus gave the apostles two tasks: They were to “announce” and to “give.” As Jesus’ representatives, they were to spread his message, announcing that “the Kingdom of Heaven is near,” letting everyone know that the Messiah, Jesus had come. Jesus also told them to “give as freely” as they had received, healing the sick, raising the dead, curing those with leprosy, and casting out demons. These four-fold miracles were exactly the ones Jesus had done and would demonstrate that the disciples had Jesus’ power.

As you can see, Jesus had quite a diverse collection of disciples, especially the Twelve – fishermen, tax collector, zealot (freedom fighter), and so on. Yet, he entrusted his message and mission to them. Through this small band, the word would go forth, the Kingdom of Heaven would be introduced, and the world would be changed. Imagine what those men must have thought as Jesus gave his final instructions, especially considering their specific tasks. This was a significant and intimidating assignment, but Jesus had confidence in the apostles as he sent them out.

Think about this: Jesus told the apostles to announce a specific message of hope and salvation. He also told them to act with mercy. And the principle guiding their actions should be “Give as freely as you have received.” The disciples had received salvation (fully revealed in the Cross of Christ) and the Kingdom without cost; they were to give their lives under the same principle. Because God has showered us with his blessings, we can give generously to others of our time, love and possessions. Maybe each of us should ask ourselves this question: What can I do to give more “freely” of what I have received from God?


*What is an apostle? responded: “This specific type of apostle is not present in the church today. The qualifications of this type of apostle were: 1) to have been an witness of the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1); 2) to have been explicitly chosen by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:15); and 3) to have the ability to perform signs and wonders (Acts 2:43; 2 Corinthians 12:12). The role of the twelve apostles, laying the foundation of the church, would also argue for their uniqueness. Two thousand years later, we are not still working on the foundation” (Read more at: 
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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Jadi Kamu Ingin Berpacaran? #4: Harta Benda dan Wang tidak Menjaminkan Kebahagiaan

bukan hanya perempuan saja, tetapi lelaki juga ada yang bersikap materialistik
Adakah kamu kagum dengan seseorang kerana kejayaan, kekayaan dan harta milik dia? Jika ya, kamu mungkin telah meletakkan diri kamu dalam hubungan yang tidak sihat (tidak semestinya, tetapi berkemungkinan besar). Masyarakat dan orang disekeliling kita meletakkan harapan yang tinggi kepada harta benda dan wang, dan bersikap materialistik. Tetapi tidak bagi Tuhan! dan kamu seharusnya mencontohi sikap Tuhan kita. Berhati-hati terhadap pasangan yang bersikap materialistik. Jauhi dia!

Jika kamu mendapati bahawa kamu sangat taksub dalam dunia materialisme, mungkin sudah tiba masanya untuk kamu mengubah pandangan dan fikiran kamu kepada sesuatu yang lebih penting dan kekal. Mungkin sekarang kamu patut mencari dan mengumpul kekayaan dari segi rohani. Apa yang kamu boleh lihat sekarang, ia tidak akan kekal lama; tetapi apa yang kamu tidak boleh lihat sekarang, ia akan kekal selamanya. Hubungan yang berdasarkan harta benda dan wang ringgit tidak akan bertahan lama. Sekiranya semuanya sudah tidak ada lagi, hubungan itu pasti akan musnah.

Saya tidak mengatakan bahawa dalam hubungan kita tidak memerlukan harta benda langsung. Wang – secara fisikal dan realitinya – bukanlah sesuatu yang jahat atau menyebabkan kita dosa, tetapi apabila kita menyembah (bermaksud kita meletakkan harapan, iman dan kepercayaan kepada) wang, maka, kita sudah berdosa. Apabila wang merupakan sesuatu yang lebih penting daripada Tuhan dan Firman-Nya, maka kita seakan-akan menyembah wang dan – kita berdosa. Ketahuilah bahawa mempunyai banyak wang tidak menjaminkan kebahagiaan. Malah, terlalu banyak wang sebenarnya akan membuatkan kita tidak bahagia, resah dan risau (kadang-kadang kita akan merasakan bahawa wang yang kita ada sekarang tidak pernah cukup).

