Our purpose in life
Embracing our new identity in Christ p - 13 From Adam to Noah p - 19
July-September 2016 1
A magazine with direction
6 Our purpose in life Managing Editor Joe D’Costa
Contributors Joe D’Costa Dr. Joseph Tkach
Editorial Advisers J. Emmanuel Living Light is sponsored by the Worldwide Church of God. For inquiries please contact the Editor, Living Light, c/o Worldwide Church of God, P.O. Bag 3786, Bangalore 560037. Ph: (080) 28532565, cell: 09916308962. E-mail: email@example.com This magazine has been made possible because of the generous donations of members and wellwishers of the Worldwide Church of God. All donations may be sent in the name of “Worldwide Church of God” to the above address.
Where does our faith and confidence lie? In God or in something else?
Articles 11 If you are a parent What do we aspire for our children? At what cost?
13 Embracing our new identity in Christ A three part series on the topic of Grace
18 Bible genext 19 From Adam to Noah When Adam and Eve sinned, man fell. Then things got worse.
27 An interview with God Sound advice to act upon.
Editorial 3 Singing karaoffke Accommodating diverse taste in worship music
2 Living Light
Singing karaoffke Most people love music and can’t help humming to a song or tapping their feet to its beat. Some may even love to participate, lip sync or sing karaoke even if they are tone deaf and singing off key. by Joe D’Costa
knew a lady in church who loved to sing and had a powerful voice that was loud enough to drown the collective voices of the entire congregation. She loved music, believed she sang well and knew most of the hymns in the church hymnal by rote. She could have become a good worship leader. Sadly she had one problem—she appeared to be tone deaf, sang off key and because of her loud voice often led the others in the congregation astray in their singing. Of course she did not know her singing was off-key and the congregation did not want to discourage her enthusiastic singing. The congregation worked out a solution to the problem without saying anything to her. They played the recorded hymns loud so it would drown her voice and they could sing to key Singing karaoke Singing karaoke is easy and most people enjoy it. Today there is software available to help us not only sing to the accompanying music but see the words on screen with a little bouncing ball to guide us in singing
the right words at the right time. So we can actually sing a song for the first time and make it appear to others as if we have sung the song before. I once saw a lady sing karaoke at a music store and if I had not been there, I would have thought it was a recorded original. She was so good at the singing. So what is karaoke? The dictionary tells us that it is a music entertainment system providing prerecorded accompaniment to popular songs that a performer sings live, usually by following the words on a video screen. Karaoke is derived from the Japanese word ‘kara’ which means empty and ‘oke’ which is a short form for orchestra. So if you put the two words together it means empty orchestra. In other words we have the advantage of singing a popular song of our choice and making it sound as if we are singing with the accompaniment of a live orchestra. Today, with sound systems and electronic sound synthesisers making amazing advances in sound quality, we can do away with live bands. July-September 2016 3
Live bands are expensive and can easily be replaced with a couple of good singers and Karaoke. Many churches use the karaoke system to help the congregations sing hymns at worship services. We can therefore have a wide selection of hymns for all ages and all taste so everyone can feel comfortable and enjoy the worship. We are no longer restricted by the selection of an accompanying pianist or band. Singing to a wide selection Having a wide selection of hymns can be a challenge because people in any given congregation have musical taste as diverse as the world we live in. I once met a young man who was a very good guitarist and I hoped he would play in Church. He did and was very good at it. One day he visited me at my home all excited
4 Living Light
about a new genre of music that he hoped to use to compose his own Church music with appropriate lyrics. He wanted me to hear the music and I obliged. As the music played, I wore an encouraging grin on my face but had a hard time preventing it from turning into a grimace. The music seemed to be a fusion of hard rock and heavy metal that was to me excruciating, to say the least. A sense of relief swept over me when the music ended. I turned to my unintended tormentor only to see a face stamped with pure ecstasy. I hesitated as my teenage years flashed before me. In my day and age the Beetles were a worldwide favourite. My parents for the life of them, could not understand how a group of mop-headed creatures with spidery legs and boots with pointed toes could scream their heads off
while they banged on their guitars to what they called music and capture the heads and hearts of the young, worldwide. I said nothing for a while then encouraged the young man to go ahead with the music but tone it down a bit so the congregation does not think it’s too radical. I thought to myself that just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, different music genre must be beautiful in the ear of the hearer. Maybe, one man’s noise could be another man’s music! Singing to key? How important is it to sing to key? Does it matter if we have a worship service wer e everyone sings a cappella or accompanied by a band or an orchestra? Would worship services become more meaningful if we had a state of the art music system, flashing lights and loud music that would be heard several miles away? Would that impress God or make us momentarily deaf? We should make allowances for people’s taste. I believe God was aware that Churches would have congregations with diverse musical taste when he inspired David to write, “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalms 95:12, KJV).
