Worship In Spirit And Truth

Genesis 6:4

“The Nephilim were on the earth at that time (and immediately afterward), when those divine beings were having sexual relations with those human women, who gave birth to children for them. These children became the heroes and legendary figures of ancient times.”

Some people maintain the literal terms used in Genesis 6:1-4, while others interpret them by allegoric or scientific approach.

The literal approach interprets:

  • “… those divine beings… ” as celestial, angelic beings,
  • “… those human women…” as human beings,
  • “… Nephilim…” (which means “Giants”) as the children born when those divine beings were having sexual relations with those human women before the Great Flood.

Such interpretation maintains that a host of fallen angels at that time could take on physical form, invade God’s creation, and corrupt it.

We also read earlier about how close Adam and Eve were with God [Gen 1-2], and later about three visitors from heaven, when “The LORD appeared to Abraham…” [Gen 18], with his two angels who then went to Sodom [Gen 19], in physical form, visible to everyone.

Most of the records are brief on how God or angelic beings took on physical form and visited earth, but not so on Jesus, whose life on earth are vividly written in the Gospels of the Bible.

Never have I heard today of God or his angels visiting anyone so closely as in physical form. Well, imagine God visits a place on earth in physical form, and that is the only way for us to know him personally, so millions of people assembled and queued: I wonder when is my turn?

It is written that the time has come ever since Jesus ministered on earth when every person must worship God, not in his physical presence, but in spirit and truth [John 4:21-24].

“The person who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I, too, will love him and reveal myself to him…” Jesus said, “… This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you” [John 14:21; 15:12].

Rest, For The Soul

Genesis 2:15

“The LORD God took the man… in order to have him work…”

          A minister once told the congregation an illustration of how doing God’s work is like a young ox bearing the yoke with a strong, mature bull to plough the farm: “Unless the two keep in line with each other, the younger ox would be choked by the yoke because the burden would then become too heavy for the ox if it turns away to the left and right from, if it lags behind, and if it attempts to overtake the strong bull; the primary strength and the sense of direction come from the strong bull, as the growing ox keeps in line and is subsequently trained.”

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens… Place my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls, because my yoke is pleasant, and my burden is light.”

Jesus – [Matthew 11:28-30]

          “Place my yoke on you…” with child-like faith [Matt 11:25]. Jesus never forces that yoke of his on anyone [John 6:66]; you – “… all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens…” – are to place his yoke on yourselves willingly, i.e. to pursue him and his will, by choice.

          If you choose to carry the yoke of and with the Messiah, you must remember that it is indeed “…my yoke… my burden…”, not anyone else’s [John 5:19], and God really will do whatever he wants [John 3:8]! Certainly, “…my yoke is pleasant, and my burden is light”, but not so unless and until you personally know God and keep yourself in line with his way!

          When you continually keep his instructions, you eventually will know how to bear his yoke, perhaps like a companion, sharing not only his faith but also his suffering [John 15:14; Phil 1:29]. Even though God might be silent at times, he is never absent. Someone once said that rest for the soul is not the absence of trouble but the presence of God.

          You might even be tempted to abandon that yoke of his altogether, only to be enslaved by the yoke of the world [2 Corinth 6:1, 14]. Yet, his call and instruction, along with his promise for us, is to abandon the yoke of the world, “Come to me… place my yoke on you… learn from me (be) gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls…”.

          From him alone we receive for our souls his unique rest that the world is not able to give [John 14:27].

Work, On Every Aspect Of Life

Genesis 2:15

“The LORD God took the man… in order to have him work…”

          Stop being lazy. And stop complaining even if you think your work was or is too hard. Stop being arrogant, too, if you consider that you had been or are working very hard. Keep on working; just don’t work outside of God’s will.

Seek wisdom, plan wisely;
work and rest accordingly.

“Much will be required from everyone to whom much has been given. But even more will be demanded from the one to whom much has been entrusted.”

Jesus – [Gospel of Luke 12:48]

In the quote above,  everyone…” refers generally to all of us, and the one…” refers specifically to Jesus.

Since the creation of universe God demonstrated himself as a worker. He formed human in his own image, commanding them to work (and rest) just like he does. “Much will be required from everyone to whom much has been given, he gave us life, requiring us to live life his way.

“But…” it is emphasised here that even more will be demanded from the one to whom much has been entrusted. Ever since human have sinned against their Creator, the whole demanding work of bringing the Good News to a sinful world has been entrusted to Jesus.

          His Good News remains the only basis of love, faith and hope for everyone. It is his Spirit who continually works within his followers, to teach them how to work toward holiness in (i.e. setting apart for God) every aspect of life [1Pet 1:15] in accordance with what is written in the Bible. Our work is pointless without his.

          A deed is a work done, and a result follows every deed. Bad deeds might be forgiven; good deeds might be rewarded. Injustice (i.e. good deeds punished and bad deeds rewarded) might be temporary, but God reigns in eternity. I can either continually let God change my life as I offer it for his best, or keep settling for the lesser and let my life rot to damnation.

How Am I To Be Ever Responsible As A Brother?