Ingat: apa yang paling utama dalam hubungan berpacaran ialah hubungan peribadi dengan Tuhan Yesus Kristus, bukan gila akan wang. Tuhan Allah itu kekal, wang tidak. “Orang yang bergantung kepada kekayaan akan jatuh seperti daun kering,” kata si penulis Amsal (11:28),”tetapi orang salih akan menjadi makmur seperti tanaman subur.” Amin.

Harta Benda dan Wang tidak Menjaminkan Kebahagiaan. 

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So You Want to Be a Calvinist? John Calvin on the Nature of Sacraments

as remembrance of Him
In this section from the 1559 edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin explores the relation between a sacramental sign and the grace which it signifies. Notice the emphasis placed on God’s deliberate accommodation to human weakness. He writes:

To start with, we must consider what a sacrament is. It seems to me that a simple and proper definition is that it is an outward sign by which the Lord [Jesus] seals on our consciences the promises of his good will towards us in order to sustain the weakness of our faith; and by which we in turn bear witness to our piety toward him in the presence of the Lord and of his angels, and before human beings. More briefly, it is a testimony of divine grace toward us, confirmed by an outward sign, with mutual attestation of our piety towards him. Whichever of these definitions is preferred, its sense does not differ from that given by Augustine, who teaches that a sacrament is ‘a visible sign of a sacred thing’ or ‘a visible form of an invisible grace’; however, it explains the thing itself better and more clearly…

Now, from this definition we understand that a sacrament is never without a prior promise but is joined to it as a sort of appendix, with the objective of confirming and sealing the promise itself, and of making it clearer to us and, so to speak, ratifying it. God thus makes allowance first for our ignorance and slowness, then for our weakness. Yet, properly speaking, it is not so much needed to strengthen his holy Word as to support out faith in it. For God’s truth is of itself firm and sure enough; nor can it receive better confirmation from any source other than from itself. But as our faith is slight and feeble unless it is supported at every point and sustained by every means, it trembles, wavers, totters, and finally falls down.

So our merciful Lord, by his infinite kindness, adjusts himself to us in such a way that, since we are creatures who always creep on the ground, cleave to the flesh, and, do not think about or even conceive of anything spiritual, uses these earthly elements, and sets before us in the flesh a mirror of spiritual blessings. For if we were incorporeal (as Chrysostom says), he would give us these very things naked and incorporeal. Now, because we have souls inserted into our bodies, he imparts spiritual things under visible ones. This does not mean that the gifts set before us in the sacraments are bestowed with the natures of those things; rather, that they have been given this signification by God.


1) Institutes, IV.xiv.1, 3; in Joannis Calvini: Opera Selecta, ed. P. Barth and W. Niesel, vol.5 (Munich: Kaiser Verlag, 1936), 259.1-261.3

2) The Christian Theology Reader, edited by Alister E. McGrawth (Oxford UK: Blackwell Publishers Inc, 1995), 312-313.
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

So You Want to Be a Calvinist? John Calvin on the Marks of the Church

Pic taken from:
John Calvin here defines the essential features, or “marks” of the true church as the preaching of the Word of God, and the proper administration of the sacraments. A degree of failure or diversity on other matters may be permitted, providing that these two essential features are present. He wrote:

Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and listened to, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, it is in no way to be doubted that a church of God exists. For his promise cannot fail: ‘Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20)… If the ministry has the Word and honours it, if it has the administration of the sacraments, it deserves without doubt to be held and considered a church. For it is certain that such things are not without fruit. In this way the unity of the universal church is preserved, which diabolical spirits have always tried to tear apart; and we do not deny authority to those lawful assemblies which have been set up in accordance with the opportunities of different places in mind.

