Sunday Service 2023-08-20 Sunday School on Forgiveness

Sunday School's topic on WLC's Q. 194: What do we pray for in the fifth petition? (Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors)

The pastor suggested different grades of forgiveness (and he preferred even different words than "forgiveness" which he solely wished to apply to post-repentant): i.e. letting go but not completely forgiving those who especially do not apologize, but letting go is a type of forgiveness. This "grades" of forgiveness is different than the two kinds of forgiveness presented by John Calvin, Matthew Henry and John MacArthur. Greg Wright wrote a good piece on this called "Forgiveness from the Heart: Are Christians Obligated to Forgive Unrepentant People". I'll paste this article in the comment section. In terms of kinds of relationships, I would differ from the pastor's interpretation, though we may use the same words like reconciliation, restored fellowship. The difference is that this is not mutual. My offender does not cause me to turn away from him, it is he who turned away from me, and by reconciling, he's the one returning, not me. I am already ready to have a restored fellowship, so it is up to him, never up to me, as I have already forgiven him. The benefit is solely on him, not on me for I lack nothing in this. Opposing sides would use Mark 11:25 vs. Luke 17:3 to defend their cases, but it can be treated as one and the same and the side that chooses not to call one of these two "forgiveness" but "let go" instead, stands on more unstable ground.

Forgiveness is simply to release the obligation of the offender to the offended and it includes the love to wish them well. Forgiveness is never giving approval to the offense itself, regardless if the offender apologizes sincerely or not.

I do differ in this as this question wasn't new to me. Michael Liu had brought this to my attention before (years ago when we first met) when he called me one day, with an unsettling tone in his inquiry because he had heard his preacher preaching about there's no need to forgive if the trespasser does not apologize. I disagreed with that preacher, as well as now Pastor Chris on this, even though our pastor does take this less extreme than Michael's former preacher. Pastor Chris even admitted that, for the second time (the first was probably last year when the similar topic was brought up) that I've heard of him, this was just his own view and he's open to disagreement @12:30 ("I tell me if I'm wrong"). And it would seem that he may consider my disagreement (@41:31 also I could use some improvement in my oral as well listening to myself speaking...cringe), despite him watering down forgiveness to different grades of forgiveness, which I would have disagreed. Forgiveness is just forgiveness, there's no different grading of it. I did gave them the example of Amish Grace and other testimonies that make the case where to forgive is divine, in this case, to forgive before the other side apologizes. I could have listed: Edith Taylor, possibly Corrie Ten Boom, etc. But Jesus' forgiveness on the cross which is copied by Stephen at his own death, was what I promoted. For some reason, when "Father forgive them for they know not what they've done" was brought up before I responded, the pastor's interpretation of it was that the forgiveness was aimed at their original sin, which was strange. Perhaps it was the only out he could think of at the time. That was why I had to speak out to include Stephen, who also said something similar. Though I couldn't quote Stephen's exact phrase (Lord, lay not this sin to their charge-KJV, Lord, do not charge them with this sin-NJKV, Lord, do not hold this sin against them-NASB, Lord, do not hold this sin against them-ESV, 主啊,不要将这罪归於他们-CUV) until I looked it up later.

Of course, this time Nadia also asked a question @35:20 related to this because Eleni mentioned @12:00 "When God forgives, He forgets". She wasn't quite satisfied with the answer but was not eloquent enough to follow up with the discussion. I later gave her this great article I found on TGC: Does God forget our Sins? by Joanna Kimbrel (Isaiah 43:25, Hebrews 8:12). I believe that the pastor did his best to answer Nadia. Perhaps he needed to touch on the definition of "forget". Both Joanna and Chris quoted Psa 103:12. Joanna went further by saying "as if we never sinned", which should be good enough of a definition. The only answer to this (how God could forget), which wasn't brought up by anyone in Sunday School was, as Joanna puts it well, the cross of Jesus Christ. Thus, this is true, as a mystery, for OT Israelites.

The pastor @13:00 understood rightly that God's forgiveness is not universal but for the elects, however, he treated the concept of "we have to repent" from our perspective as it being valid for us to wait until others repented in order to truly forgive them. I think here is a misapplication of it. I think Joseph gave us a great example on this. That if I visit someone who shot my relative in prison and said "I forgive you" @14:10, pastor Chris understood that as a mere letting go the grudge and handing it over to God. Both Chris and Dirk later tied that into different levels of relationships with people you merely let go of grudges regardless of their permission and people you have truly forgiven because of their repentance. Joseph, however, had never treated his relationship with his brothers any differently, if one reads the Bible carefully. There are many movies made to show Joseph holding grudges, but that interpretation is not founded on the Bible, even though the Bible never clearly stated Joseph's state of emotion at the crucial moments where should he acted with grudges. What Joseph did in his wisdom to test his brothers were not necessarily a sort of resolving his grudge if he never had it to begin with. In fact, it would make one a better saint to forgive better. I believe when Joseph said "God meant it for good", he didn't need to wait until his brothers repented to have a "total restored fellowship of forgiveness" as the pastor called it (@19:00 & @20:00 though not about Joseph). Therefore, relationship between two men matters not in terms of repentance, that responsibility goes to wisdom and not repentance. But it does matter in terms of forgiveness. The one who forgives first always opens the door to great horizontal relationship, therefore it matters not if such great relationship is eventually realized or not, because it is already held in waiting by the one who forgives. Those who think it resulting in being a doormat, pushover, need to focus on wisdom and the right definition of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the same as God's forget of sins. However, how we treat a relationship is how we apply our wisdom from experience, from what we've learned from God. I wouldn't simply just trust a person whether he has trespassed against me or not. Or be their doormat. That is wisdom. So when I'm being careful around people who have sinned against me @17:00, it doesn't mean that it was the consequence of their sin, but a consequences of me over trusting people in general. So I disagree with the pastor that it was the consequences of the perpetrators. I could simply not press charges against that person, this is forgiveness and though it might invite objections, I think it is possible to be in my right fully to not press charges against someone who sinned against me, thereby obliterated the "earthly consequences" that the pastor spoke of. Also, forgiveness doesn't mean there's no consequences. David was an excellent example on this. He repented, God forgave, yet "the sword shall never depart from your house" said God. This is not about God not giving David a "total restored fellowship of forgiveness" for there is no such thing, but a way for David and the rest of us to learn not just of consequences but on the statutes God places in His creation.

