Waver-Winds or the Enemies of Stability in Faith (Sermon Outline)

Message delivered at the Oriya Fellowship, Cox Town, Bangalore, May 29, 2011

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (6) But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. (7) For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; (8) he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.
When we are surrounded by a difficult situation, we need the wisdom of God. But, one must be able to listen and obey the wisdom of God by faith.

Winds that Bring Wavering

1.COVETOUSNESS – Balaam (Num.22; 31:8; 2Pet.2:15; Jude 11; Rev.2:14). The one who loves money cannot listen from God. Covetousness brings wavering.
2.CIRCUMSTANCES – Peter (Matt.14:28), Abraham (Rom.4:18-20). If one looks at circumstances, one can't walk by the wisdom of God.
3.CONFUSEDNESS – Mixed Multitude, Israel in the wilderness, (Ex.12:38; Num.11:4; 1 Cor.10, Heb.4:1; Jude 5). If you're listening to too many voices, the chances are you may get confused. Focus on what God has said, is saying, and follow His directions alone. Do not look at the world, do not be influenced by its negativism nor skepticism, nor follow its proposals. Stick to faith and divine wisdom.
4.COMPARISONS – Asaph, Psalm 73. As long as you keep looking at how people of the world are faring, you may miss on God's peace and joy. Do not compare. Seek God and live.

Missionaries and the Promotion of Secularism in India

From Secularism in India: A Historical Analysis (2010), pp. 54-64

THE earlier attitude of the British Government towards Missions was one of skepticism and vehement opposition. The British believed that if Protestant Missions were allowed in India that would only lead to tension and aggression among its Indian supporters and produce instability of governance. Therefore, in the beginning, the British followed the policy of supporting and patronizing the native religions as the earlier rulers had done. They undertook the management and patronage of a large number of temples, paid the salaries of temple officials, and sponsored the Hindu festivals and sacrifices. A pilgrim-tax was imposed to pay for all this. The British also refused permission to any missionary to settle in their territory. They also refused to employ native Christians and prevented by force any native soldier employed from becoming a Christian.[1] Vishal points out that while the Christian Missions received no money from the Company or the Government, until 1858, at least 26,589 Hindu temples were receiving financial support from the Company in the Bombay Presidency alone.[2] It was only through the long and toilsome struggle of reformers in England and India that this political patronage of superstitious idolatry was finally put down.[3]

Two Englishmen who played a pivotal role towards granting permission for Missions to work in Indiawere Charles Grant and William Wilberforce. Charles Grant began his campaign for Missions in 1786-87. Grant observed that India was worse under the then British rule than it had been under the Mughal rule and tried to influence Christians in England to understand their moral responsibility for India’s welfare; this, so that they would endeavor to produce in India class of persons who would be able to govern India after the pattern of Britain after Independence.[4] He believed that the problem of India was more a religious and a cultural one than anything else. He proposed religious conversion as the only solution for the Indian predicament.[5]

Grant’s strive for getting official permission for missionary work in India had also in perspective the necessity of a political assurance of religious freedom to Indians so that they could evaluate their own beliefs and the beliefs of other faiths and, so, come to a rational conclusion as to which religion they should choose. Unless the Government back home, in England, guaranteed religious freedom and required the East India Company to enforce the same, there always lurked the danger of the Company’s turning against the Missions in face of political and economical threat from the Hindus.[6] In fact, when the Vellore Mutiny broke out in 1806 and was erroneously attributed to missionary propaganda, Sir George Barlow prohibited the Serampore missionaries from leaving Serampore, from preaching openly in the bazaar, and the native converts from preaching unless they were sent forth as emissaries from Serampore.[7]

By an Act of Parliament in 1813, missionaries were permitted to land and work in India. Thus began an era of missionary enterprise in Indiawhen missionaries from Europeand Americaentered Indiain large numbers and began preaching the Gospel in unreached areas.[8]