We have identified that the distinguishing marks of the church are the preaching of the Word and the observance of the sacraments. These can never happen without bringing forth fruit and prospering through God’s blessing. I do not say that wherever the Word is preached there will be immediate results, but that wherever it is received and takes root, it shows its effectiveness. When the preaching of the gospel is reverently heard and the sacraments are not neglected, there for the time being no false or ambiguous form of the church is seen; and no one is permitted to ignore its authority, flout its warnings, resist its counsels, or make light of its chastisements – much less to break away from it and wreck its unity. For the Lord values the fellowship of his church so highly that all those who arrogantly leave any Christian society (provided that it holds fast to the true ministry of Word and sacraments) are regarded by him as deserters. He so values the authority of the church that when it is violated he believes that his own authority has been diminished…

When we say that the pure ministry of the Word and pure mode of celebrating the sacraments are a sufficient pledge and guarantee by which we may recognize as a church any society, we mean where both these marks exist, it is not to be rejected, even if it is riddled with faults in other respects. What is more, some shortcoming may find its way into the administration of either doctrine or sacraments, but this ought not to estrange us from communion with this church. For not all articles of true doctrine are of equal weight. Some are so necessary to know that they should be certain and unquestioned by everyone as proper to religion, such as: God is one; Christ is God and the Son of God; our salvation rests in God’s mercy; and the like. There are other [articles of doctrine] disputed among the churches which still do no break the unity of faith…

I am not condoning error, no matter how insignificant it may be, nor do I wish to encourage it. But I am saying that we should not desert a church on account of some minor disagreement, if it upholds sound doctrine over the essentials of piety, and maintains the use of the sacraments established by the Lord.”

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Jesus' Kingdom grow Quietly and Abundantly (At First, it is Indistinguishable)

Wheat and weeds look very similar, it takes an experienced eyes to discern between them
’The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew. The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ ‘An enemy has done it!’ the farmer explained. ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’” (Matthew 13:24-30, NLT).

Jesus explained that the Kingdom grows quietly and abundantly, but evil still exists in the world. As Jesus provides the meaning of this parable in Matthew 13:36-39, he revealed that himself, the “Son of Man” is the farmer; the “field” is the world; the “good seed” symbolizes God’s people; the “weeds” are Satan’s people; the “enemy” is Satan; and the “harvesters” are angels. A common practice in ancient warfare and feuds was to destroy the enemy’s agriculture. Thus, the presence of Satan’s people among the people of God would weaken them. So it seems.

At first, the weeds and wheat are indistinguishable; eventually, however, the differences become obvious. At harvest time, harvesters remove the weeds and get rid of them. The “weeds” may be people in the church (and of course the world too) who appear to be believers, called themselves ‘Christian’, but who never truly believe. Later, the apostles would battle the problem of false teachers who had come from within the ranks of the believers (see, for example, 2 Peter 2:1-3; 13-22), and this problem is still exist even today – until Jesus’ second coming.

As new believers begin to mature in faith, their lives begin to reflect the Holy Spirit’s work, affecting values, perspectives, priorities, attitudes, and actions. Those who aren’t true followers of Christ, however, continue to reflect the values and attitudes of the world. Eventually, the truth will be revealed, and God will judge righteously and send each group to their deserved eternal destination. For the “weeds”, whose who “cause sin” and “do evil” (Matthew 13:41), that will be terrible. But “the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom” (Matthew 13:43).

Think about this: God is the ultimate judge of who truly belongs to him. We should be slow to judge others, realizing people have different levels of spiritual maturity. Only God knows their hearts. Instead, we can lovingly share the gospel, teach, encourage, and comfort and discipline, when necessary, leaving the final judgment to him. As for you and me, Jesus said we can tell a lot about people by their “fruit”, how they act and what they produce (Matthew 7:20), so what “fruit” are we producing that shows we belongs to Jesus? How our values, perspectives, attitudes, and actions differ from those who don’t know Christ? It is very well with our souls if we can ask these crucial questions to ourselves and examine our own hearts in the light of Christ’ gracious mercy and love. Amen.


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Friday, August 14, 2015

Jadi Kamu Ingin Berpacaran? #3: Jangan Melakukan Seks Luar Nikah

Ya! untuk seks, tetapi Tidak! untuk seks sebelum berkahwin
Hakikat yang kamu sedang membaca artikel pendek ini menunjukkan bahawa kamu mengambil peduli tentang hal pentingnya mengawal nafsu – dan kamu semestinya harus berfikiran begitu. Kita tinggal di dalam masyarakat dan persekitaran yang dipenuhi dengan pelbagai cabaran, pencubaan, godaan dan pemesongan tentang definasi seks (lebih-lebih lagi dengan adanya telefon pintar dan internet). Kamu mungkin pernah melihat gambar-gambar dan video-video, membaca buku atau novel dan artikel-artikel dan sebagainya tentang betapa ‘seronok’ dan ‘glamor’nya melakukan seks diluar nikah. Melakukan seks bebas sekarang dianggap sebagai sesuatu yang kasual dan kebiasaan. Malah, disekeliling kita seperti ada suatu tekanan yang kuat dari pelbagai sudut seperti dari segi psikologi, tekanan sosial, roh-roh jahat dan keinginan daging sendiri untuk kita melakukan seks diluar batas Firman Allah.

