Bible Study: The Epistle of James

Our Bridgewater Grace PCA church started the Thursday fellowship Bible study on the book of James a few weeks ago, and I'll catch up on it.

I'll also be using Pak Tong's James (2006, mentioned in Video 39) series as reference.


James coming after Hebrews cannot be arbitrary. Just like Mark (servant) -> Luke (man) -> John (Son of God). Ascending.

Why Hebrews before James?
Faith before works.

Gospel of Matthew is directed towards the Jews
Gospel of John is towards the gentiles.

We understand the Bible as organic living, not systematic. So that we can understand it.

On the other James (the apostle) who didn't write this book, and his brother John, did they became the "left" and the "right"? Yes, but not about on the throne of Christ, but of the martyrdom: James died first, John last, of all apostles.

Who is this author then? The brother of Jesus in Acts 1, 15. Roman Catholic's Perpetual Virginity of Mary is debunked in Matthew 1:25 - Joseph knew her not til she had brought forth her first born. 4 years ago, archeology in Jerusalem found a box with inscription "James, brother of Jesus".

Though brother of Jesus, he never boast about it, not even in the book, after repentance. But before repentance, he didn't even believe his oldest brother was Christ. His is the slave of Christ and God.

v. 1: Who are the twelve tribes? To those the law is given but now all in Christ.

Tong on James 1:1-4 (video 3):
This is the only book in the entire Bible that addresses the 12 tribes. Other books like Hebrews also to the Jews. Universally, the target audience is those who understood the Old Covenant.

The law shows you your sin; boasting about the law is like a man boasting about how great his doctor is in finding cancer in him.

Why no priesthood? Destruction of altar in Jerusalem in 70AD
Why no prophets? God stopped sending messengers
Why no kings? The throne of David was ceased since the captivity (First office to stop is king)

James wrote to the Israel that accepted Christ, not ones that rejected Christ. Thus it begins with temptations and suffering.

Tong Video 4:

v. 3, 4 Patience - must be of a quality one, and not of a useless patience. This is why the dumb often succeed while the clever often fail.

Patience/perseverance is connected to Will. 30 years ago the world was crazy about IQ, then EQ and now Tong shows the biblical WQ - Will Quotient. There's also SQ - Spiritual Quotient.

Marco Polo took the noodle concept in China back to Italy and they called theirs macaroni. Noodle tastes better then more its beaten.

Tong Video 5 (v.3-6):

3 parts in Will Quotient: 1. determination; 2. Consistency; 3. Strife

Faith -> Knowledge -> Do. 信知行。

Sufferings humbles us, admitting our limit in knowledge. It's difficult for a talented person to humble. God baptizes him in suffering. v.5

You are poor when a rich person stands next to you. Paul Tillich: Communism is not enemy of capitalism, they are competitors. One forces the rich to give to the poor for commonality; while the other use taxation on the rich for the same goal. Neither is taught by the Bible.

Bible: those who don't have, more will be taken from him; Communism: take the rich to give to the poor. Bible protects the poor from exploit, but also rebuke the lazy. This applies to wisdom in this passage. Those who are wise but don't feel wise, God will add; those who are not wise but thought they are, God will take away.

When God gives you wisdom, you must use it wisely, or else, God would take away, like in Solomon's case.

Distinguishing wisdom vs. knowledge = knowledge is like the computer with all its virtually limitless information, like trash - emails, junks, etc. Not the same as Wisdom.

Homework: OT wisdom vs. NT wisdom: they are not the same. Jesus in NT is our wisdom. James 3 also talks about wisdom.

Tong Video 6: v.5

Bible is not by systematic, but by organic living understanding. Life has system but system does not necessary have life.

One always think one is confident and talented and need no help or outside wisdom until facing suffering and trials.


Tong Video 7: v.5

Wisdom vs Knowledge: example: having a map (knowledge), but it's not enough to get to the destination, one must figure out where I am (wisdom)...

On Wisdom: Those who said in the end, I did not do what I ought to do...have no wisdom.

On 5 points of the ultimate principle of Wisdom:

  1. Fear the Lord; 1Jn 2:17 这世界和其上的情欲都要过去,惟独遵行神旨意的,是永远常存。
  2. shows restrain, content, self-discipline
  3. attributes of God is the foundation of our virtue/ethics. 以宽和待人,仁慈和平

Righteousness and Truth of God is the restraint of our freedom;
Love and kindness of God is the motive of our action.
Micah 6:8

OT wisdom is just about following God, walk in His holiness. Openly welcome forgive others rather than focus on criticizing, is the hidden wisdom in NT. NT wisdom exceeds OT's. 1 Cor 1:30 Christ is our Wisdom...other than Christ's life example and the fruit of the Holy Spirit showing all these, James 3 shall talk about the principle behind this.

Video 7 @15:00:

4. Be owner of our inheritance. Most become slaves of their own property. Enslaved by money, talents, freedom, properties, time. All these are properties given us by God.

5. Timeless accomplishments in limited time and space.
Joh 4:34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.
My food = My supplement, need, satisfaction of this life is to accomplish His work and will.
Most important sentence in Economics: Jesus said Mat 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?

A church/person should work in a dynamic manner and not a passive one: i.e. you tell a kid you are small; dynamic response would be to reply: I will be bigger than you in the future.

Since God generously gives everyone wisdom (v.5), why some still stupid. Men ruin it, not God. Other than self-confident, over-confident, misconduct, mis-evaluate, mis-calculate, mis-location; we stupefy ourselves. Especially the parents, trying to get kids trained to be a genius at a young age, in order to get people to praise their kids. Parents happy, but the kids carried the cross. In the end the kid becomes stupid. So don't force kids to study too early. Wait for them to be more mature, enjoy the happiness of childhood first. Otherwise, they die early as they graduate. Tong even once struggled to get his son to delay in school one year due to problem in some subjects. Even had to switch school as the young teacher didn't agree to delay. But it doesn't mean you can relax, need to do more work.

We often suppress the wisdom God had given us; not that God did not give us.

v5. God gives generously but do not find fault/without reproach means giving grace yet not showing off the giving, such is the attribute of God.
不食嗟来之食: I will rather not eat of the food that is given with attitude, no matter how hungry I am. Idiom from the Waring States Period of China. Although my stomach is fulfilled my heart is not. Likewise we should not just help materialistically, but also with kind attitude honoring respecting others, such is God's attitude. Some have good attitude but never help materialistically - I'm hungry; Oh may God bless you bye bye! Also not good; best is willing to help others and respecting them.

If you lack knowledge, you can go to university (I guess now we have google/youtube also); If you lack wisdom, you can only go to God.

Video 8:

God's freedom is not absolute, by John Stott. Tong: it's semantic. God's freedom IS absolute!

On v6, prayer/ask: The religion that pray for self and material is the lowest religion.

The Roman Catholics' cross drawing, good meaning but may not be good practice. Comes from Gal 3:1 "the cross of Christ has been drawn before your eyes"

All-voice together prayer (群体祷告) based on what? 1925-1928 Bethel Evangelistic band in China (greatest revival movement in China before communism) which involved John Sung, Andrew Gih (Ji Zhiwen) Nie Zhiying, etc. They did this to encourage and teach everyone to pray without listening to others, one town rejected them for such praying style. But where in the Bible, in the last part of Acts 4. Acts 4:24...

Video 9:

Why pray?

  1. Recognize that we are limited
  2. Trusting in the almighty power of God
  3. From the word of God that produces faith in us. Paul said, whatever you ask…but how can you ask, if you believe not…Use the Lord's prayer rather than Jabesh's. Vision vs. Ambition: many said, my vision…but actually it's "my ambition".

Wrong psychology of prayer:

  1. not to command God but obey God's commandments. Pray as if God is beside you. Confucius: near God as if God is here
  2. Not to change God, but ask God to change yourself. The hymn about moving God's hand is mentioned. Jesus wasn't being lazy in the storm as his response was a rebuke. "ye of little faith"
  3. Not to move God's heart. But God's Holy Sprit dwells in our heart to move us. Using unspoken sighing the Spirit guide us to pray properly. Sighing because our prayers are full of errors without the Spirit.

Video 10: v7-11
Turn what is relative to absolute: make enemies out of brothers
Turn what is absolute to relative: treat brothers out of enemies - letting the wolves in.

Indonesia from 1958-1966 by trying to be independence by themselves rather than being trained by the British for independence like Malaysia, Burma, etc. Sukarno announced that they have kicked out the imperialists. Too early to be independent so nobody knows how to manage the country and the great depreciation of Rupiah currency happened.

Christians should have a stable heart to face the challenges of the changing world, from poor to rich or rich to poor.
Tong's mother 2 quotes:

  1. your pocket empty doesn't mean you are empty; Your will empty, that is empty;
  2. The world is unreliable, but God is reliable; Society changes but not God.

Art definition:
: Art is the imitation of nature
Leonardo da Vinci: Art is the movement of the heart
Jean Francois Millet: Art is the expression of the common hearts

Tong claimed to be able to recognize Millet's painting anywhere because his paintings of humans are unique, expression of the human nature were easily seen.

other poor famous painters like Vincent Van Gogh mentioned. Van Gogh didn't received anything for his paintings and now the 3 most famous and expensive: Sunflowers, Irises, Doctor Gachet. They even found another duplicates of the paintings and were claimed that the Doctor Gachet originally sold to Japan was fake. These paintings become more and more expensive, whether it's because of the art or because of making money, is another matter. The Japanese who bought Dr. Gachet even claimed that he will never sell his "fake" one and that if he died he will have it cremated with him. Tong: man can buy art but has no right to destroy it because it is not yours to destroy, it is the artifact of the heart of others. Though after fact checking, Ryoei Saito did changed his mind and willed to give it to the Japanese people.

Why talking about art? Because it is the cultural mandate of the reformed theology. Secondly, you see that some people who have a lot but actually nothing; while some are poor but have the most treasured things in life. Tong shared that when he was treated with high class, he felt no depression for his God his Lord of lords; when treated with low class, he felt no pride for his Lord was born in a manger. So face the changing environment with the unchanging God.

During the Great Depression in 1928-29, Empire State building and the Golden Gate were built. So know this history, when you tour there, not just know that it's famous and fun to be taking photos at. Most tourists just look for shopping centers.

NY's Statue of Liberty vs. Kiev's Statue of Freedom:
Very different motive/background story. NY's (including Empire State Building & Golden Gate) reflects hope while Kiev's is a boasting of communism over capitalism, meaningless.

10 tycoons gathered to solve America's Great Depression problem. Many ended up negatively.
Howard Hughes died of hunger despite being rich. A movie coming out in two months (2004) about him (Aviator, by Leonardo DeCaprio) not going to be good because it wouldn't be able to reflect the true spirit of the character, as they only selected a pretty boy to play the character, per Tong.

Bible teaches us, rejoice always whether our brothers go from rich to poor or vice versa.

Video 11:

The goal of James is to the elected Jews of the 12 tribes as they are not used to the suffering of being a Christian.

The process of Christianity: Justification -> Sanctification -> Glorification

v. 12: two times in the Bible mentioned "crown of life". James 1:12; Rev. 2:10

Testimony of a rich folks who often host Tong in their house moved out to smaller home to get their child face challenges of strife in life, as same heart with Tong.

Video 12: v.12 - 15

This is the only place in the Bible that talks about the "origin of evil". All other religions never touched on this as they accepted sin as a fact.

ISAIAH 45:7 ...created evil. There are two kinds of evil: metaphysical evil (imperfections, disasters, etc.) & moral evil.

Arnold Joseph Toynbee in his book A Study of History: 2 possibilities for for why evil exists: He is either not almighty nor all good.

this Either/Or thinking is the paradigm of thinking after the Enlightenment Movement.

Reformed (theology wise) Evangelical (spiritual wise) movement.

On the Problem of Evil:
Reformed doctrine focused on
Augsburg confession by Melanchton: John 8:44, he sinned of himself. Problem solved for origin of evil.