Matt brought up Jesus' "Father forgive them" @25:00, and I shouted Amen in my heart. And I think the pastor answered wrongly with calling those charge of original sin. Of course, I am also not saying that Jesus was necessarily praying "for all indiscriminately as John Calvin puts it in Luke 23:34". Original sin is the state we are born with after the fall and that state is not corrected by forgiveness but by our regeneration and Christ's imputation of righteousness upon us. Therefore Christ's prayer was aimed towards what was done to him at the time, not the original sin. I believe Christ was praying for the elects among them. As for Stephen, his prayer was different than Christ's from a imitation stand point because Stephen has no hand in election of the saints, but he could only hope in his gospel ministry. Yet, Stephen was able to forgive this way because much has been forgiven him. "A Christian loves much after much has been forgiven him, not the reverse: that much has been forgiven him because he loves much." as Vos puts it. I don't think it is right to place forgiveness anywhere in ordo salutis (i.e. comes before or after repentance), as it is a categorical difference.

Mary brought up indirectly the matters of Matthew 6:14-15 (though the pastor quoted it later as a good reminder) @30:07, that if you don't forgive others theirs, neither will your Father forgive you yours. Calvin on this verse said it well: "...and on no other condition does he admit us to pardon, but that we pardon our brethren whatever offenses they have committed against us." I would add, in reverse, that if you cannot forgive others, it maybe that you have not fully comprehended and accepted God's forgiveness of your trespasses. So in a way, thought I wouldn't say "God's forgiveness is not contingent upon us forgiving others" because God is the active agent in forgiveness (Eph 4:32, Col 3:13), Mary would be wrong if she thinks it's okay not to forgive others. Though we are to imitate God in forgiveness, we do not go too far into confusing the difference between God's vertical forgiveness and our horizontal (with each other) forgiveness. God regenerates those whom He forgives, we do not regenerate people. God is the absolute active agent, we are the passive-active agent in forgiving because unlike God, we needed God's forgiveness first.

One asked @37:30 about judgment in the end time, the pastor erroneously defined judgment as "receiving penalty for sin". I think this comes from dispensationalists influence, by separating one final judgment into two: great white throne (Revelation) & judgment seat (Romans). Pastor: "Judgment seat = accountability seat of Christ, that's the bema seat, that's different from the great white throne". I've already done a general overview over this here. Then pastor then gave a very waterdown interpretation of 1 Corinthians 3:15 "...wood, hay & stubble being burned up..." the stuff we wasted our time with gets burned up, but He rewards us for the things that were done for God, as if there should not be any negative talk about believers. On the contrary, even Calvin would not agree completely: "...that those who have mixed stubble, or wood, or straw, will be disappointed of the commendation which they had expected...Such persons, Paul says, could be saved, but on this condition - if the Lord wiped away their ignorance, and purged them from all dross."

After another challenged the pastor's view on forgiveness @43:44, an elder interjected @45:20 in defense of the pastor by re-emphasizing the different level of relationships pertaining to different grades of forgiveness, which I think is still in error. It was great that the pastor responded with slight disagreement by saying "I don't think there's a line where I don't speak to certain people". So there's some in between the pastor was trying to get, and I hope that it will improve. The way I see it, if one harbors this kind of leveled relationships, which of course is different than the level of relationships with Christ among his disciples, I should thread carefully with this kind as I think they could be slightly shallow, and this has nothing to do with forgiveness yet again, but wisdom.

The pastor also modeled our grades of forgiveness to the fact that "God doesn't forgive everybody" @44:02. Here Rene answered perfectly with the most common answer one often uses "but we're not God". The association made by the pastor here seems to fall away from basic reformed doctrine of election and into very fundamentalism Arminian view. Here the pastor conflated grace and forgiveness. Common grace is not forgiveness when we speak of forgiveness in terms of salvation. If we are to model after anything, it would be after God's common grace in forgiving others, and not His reprobation. God's reprobation is to be modeled after hatred against sinful things. This is why it is important to apply the quote "Hate the sin, love the sinners". This is an essential key in evangelism which many reformed, especially American reformed, failed, due to fundamentalists influences (from both extremes - legalistic view & shallow-interpretation-self-righteous view), resulting in objection to that quote. So no, we cannot model our "grades" of forgiveness after the fact that God forgives some and not others because our offenders are never so bad that God couldn't forgive before their repentance. And there shouldn't be grades of forgiveness in this sense.

I finally found my response to Michael Liu on this, it wasn't in my journal, but in the email I sent him in 2011. I shall paste that email in this comment.