Missions not only showed and proclaimed to the Indians the religion of the ruling Englishmen, who impressed them greatly,[9] but also prepared Indians to develop ideas of individualism, democracy, human dignity, human rights, equality, justice, etc, through their ecclesiastical, social, and educational programs. Following are some of the ways in which Missions made a secular impact on the Indian scenario:

i. Evangelism that Respected Freedom of Choice: Promotion of the Ideas of Religious Freedom. The evangelistic methods of Christian missionaries in India were based on the Biblical principles of individual human choice and responsibility. Their objective was not religious conversions but human transformation. Based on the ethic of love and respect for all, they worked passionately to communicate the power and truth of Gospel. Laxminarayan Gupta writes that an attitude of tolerance was the reason why the missionaries did not attempt forced conversions as the earlier Muslims had done despite the fact that the British had been powerful in India for three centuries.[10] The missionaries had deep respect for the human right to freedom of thought and religion. To the missionaries, conversion to religion had to be based on individual choice and decision.

ii. Morality Based on Humanism: Promotion of the Ideas of Human Dignity, Worth, and Freedom. Men like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Mahatma Gandhi were greatly impressed by the moral teachings of Jesus. Roy’s The Precepts of Jesus- the Guide to Peace and Happiness was an expression of his indebtedness to Christ for the humanist moral ideas he had learnt from Him. Though traces of humanism can be found in both Buddhism and Jainism, the value of being human in both religions is obscured by the doctrines of karma, samsara, dukkha, maya, and punarjanma. In both the religions, man is caught up in a vicious cycle of births and rebirths of which he is unable to come out. Man and animals differed only externally. In fact, a man could become a dog in his next birth. The world, according to Hinduism, was illusory and the human predicament (caste, gender, and then colonial rule) was a fate determined by karma. Such concepts in the Indian religions could not stir Indians towards either independence or rational and humanist moral acts. What it means to be man was meaningless in a world-view where even animals and trees were worshipped as deities. However, the Christian concept of morality - of truth, patience, love, kindness, compassion, equal treatment, and justice - being built on a surer foundation of the doctrine of God, creation, man, salvation history, and the Church began to gradually spread over India through means of evangelism, education, social work, and the free press. Soon, a class of Indians emerged who, though they might not admit their indebtedness to Christian humanist morality, reflected Christian ideals of the good.

There were others, however, who based on secular revolutionary ideas from France, Germany, and Russia, began to fight for Indian independence through guerrilla warfare and terrorism.[11] Western education was also introducing the youth of India to the radical nationalist thoughts of the West and stirring up a militant form of nationalism.[12] The Congress, instead, under the leadership of Gandhi waged a non-violent battle for the freedom ofIndia.

Thus, the moral ideals of Christian humanism contributed towards the secular battle for national independence and the formation of a secular nation.

iii. Modernization of Education: Promotion of Secular Knowledge. Education was one of the best contributions of Missions to India. In fact, Christian Missions initiated educational programs in India long before the Government even thought of doing so. European missionaries opened 17 schools in 1725.[13] The London Missionary Society opened schools, first, in south India, and then in Bengal. These schools provided free education and the native Hindus sent their children to study for service in the Company. William Carey came to India in 1792 and spearheaded in Bengal the establishment of several schools that imparted modern education. The subjects that these schools taught were English, Mathematics, Geography, and Science. Carey translated the Bible into Bengali, and then along with his associates translated it into several of the Indian languages. The printing press that the Serampore missionaries brought to India contributed greatly towards the cause of education. The American Missionary Society was the first in the history of India to open a native girls’ school in Bombay in 1824. In 1826, the Church Missionary Society established the first female school. With the conviction that only the English language could be the best medium for communication of modern education in India, the Scottish missionary, Alexander Duff opened a school for instruction in English at Calcutta.[14] His success in such venture later helped Lord Bentick to decide in favour of English language.

Christian missionaries also contributed greatly towards the development of the vernacular languages. For instance, Bengali in the past was considered a language ‘fit only for women and demons.’[15] Therefore, Carey had to be invited from Serampore to Calcutta to teach Bengali. Modern Bengali literature was introduced and developed by the Serampore missionaries and by the Fort William College.[16]

The influence of the missionaries’ works in education was widespread. By the strenuous efforts of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a supporter of English education who opposed the opening of a SanskritCollege, the HinduCollegewas opened in 1820 in Calcuttafor education in the modern arts and sciences.[17] The Hunter Report of 1882 brings out well the facts of missionary contributions towards the modernization and propagation of education in India.[18]