Then why not create a perfect world?
Only man likes to complain about it. Animals don't care. Therefore, very few cats commit suicide.
Leibniz 300 years ago gave best answer:
(The other two great philosophers of the time were Spinoza-pantheism and Descartes-humanist)
Leibniz regretted once why he was born in Germany and not China.
He even tried for missionary to China but failed the test.
Pascal first to invent calculator.
Leibniz was angry after learning that the Chinese had already knew his calculus 3000 years before him.

  1. If God can create a perfect world, then God can create God.
  2. 2 types of God, creator and created God. Created can still be God?
  3. God is not one and also not eternal.
    So it's impossible for God to create a perfect world.
    Creator is therefore qualitatively greater than the created.

Even after resurrection, there will always be qualitative difference between creator and the created.
The existence of evil is a must. It's a tool of God's trials. God will bring a person victorious through these.

Important aspects:

  1. Perfection of God, absolute perfect eternity.
  2. Perfection of created image and likeness God originally placed in man.
  3. Imperfection from the Fall.
  4. Perfection of lifestyle of the incarnated Son of God.
  5. Perfection of new life Christians receive after receiving the Son.
  6. Perfection of ongoing growing process by obedience to the Holy Spirit.
  7. Being made perfect in the return of Christ in His promise and glory.

Inheritance is not just space and time, but also PROCESS. The experience and process of your struggle is eternal.

God created Adam, any perfection? Yes, created perfection.

Temptations ask me to fall; trials strengthens me.

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18 Responses to Bible Study: The Epistle of James

  1. timlyg says:

    Video 13: v.12-15
    No religions in the world can explain the origin of evil except what the Bible has revealed. And the most important verses on this are these few verses 12-15:
    Trial vs. Temptation: differences in origin, nature & goal.
    All parents love to treat their kids as sinless angels and their sins are influenced by bad friends.
    Tong: whose child is not lovely? Always their own are lovely and others' are of the devil.

    Now because God allows it? If so then He's the source of evil. But this verse 1:13 clearly said He is not.

    4 beings with self conscience: God, angels, Satan/demon, man. All other beings have no such thing, they lived by instinctive need, no subjective choices of self.
    My take: Therefore those who treat animals/pets as having self-conscience have gone too far in treating matters of God's creation and thus are rebels against God.

    Dictator can slaughter thousands because he made his SELF greater than others and even treating others without selves.

    God is the ultimate self. Paul Tillich: "He is not a being, but the ground of beings", though Tillich may not take God as a person. But we must take God as a person.
    God refers Himself a person. I am.
    He is all ultimate personhood in Himself - Latin: perse = German: Ding an sich (from Kant's philosphy) = Thing in itself = Buddhism: 悟入?
    Example: what is Holiness? Holiness is holiness in itself (本体), it (本体) is with the its ontological essence (本质), and that ontological essence has a personhood which is called God. So God is truth in itself, holiness in itself, justice in itself, goodness, almightiness in itself.
    So is God moral? He is the source of it by ontological definition. You cannot say how God become good, there's no process in absolute. All in process are not absolute.
    @39:00 Tong mentioned Jesus' second nature as human in process distinct from his divine nature. This would prove Alex's 钻牛角尖 trying to force Tong speech into heresy to be in vain.

    John Stott: Even God's freedom is not absolute.
    Tong: don't dare to agree with Stott. How could I be bold enough to put "not absolute" to God?
    So if a God possible to sin, how can he be God? Absolute freedom, as is God, but He absolutely will not sin. Who limits Him to not sin then? back to the theme, He is the SELF that absolutely decided that He will absolutely not sin in eternity. God submitted His Absolute freedom under His other attributes.

    Tong doesn't understand: God's greatest glory as well as greatest risk in creation power is that He created a creature that creativity. Unless you don't marry, if you do, you will give birth to a scary dangerous man for he could be a preacher or a robber. Ponder on our unknown future potential.
    So our SELF has a risk potential, either for good or bad, reflects God's likeness.
    In such SELF, we study these verses. No philosophers since Thales until now could explain this better than these verses.
    All artists created their own worlds with their creativity and freedom and have to be accountable to God eventually for their freedom is not absolute. In their SELF there is selfish desire.

    Origin of Evil:
    Sin is therefore emerged, not created.
    It is produced, not originally existing. Emerging in creation but not of the Creator's will. Emergence Theory of Evil. Where sin comes from? From the self-desire that rebels against God.
    God's SELF is the 本体 of all attributes, mine is made in God's image and likeness therefore my attributes are but shadows of those 本体. Here lies the problem, for God is absolute in all, men say we have those essence of those attributes for we are created in your likeness.

    All other creatures are programmed into a set of complex natural functions, only men are able to disobey or surpass such nature to be like God. God: I am Lord。 Men: i am lord. So only man can create conflict of interest with God in sovereignty. This is what is horrifying in humanity, how we could be God's enemy in wanting to be like God.

    So I have only two choices: Submit my will to His, return my SELF to Himself-eternal Self (faith 信仰, obedience, offerings); or not. The only way to deal with this SELF of ours is to be one with God's. Adam failed, he chose wrong between God's and Satan's words. Only two choices, either of God or of Satan. But God doesn't want us to blame Satan but our desire. So no matter what you do in church, if it's of selfishness, the more you give the more you sin.

    Sin is not seen from action, but conceived by desire, like sperm entered the egg and conceived. Our desire received Satan's words and by SELF, sinned. Contrasting Paul in Gal 4:19 labor in pain until Christ is formed in them. The original logos = Logoi Spermatikoi

    The ultimate secret of sinners returning to righteousness:
    Matthew 16:24 - deny self, take up our cross, follow Jesus.
    All other religions are shallow concerning this.
    Little Tong once asked his Sunday school teacher: Which garbage pile do I deny my self to? Teacher said: I don't know.
    Jesus answered in Gethsemane: Not by my will but thy will.
    Deny ourselves go back to God-self. No religion solves this problem, only Jesus, for our sakes, denied His SELF and therefore has the authority to command us to deny ourselves take up our cross and follow Him. Paul commanded us to imitate him as he imitates Christ. A person that imitates 效法 Christ, has authority to lead God's sheep.

  2. timlyg says:

    Video 14 - 1:14-18
    All good gifts are blamed to God when we misused them.

    God made us in His image and likeness, the animals have no such. Therefore, cat doesn't pose in front of mirror.
    My take: All animals at best is to imitate, they do not have the true nature of man. Qualitative difference.

    Like those who blamed God for the gifts, some would destroy gifts of God, such as removing sexual desire, church father becoming eunuch, Ernest Hemingway's book about a young man castrating himself, in pursuit of holy lives, twisting God's good gifts.

    We are not created equal. We are created unequally.

  3. timlyg says:

    Video 15: 1:17-21

    Animal Instincts: Food and Sex - Also basis of need in Chinese philosophy.
    Men are created beyond such.

    In all of Bible, only here in James that mentioned where sin comes from.

    v.15 vs. v.18: The way of destruction vs. the way of salvation/life. In terms of birthing.

    If there is no free will, there is no talk of morality. Free will is the basis of morality.

    8 year old Tong listened to 蔡信德 (long hours preaching) 赵世光計志文 Andrew Gih王载 Leland Wang, 王峙 (王载的弟弟), 氏心我?,林配先?

    v.19 Most important responsibility as human is to understand the word of God. Someone told Tong he bought all of Tong's recordings and finished listening all.
    What is hear swiftly?
    Ans: Cease every moment to listen more, quickly seek and be taught of things not understood. Isa 55:6 当趁耶和华可寻找的时候寻找他,相近的时候求告他。

    Slow to Speak:
    We love to respond in anger, criticism, etc. too quickly upon what we don't like to hear. The Bible warns we must meditate day and night (反复思想). Example: Jesus' parents questioned young Jesus and His response "Do you not know I must be at my Father's house?", "Woman, what have I to do with you..."
    Many love to speak first...without even understanding first.

  4. timlyg says:

    Video 16: 1:16-20
    v.19 has nothing to do with speed. But moments in time. Cease the time and opportunity. Isaiah 55:6 mentioned: Seek God while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near" Kairos vs. Kronos mentioned briefly. Jesus in John 12:27 Father save me from this hour vs. From this purpose I have come for this hour.

    Jonah's anger example mentioned, God challenged this "father of rationalism" of his anger, Jonah replied that he has good reason to die, Jonah 4:9: when our idea different than God's, we get angry easily.

  5. timlyg says:

    Video 17

    We love to act we understood God's word easily but not Einstein's book. Such is an insult to God. John 9:41, you claim you see, so your guilt remains.
    Swift to listen = receive God's word while you still have the opportunity.
    The day Adam/Eve ate the fruit, did they die? Not bodily, but spiritually.


    Muslim don't have an age for circumcision, which scientifically is optimal on the 8th day of birth, as Bible instructed. So although I don't understand some Bible verses, the comfort is, 3,500 years later I will understand. swift to listen, slow to speak.

    Verses: James 1:22-23 There's a difference between auditing a class and actually taking the class: Just looking around, no commitment and experiential understanding in exams, homework, challenges to react, etc.

    Example of Mary, putting God's words in her heart time and time again.

    Word of God:
    1. Listen
    2. Think
    3. Understand
    4. Submit
    5. Do/walk with God

  6. 9timlyg says:

    Video 18: James 1:22-25

    Difference between man & animal: able to respond to God. Something Aristotle & Confucius did not realize.

    Kierkegaard said that God is here, you don't speak to him yet you want to ridiculously prove His existence.
    Martin Buber was influenced by this and in his "I and Thou": those who try to prove God's existence are believing God as mere theories to be discussed only, no true relationship, God is not a living thing. This God is just an "it" to them. But when you talking about your lover, you are talking about her, him, and not "it".

    In turn Buber influenced Karl Barth who later influenced Emil Brunner's Divine-Human Encounter - the important kairos of our lives.
    Side effects: by Karl Barth - Only the specific verses that you read becomes God's words/revelation to you.
    Tong answers: All of Bible can God's word to us.

    When animal (cats, dogs, etc.) see look at the mirror, they won't ponder upon it on who, analyze, etc. Even for smarter animals like monkeys, still a innate instinctive reaction. Unlike man.

    all responses are nothing compared to our response to God. Most important.

    Being a king is very lonely, because nobody wants to tell you the truth, be honest with you.

    King Herod imprisoned John the Baptist, and troubled for he knew John was right. Just like us today, we like hearing God's words, but then we often cannot walk the word, feeling impractical. So what matters is how we respond to God's truth.

    v. 21 “存温柔的心领受那所栽种的道” 肯顺服,肯接纳。
    With meekness receive the engrafted word, as if the gentle soft concrete received the chicken's foot print, when dried, the print is permanent.

    v. 23 Mirror
    When you look at the mirror, you will not forget it. Better than paintings as paintings are displaying other people. Mirror is an interactive with self. We like looking at the mirror, those who does not are hypocrites. Even those who are not pretty still like to look at the mirror: We always satisfy with some parts of ourselves no matter what. Proof: we get angry when others tell us we are ugly. Meaning we don't agree with their judgment. Therefore, at least you are satisfied with some part of yourself.
    If you are not satisfied with your look, can it be improved? Yes. If you see some rice, you remove them, cosmetics, etc.

    When we say we look at the mirror, we are not honest. For we look not at the mirror but at ourselves. Don't insult the mirror. Why look? to clean ourselves.
    God's word is like a mirror, to let you see your wrong image. After that do you forget it? No, you immediately correct it. You shave, you adjust your tie with mirror, without it, you present yourself to the public with "new style" without realizing it.
    So, after all these time of listening to God's word, what have you changed? How much have you corrected.

    We read/listen a lot, memorized a lot, but also forget a lot. Andrew Gih made his students memorize a verse before every meal, of the 10 students, 1 recited a memorized verse, and hear all 9 other verses recited. But only remember the last verse, not the verses before. Gih gave a fable: a monkey who kept picking fruit and dropping the fruit it kept in its armpit. Those who do not truly memorize the verse are like so.

    Thus, our reaction to God's word:
    1. Gently/meekly receive God's engrafting word.
    2. Do not forget God's word
    3. Clearly meditate on God's word to examine oneself.
    4. Be true doer of the word.