I suspect God does not care if our worship is not up to the mark, musically speaking, provided we worship him with joy. Psalms 98:4, 6 tells us “Shout your praises to God, everybody! Let loose and sing! Strike up the band! Feature trumpets and big trombones. Fill the air with praises to King God” (MSG). We have every reason to rejoice when we come before God because he has granted us salvation, a gift we do not deserve. We shout for joy because we have a God who loves us unconditionally with a love that has no parallel. So sing to the Lord with all you’ve got, a loud voice, karaoke, karaoffke, musical genre of your choice, a croak, a sing-along, a singalone, with guitars, drums, violins or trombones, it does not matter, provided everything is done in decency and in order. We come before God with joy, gratitude, awe for his majesty and inspired by his love for us.
July-September 2016 5
Our purpose in life We humans have a longing for a purpose and meaning in life. Animals do not have such feelings. They live for the moment and are not concerned about the past or the future, only the present. They are not self aware, we are! by Joe D’Costa
uman beings, even as children wonder about the purpose of life. They will ask questions about how we came into the world, the purpose of their existence and where they will go from here. If children see a person die, they will ask questions about what has happened to the person, is he asleep, where does he go from here, will their parents die someday, who will take care of them when they die and will they die too someday.
Human beings, not human doings As young adults we search for meaning in a career. We aspire to become doctors, engineers, dentists, teachers, I.T. professionals, nurses etc. We feel life is without meaning if we do not have a good job, profession or business. We work long hours sometimes at the cost of our health and family to achieve our goal. We opt to become ‘human doings’ instead of ‘human beings’. Our vocation is justification for existence. So when things do not work out to our expectations in “doing”, we sometimes give up, quit and in some cases people who do not have any other goal or purpose in life, kill 6 Living Light
themselves and families in desperation and disappointment. We read of instances of this happening in our newspapers almost every day. Even those who have had successful careers and retire, feel they have lost their identity, after retirement. They may have enough money to live a good retired life but the purpose is lost. They do not feel they have anything to look forward to. They quickly age and die. For others, who they are, is based on what they have. They find meaning in a new car or new house or house renovation, new furniture, appliances, clothes and jewellery. These people and it may include some of us, are good for the economy but rough on the budget because they are always seeking meaning in what they own. Some try sports, entertainment, cults, sex, you name it. All mirages in the desert of purpose! Something is missing and even though most people recognize it, they do not know what it is so they continue searching in the wrong places and reaching nowhere. Some even know where to find purpose in life or even know the purpose of life but neglect it, get
sidetracked by physical attractions and fall away. We are informed by Paul in Romans 1:22, “Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead.” So if all the above mentioned things namely career, goods and services, power and prestige are not what we are here for, why are we here? We are called human beings because human doing does not bring us close to God, it does not make us His sons and daughters, which is in reality our real goal and purpose. Being prepared to let God lead us to his salvation and sonship is the purpose of life. This is what gives us identity and purpose, what keeps us going through thick and thin and after all is said and done to stand. We are told in the Bible “Whatever happens conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” (Philippians 1:27). “Rid yourself of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezekiel 18:31). Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sover eign Lor d, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your
evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11). We need to turn from our evil, selfish ways and turn to God and let him lead us from darkness to light. Very recently a young business man in the gold jewelers business took his life by ingesting cyanide. His young wife and daughter, studying in the II std. also died with him. He drove his new car to an isolated place and did the dastardly act. When the police probed the reason for his suicide with the neighbours and relatives they found out that theirs was an apparently happy family without any financial difficulties. The husband and father was momentarily disturbed by the economy, the falling rupee and the drop in gold prices. He felt he was staring failure of his business in the face and could not handle it. All this seem so frivolous but it shows that when people feel the purpose for their existence is threatened or that purpose in which they put so much confidence is being
July-September 2016 7
taken away from them, they lose control and get depressed. Minor setbacks seem to them like the end of the world. Another business man faced with economic collapse found a novel way to drown his sorrows. Instead of drinking alcohol in excess, (he was a teetotaler) he tried to drown his sorrows by drinking water in excess almost drowning himself, literarily. He was rushed to hospital and saved by the doctors who had to pump out the water from his stomach. Doctors said that if there was any further delay, he would have died of suffocation. We are warned to “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting, you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.” (Ephesians 6:13-18).The Ephesians knew exactly what it meant to chose God above all else. In 8 Living Light
doing so they chose hardship, persecution, want and distress. They needed all the help they could get from God and their fellow Christians. God did not just create us. He foresaw what would happen to a world cut off from him and gave us every opportunity to get on track so we would not perish. Romans 5:1-2 informs us: “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.” We stand by grace! Human intelligence cannot save Let us just imagine for a moment a creator God who created us and put us into an amazing world with everything we needed and desired. He gave us a mind and intelligence that the rest of his creation did not have and then left us to our own devices. He did not give us laws, his word, an understanding of right and wrong, the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tr ee of life.