Tuhan Yesus Kristus mempunyai rencana yang indah bagi kamu dan saya, rencana-Nya yang tidak melibatkan seks sebelum perkahwinan*. Lakukan ini semua demi masa depan kamu sendiri – tunggu. Menahan atau mengawal nafsu adalah suatu pilihan – pilihan ditangan kamu. Pilihlah dengan bijaksana. Alkitab hanya ada satu istilah tentang seks “selamat”, iaitu, seks dalam perkahwinan.

Jika kamu sedang mempertimbangkan samada kamu ingin melakukan hubungan seks luar nikah atau tidak sekarang (atau pasangan kamu sedang memujuk kamu), fikirkan dengan dalam-dalam dan jauh kehadapan. Fikirkan, sekiranya kamu mengandungkan anak luar nikah atau kamu menyebabkan pasangan kamu mengandung sebelum berkahwin, apa yang akan berlaku seterusnya? Fahami nasihat ini betul-betul: Masa yang terbaik (setelah saya mendengar pendapat dan pengalaman orang lain), untuk kamu mula memikirkan tentang tanggungjawab sebagai ibu atau bapa ialah sebelum kamu membuat keputusan untuk melakukan seks, bukan selepas. Sekiranya memikirkan tentang beban yang akan ditanggung, kesilapan yang harus dibayar kerana kecuaian dan pelanggaran Firman Allah membuatkan kamu tidak sedap hati dan resah, maka buatlah keputusan untuk tidak melakukan hubungan seks sebelum kamu berkahwin secara sah. Inilah kehendak Allah dalam kehidupan kamu. Amin.

Jangan melakukan seks luar nikah.

*Jika kamu telah melakukan seks sebelum berkahwin, Tuhan juga mempunyai rencana-Nya dalam hidup kamu sekiranya kamu bertaubat daripada kehidupan yang lama dan sekarang menerima Yesus sebagai Tuhan dan Juruselamat kamu. Setiap kita mempunyai kesilapan, tiada dosa yang Tuhan tidak akan ampuni bagi mereka yang menyesal akan perbuatan mereka. Hanya akui kesilapan kita, mengambil tanggungjawab dan lakukan yang terbaik mulai dari sekarang.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Jadi Kamu Ingin Berpacaran? #2: Harapan dan Kehendak Yesus harus Diutamakan Dahulu

Jangan ada padamu allah lain dihadapan-Ku” (Keluaran 20:3, TB).
Jangan sembah tuhan-tuhan lain; sembahlah Aku sahaja” (BM).

Ini ada satu kuiz: harapan siapakah yang kamu sangat ingin lakukan dengan bersungguh-sungguh?
a) Harapan pasangan kamu,
b) Harapan masyarakat terhadap kamu,
c) Harapan Tuhan Yesus Kristus.

Jika kamu ialah seorang Kristian, jawapan kamu seharusnya ialah (c); tetapi jika kamu juga bingung atau bimbang dengan harapan orang lain terhadap kamu (a) dan/atau (b), kamu tidak kesendirian. Ramai orang melabur banyak tenaga (malah masa dan wang) untuk melakukan kehendak dan harapan orang disekeliling (atau pasangan) mereka, dan melaburkan hanya sedikit (mungkin saki-baki yang kita ada) untuk melakukan kehendak dan harapan Tuhan. Ini merupakan tabiat yang lazim bagi semua orang, tetapi ia juga merupakan kesilapan yang sangat besar.

Strategi yang terbaik, secara logik dan beriman, ialah harus sentiasa ingin melakukan harapan dan kehendak Tuhan Yesus Kristus dahulu. Untuk melakukan semua ini, kamu mesti pandai menguruskan keutamaan hidup kamu – dan hubungan berpasangan kamu – menurut Firman Allah.