Genesis 4:9

“Am I my brother’s guardian?”

          First and foremost, “… let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together… but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer” [Hebrew 10:24].

          Next: “… if a person is caught doing something wrong,” Galatians 6 records, “… those of you who are spiritual should restore that person gently. Watch out for yourself so that you are not tempted as well…”

          Complementarily, verses like 1Corinthians 5:9—12 and 2John 7—11 point out stark contrasts on how to handle disagreements.

          Jesus has set the example by carry our burdens, even to death on a cross, bidding us to follow his example of serving. “… Practise carrying each other’s burdens.” Paul continued in Galatians 6,In this way you will fulfill the law of the Messiah.”

          And that law of love does not portray one’s comparing with, much less to say presuming superiority over, another: “… For if anyone thinks he is something when he is really nothing, he is only fooling himself. Each person must examine his own actions…” [Gal 6:3—4]

          Finally: “… For everyone must carry his own load” [Gal 6:5].

          There is also a place deep in each of our heart where only God is able fill, a seat which is devoted to God alone and upon which a guardian cannot and ought not to usurp. For instance, in John 21:20—23, “If it is my will for him to remain until I come back, how does that concern you? You must keep following me!”

Faith, Knowledge, Actions

Genesis 4:8

‘Instead, Cain told his brother Abel… When they were outside in the fields, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.’

          Cain was reminded to do what was appropriate [Gen 4:7], and he killed his brother. Adam, too, was told to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; he ate from it afterwards, though [Genesis 3]. When “… Cain told his brother Abel…”, the latter couldn’t know the former’s inner motive, could he? But Cain knew that God warned, and he rebelled against that knowledge, due to a self-willed spirit by which he conceded that his action was right while he was in fact killing his own brother.

“Sin has not to do with morality or immorality, it has to do with my claim to my right to myself, a deliberate and emphatic independence of God…”

Chambers, Oswald: Our Portrait in Genesis. Marshall Morgan and Scott, 1958; 2002

          An appropriate motive should end up (albeit possibly through a moment of trials) in good actions, and good actions do not always guarantee that they stem from proper motives [Phil 1:15-18]. This guides me back to the foundation of continually getting myself appropriately related to God.

          Faith must always be followed by actions, or else it’s as good as dead [James 2:26]. These actions include the continual refining of my knowledge and motive, so that my self is aligned consistently with God’s will.

Sin: A Three-fold Trial

Genesis 4:7

“… However, you must take dominion over it.”

          Everyone faces trials and tempations; all mankind failed at some points, but we’re not left without hope. “Instead, we have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet he never sinned” [Heb 4:15]; this one is our perfect example; he is to be honoured and lifted up [John 12:32].

(i)      In him, by his grace, we have authority over the evil ones; “I watched Satan falling from heaven like lightning. Look! I have given you the authority…” [Luke 10:18-19].

(ii)      And in him, by his grace, too, “… faith is the victory that overcomes the world…” [1John 5:4]; it is the victory that overcomes the lures of those people who advocate living a worldly life away from God.

(iii)     Notwithstanding, there’s one still I need to take dominion over: myself. “Now those who belong to the Messiah have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires” [Gal 5:24]. My being convinced, of what God-designed human identity is, is vital.

“You will never understand who you are until you understand who God is.”

– Billy Graham

          If I face a sin from the devil, the world, or my flesh, I believe this is how I must understand and carry out the instruction“…take dominion over it…”:

“… Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I…” indeed, no one but I, my heart, my soul, my mind, my strength “… keep pursuing the goal…” – the goal of knowing the Messiah, of remembering his Crucifixion (recalling his suffering and death), of receiving from his Spirit the power of his Resurrection, of obeying his commandments, of producing fruit; all by his grace  “… to win the prize of God’s heavenly call in the Messiah Jesus” [Phil 3].

Taking Dominion

Genesis 4:7

“… However, you must take dominion over it.”

          “He…”, that is, the offspring of Eve as a whole [Net Bible Commentaries], “… will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel” [Gen 3:15]. That was how God cursed the serpent – in such a way that there will be mutual, on-going struggles and strikes between mankind and their enemies led by Satan. If the serpent is symbolic of the devil and his evil spirits, then the Messiah, who has committed no sin, is the unique representative of  – and the only refuge for – Eve’s offprings (i.e. all mankind), because he (and only he) has said and fulfilled what he has said, “I have overcome the world…” [John 16:33]; he died; he rose from the dead; he has overcome even the grave; he lives forever!

          In every difficulty, I must first be tutored by the Spirit of the Messiah through his words [Rom 10:17] so that my faith is strengthened and kept appropriate. Next, whatever clear instructions he has given me I immediately put into practice, now as always, and out of a sudden I see a possible break-through, which shall surely come to pass if I continually counter any fear and believe in my heart the Word of God. Then, I will preach through what I practise – as a witness and a form of exhortation to the people around me – especially to those who are presently trapped in similar circumstances as I was, remembering that, to them, the Messiah must become more important, but I must become less important [John 3:30].

“God does not give us an overcoming life; he gives us life as we overcome.”

– Oswald Chambers