    Plato: Ideal leader = philosopher king = power and wisdom in one.
    India had such "king". Radhakrishnan, 2nd president of India. Tong has his 2 volume philosophy book.
    Radhakrishnan: Who are the Christians? Those ordinary people who thinks they have extraordinary things to preach to others. This was meant as an insult. Tong however accepted this as truth.

    Those who think they cannot do the word, because it's not practical, received the word with pragmatic heart.
    What then is practical? It is God's word, promise, must be realized. Therefore, no word of God is not practical.
    Even the doctrine of Trinity has practical value: The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Spirit, the Spirit loves the Father => This becomes an example of love for us. That's why you only find Christian love in a Christian area that you cannot find in other places other religions.

    God's word and promises that are not to be in vain is practical.

  7. timlyg says:

    Video 19: 1:26

    In the NT, the pious generally refers to the Greek converts who worship Jehovah under Jewish influence. Therefore, in Athens, there was an altar for "the Unknown God", because they realized the Greek gods are not gods and attempted to turn their hearts to the real One.
    Peter treated unclean food in the vision as Jonah treated Nineveh.

    Tong's student: I worried if I'm elected.
    After much discussion, this finally settled it: It's very hard for someone who's so afraid of not being saved, not be saved. This is the mark that you need grace, this should be the motive of your reliance on God.

    Two kinds: Those who think they are pious vs. those others think they are pious. Not the same. Greek converts who knew not God vs. those who thought they are saved in the church.

    From our mind to our speech, we do not treat the process with care.
    Language is the expression of Meaning, which is the basis of Language, which is brought forth by voice.
    Behind meaning is logos and behind logos, is the function of the spirit.
    Only 4 have expressed meaning into language: God, man, angels, demons. Though twice Bible showed animal speak (serpent in Eden, Balaam's donkey) but these are special cases, not true voice of animal.

    So what should we bridle our tongues?
    1. dirty, low class words.
    2. discouraging words.
    3. irresponsible rumors. 王明道:不能证实的话,不可传。Referred to Norman Rockwell's Gossips Painting. Like the telephone game.
    4. scandalous words by false witness.
    5. add oil to fire in fights. Lots of rich wives/women who have nothing better to do, find themselves in church activities and spread gossips, the more fervent they "serve" the more damages they create. Paul called these: 挨家闲游 (1Ti 5:13)

    The parable of Aesop about the servant buying tongues to cook for his master's party mentioned. Tongues can be for good and evil.

    On Masturbation:
    The seriousness of the attitude to this discussion is more important than the content of such topic that deals with sex. It is wicked to treat this question lightly and jokingly.
    (reminds me of the time in Sunday School a boy asked me about circumcision, and there were some laughter which I should have bridled. I was shocked and was answering in an attempted fear of God, and was unprepared for the situation)
    Tong answered such question in Indonesia. On whether married or unmarried, that one can deny sexual function. If we deny sexual function is to deny God's creation. If sexual pleasure is for the married and not for those who never able to marry is unfair. The function is there, but must be used properly and not crooked.
    The Indonesian word for masturbation is onani, so says Google. But I cannot find such recording of Pak Tong on this topic. I guess it's going to be one of those videos I shall pursue patiently and can only here conclude his answer based on what he hinted here. Although, there is a Chinese version touching close to this topic, instead of 手淫, in the video, 自慰 is used. And Tong basically called it "forgivable" but in the strictest pious sense. And I shall discuss this further in my other entry here.
    Though Tong called it unfair for unmarried people to be denied sexual pleasure, he also mentioned self-control as the fruit of the Holy Spirit in obedience to God. And that such sexual function must be used properly. Not one thing made by God is not clean, not one thing is out of discussion.

    Compare: "You wicked! even though you are clever" vs. "You are clever, but unfortunately today you are naughty", later one is better in building.
    Wisdom in order, priority, motive, love, etc.
    Proverbs 25:11 一句話說得合宜,就如金蘋果在銀網子裡

  8. timlyg says:

    Video 20: 1:26-27

    Piety: 250 years ago, during French revolution, much wickedness and sins are hidden behind the robes of priests and bishops. They said there will be world peace, when the intestine of the last priest is pulled out and be used to strangle the neck of the last pope. The source, I think comes from Diderot in his poem: "Les Éleuthéromanes":
    And its hands would weave the entrails of the priest,
    For the lack of a cord with which to strangle kings[not pope].

    Or earlier in "Testament" of the atheist-priest Jean Meslier:
    In his wish and in his way of expressing his thought it seemed that he saw rather far and penetrated rather deeply into the detestable mystery of iniquity of which I just spoke, and recognized very well the perpetrators and instigators. His wish was that all the rulers of the earth and all the nobles be hanged and strangled with the guts of priests.

    The more a person talk, the less influence he has. i.e. when a teacher kept shouting "silence silence..." the most noisy is he. Tong: I must stand in a public viewable point. Speak with my eyes. When I say "quiet", everyone including myself should be silent. Sweeping my sight at all of them with authority. If a few still talking, I say "There are still some talking", I don't say "you quiet, you...."
    Sometimes the more you speak the more you lose respect. Do not think you can win by monopolizing conversation. Wisdom in timing of talk is important.

    You must yourself obtain an abundant life before you go help others. It's not about methodology, motive, level, trick. It comes from denying oneself. If you demand from others, you can never succeed.

    All religions based sin from actions. Only Christianity based it on self vs. God.

    v.27 sharing of abundant life to others must come from a pure motive. Is the motive for our own glory or God's. Tong said he sinned back then when he sang Hallelujah, was actually singing "I am a great singer". Now when Tong led choir to sing 3 times, each time for each Person of the Trinity.

    There is nothing wrong with upward piety. It's great, nothing wrong to get recognized as a great person. But this verse deals with downward piety: to help those who are abandoned, afflicted. Tong shared testimony of his 18 year old self prayed for a cancer patient with smelly bleeding, praying for God to give him love to him as they hugged begging for him to pray. And realized Jesus once said: If you only love those adorable, what use? Tong shared he regretted not looking at a kid with deformed face during a children's ministry as he was preaching. He also shared his willingness to shake hands with a crowd of lepers during a preaching, they loved him. Like God incarnate. I looked up quickly, it seems though contagious, leprosy does not spread easily to healthy person in a short time. Nonetheless, the example here is the love and downward piety.

    Tong: I once introduced someone who's not so rich to be a board member of the seminary. They rejected due to his poor status. I knew the time to leave this seminary has come.
    This reminds me:
    I once try to promote Michael Liu to be part of the church's fellow workers in the Gospel and got rejected (various reasons: jealousy, loyalty over truth, hatred, etc.), I knew the time to leave this church has come.

    It's not easy for brothers to take care of widows. But sisters, and couples (husband & wife) should take care of them.
    An orphan, especially a clever man, who has no father figure to talk to, gets rebellious very quickly.
    Many out of love when caring for widows cared all the way to their beds. Therefore, in short, James said: do not be polluted by the world.

    Are you pious? Love the Lord? What contribution have you to those lower than you? Why do you only serve those who are beneficial to you? When you love downward, why do you only have sympathy and not love? (THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT...AGREE 100% before he said it). Sympathy is not love, love is not sympathy. Often times, sympathy is selfish, because it's I'm better than him, I have a chance to show off. Love is not like so, you accept him all, his failure, his horrifying part, where it is hateful, this is Love. DO NOT REPLACE LOVE WITH SYMPATHY. Ladies, do not accept his begging for love out of sympathy. Sympathy is an emotion from high to low, Love is an equal level emotional relationship, letting go our superior position, as God incarnate. Any sense of superiority you ruin the true love and self denial.

    Faith without work is dead. A transformed life without living expression is fake. If you have a repentant heart, you must have repentant fruit. Fruit manifests what's in your heart. If you love God, you must love people. If you do not love those who can be seen, how can you love He who is invisible? (1John 4:20).

    Love is not to gain, not possess, not self-profiting; Love is self denial, sacrificing self, humble downward, self forgetting, letting others benefit from my life.

  9. timlyg says:

    Video 21: James 2:1-4
    Recap from last verse: "keep himself from unspotted from the world"
    Meaning having the right motives.
    When in humility/doing good you don't feel yourself humble/good, you are a better good.

    What is a philanthropist? The French Revolution realized these are sinful, pride, greedy, selfish. Philosophy distinguishes common good (feeling righteousness/fame/respect in doing righteousness) vs. higher/ultimate good. Common good is evil because through doing good one's trying to gain something. 养子防老,不道德。

    Do not be polluted by the world. This shows God's word is most holy.

    v.1 Though brothers, a check of who "our" Lord is vs. "your" Lord, with the apostles. Do you know who you worship?
    Important: How does a brother treat another brother?
    Based on the glory & humility of Jesus Christ.
    Here I'm reminded of how Rev. Lin treated some, but it is enough criticism from me for now. Not that I will not cease, and not because her church CCCNY still exists. For John Calvin frequently bashed the Roman Catholic Church and yet they still exists today.

    When Rome turned back from Republic to Empire, the first emperor was Augustus, during Jesus' birth. Augustus born in August, thus, the month is named after him. Octavian => October (even though means 8). Septimus (even though means 7) => September. That's why Dec (10) shifted to 12th month = December, and 9 shifted to 11th month = November.

    True Democracy is not in the Greeks, nor in French Revolution. The French Revolution is demo-CRAZY. True democracy is from the Bible. True love, true unity.

    The duality of Christ: Gloriously divine, most humble/best man.
    So faith in the Lord, BUT show no FAVORITISM!
    Most noble kind may actually be the most despicable. Like Caligula, borrowed to use a bride to be of someone else.
    Most lowliest slave, Epictetus, of the Stoic influence.

    Of the Stoic, a philosophy of inner ethics, not by social status: famous king = Marcus Aurelius; literature = Seneca; Slave = Epictetus.
    It's hard for Stoic, or Confucius expert to convert to Christianity because of their self-righteousness.

    v.2: How do you value people?
    that kind of treating people according to rich and poor, is like dogs.

    But, though we must not bow down to the rich, we must also not defend the poor (Lev 19:15) ...不可偏护穷人...

    Video 22:
    Both rich capitalists of Capitalism & Communism judge people base on money, which is wrong. Like foreign labors, when Singaporeans have their domestic servants sit in a corner. James 2:2 reminds us not do treat people so.

    Do not let people despise your Lord simply because they despise you.
    穷人有福音传给他们 (Luke 7:22)

    v. 4: 这岂不是你们偏心待人,用恶意断定人吗?
    3 sins from this verse:
    1. injustice
    2. evil motive
    3. misrepresenting God as one with wrong judgment

    In poverty, Lincoln struggled (ruined borrowed book and forced to labor), Mendelssohn came from the rich, as good as his music, still lack striving spirit; Beethoven is just the opposite.
    Otto-Werner Mueller (famous conducting professor): God did not gift Beethoven any melody talent, all such gift is already given to Bellini & Donizetti. So Beethoven could only use the scale in composing his music. Beethoven though died rich, but started poor. Even wanted to change the Van (a meaningless title) to Von (a title of nobility).
    Bach also from struggle, now his music has swinging bach, rock and roll bach. Not just father of classical music.
    Albert Schweitzer's works on Bach mentioned.

  10. timlyg says:

    Video 23: James 2:5-8

    Best passage in the Bible on how to treat the poor.

    It is wrong to just assume someone's crying means they are right.

    Here break it down to 3 levels:
    1. How the rich treat the poor.
    2. How God treats the poor.
    3. How should Christians treat the poor.

    What does it mean to walk with God:
    Imitate everything Jesus did. Descending from Throne, to manger. From Manger to the Cross.
    God's love is from above to bottom; sinners love is loving that which is above/better.

    Why the rich do not fear the court, because he has money he can buy the lawyers.
    Why the poor fear the court, no choice.
    This is the worst sin of the rich, to buy power to bully the poor.
    Some Charismatics pastor took advantage of a property's need of money and forced low cost buy. Tong helped against such pastor: not even worth a Christian much less pastor.

    Some sought Tong for advice: My wife must wear Muslim's veil to get this high pay job...what should I do?
    Tong: So for high pay you are willing to betray your faith?

    James used these 8 (1-8) verses just on how to treat the poor.