Secara jujur, adakah kamu mengalami masalah untuk memilih samada ingin mengutamakan Tuhan terlebih dahulu ataupun ingin menjaga hati dan perasaan orang lain disekililing kamu? Adakah kamu masih lagi keliru dan berfikir bagaimana kamu boleh membuat keputusan dengan baik? Jika ya, tujukan semua persoalan itu kepada-Nya – berdoa, menunggu, mendengar, membaca Firman-Nya dan sentiasa datang ke hadirat-Nya. Ada seorang penulis mengatakan: “Tuhan tidak mahu sebahagian daripada diri kamu, Dia mahu segalanya atau tidak langsung.” Billy Graham juga pernah menyebut, “Bersama dengan Yesus dan semuanya cukup.”

Biar Tuhan Yesus Kristus yang bertakhta dalam hati kamu. Biar Tuhan yang menjadi yang pertama dalam setiap aspek kehidupan kamu, termasuk dalam hubungan berpacaran kamu juga. Dia layak untuk menjadi yang terutama dalam hidup kamu, dan apa-apa saja hubungan yang menggugat hubungan kamu dengan Tuhan Yesus adalah hubungan yang salah. Lebih baik memiliki kasih cinta Yesus daripada semua kasih cinta di dunia ini. Amin.

Harapan dan kehendak Yesus harus diutamakan dahulu. Pertama, Tuhan.
Jawapannya seharusnya ialah – (c).

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Jesus urges Us to share the Good News (Yes, Spread the Seed but also - Trust Him)

Jesus also said, ‘The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or aware, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens. The earth produces the crops on its own. First a leaf blade pushes through, then the heads of wheat are formed, and finally the grain ripens. And as soon as the grain is ready, the farmer comes and harvests it with a sickle, for the harvest time has come’
(Mark 4:26-29,

This Kingdom parable is found only in the Book of Mark, and its main point is that spiritual growth is continual, gradual and totally caused by God. The farmer is faithfully scatter the seed, let it germinate, sprout, and grow. Although the farmer doesn’t know how all this happens, he can depend on the process and can be certain of the growth of his crop. In the same way, God’s Kingdom begins in a person’s life with the seed of understanding that takes root, through the Holy Spirit, in the good soil of the person’s heart. That seed sprouts and grows into strong faith. But how that happens is God’s responsibility. While God uses his followers to plant the seeds, he gives the growth. As Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollo watered it, but it was God who made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6).

The disciples who heard this parable must have wondered about the difficult mission ahead of them, so Jesus explained they need not worry about how the Kingdom would grow. That part was up to God alone. Trust in His Sovereignty. Their job was to plant the seed (Why Jesus used a singular word the “seed”? Why not plural “seeds”? I don’t know the Hebrew meaning for this word, I can’t do online search now, but I think the seed means here both the Lord Jesus Himself, the Word became flesh and the Scriptures, God’s written Word. So to plant “the seed” mean spread the Good News of “Jesus and His Word”). The planting and growing seasons won’t last indefinitely, however. Eventually God will intervene and “the harvest time” will come, separating the grain from the weeds (read Matthew 13:30). The weeds (meaning the unbelievers) will receive judgment for sin; the good grain (meaning the believers) will be ushered into God’s eternal Kingdom.

Think about this: The two strongest lessons from the passage above are the important of sowing and the necessity of trusting. To share the Good News “the Seed” to as many people as possible and to trust God for the outcomes. In talking about the inevitable harvest time, Jesus was saying that we have a limited time to spread his Word. We should not become complacent or relax; instead, we should continue to live and speak God’s truth. At the same time, however, we have to trust God to work in people’s lives to produce the desired results. Maybe we can ask ourselves this question: Who are the new believers or the-not-yet-believers am I encouraging and nurturing by God’s Word today?

You, yes you, ask God to give you such a love for the truth you find in God’s Word
that your life overflows in living it and sharing it with others around you – even in your social medias network circle. Don’t force it but trust God for the development of others, even as you share the Good News with them clearly and with love. Amen.