Supposing he assumed that with a high IQ we would be smart enough to discover happiness. What would have happened? Soon after the tower of Babel, man would have probably destroyed himself and all that God had created, through sin and an attitude of self dependence. God went several steps further in his love for his creation and especially mankind. He knew that manâ€™s intelligence could be his undoing. He knew that even though man had been blessed with capabilities that gave him the potential to create great things for himself and live a comfortable life, he could very easily turn the creativity into the worst of curses. He therefor e built bridges of communication and interaction with us. First with Adam and when he cut himself off by sin, sent his Son to pay the penalty so the bridges of
communication could be repaired, never to be destroyed again. He gave man a purpose in life and a future to look forward to. His grace abounds beyond anything we can ever imagine or understand. Grace saves In the following issues of the Living Light magazine we will look at what this godly grace is all about and what should be our response to it. Of all the religions in the world there is only one religion that speaks about grace. So important is this grace that the gospel of Jesus Christ is also called the Gospel of Grace. Unless we understand grace we will not be able to understand the abounding love of God or how he operates in this world. Everything in this universe is controlled by God. It moves and functions according to a set patternâ€” according to laws set into
July-September 2016 9
motion by God. None of God’s creation has the ability to violate the laws set into motion. Even the most intelligent animal on this earth functions by instinct. In the case of man though, God did not give him an instinct but an intelligence and ability to make decisions, good and bad. In doing so God gave up control over man and what he can do with himself, others and the environment he lives in. He also put a spirit in man so he would have the ability to communicate with God’s Spirit. God did not want robots but human beings that would choose to follow Jesus Christ without any pressure from him. God wanted to create a people who would be willing to work for and with him and allow him to work with them so they could truly be shaped in his image and likeness, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is the purpose of our existence, this is the reason and the only reason we are living on this earth. This is the reason why everything on this earth and maybe the entire universe exists so that ultimately we will be the ones to carry out the God given responsibility to rule and reign with Christ for all eternity. Revelations 5:9-10 presents in a nutshell God’s ultimate destiny for man “And they sang a new song: Worthy! Take the scroll, open its seals. Slain! Paying in blood, you
10 Living Light
bought men and women, Bought them back from all over the earth, Bought them back for God. Then you made them a Kingdom, Priests for our God, Priest-kings to rule over the earth” (MSG). God’s doings God is doing a great work here on earth, a work that was planned a long time ago. Our universe according to scientist came into existance 13.5 billion years ago by a phenomenon and a series of phenomenon that culminated in the advent of man. There is a possibility that even before the creation of the universe God had already made a plan for mankind as an intelligent, emotional, free moral agent with the capacity and qualities of God himself. He did not end ther e. He made a contingency plan that if man failed through sin, he could still enter the Kingdom of God. He chose to shower grace on sinful man, forgive and forget his sins and reconcile mankind to him for all eternity through the sacrifice, death and resurrection of his son, his only son, God in the flesh. He knew that this fail safe but difficult method of salvation would make us his willing followers, in turn showering grace on others, forgiving others and conducting our lives here on earth like Jesus conducted his life, thus setting a pattern for us, now and in the future.
If you are a parent If you are a parent, you have many aspirations for your child that may include him or her becoming a doctor, an engineer, scientist or another kind of successful professional. I believe these aspirations are driven by your thinking about your childâ€™s future, and her centrality in your life. by Azim H. Premji (Chairman, Wipro Ltd.)
ince good education is often the passport to a good future, I presume it leads you to getting your child admitted to a good school. Then you encourage your child to study hard and do well in school exams. To bolster this, you send him or her for tuition classes. This would have primed your child for board exams and entrance exams, thereby leading to admission into a good professional course. Doing well at college increases the probability of landing a good job. And a good job means the childâ€™s future is ensured.