Now, here is what the Scripture says about it: Matthew 6:14-15, Luke 17:3-4, Matthew 18:15-35 (Calvin's commentary on Matthew 18:21), Matthew 5:23-24 (reconcile with him who has something against you before coming to offer your altar gift), Luke 23:34 (Father forgive them, for they know not what they do), Acts 7:60 (do not hold this sin against them). More supporting verses: Matthew 5:7, Mark 11:25, Luke 6:37, Ephesians 4:31-32, Colossians 3:13, Luke 6:27 & Proverbs 25:21 (love your enemies), Proverbs 10:12 (love covers all offenses), Proverbs 17:9 (covering for others).

Calvin on Matthew 18:15-35:
v.15: for nothing is more difficult than to exercise forbearance towards men, and, at the same time, not to neglect the freedom necessary in reproving them. Almost all lean to the one side or to the other, either to deceive themselves mutually by deadly flatteries, or to pursue with excessive bitterness those whom they ought to cure...[three steps of brotherly correctly: Private, witnesses, the Church - for we are too eager to publish the faults of others]...against thee = private sins as oppose to open sins which is to be rebuked publicly (i.e. 1Ti 5:20).

v.16: if we distinguish between denial and evasion He who explicitly denies the fact, and declares that he is falsely and calumniously accused, must be left alone. But...evade...towards such persons it is useful to observe this method...The Church...We know that, after the Jews returned from the Babylonish captivity, a council was formed, which they called Sanhedrim, and in Greek Synedrion [modeled after Jewish custom as the Church was yet to exist]...Let him be to thee as a heathen and a publican...that we ought to have no intercourse with the despisers of the Church till they repent.

v.21: ...It is natural to all men to wish to be forgiven...But...far from being equally gentle towards others...Luke differs somewhat from Matthew...that we should be prepared to forgive seven times [not seventy times seven, Peter asked 7 times perhaps due to Luke 17:3-4]...but the meaning is the same...But the words of Luke give rise to another question; for Christ does not order us to grant forgiveness, till the offender turn to us and give evidence of repentance...there are two ways in which offenses are forgiven. If a man shall do me an injury, and I, laying aside the desire of revenge [Pastor Chris would support this but to support the following sentences...?], do not cease to love him, but even repay kindness in place of injury, though I entertain an unfavorable opinion [The pastor would like this phrase too] of him, as he deserves, still I am said to forgive him. For when God commands us to wish well to our enemies, He does not therefore demand that we approve in them what He condemns, but only desires that our minds shall be purified from all hatred [the pastor would also agree with this phrase]. In this kind of pardon, so far are we from having any right to wait till he who has offended shall return of his own accord to be reconciled to us, that we ought to love those who deliberately provoke us, who spurn reconciliation, and add to the load of former offenses. A second kind of forgiving is, when we receive a brother into favor, so as to think favorably respecting him, and to be convinced that the remembrance of his offense is blotted out in the sight of God...But here another question arises. As soon as a man by words makes profession of repentance, are we bound to believe him? ... I answer, first, the discourse relates here to daily faults, in which every man, even the best, needs forgiveness...what will be the consequence if, at the second or third fall, the hope of forgiveness is cut off? We must add, secondly, that Christ does not deprive believers of the exercise of judgment, so as to yield a foolish readiness of belief to every slight expression, but only desires us to be so candid and merciful, as to stretch out the hand to offenders, provided there be evidence that they are sincerely dissatisfied with their sins. For repentance is a sacred thing, and therefore needs careful examination; but as soon as the offender gives probable evidence of conversion, Christ desires that he shall be admitted to reconciliation, lest, on being repulsed, he lose courage and fall back. Thirdly, It must be observed that, when any man, through his light and unsteady behavior, has exposed himself to suspicion, we may grant pardon when he asks it, and yet may do so in such a manner as to watch over his conduct for the future, that our forbearance and meekness, which proceed from the Spirit of Christ, may not become the subject of his repentance is a wonderful work of the Spirit, and is the creation of the new man, if we despise it, we offer an insult to God himself.

Forgiveness is an active agent, not passive. Though unlike God, our forgiveness to others is active before men (i.e. not dependent on their repentance), passive before God (Christ's sacrifice). The power I draw to forgive others comes from me being forgiven by God in Christ, not from how much repentant that other person is toward me. The offenses committed against me should only either make me wiser which I should in turn be thankful for or instill in me the sympathy for the blindness of those who fight against God at my cost. (the best remedy for over-coming temptation is, to recall to our remembrance the blindness of those who fight against God in our persons - John Calvin on Luke 23:34)

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Sunday Service 08-13-2023

Sermon on 1John 5:21

Pastor: The smartest person is one who says I don't know. [Socrates, Paul, etc.]

I would add: The dumbest person is one who thinks he's the smartest ~ Stephen Tong.

Pastor: Pride -> Armchair Politicians. This reminded me of my entry on "Armchair bloggers", a quote from DC series.

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Knox 2015 Review

This is a review and summary on the documentary I watched on Tubi: Knox (2o15)

1514 - Knox born in Haddington, Scotland

1528 - Patrick Hamilton returning from Lutheran Germany burned as first Scottish martyr for the reformation movement.

1529 - St Andrews where Patrick Hamilton was killed and where Knox came to study.