    Video 24: James 2:9-13
    One cannot say I love God but not man. Self deceived.

    Only verse in the Bible: judging based on outward appearance is sin. Which law of Moses is broken? The entire law. You have failed to love your neighbor as yourself.

    Jesus said it is inevitable to avoid stumbling block. But woe to those who caused it. Better for them to sink with millstone around their necks. Luke 17:1

    No one can confirm they are now perfect. John Wesley in his Sanctification against reformed doctrine by believing we can be perfected within this lifetime. But the moment we think we are perfect, we are not.

    Instead of measuring this quantitatively, Reformed idea of perfection is dynamic, not static; it's progressive, not perfected; motive but not quantitative.

    We need to have a perfection ambition, yet this ambition would be one that always feels imperfect. Paul talked about this. Phil 3:12.

    So Wesley's view on this is superficial.

    V. 10 one affects all. The Pharisees's sin = they knew not they sinned; they are unrighteous in that they think themselves more righteous than others. Exactly what David talked about: hidden faults.
    Watchman Nee: worst sin = self righteousness.
    That means we cannot depend on ourselves - one small sin = all sins. If you didn't lock a door of a car = all 4 doors are not locked.

    Only way is the Love from above, giving out, to fulfil the law of God, and not by forcing/judging/using the law on/against others.
    My note: These days in America, lots of preachers/leaders (perhaps the fundamentalist influenced ones) love to judge based on "care", but is that really so? we can tell from the kind of love they exhibit, is it a self-sacrificing one.

    God gives us law to judge ourselves, not others. Those who have the law, God holds them more responsible, more seriously. So we rather not have the law?

    What's the purpose of the LAW? to obey? NO, because we cannot. To break? NO, because God is no evil intention.
    The summary principle of the Law is LOVE. Purpose of the law:
    1. So we know that God is Holy, just, kind God.
    2. So we know we can no longer reach God's standards in just, kindness and mercy. So that we will not defend our unrighteousness. That we admit we are sinners. But this still doesn't keep us from punishment of God.
    3. highest motive: Love. Mercy. Forgiveness and salvation. The law cannot do this, but this is the motive of the purpose of the law.

    So who said there's no Gospel in James?
    v. 13: No other place in the Bible says this: "Mercy triumphs over judgment".
    v. 8: Royal Law: Love your neighbor as yourself. A law that comes from love.
    v. 12: Law that gives freedom: When impatient motorists vroom their engine under red light, the red light is the law, the motorists want to be free. Is it good to have the red light? With the law, we have the freedom to enjoy life. Though it may be an obstacle of freedom to those who want it certain ways/impatience. The freedom we like is the kind that will destroy us. True freedom has a rail, principle.

    Tong: Used to love sugar, but when doctor said: you now have diabetes, oh no, the law is here. Even the wife becomes the helper of the law - don't eat too much rice, etc.

    So is the law constraining me? Yes, does it give me freedom? also yes.

    Men's belt is like the constraining law - eat more, want more freedom by loosening belt.
    Women's belt is invisible, self control because of body shape.

    A fat man and a skinny man with lots of luggage, which one is less fortunate? We betray our freedom with our indulgences. So in the end, we see the law as a way to judge others, very sad.

    OT prepares for NT, judgment is to pave the way for forgiveness. This answers the late Rev. David Chen's question: why Jesus didn't come save us in OT?

    Jesus: You must supersede the righteousness of the Pharisees...what is their righteousness: They cannot obey the law, yet they believe they already obeyed it, and use the law to judge others thinking themselves righteous.
    Contrast Jesus' righteousness: obedient to all law, but did not demand others to do so, and forgives us with mercy - I come not to condemn but to forgive.
    A person lack of spiritual, learned a little truth in the Bible and loudly judge others. A spiritual one is full of mercy to others, use love to help them back to God, while himself follows the law with all of his. This is the high point of action. James is a book about works.

    Law gives us freedom in the end, bringing us to follow Christ, he is the one who died for me, that gives me the grace that saves me from the curse of law.
    Theology of James and Paul is not two but one. One brings us from outer court to the Most Holy Place, and the other brings us from the Most Holy Place to the outer court. Both are of God's.

    Video 25: James 2:9-13
    v12. The law that gives freedom - only place mentioned in the Bible. Why it gives freedom if in the commandments we keep reading "Thou shalt not, shalt not..." - Sinners only see themselves as free TO sin rather than free FROM sin.
    1Ti 1:5: The end of the commandment is charity [love]...5 但命令的总归就是爱
    (my addition) Romans 13:10 ..."love is the fulfillment of the law"
    Romans 7 brought out 3 main attributes of God from the Law: God's holiness, God's kindness, God's justice.
    Did the Jews wake up with the given Law from God?
    God hates self-righteousness the most.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Grace of God is free but not cheap. Tong said he used secret ways of writing with milk on newspapers in prison, and a book is compiled after heating those newspapers to reveal his writings: Letters in Prison.

    v. 13: The Holy of Holies is the shape of a cube, equal lengths, where only the Ark of Covenant is present. The only thing in the Bible with such dimension which signifies the equal persons in the Trinity. In the Ark there's the Law, which reveals our sins. Why is there a cover over the Ark? It means to solve the problem of our sins that are to be judged by the law inside the ark. Two names of this cover: thing that atones (In the Hellenistic Jewish Septuagint the term: hilasterion), mercy seat. MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT! The love of our Lord covers our sins.

  11. timlyg says:

    Video 26: James 2:14-17

    In previous verse: Mercy triumphs over judgment: We often use the law to judge others instead of ourselves, for God to treat us with mercy and justice on others.

    In Jeremiah, in Martin Luther, God destroy first and rebuild. Tong's illustration: A seller of the house painted the house out of guilt for selling the price too high, but the buyer rebuked him because he meant to buy only the land and the house will be demolished.
    The reformation brought forth the 5 solas. But after a while, the Lutherans in Germany replaced freedom of God with decadence. They are corrupt. Allowing the Catholics to attack this using their holiness.
    Martin Luther once looked down on James' epistle.

    v17. James' talking about the act not of self-righteousness, but the act from its seed, faith (Paul). Action is the expression of true life (the fruit of those who are saved)
    Paul's faith is that which the Pharisees did not understand. James talks about the faith that true Christians understand. Also, James talks about the fake Christians' false confidence: "Christians" by birth, by tradition, name, superficial, liturgy, baptism, ritual => Cultural "Christians". Many Christian countries have such = committive agreement of the confession. Like the Catholics. More thieves in these cultural Christian areas, higher divorced/adultery rates. Like Simon in Acts who was baptized but not saved.

    v18. Prove your faith by your deeds. Your faith is fake, my faith is real. From fruit you know the tree, says our Lord. Fruit is the mark of life.

    Justification by faith (Paul) is different that the justification by works (James): Paul = No longer sinners (passive justification) & Christ's righteousness be upon you (active justification).

    James' righteousness = pagans see that you have new life. Recognized in the world.

    Justification by Paul means that which God recognized; James' is that which men recognized.
    So Paul's Justification and James' Justification are two different kind.
    So in Paul's, you cannot be justified by your action.
    Paul's is before, James' is after.
    Sinners made righteous by Faith (Paul); The righteous shall live by Faith (James). 罪人因信称义;义人因信的生。Rom 1:17
    God finds favor, and men finds favor in you.

    Video 27: James 2:14-20
    Meaning is greater than word. Paul and James meant "faith" differently.
    No one knows God more than their love for God - Pascal
    Jesus: do not do like the Pharisees, let your righteousness be more than theirs. For they believe, but do.

    Why Michelangelo drew nude? Because not only painting nude is harder than clothed, but most importantly, he wants to draw how God sees human being, as He created, nude. God created us not covered by clothes. If nudity is not good, then tell your wife to keep her cloth on the whole time.
    Before God we are all naked. Question is to who are you naked? Why are you naked? Who do you expose yourself to?

    Video 28
    Paul's talking about justification before God; James' talking about justification before men.

    James 2:19
    Atheism = The belief that God SHOULD NOT exist.

    Polytheism = Tong's version, not sure if it's based on true story: Once Pakistan battled with India, no winner, so Pakistan set the cows on India who then ran; but in retaliation, the Indians set pigs on Pakistanis who also then ran. So until today, these two countries still exist, no one's defeated.

    Pantheism = All things are god. Thus, Spinoza said it's the best most moral because you would treat dogs even as god.
    The new age movement is such. No qualitative difference.

    The liberal theology = Monotheistic faith evolves from polytheistic. An idea from the 19th century, confusing churches.

    Monotheistic faith = only revelation from God. Through tremendous challenge for Israel.
    So is the religion of the demons. They are not atheists.
    Good topic on Satan's scheme in atheistic belief:
    Paul: 撒但的运动 2Th 2:9

    Tong: Those terrorists in 911, will for sure go to hell. They cannot discern heaven and hell. No need to allow doubt.
    Those who moved other to commit terrorism, they themselves sent their own sons to Harvard. This is how the devil works as well. He is monotheistic, but he asked others to become atheists.
    The difference is: To the devil, God's existence is a threat to him. The demons fear God.
    What is God's existence to you? (1) A fright? (2) indifference? both are not a sign of Christian.
    So many love to say: It's ok to sin, God is so merciful, right right?
    If there is no revival, you are even worse than the demons.
    Things that frighten you in this world will cause you to hate it ~ Kierkegaard
    Treating a person not existing is the worst insult ~ Kierkegaard

    (3) God's existence is to me my salvation. My existence is so that God can judge me. His existence that has promise, salvation, forgiveness, is my way out, hope, completion. Summarized by Tong from Kierkegaard.
    Existentialist who rejected God - Niche
    Existentialist who recognized God - Kierkegaard: To exist is to be oneself alone before God.

  12. timlyg says:

    Video 29: James 2:20-26

    Truth Faith is the foundation of True Work & True life is the foundation of True living. Not the other way around. All comes from God, not us.

    We were justified first in order to manifest the righteousness of God.
    Being made righteous first before we are sanctified.
    We are made righteous first before we are saved - Pauline theology.
    How to live after we are saved - Theology of James.
    Action before justification - Pharisees

    James also agreed with Pauline theology in James 2:23

    My note: These two theology on justification (Faith & work) is so important that God has it dealt with separately between Paul & James.

    Both Abraham & Rahab mentioned here also in Hebrews, by Faith.
    Abraham: consider giving that which you love to God.

    Job: The God of grace is also with sovereignty. If you react to God's grace with faith, do you also react to His sovereignty with submission?
    If you only want grace but not submitting to His command, your faith is without deeds, it is dead; the opposite shows you are alive.
    Wife of Job couldn't take it, showing that she was not truly saved.
    So some husbands waited decades for wives to believe; while some wives waited until their are dying for the husbands to believe.
    Thus, faith cannot be separated from deed.

    Video 30:
    Abraham must sacrifice Isaac, not Ishmael. The main son, the chosen one, Gen 21:12, no replacement. No compromise.
    Many Christians never preach the Gospel but use "giving money" to buy their own conscience, so that they don't have to worry about service for God whole heartedly, whole bodily.

    On Rahab, don't look down on prostitutes, some though doing this sinful life but actually has noble character inside, but you don't see it due to their environment.
    Her good characters:
    Love to save people
    self-sacrificing candor
    wisdom to face strong authority (not the part about lying), she was so calm in facing them.
    good conscience
    knows the geographical directions

    Was Rahab wrong in lying? Yes. But no other ways for her limitation. Did she break the 9th commandment? NO, she did not bear false witness "AGAINST" others, not to cause harm. ~ Tong.
    Tong: Two kinds of lie: evil intention, and good intention. So, Tong has sympathy for her, though she should confess to God later.
    My take: I think that argument about not breaking the 9th commandment is not strong enough, though I don't mind it because the letters of the 10 commandments don't really represent the ENTIRETY of holiness (unless one argues that "neighbor here means someone close, associates"). In order words, though there are two kinds, but they are both covered by 9th commandment.

    James 3:1-6
    Paul showed that Abraham was righteous by faith before the law. Correcting the Jews' "righteousness by works" notion. And James corrected the "logic of sinners" when Paul's message on faith was corrupted. The logic of sinners always come to taint every good principle that come out, and the church even dares to do things even non-christians wouldn't do in history.

    v.21 Faith includes submission to God.