I am neither a psychologist nor an educationist, and what I will now state may seem counter-intuitive. I think that these aspirations and actions might be doing more harm than good to your child. To understand why, we need to reexamine some of our fundamental assumptions. In the first place, I have seen time and again that living for some distant future goal also means you do not live in the present. The distant goal will always translate into an external measure of success, such as exams. And most exam-focussed
July-September 2016 11
children start forgetting what it means to be a child — to be curious, mischievous, exploring, falling, getting up, relating, discovering, inventing, doing, playing. Childhood is very precious; precious enough not to be wasted by the artificial pressures of contrived completion, by too many hours of bookish study, and by school report cards that simplistically wrap up an entire human being in numbers. The second assumption is that education is merely a ticket to socioeconomic success. Given the state of our country, this reality cannot be ignored. But restricting education to only this aspect is, I think, a very limiting notion of the aim of good education. The primary purpose of a school is to guide the child in her discovery of herself and her world, and to identify and nurture the child’s talents. Just as every seed contains the future tree, each child is born with infinite potential. Imagine a school which sees children as seeds to be nurtured — here the teacher is a gardener who helps to bring out the potential already present in the child. This is very different from the current view which sees the child as clay to be moulded — where the teacher and parents are potters deciding what shape the clay should take. Ther e is an old (and forgotten) Chinese saying: 12 Living Light
“Give a seed to a potter, and you will get a bonsai.” Even in a commer cial organisation, to make profits we do not have to chase profits. Rather, we need to build an institution that gives every employee an opportunity to do meaningful and fulfilling work. Create an organisation driven by values of innovation, integrity, customer centricity and care. And as you practice these values everyday and moment, you will see that the pr ofits take car e of themselves. Similarly, dear parent, this is my request to you. Do not give up your child’s present to secure his or her future. Give your child freedom to truly explore life with abandon. In doing this, you will see your child flower into a creative and sensitive human being. And when this happens, everything else — money, social success, security — will fall into place automatically. Let your child be a child. (A TOI article)
Embracing our new identity in Christ Dr. Tkach begins a three-part series on the topic of God’s grace. Martin Luther famously referred to Christians as “simultaneously saints and sinners.” His slogan was originally written in Latin: simul justus et peccator (where simul is the root of our English word simultaneously; justus means just or righteous; et means and; and peccator means sinner). If taken literally to mean that we live simultaneously in states of both sinlessness and sinfulness, Luther’s slogan would be a contradiction. by Dr. Joseph Tkach
ut he was speaking metaphorically, addressing the paradox that on this side of the fullness of the kingdom of God we are never completely free of sin’s influence. Though reconciled to God (saints), we do not live perfect, Christ-like lives (sinners). In constructing his slogan, Luther picked up on some of the apostle Paul’s language to make the point that at the heart of the gospel is a “double imputation” where our sin is “imputed” to Jesus, and his righteousness is “imputed” to us. This legal terminology of imputation provided a way to express what is legally true (and thus actual), but what may not be clearly visible in the life of the one to whom it applies. Luther also was saying that, apart from Christ, Christ’s righteousness never becomes our own possession (under our control)—it is a gift that is ours only as we receive it from him. We receive that gift by being united to the gift’s Giver, for in the
end, the Giver is the Gift. Jesus is our righteousness! Luther, of course, had much more to say about the Christian life than this one slogan, and though we agree with much of the slogan’s intended meaning, there are aspects with which we disagree. Note, for example, J. de Waal Dryden’s critique in the following quote from his article in The Journal of the Study of Paul and His Letters (I thank my good friend John Kossey for sending the quote to me): [Luther ’s] slogan helpfully summarizes the principle that the justified sinner is declared righteous by the “alien” righteousness of Christ, not accor ding to the individual’s own inherent righteousness. Where this slogan proves unhelpful is when it is adopted, whether consciously or not, as a foundation for sanctification [the Christian life]. The problem lies in the continued identification of the Christian as “sinner.” The noun peccator signals more than simply July-September 2016 13
a deformed moral will or a propensity toward illicit acts; it defines the ontology of the Christian. The Christian is not only “sinful” (in actions) but a “sinner” (in being and identity). In psychological terms, [Luther’s slogan] mollifies moral guilt but perpetuates (and even promotes) shame. The self-interpretive image of the “justified sinner,” while it proclaims forgiveness, undermines the same forgiveness by reinforcing an understanding of the self as sinful to the core, precisely because it categorically excludes a transformative element that would lift the sinner to a higher station. The Christian is left with a pathological self-understanding, reinforced by common practices that habituate this perspective as a Christian virtue. In this way, shame and self-contempt become virtues to be fostered, instead of vices to be censured. (“Revisiting Romans 7: Law, Self, Spirit,” JSPL (2015), 148149).