1543 - King of Scotland died. Power vacuum. 3 rivals: Cardinal Beaton (head of Scottish Church), Mary of Guise (widowed queen), Earl of Arran. Earl of Arran proclaimed himself regent of Scotland, sympathetic to protestants, allowed English bibles. George Wishart influenced Knox greatly: A person must have personal relationship with God. Knox became Wishart's bodyguard, literally. Wishart was arrested at St. Mary's Kirk after persuaded Knox to leave him. Regent Arran failed to change Cardinal Beaton's mind on releasing Wishart, who was then burnt in St. Andrews. Nation began to question Roman Catholicism. Cardinal Beaton killed by angry mob. With the mob hiding in castle and holding Regent Arran's son as hostage, where Knox was also, this is when Knox had the opportunity to preach the Gospel, against Rome, calling the pope the anti-Christ. Giving good news to those under Rome's gospel-less bad news. Unlike Regent Arran, Mary of Guise was more aggressive in secretly scheming with the Catholic French to defeat the mob in their castle. Knox was captured, enslaved on French Galley for 2 years, health declined.

Knox then mysteriously freed and moved to protestant England (where Reformation was formally established), instead of Catholic Scotland or Catholic France.

At the time in England, the Archbishop of Canterbury during Edward VI is Thomas Cranmer who was focusing on reformation direction.

Knox was sent to Berwick as military chaplain, changing violent people there into god-fearing and peaceful town. Bishop Tunstall was forced to decide to accept a separation from Rome. Yet Tunstall was appalled by Knox's "heresy" in his own diocese.

1550 - Knox openly condemned the mass as idolatry and blasphemy (calling the bread not just bread but God). Tunstall got Knox questioned by the Council of the North, yet the Council was so impressed by Knox's arguments that they asked him to preach in Newcastle, to Tunstall's fury. Knox preached in Newcastle and Berwick (because of Marjorie Bowes) for 2 years.

Marjorie's father opposed to her relationship with Knox, unlike her mother, Elizabeth, who was Knox's big fan. The idea of a clergy marrying is still very new to England at the time.

Black Rubric: Knox was against kneeling during holy communion (wrong object of worship), but Cranmer opposed it because the 2nd edition of the book of prayer was just published, instructing specifically to kneel for the communion. Black Rubric is an attempt to reconcile both sides by calling the kneeling not worship. Knox wasn't satisfied but better than nothing.

Knox refused to become Bishop of Rochester because of fear of what might happen if Mary Tudor who was fervent Catholic, became Queen. When Mary Tudor became Queen, Knox fled England, leaving Marjorie behind. From a good home in England to nothing, arriving France with only 10 groats in his pocket. Looking up Reformed leaders everywhere led him to Geneva, where John Calvin was.

Genevan problem with John Calvin: Strict rule on must come to church every Sunday. Consistory polices people's behavior.

The Cathedral of St. Pierre: Calvin's base. Where Knox asked Calvin about revolution against Rome. Calvin: "Better we all perish a hundred times than that the name of Christianity and the Gospel should come under such disgrace."

Knox and Calvin's disagreement: Most likely on whether to use force or not against Catholics, Knox obviously went for force. Knox wrote the infamous pamphlet: "The Faithful Admonition" to circulate England, condemning leaders of church and state who persecuted protestants and reintroduced Catholicism. Calling Queen Mary Tudor a modern-day Jezebel, an oath-breaker, wicked person. Causing precarious situation for reformers who were already in England. Seditious. Essentially calling for the Queen's assassination. Radicals support Knox for resistance after seeing so many of their own persecuted.

1554 - Knox was called to preach in Frankfurt, where English exiles established a church but no minister. Knox modified the prayer book here so the people did not kneel for the Lord's Supper.

Dr. Richard Cox led English refugees to Knox's church in Frankfurt after Knox preached there for 4 months. Cox argued with Knox: Cox: "English church must have English face (pertaining to not abandoning the prayer book)." Knox: "The only face any church should have should be that of Jesus!"

The new arrivals voted Knox out, due to his infamous pamphlet. Knox left Frankfurt and the Church of England and never returned.

Knox was asked to return to Scotland after being away for 8 years. Mary of Guise supplanted Regent Arran. But more protestants growing in Scotland at the time. Knox paused briefly to see Marjorie in Berwick, then wasted no time to start preaching in Scotland. Land owner John Erskine of Dun was Knox's most powerful supporter.

Erskine introduced Knox to William Maitland of Lethington, newly appointed secretary of state. But though they admired each other, they soon had strong disagreement as Lethington had to pay lip service to Catholic government as a high ranking public official despite being sympathetic to Protestantism.

Knox: Thou thinkest it lawful for a child of God to prostrate himself before that idol?
Lethington: Mr. Knox, the Christian faith came from the Jewish, and the Protestant from the church of Rome. As the apostles continued to worship in Jewish synagogues, a Protestant is at liberty to attend mass.
Knox: There is no comparison to be made!

1556 - Archbishop Hamilton (younger brother of Earl of Arran) replaced Cardinal Beaton as leader of the Scottish Church. Charged Knox with heresy, summoned him for trial in the capital city of Edinburgh. The queen had the charges to be dropped fearing riot in the streets. Knox preached twice a day on the Royal Mile.

As Knox felt the reformation was stalling in England, Geneva invited Knox back to pastor there, he left abruptly. With Marjorie this time. Married, had a son in Geneva, named Nathaniel. Here he wrote his most notorious book: The first Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women. Its basic premise is that no woman should rule over a political state. His blast was obviously an attack at Queen Mary Tudor. Of course, Knox was not misogynic at all.