    Chapter 3 opens with seemingly unrelated verse than the last verse in chapter 2.
    James wasn't talking about doing law as the work of righteousness.
    James 3:1 Francis bacon: Small knowledge = great danger.
    If what you preach is not holy, you are sinning on stage. Like the Charismatics preachers.
    Why preach faith and not work, why preach work and not faith, etc. Preach one thing but not the other. Preaching only grace but no other doctrines, etc.

    Whole chapter here on the tongue. Also touched on in chapter 1.
    Wrong speech may only harm a person today; but wrong sermon affected his entire life, harming his spirit.

    v2. 处世戒多言,言多必失 Chinese solution: don't speak more...a passive solution.
    those sermons with big profound words but usually are very shallow. That's why Jesus' sermons are the simplest.

    Tong: biggest garbage collection is in your computer. Lots of sinful, useless information in computers.
    Liver is the greatest chemical factory in the world. Only one. Only one heart, only one mouth, tongue, etc.
    Why one tongue? because God wants us to control it.

    v3. James as brother of Jesus, must be one who controls his tongue well, because he was a leader and well respected.
    Nietzsche once claimed that Why he was smart? Because only he himself discovered that Christianity is the ethics of slavery. Hence, he came up with "Will to Power".
    So John the Baptist prepared Jesus; Nietzsche prepared Superman (or actually Hitler). Hollywood is not too intelligent. But more loves Hollywood's entertainment than listening to sermons.
    Paul: If you don't want to be slave of righteousness under Jesus, you are slave to sin, you are slave no matter what. When Nietzsche doesn't want to witness for Jesus, he prepared the way for Hitler. Just because you don't want to be slave, you will be master? no such thing. Nietzsche wants to be superman. Jesus' slave system is the deliverance of sinners from sin and live in the constrain of righteousness; Hitler and communism's freedom is to break out of tradition and resulting in the bondage of their own erroneous thinking, idealism.

    Tong shared a young man challenged him in Canada why Christianity still adhere to slave system? Tong: Does China have slavery? No? think about how many hours they work? 18 hours a day during the cultural revolution in 1974, worse than slaves. Even though there's no such word "slave" applying to them. The young man gets it "there is difference in terminology and reality."

    Back to topic, does your tongue willing to submit to the Truth and subject to be enslaved to righteousness.

  13. timlyg says:

    Video 31: James 3:7-12
    James 3, the only chapter in the Bible spends entire chapter on Tongue.

    what kind of heart, will speak what kind of tongue.

    At the end of 20th Century, the proof that animals have language becomes foolish. Anyone who wishes to break the barrier between human and animals in such way, insults the human dignity.
    The voice box God placed in us is not found in the so called "early man" fossils.
    They can all just laugh, shout, but cannot express meaning using language.
    Why tongue and no other chapters on eyes, ears, etc. 一言兴邦,一言丧邦。 你说我不过是讲那句话罢了,他就死了。
    If you don't do, doesn't mean you don't do wrong, because that itself is also wrong. James 4:17 人若知道行善,却不去行,这就是他的罪了
    A grammar specialist once confronted Moody of one of his sermon: Do you know you made 28 grammatical errors? Moody: Only 28? I know I am weak in this, but at least I tried to do this for my Lord, what have you done for the Lord?

    Paul alerted us of those who are dangerous in spreading rumors, damaging slanders, gossips.

    John Haggai once aid the American government send soldiers to war, but nail clippers, small scissors, small screws, must be taken out, but they were allowed to bring their weapons onboard the plane, just like:
    Matthew 23:24 蠓虫你们就滤出来,骆驼你们倒吞下去。strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.
    We are dumb in spiritual matter but very clever in material matter: we all know to use the least investment to gain the greatest profit. That's why many regret not doing things they ought when they are about to die.

    v. 11 Do not have two hearts, be pure of heart (Matthew 5:8), you will see God, be cheerful of heart for it is good medicine (Pro 17:22).
    3 rules bound to fail in all things you do: 1. For money first; 2. For self profit first; 3. For acceptance of others first.
    We must do to find God's favor first.

    v. 12 Good trees bear good fruits.

    Video 32: James 3:13-17
    Two kinds of wisdoms
    Though lots of passages in Proverbs talk about Wisdom (what's the expression of wisdom), but here only in the entire Bible, talks about its comprehensiveness, general principle, essence, fruit, responsibility. Also only here it distinguished NT & OT wisdoms.

    Bible touches more on Wisdom than Knowledge. Greeks are the most into wisdom. Confucius also, knew that the true wise man knows not.
    First to say Philosophy was Heraclitus: are you wisdom? Heraclitus: No, I just love wisdom. But all these (common grace) are not the same as the wisdom in the Bible.

    Gotthold Ephraim Lessing proposed that historical methodology is subjective. Because we cannot scientifically track it. Affected Germany's methodology. He also popularized Comparative Religion Study (19th century 宗教比较学) -> 20th century 宗教对话论. His play "Nathan the Wise" better than Phantom of the Opera. Nathan made two replicas out of 1 original treasured ring to give to all his 3 sons before his death, all 3 are qualitatively equal, no one can tell the difference. The only difference is that the original one affects the owner to love God and others. This is worldly wisdom, but Lessing's point was to show there's no way to trace history objectively. When it's revealed, nobody cared who has the real ring because nothing to do with themselves anyway. Just like if not concerned, that history has nothing to do with me, such is the attitude of the world. One way to tell which is the real one is to see who truly has that love of God and others. Such truth is beyond science, beyond phenomena, beyond historical pursuit. Lots of Americans ignore this but Germans love Lessing.
    Lessing then revealed that each sons of Nathan represents: Jews, Christians, Muslims.. Lessing didn't give conclusion, but Tong: Who is the one with the real love? Hint - Christianity.

    This passage (v17) is the only place in the Bible: Where Holiness, Justice, Wisdom, Salvation are joined together. This wisdom is Jesus Christ. True wisdom is hidden and found in Christ (Col 2:3).

    王云五, Inventor of 四角号码 dictionary, who only went to school until 5th grade, once helped an England's professor's English problem.

    True wisdom is not related to sin.

    James 1:17 从众光之父那里降下来的;在他并没有改变,也没有转动的影儿。This is very deep, only James said it, not Paul, not Peter. I have shadow, everything has. But the light itself has no shadow, that is the very essence of light.
    Such is true wisdom, pure, holy. Not by envy, not by selfishness, for these are never pure, never holy.

    Plato's wisdom = if not combined with power, will end in chaos. But this wisdom is still lacking compared to biblical wisdom.

    Video 33: James 3:15-18
    Continue talking the discernment of true and fake wisdoms.
    Chapter 3 has two parts: 1. on Tongue. 2. On Wisdom.

    Ways to Wisdom in the OT:
    1. Fear of the Lord
    2. Know the Holy One
    3. Hate evil love wisdom

    in NT, the above 3 attributes are seen in Jesus. Climax of wisdom.
    1Co 1:30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption

    v.17 lists criteria of wisdom from above: first pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason/easy to be intreated, mercy, good fruits, impartiality & sincerity.

    Jesus commanded us to listen to those in Moses' seat, but not do what they do. For they speak of God's words, but in work, they failed.
    Look up Augustine's discussion on dealing with those who once failed in Christian persecutions, or came back from unholy life styles to serve, in the 4th century.

    Wisdom in Proverbs 8 is personified, it is the pre-incarnated Jesus. He was the engineer of the universe.

    Tong's years of experience in training pastors, noticing 2 main problems: 1. too narrow hearted, 2. too temperamental.

    Those who blew temper are telling people, this is their only way out, they have no other options, they are stupid, not wise.
    Reference to George Bernard Shaw dealing with a head on critic in the midst of audience applause:
    When the curtain fell on opening night, the original cast of Arms and the Man received a unanimous standing ovation, all save one critic booing in the back row. The playwright, George Bernard Shaw, stepped onstage and solemnly addressed the man in the back. “My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?” Shaw was, in fact, the least enthusiastic person in the theater that night in 1894, but history has not supported his opinion of Arms and the Man, a play with such an honest and subtle nature that it stands as Shaw’s least didactic piece—a true gem in his canon.

    If you can bring peace among two quarreling parties, you are a child of God.

  14. timlyg says:

    Video 34: James 4:1-4
    Last we talked about heavenly wisdom vs. earthly wisdom.
    Heavenly wisdom: First holy, then peaceful. James 3:17
    Many are not holy, that's why they seem so peaceful, forgiving, easy going; while also many who are very holy, and strict upon others as well.
    So how to be both holy and peaceful? it's is tough. It is the highest wisdom.

    recall the 3 principle of Wisdom in OT: 1. fear God, 2. know his Holiness, 3. away from wickedness.
    This kind of wisdom is good for self, but useless when it come to relationships among men.

    Chapter 4: changed tone: Why is there strive among you!!!
    If you do not have the wisdom from above, you will fall into chapter 4.

    Machiavelli, his political philosophy is what today's leaders must read or also unknowingly executed. But it is opposite to our ethics. Example: Do not treat your enemies well, the better you treat them, the more they use you; Do not forgive those who not good to you, you must get rid of them lest they be your woe. An American philosophy professor summarized Machiavelli's The Prince into 7 wickedness. Hitler, Stalin, Suharto, Mao, Napoleon, all done these 7 wickedness.
    Some said Machiavelli's not talking about what we should do, but what we have done already.

    So when the church does not do what they know is good, woe. We must know what woe we have done.

    Why many do not want to be Christians, they think they are free to do whatever if they are not, so many delay to be Christians.
    Deny yourself, pick up the cross and follow Christ.

    1. I want...I desire -> conflicts with others.
    2. Contrastingly, Some does nothing, looks content, people think they are spiritual, because 自足常樂
    Two are unnecessarily extremes: ambitious doesn't mean unspiritual; contented doesn't mean spiritual.

    There are those ambitious for the Lord not himself; there are those who content but actually lazy.

    Most important: how to fulfill the potentiality God puts in us.

    This passage is about human will.
    Tong mentioned 3 Sanctifications: of emotion, mind and will.

    If not for God, the harder one works, the more enemy of God he is. They love to defend themselves using "God is with me", invoking name of God. This is sad.

    3 criteria in music: Melody, Rhythm, Harmony.
    Plus style and expression it becomes art.
    Everyone cannot play their own tune in an orchestra.

    Grand plans and great ideals & ambitions do not equal to the expression of desire.
    Personal freedom is to be respected, it is not the same as selfish desire, which is to be controlled.

    上帝与私欲相争;没有压制人的雄心。Jesus said, who among you wish to be GREAT, you have to be servant of all. That means there is a proper way to achieve greatness.
    Today many church leaders misinterpret wrong humanistic expression: suppress human greatness 雄心, against human ideals 理想. Using all ways, history & traditions to suppress created potential and creativity.
    Tong saw 凤凰channel a 14 year old young teenage boy (Chinese Bill Gates) who didn't want to study and became a rich boss. This child has a will, created by God, part of His image, when it's done right, there are some principles of truth guiding it, The Greeks: reason controls emotion, emotions control will, you are wise to use the principles of truth to control your will.

    But today's will, comes from selfish desire. It's more frightening for them to be religious than non-religious. When non-Christians fight, they don't have a number, based only on their lawyers. But when Christians fight among themselves, they all say God will help them, they are doing God's work and therefore will win. There's a church in Korea, dissention for 68 times in 60 years, worst case, feces was thrown at the pastor during his sermon.

    Saul became jealous, and plan to kill David. Selfish desire replacing his will for God. Using religious coat, praying to God, for his selfishness.
    James further prophesied: You asked but do not received, many do not know how to pray. Most non-Christians will not reject (not necessarily will be happy) you praying for them, because they know it is a good thing to invoke God's name for blessings. But they will reject the Gospel as that interferes their freedom. So when you preach Gospel, start with telling him you will pray for him. But understand your prayer and his concept of prayer is different completely: by His will vs. by his will.

    v3. So these so called Christians used the pagan desire to pray.
    True father will not give you whatever you want. Or he is a fake father.