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So You Want to Be a Calvinist? John Calvin on the Concept of Justification

Up to about the year 1500, the term “justification” was widely understood to mean “to be made righteous.” This interpretation, which had its origins in the writings of St. Augustine (or Aurelius Augustinus. I recommend reading his autobiography, The Confessions. Awesome!), saw justification as both an event and a process. The Reformation, however, saw justification defined exclusively in forensic terms – that is, as an event, in which sinners are declared to be righteous before God. Justification is then followed by sanctification, a process in which believers are made righteous. In this passage, John Calvin provides a classic articulation of this forensic notion of justification.

To be justified in God’s sight is to be reckoned as righteous in God’s judgement, and to be accepted on account of that righteousness… The person who is justified by faith is someone who, apart from the righteousness of works, has taken hold of the righteousness of Christ through faith, and having been clothed with it, appears in the sight of God not as a sinner, but as a righteous person. Therefore justification is to be understood simply as the acceptance by which God receives us into his favour as righteous people. We say that it consists of the remission of sins and the imputation of the righteousness of Christ…

There is no doubt that we obtain justification in the sight of God only by the intercession of the righteousness of Christ. This is equivalent to saying that believers are not righteous in themselves, but on account of the communication of the righteousness of Christ through imputation, something to be noted carefully… Our righteousness is not in us, but in Christ. We possess it only because we participate in Christ; in fact, with him, we possesses all his riches.”


1) Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.xi.2, 23; in Johannis Calvini: Opera Selecta, ed. P. Barth and W. Niesel, vol. 4 (Munich: Kaiser, 1931), 182.25-183.10; 206.17-32.
2) The Christian Theology Reader, edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford: Blackwell), pg. 234-235

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Jadi Kamu Ingin Berpacaran? #1: Sedar bahawa Setiap Pilihan Kamu dalam Perhubungan adalah Sangat Penting

[Sebaliknya] utamakanlah Pemerintahan Allah dan lakukanlah kehendak-Nya, lalu Allah akan memberikan semua itu kepada kamu” (Matius 6:33, BM)

Pilihan yang kamu buat (atau tidak buat) hari ini akan menentukan qualiti dan perjalanan hidup kamu; dan ini termasuk semua pilihan kamu dalam mencari teman hidup atau semasa berpasangan. Dalam dunia yang moden dan berteknologi pada masa ini, tidak ada sebab untuk kamu tidak pandai membuat pilihan dan keputusan yang bijak. Tetapi, kadang-kala apabila kamu terdesak dan dunia pasangan dan perhubungan membuatkan kamu tertekan, kamu mungkin akan tercabar (mungkin juga tergoda) untuk membuat pilihan yang tidak bekenan kepada Tuhan. Apabila kamu berbuat begitu, kamu akan mengalami banyak masalah.

Jadi, apabila kamu mengambil masa untuk berfikir dan menilai keperibadian kamu sebagai seorang Kristian – dan Kristian yang bagaimana kamu mahu jadi – tanya diri kamu sendiri samada kamu berada dalam landasan yang benar atau tidak, hidup dalam kegelapan atau dalam terang. Kemudian, apabila kamu benar-benar ingin memilih untuk menjadi pengikut Tuhan Yesus Kristus, buat pilihan dan keputusan yang akan memuliakan-Nya. Kehendak-Nya dan nama-Nya harus ditinggikan dalam kehidupan kamu, termasuk dalam hidup berpasangan dan hubungan cinta. Kamu juga harus menjaga diri untuk kemuliaan-Nya. Amin.

Sedar bahawa setiap pilihan kamu dalam perhubungan adalah sangat penting.

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So You Want to Be a Calvinist? John Calvin on the Grounds of Redemption

The Big Story of Scripture (Pic: Christianity Today)
In this short letter, Calvin provides a very brief summary of his general position concerning the doctrine of redemption. A fuller treatment may be found in his famous book Institutes of the Christian Religion, book 2, chapters 1-17. The style used by Calvin in his brief “letter of advice” (consilium) is much lighter and simpler than that adopted in the Institutes, making this extract unusually easy to follow and understand.