Knox preached in Auditoire de Calvin (still considered as the Church of Scotland today), to the English refugees in Geneva.

Now, revolution was in the air of Scotland, but Knox was hesitant to return despite numerous invitation and his favor of active resistance to a wicked ruler. But Calvin, contrary to Knox's expectation, told Knox to be present in his own native land to influence events for good.

1559 - May 2, Knox returned to Scotland for the 3rd and last time. Mary of Guise and Archbishop Hamilton vs. Lords of the congregation. 4 Protestant preachers charged with preaching without permission, summoned to Stirling Castle for trial where Knox also accompanied them, along with Erskine and a crowd of supporters. Knox had the crowd 30 miles away from the trial to prevent bloodshed. Mary was prepared to drop the charge to prevent riot. However, the 4 preachers didn't show up and were outlawed. Knox announced this in St. John's Kirk in Perth during a sermon on deceit, and a riot broke out in Perth as crowd felt betrayed. The church was ransacked. Knox couldn't stop it. Resulting in iconoclastic riot, destroying Catholic church art. Knox approved such destruction in one way, but not the way it was done. Thus, pre-reformation cultural treasures were destroyed.

Mary of Guise and Glencairn (Reformers) from the West both raised armies against each other.

Lord James, illegitimate son of the old King and sympathetic to the Reformers, but strong supporter of Mary, attempted diplomacy by riding from Stirling to Perth. Knox heeded and left Perth with the Reformers, making Lord James vowing that he pledge full support of the Reformers revolution if Mary broke her promise of tolerance. But Mary was unaware of this and marched on Perth. Lord James switched sides to join the Lords of the Congregation and Mary's victory turned to defeat in one day.

Knox went back to Archbishop Hamilton's St. Andrews to preach. Many converted to Protestantism. The queen regent was soon outnumbered as Protestant number grew. Negotiation was held, but not very successful. Because Mary's daughter was now a teenage crowned Queen of France (Mary Queen of France and also Mary Queen of Scots), she wrote to France for military support. The Reformers requested help from Protestant England. While Mary was away, the Reformers took over Edinburgh to reform the city. Knox called to preach in the Church of St. Giles in Edinburgh.

Another fail of Mary was to trust Lethington, who leaked her secrets to the Reformers. However, Mary was victorious with greater number in Leith. The Reformers planning in Stirling as help from England has yet to arrive. Since Mary of Guise's daughter was technically held the throne, the Lords of the Congregation deposed Mary of Guise from the Regency in her daughter's name. When the Lords of the Congregation took over Edinburgh again from Mary, Lethington defected and broke Mary's heart. Though Knox's people liked Lethington, Knox wasn't pleased as he saw Lethington as someone more interested in political revolution than Christian reformation. Under Knox and Lethington, the Reformation looked incredibly fragile and Mary incredibly strong. The Lords of the Congregation (LOC) and Knox retreated from Edinburgh as Mary's armies occupied the city.

Knox preached in Holyrood Church, Stirling, to the Lords of Congregation. Defeat is nothing, repent to advance the Kingdom of Christ. Hard winter for the Reformers.

1560 - Spring, English arrived. Balance changed. Mary of Guise took refuge in Edinburgh Castle for good. Dead in June. Treaty had all French and English troops to leave Scotland. Scottish Parliament directs the country. A new national Reformed church established to replace the Catholic church in Scotland: Catholicism should be banned outright, execute those attending mass after two warnings. No zeal from the Catholics to be martyr in this case.

John Knox and 5 other Johns came up with the Scots Confession (foundation for the new church of Scotland) as Reformers gained monopoly in Scotland. In order to united the church rather than just enthusiasm.

Pre-Reformation vs. Post-Reformation: Congregation had only listened and watched to the worship, lots of ceremonies, Latin vs. congregation had to sing, Psalms, participate more, vernacular: Gaelic, English, Scots language in understanding scripture, worship. Knox wished every Scotland parish to have a church and a school. Reforming social life. Education was key. Power shared around in Presbyterianism and hierarchy of church courts. Decisions are made nationally by a general assembly, represented by all levels. However, Scotland was still not stable in infancy of this and Knox was worried.

Frances II of France died, Mary, the teenage daughter of Mary of Guise, became young widow. As Queen of France, Mary could never rule Scotland, but now that she's single, Lethington had Parliament to invite Mary back with well received welcome. Meanwhile Knox was in mourning as he just lost his wife, survived by him and two sons, Nathaniel and Eleazar. Mary celebrated Mass in Holyrood House in her first Sunday in Scotland. Thus, exception was made for her to avoid execution for doing this offense, and her half brother Lord James guarded the door for her.

Mary invited Knox as they shared lots of common grounds: both lost spouses, well spoken, etc. Knox wrote about it as very compelling dialogues one could read. When Mary spoke of Rome as the true church, Knox took her to task to listen to God rather than Rome.

Knox: Pope = anti-Christ, Church of Rome = harlot, Mary = tyrannical emperor Nero.

3 Marys so far: Mary of Tudor, Mary of Guise and Mary Queen of Scots. All 3 dehumanized by Knox. Some believed had Knox not be so harsh, Mary Queen of Scots could have become protestant. Knox cared for Scotland turning away from Rome's superstition than his own life.

1564 - In Edinburgh, Knox married again, 17 year old Margaret Stewart, distant relative of the queen. Age gap was not the scandal. But she has royal blood, so the queen looked down on Knox.