    American first crisis depression: 1939: 10 "kings" of industries met in Wall Street (i.e. steel, rail, real estate, etc.) to solve the economy problem. Many met their own demise later: suicide, imprisoned, 2 gone crazy, etc.
    To calm the people, the gov built Empire State Building and Golden Gate (no need pillar supports from below) reviving the confidence of the people.

    Empire State Building is made of cement and steel while the World Trade Center was made of metal, melted during 9/11 attack at 1700 degrees as the fire was above 2000 degrees.

    At the time, net of revenue and spending of the country is zero. No savings.

    America's 2nd crisis, 2005. Net income and spending results in a loss of 5%. If this keeps on going, America will become the poorest nation in decades to come.

    Why? Credit card system. Pros: you can get what you want first, buy house before graduating, etc. Cons: many want only grace but not responsibility. Want what they desire but don't want to own the debt.

    China now has greatly surpassed all in reserves. Why? Chinese experienced poverty well enough to save every penny. Americans since the past 200 years used to luxurious lifestyle and spend on credit if they have no money.

    May God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Religious zeal like the false prophets who cut themselves in prayer is selfish desire.

    Video 35: James 4:1-6
    v.1 We must have fighting spirit. But this is to be properly used, or it would be abused towards destruction.
    Thales: World comes from water
    Heraclitus: World comes from fire
    Empedocles: 4 sources: Fire 火, air 气, earth 土, water 水 (Chinese: 水,火,木,金,土). 多元论, love combines all these. Hate separates all.
    Gal 5:17
    While we were sinners, God didn't become our enemy out of love, even we are His enemy. Neither did Satan become our enemy, because we were yet believers. So we live peacefully, until we become Christians: Satan attacks us; our desires also battles with the Spirit. Therefore, it is more difficult to be Christians.
    Just like when Israelites entered Canaan, battles began.

    Socrates: Unexamined life is not worth living.

    When we absolutize what is relative, we treat those close to us with enmity; when we relativize what is absolute, we compromise.

    Peter Jones (South Africa) exposed Da Vinci's Code problems in his book.
    The Anger of Islam is a social power; but the anger of Christianity is merely to write a book.

    Theology should not be just a subject in seminary; it should be a power that moves us to change lives in society.

    We cannot tell friends or foes. What do we fight for?

    v2. prayer must focus on mission of the Gospel.
    Tong to WTS: you put your theology in freezer, take it out, reheat it!
    Machen left to form WTS, inviting Van Til, John Murray, becoming the best Seminary in the world; while Princeton's liberal theological seminary gradually became insignificant.

    v3. You only pray for your own? how about others? Your will or God's will?

    v5. God is not jealous. "Jealous" is the best English could translate. But in Chinese, God's holiness is already understood, hence 忌邪 (shunning evil) 的上帝。 Because God is the source of all good things, He has no need for jealous when you abide by those. But when you deviate from those with your desire, the Spirit dwelling in you becomes a jealous Spirit.

    Video 36: Continuation

    When we fight against Satan, we are making God our ally;
    When we fight with Satan, we are making God our enemy.

    Conclusion in v7.: You must submit to God, against the devil; not the other way around.

    Sanctification of emotion: 2 Peter 1:4 Partaker of divine nature of God.
    This the Mystics misunderstood, including Meister Eckhart, etc.: They said that there is in part of our spirit a part of God, that is not created.

    What's partaker of divine nature then? Absolutely not the substance of Godhead. But morality in God's attributes. We partake in his attributes, in his goodness, etc. Christ's justification upon us.

    The Devil is the authority of heavenly principalities and powers. 大智若愚, Satan looks at Jesus thinking he's stupid: Eze 28:13-14...cherubim you are full of pride in Eden...Isaiah 14...This powers in the air is not God, but Satan, who stuck in the middle after falling in the air...hence 3 levels of heavens. Only when we pray in Jesus' name, we breakthrough all these lower level heavens reaching to God, and such is the difference of our prayers with the Muslim prayers.

    When we sin, we are lower than angels.

    John Milton gets it (in his Paradise Lost): Word became flesh, Satan wants Jesus to worship him. Christ was tempted in his human nature, but faced it with God's will.

    v6. is a turning point, from selfish desire to submission to God. Humility is not a yes man, that's slavery. Humility = no matter what stage of life you are in, you are always teachable.
    Watch out those who always seem to agree with you, but actually never change to your instructions.

    The humble man in the East, Confucius; in the West, Nicodemus. Both went to look for a teacher when they have high status. Laozhi & Jesus. The day you don't have a teacher, you will start to fail. May God grant us a heart willing to be taught.

    Melanchthon realized he couldn't unite Lutheran (after Luther) and Geneva even though Calvin produced such great theological advancement, because the Lutherans saw themselves more senior and therefore need no instruction from the younger Calvin.

    George Whitfield also couldn't convince Wesley for 26 years of Predestination, that's why the Methodists today never understood predestination because YOUR founder did not want to understand it since he's older. What then? Remember, Methodist has two founders not just one: Listen to Whitefield, not Wesley on this.
    3 best Evangelists with great effect: John the Baptist (pulpit in the desert and great multitude came), Whitefield (from 200 listeners to 20,000 in 5 days), John Sung (without microphone to 6000 audience in football field for 30 days).

    This has nothing to do with your father not listening to you. Unless you truly know more than him and you are humble enough.

    When Confucius sought out LaoZhi, Laozhi: 去子之骄气与多欲,态色与淫志,否则你不能明道。Be humble.
    It's hard for a great person to be rebuked by another great person.
    Confucius returned and responded his students: I know birds and fish, but I don't know dragon, today I see Laozi as a dragon.

    v6. Who are the humble ones? Those who still seek what can be learned from others.
    Do you think you have succeeded in life? Do you believe God will bless you more grace? To the humble.

    Next we will talk about resisting Satan and submitting to God.

  15. timlyg says:

    Video 37: James 4:7-12

    v.7: Stand against the Devil. Why are we not afraid of God to ask for God in the darkness; but afraid to dare the Devil in darkness? We got it all wrong!
    (#基督徒一定要勇敢作怎樣的抉擇❓(雅各書要理問答 第555問)
    We often times believe the Devil's power greater than God's.
    I'll save this video under My library drive: Theology\Stephen Tong & GRII\Videos\Book of James

    Lord, teach us what we could have achieved.

    Contentment vs. self-satisfaction: very different.
    We easily satisfied with spiritual matter but not material matter.
    A humble person from this angle, is one who hasn't been satisfied with his current state.


    Many mistakenly thought James wrote in fragmented ideas.
    But it's actually incredibly concise and organic.
    So, in verse 7, what's the connection? To whom you submit (God or devil?) shows if you are humble or proud. They say No to God, but actually Yes to Satan.
    Therefore Psychology is actually very shallow as it cannot understand spiritual matter.

    Tong gave a brief history on China's two views towards religion: rejected (by educated) or accepted (by uneducated) as superstition.

    In English, two meaning of Pride: one good (affirmation in one's value), another bad.

    v. 7: kneeling before God, can no longer kneel before Satan. Satan would even run away, defeated.

    Victorious Christian: mentality of a conqueror, victor.
    Tong: I learn from Julius Caesar (I come, I see, I conquer), Mao, Satan, Nietzsche.
    Caesar: Reformation movement is not escape, but an active battle against Satan where there's need.
    Satan: Even without reward, Satan works more diligently and consistently than Christians.
    Mao: “与天斗,其乐无穷;与地斗,其乐无穷;与人斗,其乐无穷。” Tong: Though not against God, but against the principalities and powers of the heaven.
    Nietzsche: Tong: Will to the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Tong: Healing is a gift, but exorcism is a right! No such thing in Bible saying exorcism is a gift.
    Submit to God, fiercely fight against the Devil, such candor is humility.

    v.10 this humble 自卑, is not feeling inferior.

    v. 9: Moses' census was right motive, to evaluate the battle; God rebuked twice against David. 1st time: David's census was out of pride.
    Samson went from pride to humility.

    Video 38: James 4:13-17
    Continuing 37...on humility:
    Socrates: set for your child 7 level heaven goal, so even 1 level achievement is still good enough.
    Tong: Churches today are behind, no improvement while the rest of the world advanced in various fields. All these churches care is just number of membership.
    We must keep up with the Holy Spirit's guidance, if not we will fall behind.

    When you punish your child, it should be the means, not the goal.
    厉害,聪明人只能x-ray 看到毛病。伟大人,能更正毛病。厉害人多,伟大人少。
    v12. 能定罪的,是能救人的。
    When member of a church is in trouble, help them, like when you're asleep and your left hand itches, you would command your right hand to scratch it.

    v13. best for Chinese people.
    Your life is like relativity: when the train next to your train moved, you thought you are the one moving. Same case with life, we do not see how temporal our life is.
    v14. Your life is but a mist that vanishes soon.

    v15. Another result of humility.

    Kierkegaard: To exists, is to be oneself alone before God.
    His 3 qualitative differences in Existence from Ecclesiastes:
    1. Let God be God and let man be man.
    2. between eternal and temporal.
    3. between heaven and Earth.

    Sin of Arrogance is one that the sinner hard to realize it. Boasting your pride.
    God reminded Jonah, but Jonah justified himself - willingly putting his life on it.

    when we are angry, our emotions covering our eyes. Heart must be hot, mind must be cold.
    If you get a cold, eat a lot. Feed the cold, starve the fever.

    v17: beyond law, summarizing all. Christian Ethics. Know and doesn't do, sin. Do actively or else sin by not doing.
    Things you ought to say...guilty of being silent, of not doing.
    Let others do, escaping responsibility = guilty.
    Tong: a story about an old man who ignored someone calling for help outside his house in winter storm, regret in the morning that the dead person was his son whom he had hoped to come back after long time oversea.
    Now the question is: Why it must be our own children for us to help, and we do not for others?

    So what is James 4 about:

    Tong: What a precious truth. someone asked Tong why such a boring book James to talk on, when Tong decided to do this.

  16. timlyg says:

    Video 39: James 5:1-6

    A great violation of this passage done by the Charismatics here with their prosperity theology. These verses are the greatest threat to those who love prosperity theology.
    Discern which is real which is fake:
    The Charismatics don't get Isaiah 45:7: ...我施平安,又降灾祸..., to them, All bad comes from Satan, All good comes from God, a grave error.
    - God can use sickness to discipline His children;
    - God can use calamity to punish His people;
    - Many wealth come from the devil also, not just from God;
    - A preacher's loudness doesn't necessarily show if the Holy Spirit is with him, the authority of the truth.

    In the old days, many false prophets always say good and fake blessings to the kings, what they wanted to hear.
    My take: So do today's believers, preachers, saying only good things when in reality there's problem with salary, people, environment, but they call it God's calling instead.

    Serving ministry is a battle in the Bible.
    We may be friends below the pulpit, but when I'm on the pulpit there is a battle with Satan who can't wait to twist everything.

    How Tong made God bless His ministry?
    Answer: Only seek to please God in all your life.

    Today we like to please men. Especially rich men. So rich men are actually very pitiful, because other than their money, they are truly poor. And no real friends who know their hearts to preach the truth to them, such is the saddest in their poverty. James 5:1 weep and howl, you rich!...

    verse 2: Why? Because you have too many things you do not need. If you keep wearing them, what would the moths eat?
    But then is it not pleasing to God to have great wealth? Look at David, Solomon, Abraham. These are friends of God and they are wealthy.
    We do not agree with prosperity theology, but we cannot deny that God may grant lots of wealth to a specific individual.
    Contentment is a commandment in the Bible, and we learn in culture that contentment brings bliss.
    Is contentment = self-satisfaction? do not pursue further?
    Contentment does not mean do not strive, otherwise you are no better than animals. A cat is satisfied with food and a mate, it will not ask you to bring it to Vatican City.

    If I can make a lot, should I be satisfied with a little?
    (This part is so good in response to Frank's question about not buying lamborghini during the Bible Study)
    Why some old man still striving so hard to make money even though he already has enough for 10 generations.
    This is the good nature of human beings to challenge his own potential.
    What more can I do in this life? Should I just stop and be lazy? What's my potential and can I achieve them without wasting time.