The first man (Adam) of all was created by God with an immortal soul and a mortal body. God adorned him with his own likeness, so that he was free from any evil, and he commanded him to enjoy all that was in his pleasant garden, with the exception of the tree (of knowledge of good and evil) in which all life was hidden. He was so concerned that he should keep his hand away from this tree that he told him that he would die when he first touched its fruit. However, he did touch it. As a result, he died and was no longer like God. This was the primary origin of death. That this is true is proved by the following words: “As often as you eat of it, you will die”…

Man was therefore driven into exile, along with his descendants, in order that, having lost “the horn of plenty,” he should be miserable and experience all kinds of work and every ill, seeking food, sweating and suffering cold, often hungry, often thirsty, always wretched. Finally, God took pity upon this unfortunate and thoroughly unhappy man. Although the sentence which he passed upon him was correct, he nevertheless gave his only and much-loved Son as a sacrificial victim for such sins. By reason of this amazing and unexpected mercy, God commended his own love towards us more greatly than if he had rescinded this sentence. Therefore Christ, the Son of God, was both conceived through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin. He was finally raised up on the cross, and through his own death delivered the human race from eternal death.” (Bracket mine).

So you want to be a Calvinist? Please reread what John Calvin himself wrote.

1) Consilium de peccato et redemptione; in Corpus Reformatorum, vol.10, part 1, ed. G. Baum, E. Cunitz, and E. Reuss (Braunschweig: Schwetcshke, 1871), pp. 156-157.
2) The Christian Theology Reader edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford: Blackwell), pg. 186-187
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Monday, August 10, 2015

Jesus Negu lalu Nyuman Ka Orang Sakit Lan (Sanggup Nuan Ngaga Chunto Jesus tu?)

Siko orang ti sakit lan mansang ngagai Jesus, besugang di moa Iya lalu bejako minta tulong Iya, ‘Tuan, enti nuan deka, nuan ulih nyuman ka aku.’ Jesus sinu bendar ati, nya alai Iya ngunjor ka jari lalu negu orang nya, ko Iya, ‘Aku deka! Beresi meh tuboh nuan!’ Tekala nya penyakit lan ti makai tuboh iya lalu nadai agi. Udah nya Jesus bejako berat-rat enggau iya lalu ngasoh iya angkat ari endor nya, ko Iya, ‘Ingat nuan! Anang nusoi tu ngagai sebarang orang, tang lalu terus mansang ngagai imam, minta iya meresa tuboh nuan; udah nya beri piring nunda ti udah dipadah Moses, kena nentu ngagai genap iko orang, nuan udah beresi’
(Mark 1:40-44, Berita Manah Ka Rebak Diatu).

Taun 1873 siko padri benama Damian (tauka “Father Damien” tauka “Saint Damien of Molokai”) bejalai ka Molokai, Hawaii; lalu dia iya begulai diau enggau kira-kira 720 iko orang ti sakit lan. Sida enda diasoh diau ba pasar tauka rumah panjai tang diau kediri aja enggai ka penyakit nya ngerampit. Damian nuchi pisa sida, merindang sidak, datai ka iya empu kena sakit lan mega lalu parai. Crita amai tu tau dipeda ba crita di gaga taun 1999 betajuk Molokai: The Story of Father Damien (Maya nya lutor siko baru udah tetemu ka ubat ti tau nyuman ka penyakit nya).

Orang sakit lan ba Injil Mark tu tadi diau kediri mega. Tang Tuhan Jesus Kristus kasih, lalu berani negu iya. Diatu agi mayoh orang ti diau kediri lalu enda diasoh begulai enggau orang mayoh, laban orang mayoh enggai meda sida. Engka nya bansa bukai, ukai Iban, engka kulit chelum kini, lalu ko jako: “Sida enda olih dikarap ka.” Engka sida seranta, begari kamah. Engka jako iya lain, bok iya, gaya iya lain, adat lain. Engka iya udah kena penjara. “Orang nya lain amat”, ko kitai. Uji kitai empu bepikir ngabas ati diri - sapa orang ti enda diasoh begulai enggau kitai? Tuhan Jesus begulai enggau samoa, lebih agi enggau orang seranta, sakit, orang ti diindik, diburu tauka orang ti beperangai enda manah. Samoa nya sigi diasoh Iya nyadi diri menyadi. Bakani ko kitai?