1565 - Edinburgh, Mary married Lord Darnley (handsome aristocrat), the girlish nincompoop, described by a French Cardinal. Darnley was then jealous of Mary's private secretary, the Italian Catholic, David Rizzio, dragged him from her chambers and murdered. Knox was however the suspect, being known to be belligerent against the Catholics.

1566 - Knox escaped to Ayrshire as the queen suspected him in vengeance of the murder. Here Knox wrote "History of the Reformation".

Darnley was later strangled, his house blown up. Mary married the chief suspect of the murder, which led to her forced abdication in favor of her one year old son. Lord James took over as Regent. Knox preached at the infant King's coronation service. But Mary still has many supporters, especially Edinburgh Castle. Capital in the state of cold war.

Lord James was assassinated. Chaos.

1571 - Knox's window was musketballed through, missed him, decided to leave Edinburgh (St. Giles church), returned to St. Andrews, where the frailed Knox spent his last Summer.

1572 - November 9th, Knox's last sermon preached at St. Giles, Edinburgh, at the induction service of his replacement. Became ill the next day, dead within 14 days. His secretary stated his last words after prayer were: Now it has come. Then he died as fallen asleep.

Scotland becomes Protestant country. Scottish missionaries sent to India, Africa, etc. Now churches in these countries far stronger in faith than the homeland. Now in Scotland, nobody cared about. Apathy [not empathy] reigns and godliness is a joke in its churches. Today Scotland may need a new reformation, is what the narrator (Philip Todd) said.

Knox: Know God! Be Faithful! Bless Scotland!

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Journal of the Week 8-14-2023

8/22/2023 Watched Ken Ham inviting Bill Nye to tour the Ark Encounter again. I knew Ken Ham was bad from the previous watch, I didn't realize it's that bad. Thought I'm not advocating for evolution, Bill Nye's responses were more sound than Ham's topic hopping, vague logic. The only good about Ken Ham in this case is that he's willing to invite Bill Nye to his museum.

8/21/2023 Meta [Facebook] threatens to fire workers for return-to-office infractions in leaked memo. When you see the word "threatens" is used, you know this is a postmodern culture. Fair treatment of laborers is one thing, but it is unfortunate that this is policed by the government or entities other than the employers themselves. This dictatorial mafia constitution is a bigger bully, because now not only MUST the employers listen to someone not involving in the company's business and production, we MUST accept that someone else's moral value is superior than our own at the cost of freedom and financial lost.

How to get your Startups First 100 Users: I've always wondered about this. Looks like manual reachout is always the best way. A list of all experienced answers/feedbacks on this.

Keeping up with PHP updates.

8/19/2023 Replaced my Anker 10-port USB hub (bought on Ebay for $43.41 in 2017) with Atolla brand 10-port USB hub (Bought on Amazon for $42.64). Due to my computer running slow with all the USB drives connected to the hub. The system was fine usually until I tried to mess with the USB drives. I suspected it was the hub as it had been giving me on and off randomly the last couple of weeks for a couple of times. I couldn't find the Anker brand anymore. This Atolla brand works great, so I'm throwing the Anker one away, despite it being sort of functional still.

8/18/2023 Recalled how a few days ago I responded to a FB post on confusing unconditional love with passive love:

John Erzberger You got something there. There is a problem lying in wait secretly as a lion to catch the poor in mind in the OP testimony. The love expressed in the story is incredibly sympathetic and passive (because my wife trusts me so much, how could I...). Such love is not the kind of love Christ taught us.

Also, judging from the story, this drama "king" (whoever wrote it originally) seems to either had led a wanton lifestyle once, or that he was actually being scammed by some Nigerian prince, assuming the story was true.

Only those who are sensitive to doctrine and pedagogy care enough to see through this and I would have ignored this post as nonsense had someone like you not said anything about it. Let the fools congratulate themselves in their own blindness. So no, I'm not one who glorifies this. Though he's not without merits, he made the right choice, a good come back, but a passive one. Do better!

  • Holly SchultzeTimothy Law well said. Yes, the first thing I felt when reading this was that it’s depressing that this post implies we should feel amazed at this man’s integrity. If this is the best I could have, a man who would have to look at me and evaluate if he feels I don’t deserve to be cheated on vs just not wanting to have anything to do with the woman on his own, I would definitely rather take Paul’s advice and stay single. I see faithfulness as a privilege and would hope to have that back in return.

08/16/2023 Learned a new term in Web developing: Website Conversion Rates - # of sales divided by # of visitors.

Web animation tool that looks cool: LottieLab

A little tips on the right Programming Language for the right tasks.

This is an interesting report: Employees in Asia are spending the most time looking busy at work, says Slack report

Ranking below shows % of time spent on real productive work.

  1. South Korea: 72%
  2. TIE — Australia: 71%
  3. TIE — Germany: 71%
  4. TIE — United States: 71%
  5. United Kingdom: 70%
  6. France: 69%
  7. TIE — Japan: 63%
  8. TIE — Singapore: 63%
  9. India: 57%

Ranking shows that South Koreans are the best workers while India is the worst, followed by Singapore and Japan.

Companies regret early return to office plans:

One (E&Y) of their solutions: Give $800 bonus for employee child-care/pet-care. This is a fail in the long run. After all, this encourages looking down on immigrants coming to "take their jobs" with willingness to accept lower pay.