    Bible never curse wealth nor popularity. Only greed is the root of all evil, not wealth.

    So this is a paradox:
    Is this passage rebuking the rich?
    Here it is not talking about wealth, but how the rich get/use their wealth.

    Tong once invited to preach to the young group of the rich, but he has no such burden, so he quit after a short while; while many preachers love such tasks "burden from God", because these could potentially help church in $. Don't be proud! No matter how much properties you have, when you die, your property becomes just 2x2 meter in the cemetery.
    Tong rebuked those who have mistresses, multiple wives, not knowing that one of the richest audience with 8 wives was in the midst. And God used the rich guy's Christian son to minister to him afterwards.

    Tong once stayed in a rich Filipino's house because they admire him for not kow-towing to the rich. The rich son once stayed in USA and lived a very humble lifestyle even during dating. His fiancé was shocked when she returned home with him (Did Crazy Rich Asians stole the plot from this?), and became his faithful wife.

    This is not about rebuking the rich, but:
    1. Where my money comes from? (is it from Satan? v1-3?)
    2. How I obtain this money? (v4-6)
    3. How do I be responsible with it before God and man?
    Carnegie: The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced. Money would be your master.

    When we are greedy, We often do not care where $ came from, as long as we are given/paid.
    When we are quick to get rich, we treat money as the end, not the means to other ends.

    Cursed wealth is the mark of sin.
    Blood of Abel cried unto the Lord.
    The cry of Israel from Egypt, God has heard. Listen to Israel in Egypt by Handel, first movement.

    Bill Gates leave nothing much for his children (I think $10mil each is still quite something, even if it's out of $113Billion, and the rest going to charity). But of course, I would take this to heart, despite what many say about Gates' ulterior motives in charity. That's Carnegie's lesson right there. But of course, I would add that if this is for God's glory, even better!

    Wisdom: discernment in values of quality in life, to face the abundance in material.

    Tong: Ringling Museum in Florida. Shocked at 8 huge Peter Paul Rubens' paintings, $20,000,000 each. Why these are here in Florida. Who is Ringling? He is of Ringling Circus, great circus owner in USA, made lots of money. Bought these for the benefit of others. Tong left the place with great admiration.

    许文龙: Did more great work than many Christians. "Why great music must come from Western countries?" Paid a lot for concert recording and performance in the East for benefit of the public, China Airline, museum: arts: Cranach, Augustora?, Bulguru [Bruegel?] in Taiwan, no where else in Asia, too expensive. Now he's hired STEMI's photographer prof. Song Wen Shen, to remake every concerts because things are in HD now.

    Many Christians today are very rich. But other than giving a small portion to the church as offering, competing with each other (I would add, showing off with matching gifts), what else do they do? Other than giving the money to your children/grandchildren so that they do not need to strive (This so resonate now with Psa 17:14!!!) and be successful, what other use is there?

    If you are not rich, please do not make greed as your personal goal;
    If you hope to be rich, please do not obtain what you desire by unrighteous means;
    If you are blessed with wealth by God, do works of God, save others, for social justice, for faith, for culture, for education, such is the command of this passage today.

    May God help us, so that we are not slaves of money, but master of it.

  17. timlyg says:

    Video 40: James 5:7
    Wealth is neutral:
    Can the spiritually poor be poor, yes.
    Can the spiritually rich be wealthy, yes.

    v7. Patience. Why can't we comfort ourselves when we see others who are rich: 1. I gain by righteousness while they gain by wickedness; 2. If they gain by patience and righteous hard work, why can't I the same?
    成事不足,败事有余 拔苗助长

    Many considered the ethics of considering the ends before creating the means, is to John Dewey's (American pragmatism) credit, but Moses preceded him, in Deu 32:29:

    On comparing ethics, looked at the golden rule of Matthew 7:12: (source: Got Questions taken from Redeemer's Men's Fellowship)
    • Confucianism: "Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" (Analects 15:23)
    • Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you” (Mahabharata 5:1517)
    • Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful" (Udanavarga 5:18) (Tong's version of Siddhartha Gautama: 以暴制暴 暴不能止)

    Tong added: Kant: Make sure it is a universal law before you act upon it. If you do not wish the populous to do, then you shouldn't do.

    Until when? Til the Lord's coming. How long?
    Christian Eschatology: Properly repent before you die. So that you can stand before His throne of judgment.
    Handel's Messiah: But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming (Malachi 3:2) Who can "STAND" when he appeareth..., Handel understood in how he sings "Stand" with emphasis, the last judgment. The final judgment is the day that makes us tremble before God.
    Wait...til the end of days, and realize that God absolutely did no wrong.

    Thanks be to God for the creation of seasons in agriculture.

    If you suffer in righteousness, this world is temporal, but the promise of God is eternal, therefore persevere to see God.
    Matthew 24:13 惟有忍耐到底的,必然得救。 (Those who endure to the end shall be saved)

    A righteous person being blessed by God, often received jealousy from others without considering the suffering he went through.
    My note: Here reminds me of Tante Lyna often consider Pak Tong just being blessed without much study, much hardship. Makes me wonder her philosophy in life. So is it the case when a blessed person is looked upon, there are two conclusion by the viewers: Be jealous or pull the Lyna (calling that a special gift only for him - without jealousy?) Is the latter really without jealousy in hiding? or true praise? or some sort of complacency? or being blind to unsung works and only looking at the surface of things?

    v. 8-10: 你们也当忍耐,坚固你们的心...你们不要彼此埋怨...Like a child climbing the stairs step by step, does not see the end right away and eventually cry when reaching the fearful top (Tong's toddler son), we just obey God by faith. God does not tell us how the insurance company will pay us.
    Phil 4:5 当叫众人知道你们谦让的心。主已经近了。Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near (NASB)
    东方人爱面子文化(危险):自大战以来,日本人至今不道歉;而德国道歉。Japanese culture has no concept of forgiving crimes to save others, self sacrifice to save enemies.

    Imitate Christ's self sacrificing love and ye shall shine upon others forever.
    Why Israel can never reconcile with Palestine: In Judaism there's no prayer for enemy, and Islam culture is eye for an eye.

    v.10-11: you are at the level (资格) of prophets and Job if you face suffering and persevered.
    Q: Why God knows I couldn't take it but let me suffer?
    Tong: Because God knows you can take it, therefore He let you handle it!

    劳苦 + 甘心 = 享受
    没有多苦 + 不甘心 = 地狱
    Example: a story of a son not willing to do a sick father's bidding to get medicine at night, claiming tired, too late; But when his girlfriend suddenly showed up at midnight bidding his help for HER sick father, his willingness changed 180 degree. So it's not a physical problem, but an emotional/mental one.
    A father carry his infant child felt greater burden than the mother, because he didn't carry him for 9 months as the mother did in the womb.
    Job and his wife's reactions when their children were taken also reveal such thing. So by rational understanding, we should sympathize with Job's wife (90+ months of labor vs. God giveth God taketh), but by spirituality, in the end Job could gladly thanks be to God, I have not shamed His name, and Job's wife shamefully confessed: Now I now you've blessed me twice what I lost. All twice, except for Job's wife, still one, and children still 10 more not 20, for the first 10 are already in Heaven, for God is not the God of the dead but living.
    Glorify God and Satan be shamed; and vice versa.

  18. timlyg says:

    Video 41: James 5:10-13
    What's the connection of this passage with the previous? Of those previous touched on, consider the examples from the prophets of old.
    What is the issue with the bankruptcy of religion? When there is no good leadership example before men. Lots of corrupted ones.

    Book of Job solved this problem.
    May us not shame God's name in our suffering. But glorify God in our victory.

    Look at the saints:
    You connect to God's eternal will when you turn the temporal moment in history into role model of eternal value.

    v.12: What is the connection of this verse with the ones before?
    You must dare to pay a price in your suffering, and that price is to be the witness for the Truth. You fail when you compromise, even your life.
    No compromise: Tong once used a preaching title, controversial by others: Christ is the only Lord, without whom you cannot be saved but end up in hell.
    So let your Yes be Yes, No, No. Be witness of the Truth, look at Daniel and his friends when confronted by oppositions.
    The suffering for truth witnessing is the greatest suffering.
    If our ministries be abused/used by others, take care! For hallowed by Thy Name, is the first sentence in prayer of every Christians.
    Jesus said this as well, let your yes be yes, etc. Using God's name to swear is the highest, no one would lie by using men's authority. James: just be trust-worthy.
    信用 is most important in Chinese culture/business.

    [revised from Epictetus] God gives us two ears and two eyes but one mouth: to judge right and wrong, but one mouth to witness for ONLY the truth, nothing else.
    Why some organs are two, but heart is only one, etc. There is wisdom in the creator.
    A righteous man is not knowing anything, but to know everything but only testify for the truth.

    Many treats suffering greater than condemnation. Rather suicide in love sick, suffering. Once in GuangZhou had a woman who jumped into the river for suicide, but then she crawled out after that - because the water stank. Even suicide requires qualification.

    You want to be witness for the truth? Go through trials; You don't want trials? face condemnation.

    v. 13: what to do in suffering? Pray, rejoice always.

    Tong: Those who want to leave early, no need to come.

    Tong: finally gotten the approval for church construction permit in Indonesia.

    Video 42: James 5:12-15
    v.12: 免得你们落在审判之下

    What's the connection between v.12 & v.13?
    After witnessing for the truth, suffering will come.
    Why many Christians do not witness for the truth? not prepared to suffer, play safe.

    v.13: 禱告不是祈求。Prayer is not supplication.
    Prayer meeting usually => supplication. We don't want to call it Supplication meeting.
    Is supplication a prayer? Yes.
    But when you tell God of your difficulty, it is not supplication.
    When you ask for something, you are expecting something.
    But when you pray, it's a friendly communication.
    Our relationship with God should not be that of begging all the time, using God as a tool.

    祈禱 consists 3:
    1. prayer (friendship)
    2. supplication (need grace and mercy)
    3. thanksgiving (the effect after receiving grace)
    They are in order as well, from 1 to 3. Phil 4:6 祷告、祈求,和感谢
    But here it's Prayer, then Give thanks, then supplication, doesn't matter.

    John Stott in 2nd Lausanne convention (where Tong was also a night speaker): Religion is not seeking after God, religion is the act to try to escape from God.
    No one seeks God.

    v.13 is prayer, not supplication.
    Someone followed an evangelist home secretly to observe how he pray and was disappointed because the evangelist's prayer was as short as "Lord, I'm tired, I leave my work and body into your hand" and slept right away. But this was sufficient.
    John 17:4-5 Jesus glorified first the Father on Earth, and then asked for the Father to glorify him.
    Pray daily, in the morning. Psalm 2:3.

    The only place in the Bible that says: If merry, let him sing praises. 沒有參加詩班,你們沒有快樂。Like going to Paris never go to Eiffel tower.
    Christianity is the only singing religion.

    Types of songs: Romantic, strife, thanksgiving (often in Religion => Christianity only)

    Of all 3 main Malay nations (Malaysia, Indonesia & Philippines), Philippines is the most musically trained country (i.e. Kasilag).
    Next, Indonesian music very emotional, expressive.
    Worst is Malaysia, but now the best musical hall (850 seats) in Malaysia, Christian music not allowed.

    Only in Christianity, there is best music. Natural revelation responded rightly. Creation, salvation, revelation, Forgiveness of sins are absence in Islam and other religions, they cannot express it in music.

    Only one time Jesus sang, after the last supper, towards Gethsemane.
    Only once, Paul sang in Bible, in his bondage.

    v.14: Only place in the Bible where elders pray over people with anointing oil.
    Some charismatics blessed the anointing oil to sell them => wrong.
    受苦 => 祷告
    喜乐 => 歌颂
    有病 => 油抹祷告 (signify Holy Spirit with you, anointing of the Holy Spirit upon your body, like the baptism water in cleansing and repentance) 奉主的名

    v.15: Best let elders pray, oil anointment, in the Lord's name, in faith, in repentance, lay hands upon the sick
    Why not pastor but elders?
    Bible gives us 5 offices in ecclesiology: Prophets, Apostles, Teachers, Preachers, Pastors. No elders, which is set up by the apostles (man-made).
    Offices of the church should be distinguished into two:
    1. Given by God after ascension of Christ,
    2. Setup by the apostles for the church (only 3 kinds => elders=supervision, deacons, various sacred 聖工人員 offices=choir, musicians, Sunday school teachers, seminary lecturers (not the same as the specially anointed teachers God set in seminaries who teach fundamental doctrines), etc.)