14 Living Light
Embracing our new identity in Christ As Dryden notes, God does “lift the sinner to a higher station.” In union and communion with God, in Christ and by the Spirit, we are “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV), being transformed to “participate” in God’s “divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). No longer are we totally wretched humans yearning to be free from our sinful nature. Rather, we are God’s adopted, beloved, forgiven children being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Our thinking about Jesus and about ourselves radically changes as we embrace the reality of this new identity. We do so realizing that it is ours not because of who we are, but because of Christ. It is not ours due to our faith (which always is imperfect) but because of Jesus’ faith. Note how Paul addresses this in his letter to Christians in Galatia: I am cr ucified with Chr ist: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 KJV emphasis added) Paul understood Jesus to be both the subject and the object of saving faith. As subject, he is the active agent who authors faith. As object,
he responds as one of us with perfect faith, doing so in our place and on our behalf. It is his faith and faithfulness, not ours, that gives us our new identity and makes us righteous in him.  As I noted in my Weekly Update letter a couple of weeks ago, in saving us, God does not merely wipe our slate clean and leave us to our own efforts in following Christ. Rather, by grace, God enables us to joyfully participate in what he has done and is now doing in and through us. Grace, you see, is more than a gleam in our heavenly Father’s eye. It originates in our electing Father who gives us gifts and promises of complete salvation in Christ, including justification, sanctification and glorification (1 Corinthians 1:30). We live out each of these aspects of our salvation by grace, in union with Jesus, by the Spirit who is sent into our very beings as the adopted, beloved children of God that we are. Thinking about God’s grace in this way changes our perspective on
just about everything. For example, as I go about my daily routine, I might wonder what I’m dragging Jesus into. But as I think about my life from the perspective of my identity in Christ, my thinking is transformed to understand that it’s not what I’m dragging Jesus into, but what he’s doing that I’m being called to share in. This transformation in our thinking is what growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus is all about. As we grow closer to him, we share more fully in what he is doing. This is the concept of “abiding” in Christ that our Lord spoke about in John 15. Paul referred to it as being “hidden” in Christ (Colossians 3:3). There can be no better hiding place, because “in Christ” is where there is nothing but goodness. Paul understood that the purpose of life is to be in Christ. Abiding in Jesus instills within us an assured dignity and the destiny that our Creator intended for us from the beginning. This identity sets us free
July-September 2016 15
to live in the freedom of God’s forgiveness rather than in debilitating guilt and shame. It also sets us free to live with the sure knowledge that God, by the Spirit, is transforming us from the inside out. That is the reality of who we, by grace, truly are in Christ. Misconstruing the nature of God’s grace Sadly, some people badly misconstrue the nature of God’s grace, seeing it as license to sin (the error of antinomianism). Paradoxically, that error most frequently occurs when people try to fit grace and a grace-based relationship with God into a legal framework (the error of legalism). Within that legal framework, grace is misread as God making exceptions to legal rules. Grace then becomes a legal excuse for inconsistent obedience. When that is how grace is understood, the biblical concept of God as Father, disciplining his beloved children, goes right out the window.
Trying to force-fit grace into a legal framework is a terrible, liferobbing mistake. Lawful works do not maintain righteousness, and grace is not about making exceptions to legal rules. This misunderstanding of grace leads, typically, to libertine, unstructured lifestyles that are contrary to the grace-based, gospelshaped life that Jesus shares with us by the Spirit. Transformed by grace While this unfortunate misunderstanding of grace (with its wrong approach to the Christian life) can seem to reduce guilt, it unwittingly misses the grace of transformation—the love of God coming into our hearts by the Spirit to truly change us from the inside out. Missing this truth leads ultimately to shame that typically is grounded in fear. Speaking from my own experience, I can say that being motivated by shame and fear is a poor substitute for being motivated by gr ace—motivated by the transforming love of God who justifies and sanctifies us through our union with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Note Paul’s words to Titus: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live selfcontrolled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. (Titus 2:11-12 ESV). God has not saved us only to
16 Living Light
abandon us to shame, immaturity and sinful, destructive lifestyles. By grace he saves us so we can live, by grace, in his righteousness. Grace means that God never gives up on us. He continues to give us the gift of a share in his Son’s union and communion with the Father, and the gift of the Spirit who is committed to transforming us into Christ’s likeness. Grace is what our whole relationship with God is about! In Christ, we are and always will be the beloved children of our heavenly Father. All he asks is that we grow in grace and in our knowledge of him. We grow in grace as we learn to trust him to be our all in all, and we grow in our knowledge of him as we follow him and spend time with him. God not only forgives us by grace, as we walk and talk with him in a life of obedience, he transforms us by grace. Our relationship with God, in Christ, by the Spirit is not something that grows to some point where we have less need for God and his grace. Rather, our lives are contingent upon him at all points. He makes us new, cleansing us from the inside out. As we learn to rest in his grace, we come to know him
better and love him and his ways more completely. And the more we know and love him, the more we will sense the freedom to rest in his grace, free of guilt, fear and shame. Paul sums it up this way: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2: 8-10 ESV). Let us not forget that it is Jesus’ faith—his faithfulness—that saves and transforms us.  As the author of Hebrews reminds us, Jesus is “the author [founder-ESV] and finisher [perfecter-ESV] of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2 KJV).