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On Aliens

It seems lately there's some input from Christians, the fundamentalist type, to debunk claims of aliens by saying that it can only be angels and demons. The activities of these spirits. Some even confused the spiritual and physical realms as if the spiritual must be a creation of this world as well, which I would cast questions and doubts on, as that is going further than where the Bible did not go.

Here's Stephen Tong's (allegedly) answer on such: 家庭·生活·其它


  答:圣经并非包容万事万物的百宝箱。它是讲述神在这个世界所造成的人与他之间的关系。因此,只有关于人的被造,人的堕落,神为人类预备的救恩,以及藉着基督与神和好的理想,才在它的范围之列。它并不涉及火星,土星或月亮等事物。因此,如果火星上确有生物,并不影响基督教信仰。至于外太空人,飞碟的说法,圣经上没有记载。圣经告诉我们:「我们所领受的,并不是世上的灵,乃是从神来的灵,叫我们能知道神开恩赐给我们的事」(林前十二12 [林前二12])。换句话说,圣灵启示我们,是要我们知道有关人与神之间的事情至于圣经没有告诉我们的,我们只能说不知道。但是「自然」乃是神放在人之下,使人依神所给予的理性,智慧去发掘其中的奥妙,因此,神愿意敞开宇宙,让人探究。然而,人终必发现:没有一个地方比我们所处的地方更美好。正如德籍哲学家来普尼比所说:「The world is the best possibly created word」(这个世界乃是可能被造出的最好世界)。关于外太空人或飞碟,最近传说甚多。其中一种说法认为地心是空的,并有人居住,自从西元一九四五年地面上的人在广岛长崎投下原子弹后,地心的人纷纷派遣飞碟出外观望。不过这个理论,今天科学家多予以拒绝。

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Sunday Service 08-06-2023

Sunday School:

On WLC Q191: 2nd petition "Thy kingdom come". We talked about "the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in..." It appears that the pastor took a bit of a dispensational view towards understanding this as well as Romans 11. That ethnic Jews still have a place in God's kingdom ethnically.

But I would say: Christianity is Jewish, though Jewish is not Christianity. More over, The city of God was Jerusalem, therefore we think of God's kingdom when we say Jerusalem, but Jerusalem is not the city of God.

Pastor also raised the suspicion the Q191 of WLC sounds sympathetic to Postmil ideology, which is held by Jonathan Edward, giving his time in the great awakening, the pastor reasoned, that the world will be becoming more like the Kingdom of God, gradually.

I believe this to not be the case. Or at least does not need to be interpreted that way. "purged from corruption", "the civil magistrate", they speak to culture mandate, a concept important in Reformed theology and offended by many fundamentalist Christians against the term "Social Justice" which Tim Keller applied at Redeemer. Of course, we must also remember that WLC was made in England, where Civil Magistrates were expected to hold to Christian faith, without the separation of Church and State.

Loved Renee's comment today. I think that takes the cake of all comments during Sunday School. She stressed on the importance of being bold to talk to others about the Gospel, strangers or not; while the pastor though did not object hers completely, but did emphasize, especially after Renee mentioned that we as Christians haven't really been boldly spreading the Gospel, as he usually do whenever this topic comes up, that American evangelism is all about works, about how many souls we win, we convert, as if God's not the one doing the conversion. He equate making disciples = making friends (and living a testimonial Christian life by example), confusing witnessing and preaching of the Gospel. The problem with this is we are not the perfect example, Christ was and is! Our good friendship only affirms the Gospel, it is not preaching the Gospel. Preaching of the Gospel is opening the mouth and speak the word of God. So, it doesn't matter what means we use as called by God differently in the individuals (on the streets to strangers, with friends, etc.), whichever wisdom we apply (seek opportunity rather than land the Gospel on people like bombs), in the end, we are still require to boldly open our mouths and lay the word of God, the Gospel on the hearers. Our witnessing lifestyle and testimony are insufficient for the Gospel. I wonder if Pastor Chris was traumatized by the American Evangelism when he mentioned here that he'd done it in his teens. Wonder who forced him? That he now thinks he would never do it anymore because he wouldn't want people doing it to him (strangers talking to him about religion or giving him tracts which he would consider all these are garbage), and therefore it would be hypocritical of him, so he thought, to do the same to others.

Interesting also that after the fellowship meal, there was a bat that somehow made its way in our dining area at church, flying here and there. I opened the door to let it out smoothly.

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Sunday Service 2023-07-30


Sunday School:

On the side note, while pondering on Ute's discussion regarding infant vs. believer's baptisms at Ocean Grove beach house, I realized something important. It's been there all along, but I just never would have put it this way as a persuasive argument, particularly to those who have great desire to have union and fellowship with others while still being caught in the false theology that believer's baptism brings. I could have tried:

Believers' baptism (BB) can never honestly accept paedobaptism (PB), but PB always readily accepts BB.

When I brought up John Piper's indirect rebuking of R.C. Sproul "Sproul, you are not baptized my brother", the group at the beach were appalled by Piper.

While we were doing our Week 7 topic on Prayer in Sunday School, going through WLC's questions on Prayer, I thought of building up a list of questions to ask Pastor Chris when the time comes to discuss with him about Evangelism (for myself) in the Bridgewater area. I shall put these questions in the comments here.