Thus, Christian Missions, by first initiating modern education and influencing the British Government towards the same, played an important role in the modernization of education inIndia. An age of Indian Renaissance dawned on the sub-continent as a result, and several reforms and rethinking were sparked in the field of science, society, religion, education, economics, and culture.

iv. Social Work: Application of the Ideas of Human Dignity, Equality, and Worth. The social works that the Christian missionaries did in India presented a living and visible example of their view of human dignity and equality. In addition to educational Missions that gave an occasion for all to study (irrespective of caste, race, or gender, the very first time in India), medical Missions brought ‘help to the millions of the common people of India, for whom no skilled assistance in the time of trouble and death was available.’[19] MedicalMission also introduced women missionaries into the Indian sub-continent to minister unto the suffering women ofIndia.

Orphanages, widows’ homes, and hospitals were started at different places of India. Leprosy mission in Indiaowes its origin to the Christian missionaries. Hostels for non-Christians were built in considerable numbers and managed by Christian Missions. The results were so impressive that demand for the extension of the hostel system throughout the country increased. Missions also reached the youth of Indian society, irrespective of caste or creed, by the Young Men’s Christian Association, which also played an important role in the development of democratic orientations among them.[20] The concept of social work, irrespective of caste, creed, or gender, evolved out of the example that the missionaries set in India. William Carey’s campaign against Sati in 1806, though motivated by his Christian attitude, could not have been successful on the basis of only biblical arguments. His campaign, together with that of Raja Ram Mohan Roy, with support from Lord Wellesley and Lord William Bentick, was right in a context that favoured humanist ethics in independence from religion. Some reformers, who had come to believe in the rationality of humanist ethics through English education and contact with the missionaries, traced these principles to their own religion than accepting it as particular only to Christianity. Thus, Missions inIndia influenced Indians to develop a humanist approach to culture, society, and religion and, in this way, contributed towards the development of a humanist kind of secularism inIndia.

v. Freedom of Press: Promotion of Free, Proven, and Unbiased Criticism of Politics. The beginning of the modern Indian secular press can be traced to the launching of Friend of India in English, Samachar Darpan in Bengali, and Dig Darshan in Hindi at the Serampore Mission in 1818.[21] The Indian type was first founded and used in the Serampore Mission’s printing press.[22] Earlier on, Hicky had started The Bengal Gazette as a weekly in 1780. However, its vociferous criticism of Warren Hastings’ policies led to the arrest of Hicky and the termination of the journal in 1782.[23]

Under the Governor-Generalship of Lord Wellesley, censorship was established over all the newspapers that were published in the country in 1799. Consequentially, the editor of the Bengal Kirkaru, Charles Maclean was deported to England for censuring by the means of print a public officer 'for acts done in his official capacity.'[24] However, Maclean didn’t stay silent inEngland but continued his agitation against power abuse inIndia, which ultimately led to the resignation of Lord Wellesley.

Lord Hastings (1813-1823) believed in the importance of an independent press in the formation of public opinion and good governance. Therefore, he slightly modified the regulations regarding censorship in 1813. In 1818, he abolished the post of Censor and, thus, began an era of free press. Immediately, new journals sprouted out. However, there continued conflicts between the press and the Government. The Government of India deputed Sir Thomas Munro to investigate and report on this problem. In accordance with the recommendations that Munro made, the Government placed new regulations before the Supreme Court in March 1823 that provided that no press was to be established nor any paper or book printed without prior licence from the Government. Indians like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Dwarka Nath Tagore protested against those regulations. Finally, with the assistance of Lord Macaulay, Law Member of the Government of India, Sir Charles Metcalfe cancelled these regulations in 1835. As a result, the Indian press became as free as its counterpart in Englandwas.[25]

Earlier on in 1830, William Carey had written in the Serampore journal Friend of India that the most gratifying of the many indications of the extension of freedom in the 19th century was the establishment in India of a periodical press by whose potency the tyrannical dynasties of ages were crumbling rapidly away. He noted that it was the power of the press that had brought such a fast change in the Indian mind from superstition to rational thinking.[26]

During the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, temporary restrictions were placed on the press but were soon withdrawn after the Mutiny. The Act of 1867 that is still in force aimed at the regulation of the printing presses and newspapers. In 1878, the Vernacular Press Act was passed that made regulations to make sure that the press does not misuse their freedom to incite feelings of disaffection towards the Government or to incite communal feelings. Also nicknamed as 'The Gagging Act,' this Act was condemned by the Indians all over the country.[27]Subsequent conflicts between the press and the Government went on.