July-September 2016 17
Biblegenext (Genesis updated) In order to make the Bible attractive to the Gen next crowd someone rewrote the Bible thus: In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a healthy young wife by the name of Dorothy. And Dot Com was a comely woman, large of breast, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com. And she said unto Abraham, her husband, “Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou canst trade without ever leaving thy tent?” And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, “How, dear?” And Dot replied, “I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. The sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah’s Pony Stable (UPS).” Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent. To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures - Hebrew To The People (HTTP). And the young men did take to Dot Com’s trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS. And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. Indeed he did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates’ drumheads and drumsticks. And Dot did say, “Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others.” And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel, or eBay as it came to be known. He said, “We need a name that reflects what we are.” And Dot replied, “Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators.” “YAHOO,” said Abraham. And because it was Dot’s idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com. Abraham’s cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot’s drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God’s Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE). That is how it all began. Author unknown
18 Living Light
From Adam to Noah In the April/June 15 issue of the Living Light magazine, we looked at the immediate repercussions of the sin of our first parents, Adam and Eve. God warned Adam and Eve that if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil they would surely die. by Joe D’Costa
atan told our first parents that they would not surely die. Satan knew that if Adam and Eve died immediately that would end God’s master plan. That was exactly what Satan hoped for but he knew better. He is called the angel of light which depicts knowledge. So Satan told a partial lie. He told Adam and Eve that they would not surely die— He meant immediately. He did not tell them that they would die eventually and eternally.
The rebellion of Satan Satan is aware of God’s master plan. He knew that God had an alternative plan, if man sinned. The wages of sin is death. God banished man from the Garden of Eden. He sacrificed animals for the sin of Adam and Eve. This gave them temporary relief and a chance to cor rect themselves. But Adam and Eve and all mankind did not change for the better. We read from the Bible that they went downhill morally, sin took over the world under the tutelage of Satan.
Isaiah 14:12-17 gives us a glimpse of the nature and aspirations of Satan and his ultimate fall: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: ‘Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?’” (MSG) The rebellion of Man In Genesis 6:1-8 we are told: “When the human race began to increase, with more and more daughters being born, the sons of God noticed that the daughters of men were beautiful. They looked them over and picked July-September 2016 19
out wives for themselves. Then GOD said, ‘I’m not going to breathe life into men and women endlessly. Eventually they’re going to die; from now on they can expect a life span of 120 years.’ This was back in the days (and also later) when there were giants in the land. The giants came from the union of the sons of God and the daughters of men. These were the mighty men of ancient lore, the famous ones. GOD saw that human evil was out of control. People thought evil, imagined evil—evil, evil, evil from morning to night. GOD was sorry that he had made the human race in the first place; it broke his heart. GOD said, ‘I’ll get rid of my ruined creation, make a clean sweep: people, animals, snakes and bugs, birds—the works. I’m sorry I made them.’” There is a lot of speculation on who the sons of God and the giants were. Alien theorists claim that they came from outer space and mated with humans, others believe that these giants still exist in caves in the earth. The Abominable Snowman, the Yeti and sightings of huge creatures that appear and disappear around the world, are these giants that continue to survive in unexplored caves in the earth. The Bible does not elaborate so we can only go by what we know and as discoveries are made we may have a better picture of what happened in those early years of mankind. Remember, the Bible is not 20 Living Light
a historical book or a scientific book but a spiritual book. All we know is by the time of Noah, there was great turmoil and much confusion in a world that had lost sight of God. What began with God’s perfect creation of peace and plenty in a paradise known as the Garden of Eden had quickly degenerated to violence and wickedness. This grieved God. Genesis 6:2 tells us what happened to bring about this fall into absolute corruption when we read the words, “… the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” The term “Sons of God” refer to those who, for a time, had chosen to have a form of religion where they would still recognize the Lord God. As the number of people grew, each successive generation began to get farther and farther into sin. There was soon a large majority of the population who had totally forsaken God. They had gone so far from God that there was no way of reaching them any longer. They had no thought of God. Their heart was only growing more corrupt with each passing day. There was no possibility for them changing for the better. They had reached the point of no return in their sin. Living in a world of corruption took its toll upon those who considered themselves religious. Little by little, day by day, their
religious beliefs were compromised, their faithfulness to serve God became weaker and weaker, and their love for God was replaced by a love of the things of this world. Genesis 6:2 gives us a picture of absolute immorality in the hearts of men. Prostitution became the norm as Satan did his best to destroy the very design of God for one man to have one woman for life and create a family that would serve God. God’s master plan vs. Satan’s What is God’s master plan? To create human beings in his image, give them the power to reproduce, create a family with children that can be trained in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). We are told in Ephesians 5:21-33: “Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. Wives understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leader ship, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church— a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes
the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favour—since they’re already ‘one’ in marriage. No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become ‘one flesh.’ This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honour her husband.” Paul continues with instruction for children in Ephesians 6:1-4: “Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. ‘Honour your father and mother ’ is the first commandment that has a promise
July-September 2016 21