    For #1. First two have stopped (Prophets, apostles) they were foundational. The other 3 are to serve truth and shepherding.

    For #2. Elders - setup by apostles, tasked to 固守真道奥秘,牧者心肠爱护羊群,教会守望。
    Deacons - by the congregants, not equivalent to elders, do not oversee pastoral office, only to take care of administrative matters, serve the poor.

    v.14: In the Name of the Lord - importance: through the obstacles of the devil. Not to be used as a tool, like the charismatics.

    Tong shared his prayer for one of his late student on his deathbed: Pray for cure if it's God's will, but also Prepare a heart to go see God, the widow later influenced by the Charismatics until their pastors said "a widow must have hidden sins which result in punishment in form of her widow state" Tong: So you pick and choose which church to go by your own liking?

    cv.15: Sometimes sin and sickness have connection. If we do not consider the name of the Lord holy in submission, what is our prayer?

    Video 43: James 5:15-16
    Tong introduced the history of Charismatics starting in Topeka in 1901, to 5 people in the Asuza 1905, to 1989...etc. They said doctrinal age is past, 20th century is about the Holy Spirit.
    Then Tong compared if they were correct that the Charismatics were continuing the works and title of the Apostles and Prophets, with church history.
    Don't believe them: "We are returning to apostolic faith".
    The Post-Modernists/Liberal's Gospel: Happy news, poor has Gospel to hear, war ceased, the coming of the millennium, Based on Jesus' Isaiah message in Capernaum Synagogue.
    The Evangelists Gospel: Christ's death for sinners, buried, resurrected, reconciliating men and God, preach to all, make many disciples of Jesus.
    Above two are different forms, different parts of Scripture, different usage of the Bible.
    In the same manner, Charismatics used these 4 to mean apostolic faith, which are wrong:
    1. 医病,2. 赶鬼,3. 行神迹,4. 讲方言
    "If a church does not have these 4, they lost the apostolic tradition."
    Phenomena vs. essence, not the same, know the difference.

    Holy Spirit's greatest work: To bring Logos into the world.
    Logos on Earth in word form is The Bible, In Flesh is Christ Jesus.
    Through the above 2, the Holy Spirit build the Church.

    The Self-limiting God:
    The Father: Using His Absolute Free Will to constrain Himself within the boundary of His word/logos. 他不能背乎自己 (2Ti 2:13)
    - John Stott (Anglican Reformed Theologian) once said Even God's freedom is not absolute [I think it's referring to God cannot lie...etc.], Stott was wrong.
    The Son: Creator entering created. Infinite into finite, Eternal into temporal, Immortal into mortal, etc. The Son = Self-limiting God. Orthodox faith: 1John 4:2.
    - Gospel of Judas, a product of Gnosticism, since Da Vinci's Code, we're prepared for the likes of these.
    The Holy Spirit: Self Constraining Himself to guide and teach us the Church in Scripture. In all Truth (of the infinite One) which is expressed in the constraint of the Bible. 2Peter 1:3 神的神能已将一切关乎生命和虔敬的事赐给我们.
    - So when the Charismatics put Holy Spirit > The Bible, they fell into Satan's trap. Just like not believing Jesus came in the flesh in 1Jo 4:2.

    v15: Now we can look at this verse, without Charismatics' wrong teaching. They also wrongly view illness = because of sin.
    3 Heroes of Faith whose prayers God did not answer: Elijah (to die, thinking that he should surpass all his ancestors - God fed him instead, best food to run 40 days), Jesus (3 x remove this cup from me, no response from God, true loneliness in Gethsemane) & Paul (Remove the thorn of my flesh 2 Corinthians 12:7 - Strange answer from God: you have enough grace).

    On Elijah's: Nothing wrong to be great. Though Elijah's is self centered. Jesus confirmed that wanting to be Great is nothing wrong: If you wish to be great, be servant of all.
    On Jesus' cup: Not afraid to die, does not mean death, it's an insult to explain it that way, as the Muslims do in connection to Heb 5:7 恳求那能救他免死的主. Muslims believe God heard Jesus' prayer and removed death from Him, especially after the gospel of Barnabas (says God swapped Judas with Jesus). Jesus (Isa) is one of the 6 (Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma'il (Ishmael), Musa (Moses). Dawud (David), Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad) holy saints in Muslim faith. Barnabas Gospel has so many errors/geographical errors, a serious Muslim scholars would not believe it.
    The cup means the wrath of God, judgment of God, Justice of God, mentioned in Jeremiah. This means Father and Son will be separated.

    Why Father doesn't listen to the Son's prayer even though their Will are the same? Paradoxical moment.
    If there is no separation there will be no unity. Jesus dies not, we have no life; If He's not bound we are not free; If He is not judged we have no peace; If He not wounded, we will not be healed; If He's not separated from God, we will not be reconciled with God. This separation is against the Father and the Son's wishes, therefore Jesus' prayer here did not go against the will of God. But God did not listen to the Son's prayer here, because it is an absolute necessity. Only time in History, for Salvation. Confirmed in Jesus' 4th sentence on the cross: My God My God Why hast thou forsaken me.
    This two wills only tell us that the Father and the Son are two different persons, not that they have opposing wills.

    On Paul, since Paul could handle, unlike many others. What was this thorn? Some say Paul has serious sight problem (Gal 6:11), also could be other illness.
    The Story of Mankind (1921), by Hendrik Willem van Loon: Story about Paul visiting a doctor.

    So why should God listen to our prayer for forceful healing?

    Self-confidence (faith on/in faith) faith cannot replace Biblical Faith. Your entire faith will collapse like that when you're not healed.

    v15: Assurance of to be forgiven from sin.
    V16: 彼此认罪,互相代求,使你们可以得医治 => 暗示 我们很可能疾病的背后有不肯认的罪,所以我们得不着医治。Though the Bible didn't clearly tell us that every illness comes from sin. However, the Bible often times implicitly shows that there is a relationship between illness and sin. So sometimes Jesus said when He performed healing: Your sins are forgiven.
    Sometimes this is so, Paul also said: 1 Corinthians 11:28-30 - You eat your own sin, that is why many of you are weak and ill and some died.

    John Sung's healing cases were plentiful. But before he prays for you, you must listen all 7 days of his sermons and be truly convicted of your sins. This is different from Charismatics.
    Tong believes Dr. John Sung's miracle works. Sung once turned 5 mute born girls in Indonesia to talk. Not cessationist.

    Discern true biblical one from the fake Charismatics one.

    Video 44: James 5:15-18
    4 kinds of Faith:
    1. Already given to everyone - You must come to God in Faith. It is built in everyone.
    2. Saving Faith, after coming to God, listening to God's word.
    3. Special Grace of God upon those who serve him. Gifted by the Holy Spirit on certain servants of God. Bold to do things others would not. 1 Corinthians 12: Holy Spirit gives some such faith.
    4. Through process of suffering, sanctification experience. Refined faith.

    So faith is not the Charismatics' self confident faith.
    v16: 义人祈祷所发的力量是大有功效的。Misunderstood by many. This is not the person who pray, but the one who has faith. Paul: 祷告的基础是信仰。Romans 10: Those who call upon His Name will be saved. But if he believes not, how can he call. If you are wrong about you believe in God, your prayer is wrong. Right calling => right preaching => right faith => right prayer => right church.

    v17: Emphasis on Elijah being a commoner as proved in the Bible his weaknesses. He wasn't afraid of Ahab but Jezebel. We looked up to someone until we're older, then easier to look down on them. Reflect on how bold Elijah spoke to the king.
    Whatever you say, don't care about who are on your side, but only if God would fulfil.
    Elijah's time, important moment: True vs. Fake prophets. Just like Muhammad Ali vs. Japanese sumo wrestler (they didn't move much, disappointing), also disappointing was Russia's Putin went to match Shaolin in China got cancelled.
    Important historical moments.

    Elijah: If your god...「信则有,不信则无」is nonsense. Existence is not based on faith. Maybe Baal was sleeping - the Hebrew translation could be translated this way.

    Observe carefully those who say unique things, even though others look down on him. Perhaps he's lead by the Holy Spirit to say something important. Democracy is most wasteful of a polity's resources. You may have great administrations & systems, but democracy is formed by most uneducated people, it is very risky politics, as Plato & Aristotle argued. Plato: Don't forget, Socrates is killed by democracy. Lots of detective films proved one thing: They are faster (though not following the rules) than the stupid police force.
    An old guy from Indonesia went to HK to invite lots of preachers and pay for everything => great revivals in Indonesia; as opposed to waiting for church committee slow decisions. Two kinds of deacons: One who promotes and expand, the other who hinders God's holy works. This same old guy also once (always using God's name, without church's permission), had people removed some roof of the church, making revision to the church, enlarging the church => riot against Chinese, many could find refuge in the church. Real story, 1967. Tong asked him, he answered: God's touch. I have some money, God moved me to do these. Tong: I'm not responsible if you do this in Singapore and get caught.
    Elijah's prayer: So that they know you are God, and I am your servant.

    Video 45: James 5:19-20
    Martin Luther once looked down on this book: James. Because it doesn't touch much on the Gospel.
    But James actually talks about the fruit of the Gospel = work as a result of faith.

    James 5:19
    100 after Luther, they became more decadent because of misunderstanding of righteousness by faith. Forgot we're responsible for good works. Worse than Catholics. Ethics worse than the secular people. Then comes Pietism, championed by Francke & Spener:
    Emphasis on:
    1. Devotion, sanctified life: abandon sinful habit and unethical behavior.
    2. Pious prayer, pursuit of holiness. Search relationship with God
    Resulting in church split - 1. accusing the other as self-righteous; 2. We just want a holy, repentant lifestyle.

    Pietists were pioneers of today's evangelism: Even John Wesley was influenced by Moravian brothers. Going everywhere to preach the Gospel - an important part lacking during the Reformation movement which focused on the systematic theology and worship after coming out of the Roman Catholics. Ironically, while the Reformers focused on within, the Roman Catholics eagerly reached without/outside around the world with missions.

    The Reformation had the Gospel faith reformed, but not the Gospel movement, Gospel spirit. So the Pietists fixed his part.
    Unfortunately, the Pietists in their holy pursuit, negatively isolated themselves => the church within the church.
    Tong: Go study this history yourself.

    Gospel effect (Sinners converted)
    Revival Effect (those who believed and fallen away)

    v19: They may have been bored with the church, sermons...
    Prodigal sons within (Those who call themselves Christians but no true faith) vs. prodigal sons without (Those believed but left)
    Those who left usually have tons of reasons/excuses.

    John Sung once compared this with a log of burning wood taken out of the pile, the wood became cold. We must therefore worship God with the pile of Saints together always.

    @25:00 Tong shared his internship experience where youth dwindled. 1961, wrote the song 若你曾爱过耶稣你主。。。(Cleveland Orchestra - Daniel Majeske invited Tong to his house, said this hymn has Mendelssohn's spirit)

    Psa 23:3 他使我的灵魂苏醒,为自己的名引导我走义路。

    @39:40 When Tong saw the Da Vinci's Code came out and no pastors could answer youth's questions: Like sheep lost without shepherd.

    @47:00 Tong shared what convinced him to start Q&A after seeing old preachers that could answer tough questions (Tong looked down on those before who couldn't answer those questions).

    Joseph Bruce Ismay mentioned: Who during Titanic's mayhem pretended to be woman to be saved. Wicked lifestyle. Although some proven this as false. Though there are other mention of similar case by other: Third Class passenger Edward Ryan.

    @55:00 Jonathan Edwards' Sinners in the hand of Angry God sermon moved so many. Billy Graham quoted many from it. Edwards written his sermons due to not being articulate himself.
    Edwards' family tree 65 descendants have great influence among the intellectuals.

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