[Terus] mansang ngagai imam, minta iya meresa tuboh nuan… kena nentu ngagai genap iko orang, nuan udah beresi” tauka udah tuchi. Bala imam ngau tuai-tuai adat Judah nerima iya baru laban iya udah beresi seta tuchi. Enti Tuhan Jesus negu orang – jai pan perangai iya – ia mesti diterima ngagai kitai orang Kristian. Baka chunto ngau ketegal Jesus nerima iya, nya alai orang mayoh mega patut nerima iya, awak ka iya ngasai diri ukai orang ti ditulak agi tang diterima baka samoa kitai, baka nuan empu udah diterima Tuhan Jesus.

Mayoh orang ngelinggi aku baka orang ti sakit lan nya, Tuhan Jesus, lalu ditulak orang mayoh. Tulong aku nerima orang nya baka diri menyadi. Laban nya meh chunto Nuan, Nuan ti negu orang ti kena sakit lan, Nuan ti pengibun bedus manah. Amen.

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So You Want to Be a Calvinist? John Calvin on the Relation between Old and New Covenants

Law and Gospel, separate or continuity? (Pic from:
Martin Luther argued for a sharp distinction between “law” and “gospel.” While conceding that the Old Testament contained “gospel” and the New Testament “law,” Luther’s general line of argument is that the Old Testament belongs to a different category than the New. In contrast, John Calvin insists on the continuity between the Old and New Testaments. They are identical in terms of their substance; their difference relates to their administration. Calvin sets out three such points of difference.

Now from what has been said above (previous notes of the Institutes), we can see clearly that all people who have been adopted by God into the company of his people since the beginning of the world were covenanted to him by the same law and by the bond of the same doctrine as remains in force among us… The covenant made with all the patriarchs is so similar to ours, both in substance and in fact, that the two are really one and the same; what differences there are relate to their administration…

First, we hold that it was not material prosperity and happiness which was the goal set before the Jews, and to which they were to aspire, but the hope of immortality. Faith in this adoption was made certain to them by oracles, by the law, and by the prophets. Second, the covenant by which they were bound to the Lord did not rest upon their own merits, but solely upon the mercy of the God who called them. Thirdly, they both possessed and knew Christ as Mediator, through whom they were joined to God and were to benefit from his promises.”

So you want to be a Calvinist? Please reread what John Calvin himself wrote.

1) Institutes, II.x.1, 2; in Joannis Calvini: Opera Selecta, ed. P. Barth and W. Niesel, vol.4 (Munich: Kaiser, 1931), 403.5-404.22.
2) The Christian Theology Reader edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford: Blackwell), pg. 58
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So You Want to Be a Calvinist? John Calvin on the Nature of Faith

In this important analysis of the nature of faith, provided in the 1559 edition of the Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin establishes a direct relation between faith and the merciful promises of God. Note the emphasis placed upon the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing and sealing this knowledge. Calvin also deals with the question of whether the certainty of faith necessarily implies that doubt is excluded from the Christian life. For Calvin, doubt is a normal part of the Christian life, and is not inconsistent with his emphasis upon the trustworthiness of God’s promises. Calvin wrote:

Now we shall have a right definition of faith if we say that it is a steady and certain knowledge of the divine benevolence towards us, which is founded upon the truth of the gracious promise of God in Christ, and is both revealed to our minds and sealed in our hearts by the Holy Spirit

When we stress that faith ought to be certain and secure, we do not have in mind a certainty without doubt, or a security without any anxiety. Rather, we affirm that believers have a perpetual struggle with their own lack of faith, and are far from possessing a peaceful conscience, never interrupted by any disturbance. On the other hand, we want to deny that they may fall out of, or depart from, their confidence in the divine mercy, no matter how much they may be troubled.

So you want to be a Calvinist? Please reread what John Calvin himself wrote.

1) Institutes, III.ii, in Joannis Calvini: Opera Selecta, ed. P. Barth and W. Niesel, vol.4 (Munich: Kaiser, 1931), 16.31-35; 27:25-36.

2) The Christian Theology Reader edited by Alister E. McGrath (Oxford: Blackwell), pg. 15
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