attached to it, namely, ‘so you will live well and have a long life.’ Fathers, don’t exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.” God plans to reproduce Himself and we are helping him do so through our families. So Satan stepped in and polluted sex and marriage and thus hits at the very core of God’s plan, starting with Adam and Eve. The depths of corruption, sin and immorality that man can ever reach down into are without limits. Satan’s purpose is to drag every man, woman and child into those great depths of sin so that they will no longer have any thoughts of our Holy God and the great Creator. Satan’s plan seemed to be working all too well at that time. At the rate man was becoming corrupt, it would not be long before Satan would realize his dream of stealing from God the one thing in all of creation that God loves most. But God always has a plan of redemption for a remnant of those who will serve Him faithfully! Into this sin blighted world of immorality was born a man faithful to God. That man was Noah. Noah, the seed of survival Noah came from a godly family. His genealogy is recorded in the Book of 22 Living Light
Genesis: Enoch was his greatgrandfather! At the age of 65 Enoch had a son and named him Methuselah. Methuselah, when he was 187 years old, had a son named Lamech. Methuselah lived longer on this earth than any other man in the Bible, leaving this world at the ripe old age of 969. Lamech, at the age of 182, had a son and named him Noah. Then Lamech lived to the age 777. Noah was a patient man and a godly man, staying faithful to the God of his fathers. He did not have children until he was 500 years old. That’s when he had 3 sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. The problem was that the longer man lived, the greater was their moral corruption. God finally put a limit on the life of men when he stated in Genesis 6:3, “… My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” God had built our bodies with a long lifespan. His design was so perfect that it took the power of sin to destroy God’s intended life span for
man. Even so, the body’s design would allow it to live for centuries if God would not have placed a limit on man’s lifespan. As you know, the average lifespan in our time is about 70 years. The sin in the heart of man had finally reached a place in Noah’s day that God would not tolerate it any longer. So God determined in his heart to utterly destroy man from the face of the earth for fear that all flesh would destroy itself, spirtually. God loved man too much to allow man to destroy himself in such a fashion. In the midst of this great cauldron of sin, immorality and corruption, there was only one man who still placed his faith in God and made an attempt to serve God. Genesis 6:8, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” Noah – the man of faith – heard from God and began to build an ark. Using crude tools, wooden hammers, crude saws and forming every part of the ark from wood that had to be cut, hewn and hauled from miles around, Noah built an ark, a ship, that measured 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and approximately the same height as a 6 story building of our day. (1½football fields long – it wasn’t until the 20th century that man could build large metal ships that rivalled Noah’s ark). While he built this ship, God also instructed Noah to preach to those around him that the flood was
coming. God made one final plea to the people He loved so much, to change. God knew that they wouldn’t hear Noah. Noah found grace in God’s sight but not one person would give him the time of day. They were too busy having their “good times” and living their lives of self-indulgence. They had no time for a “crazy old prophet”. After all, it had never rained heavily before. There had never been a flood before. All things had been like they were for many centuries. Why should they believe this old gray-haired preacher now? Noah just kept on working and preaching – being faithful to the call of God upon his life. He withstood all of the taunts of the crowd, as they gathered to watch him and his family building this monstrosity of a building that would be the salvation of mankind and God’s plan for starting all over again. People could not and would not accept God’s plan. As a result, not one of them, except for those eight people in Noah’s family, obeyed God and built the ark to survive the judgment of God. Every living thing that walked the face of the earth drowned as a result of their sin and stubbornness. Matthew 24:37-39 gives us a sign of Christ second coming, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, July-September 2016 23
marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” These words are given in response to the disciples asking Jesus the question found in Matthew 24:3, “… what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (KJV). After giving a list of things to come, Jesus warned them and us that the heart of man would still be immoral, corrupt and sinful, and that not many would hear the message of the gospel. The same condition would exist and the ears of those who are wholly sold out to sin would still be deaf to the call of God and preaching of His Word of warning to repent. Signs before the end of the world What kind of things did Jesus say were coming that would give us warning of His soon return to judge the world? 1) “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” 2) “… Wars and rumours of wars” 3) “ For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” 4) “… Famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” 5) “…Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” 6) “…Many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” 24 Living Light
7) “…Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” 8) “…Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” 9) “…This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Can there be any doubt that we are living in the days that Jesus spoke of? If there was ever a time when all these things are happening, it’s now! Our daily newspapers are filled with news that carries shock waves that God is using to try to wake us up! The preaching of the gospel has spread around the globe to every nation through the power of satellite broadcasting. There is no place on the face of the earth that cannot be reached with the gospel at any given moment. All of these other signs are visible as well. There are battles being fought all over the globe as nations, religions, ethnic factions and races rise against one another to commit genocide on those who are different from them. Famines have been and continue to sweep across the third world nations. Earthquakes and other natural disasters are more intense and more frequent than any other time in the history of man. Pestilences, like AIDS; venereal diseases that are resistant to drugs; viruses that don’t respond to treatment; and cancer plague this world. The latest is Ebola. Chemical and biological warfare (anthrax) that
threaten to destroy people by the millions, are a constant topic of discussion and concern. False preachers, false religions, false prophets and false self-proclaimed saviours abound as men try to gain power and influence over the lives of others. Christians are becoming more and more the target of all the world’s religions as they attempt to lay the blame for fear and guilt upon the teaching of the truth of Christ’s Word. Sin has caused love to disappear as mothers kill their children; children kill their parents or turn them in for trying to discipline them. Families have fallen apart because love has grown cold and we are more concerned about what we want instead of what is right and good for everyone. Mothers are turning their kids out to fend for themselves as they chase after immorality that makes them feel good no matter what it takes. Fathers refuse to accept their responsibility for the children they bring into this world. Children are sexually abused by parents and relatives. Some become effeminate and even tur n to homosexuality and perverseness. In the midst of this sin and corruption there is still a voice crying out for man to turn back to God, but that voice is seldom heard anymore!