In Sunday School, the topic of what's heaven like was brought up. New Heaven and New Earth mentioned but the pastor support total destruction of the old and the complete creation of the new, instead of the historical Christian reformed approach of "renewal" and "restoration". I added an excerpt from a very good article on this from TGC in the comment section. The pastor's argument is of the fundamentalists' camp, focusing more dispensationally rather than covenantally. It is renewal or restoration because of Romans 8 and the fact that Jesus' resurrection was the first fruit of the new. Renewal is complete, but a completely new creation is basically ex-nihilo which is absurd as far as our resurrection goes. This fundamentalist view, which John MacArthur also holds is a bit gnostic in my opinion: Hate all things material in this world, but love the spiritual. The pastor's argument was based on 2 Peter 3, where everything gets burned up therefore renewal is not possible. John Calvin is clear against that argument in his commentary, that basically nobody knows about how the fire will dissolve, but focus should be placed on what God exhorts here:

What afterwards follows, respecting the burning of heaven and earth, requires no long explanation, if indeed we duly consider what is intended. For it was not his purpose to speak refinedly of fire and storm, and other things, but only that he might introduce an exhortation, which he immediately adds, even that we ought to strive after newness of life. For he thus reasons, that as heaven and earth are to be purged by fire, that they may correspond with the kingdom of Christ, hence the renovation of men is much more necessary. Mischievous, then, are those interpreters who consume much labor on refined speculations, since the Apostle applies his doctrine to godly exhortations. Calvin on 2 Peter 3:10

I believe the pastor's definition of renewal/restoring is the problem. It seemed narrower than ought. The renewal appears to be the terminology used organically in Scripture on this, but the definition should not be narrowed just because we don't have clear understanding of it.

The pastor emphasized: You could be more comfortable with God than with any other human being. Who on Earth is closer than God to us? The intent was to drive at the dependency solely on God. But I wondered if the pastor would dare go as far as stating "your parents, your spouses, your children, etc" which would be biblical and more crucial to his point.

The pastor also said "All theophany are christophany", which I think is problematic. As the burning bush is theophany but can hardly be considered strictly christophany, or Abraham and the Fire (by Tim Keller Jul 3, 2011 @20:00 time), etc. Though we are not denying the anticipation of Jesus in all theophany but this may even run the risk of being christomonic. Therefore because christophany refers only to the second person of the triune God, all theophany are triune, all theophany are not christophany, but all christophany are theophany.

Sermon on 1John 5:12-18

1John 5:13 The repetition of "that believe on the name of the Son of God...that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God" has the connotation of "from faith to faith".

1John 5:16 If one ever needs to learn about John Calvin's take on Venial vs. Mortal sins, his commentary here takes the cake.

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Journal of the Week

8/11/2023 First tourist in space with Virgin Galactic. It's a quick up and down flight, yet there are now 200 on waiting list with tickets costing $450k.

President Joe Biden this week signed an executive order restricting U.S. investments in Chinese tech sectors, including AI, semiconductors, and quantum computing. This is not surprising, as both Trump would do the same. However, the motives behind the Republicans and the Democrats may be different. Jealousy from the Republicans, Not liberal enough for the Democrats.

8/8/2023 Amazing art work using long string and a wheel to create a portrait of a person. Also interesting fact that despite such effort, people could still break up in the end. This is also similar to works by artist named Petros Vrellis, but this artist, KMMeerts claimed he did it all on his own.


Source code:

8/7/2023 Want to know every HTML elements/tags? Here's a good intro to it.

Good suggestion for AI for coding.

Cool AI tool that helps analyzes data: i.e. producing charts from database based on questions entered:

There are other tools out there that I have not tested, for example: Hydra, etc.

Looks like these days in 2023 we are bombarded by the fad of A.I. technology. AI chat such as chatGPT, and AI image generators such as Stable Diffusion(Click to see 3 min video instructions on installing) are the most popular ones. I had trouble installing per Royal Skies' 3 min Youtube video and had to install Python 3.11 via Microsoft Store instead of version 3.10.6 per the video's download link. Then I hit an error while starting up the SD's webgui:

AssertionError: Torch is not able to use GPU; add --skip-torch-cuda-test to COMMANDLINE_ARGS

Tried a fix from reddit, didn't work. Then I tried the fix from github and it works: solution by maikelsz:

or in the file "webui-user.bat", change to "set COMMANDLINE_ARGS = --lowvram --precision full --no-half --skip-torch-cuda-test"

In this other project, if there is no nvidia GPU, the operation is done in the CPU, without the need to specify any initial parameters. It would be nice to see how they do it:

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Bible Study: Hebrews

Mostly based on Stephen Tong's series.

I started taking this note taking seriously on this after the exposition on Deism:

On Hebrews 4:13, it's interesting to note that this verse refutes Deism most obviously in Chinese CUV: ...那与我们有关系的主...
KJV and NASB got it quite well as well: ...Him with whom we have to do.
But not as clearly in NKJV nor ESV: ...Him to whom we must give account.

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101 Javascript Must Know

Or basics in programming in general

Read quite a few TLDR articles on programming management lately. One thing I'm sure is that though a senior developer could take on the task of a manager, the vice versa is less true. To even call oneself a software developer (manager or not), it is a shameful thing to not be enthusiastic in the advancement of technicality of programming. There are those who're just in it for the cash and know nothing about programming down to the basics, yet holding developer or developer manager title. This only works for them in big companies and they most likely know it. Getting away with something like this can be considered clever by some, but only in the materialistic sense. Their total living cannot be expected to amount to much. They do not have the meaning of life, not even from secular aspect. Not like the secular enthusiastic programmers. What does this matter, this shows us who we should and should not befriend. Ulterior motives can be good or bad and discernment of this matters.

That said, the above link is for my own refresher course and more.

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