The ark of safety 1 Peter 3:18-22 tells us, “That’s what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others’ sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all — was put to death and then made alive — to bring us to God. He went and proclaimed God’s salvation to earlier generations who ended up in the prison of judgment because they wouldn’t listen. You know, even though God waited patiently all the days that Noah built his ship, only a few were saved then, eight to be exact — saved from the water by the water.” “The waters of baptism do that for you, not by washing away dirt from your skin but by presenting you through Jesus’ resurrection before God with a clear conscience. Jesus has the last word on everything and everyone, from angels to armies. He’s standing right alongside God, and what he says goes”. There is our way into the Ark of Safety. There is our door into the July-September 2016 25
Kingdom of God. It is only by having a good conscience and a clean heart before God by believing in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we have hope. Let us learn the lessons of history. Let us learn to be like Noah, living a Godly life, untainted by the world, teaching and admonishing our children in the reverence and love of God. Teaching our children to revere the sanctity of marriage, have one wife loving each other as their own bodies and bringing up children in a Godly way. Genesis 6:9 tells us: “These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and per fect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.” “Perfect in his generations” is not only talking about racial purity but of generations before Noah living Godly lives, training children in their Godly ways and getting them married to one wife who was also from a Godly family. God knows the power families can have on the world, both positive
26 Living Light
and negative. God also knows what power husbands can have over their wives and wives over their husbands, for good and for evil. God also knows like no one else, the power of sex. All we need to do is to look at history. There was a serial that came on History Channel entitled “How sex changed the world”. It shows the course of history and how even great men and sometimes godly men succumbed to illicit sex and were swayed by its effect in doing things they would normally not do, thus changing the course of history. During WWI & WW2 sex was used as one of the weapons of war, to great effect. What we studied today shows us how important our families should be to us. Let us as parents live godly lives and teach our children to do likewise. Who knows like Noah we may play an important part in being instrumental spiritually, in saving the human race for all eternity.
An Interview With God Author Unknown
I dreamed I had an INTERVIEW WITH GOD. "So, you would like to interview me?" GOD asked. "If you have time," I said. GOD smiled. "My time is eternity... what questions do you have in mind for me?" "What surprises you the most about humankind?" GOD answered... "That they get bored with childhood, that they rush to grow up, and then long to be children again." "That they lose their health to make money... and then lose their money to restore their health." "That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live in neither the present nor the future." "That they live as if they would never die, and die as though they had never lived." GOD's hand took mine... and we were silent for a while. And then I asked, "As a parent, what are some of life's lessons you want your children to learn?" GOD replied, "To learn they cannot make anyone love them. All they can do is let themselves be loved." "To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others." "To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness." "To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in those they love, and it can take many years to heal them." "To learn that a rich person is not one who has the most, but is one who needs the least." "To learn that there are people who love them dearly, but simply do not yet know how to express or show their feelings." "To learn that two people can look at the same thing, and see it differently." "To learn that it is not enough that they forgive one another, but they must also forgive themselves." "Thank you for your time," I said humbly. "Is there anything else you would like your children to know?" GOD smiled again, and said... "Just know that I am here. Always." July-September 2016 27
Conference in October 2016 at Srirangapatna At the picturesque town of Srirnagapatna, also called the river island, as it is surrounded by the Cauvery river, members of the Worldwide Church of God from south India will assemble for a six day program of worship, instruction, fellowship, speech clubs, site-seeing, fun and games. The theme for the conference is â€˜Reality of God and the virtual world we live inâ€™ and will be conducted between October 8 to October 14, 2016. At Srirangapatna three streams meet, the Cauvery, the Kabini and the Hemavati. Situated at the delta of three rivers, water is plenty and the land fertile. Venue for the conference is at Aashirwad Revival Centre, besides Amblee Holiday Resorts, Srirangapatna. Members and Living Light readers are welcome to attend. For details please contact the WCG office at the address given on the inner front page of the magazine. 28 Living Light
Living Light A Magazine with direction