The concept of free press that the Indians were conceiving and for which they were contending was not originally Indian. It came from the West and was popularised by the Serampore missionaries, despite the fact that the Government was quite opposed to it. They used the press to confront the Government. Prof. Tripti Chaudhari writes:

The British officials and trading groups were completely indifferent to their misery and the rising Bengali Intelligentsia, with a few exceptions, were struggling for their own recognition in the field of education and administrative sphere in the colonial set up. In this background only the Protestant missionaries in Bengal in the late nineteenth century came forward to voice the grievances of this [i.e., the peasants] class. It is hardly an exaggeration to state that they became almost the sole spokesmen of the ryots tied to the iniquitous land system.[28]

Thus, Missions inIndiaplayed an important role in the initiation of printing press inIndiaand the development of the concept of free press. Later laws and regulations that saw the modern freedom of press were built upon the earlier work of the missionaries. The foundation of free press inIndiathat the Missions and the British Government laid was constituted after the principles of secularism that discouraged any abuse of the press for breeding communal ill feelings. The laws and regulations made were, consequentially, in line with those principles of factuality, rationality, fraternity, and humanism, unclouded by any religious fundamentalist zeal.

It has thus been seen that the Colonial rule in Indiaplayed a very important role in the promotion of secularism in India. Renaissance humanism, building on to cultural and social secularism, and Reformation religious privacy, developing on to political secularism, entered India with the Colonial conquest. Earlier on, the Government employed a non-interference policy towards Indian religions, but was soon awakened by the Evangelicals to its task of introducing reforms for the good of Indians.[29] All through, however, the steps taken were to be in line with humanist reason and non-interfering as far as privacy of religion was concerned. However, where religious practices conflicted with humanist principles, laws were prescribed. The unification ofIndia under one British rule helped the spread of cultural, social, and political secularism even faster. Industrialists started industries to the cities leading on to mass migrations to them from the villages. This led to the beginning of the breaking of the traditional families as secularism began to invade social life through its economic impact.

The English law was adapted to the pluralist context ofIndia, though in accordance with the principles of secularism. People of all religious backgrounds fared well during this time. The Crown’s declaration in 1858 further assured secular policy and relieved Indians of any fears. Meanwhile, inter-communal suspicions and doubts intensified. The pluralist Hindus could not understand the fundamentalist Muslims. The Muslims, on the other hand, doubted if their future was safe in case the secular British departed and the Hindus got the country’s reins. Various levels of responses came out as a result. Some Indian reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Mahatma Gandhi resorted to pluralistic religious perspectives. Others like Sir Syed Ahmad Khan contended for a rational view of life. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, on the other hand, fought for the emancipation of the oppressed dalits; the ideological influence behind the fight was the Western concept of human equality and rational existence. All these people were greatly impressed by Western culture and philosophy. In addition, the Governmental reforms also brought out in theIndiaa consciousness and realization of the possibility of change, reformation, and upliftment.

Missions played an important role in both the ideological and political development of secularism inIndia. Their ideological impact in the field of religion came in through their emphasis on rationality of religion and condemnation of superstition. Education played an important role in bringing out this ideological change. Idolatry, caste system, and inhumane practices that were endorsed by religion came under severe rational criticism. The printing press that the Serampore missionaries popularised became a great tool in the hands of the reformers who used it to circulate journals and pamphlets to awaken their countrymen to a modern and rational way of thinking that was free from religious domination. Missionaries played an important role in the Indian Renaissance and the secularization of culture and society. Mahajan says about the Christian missionaries:

… They spread not only Christianity but also education in the country. They opened schools and colleges and set up printing presses in the country. They opened hospitals and started other works of public charity. As a result of their activities, there spread a lot of skepticism among the Indians….[30]

[1] J.N. Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in India, pp. 9, 10.
[2] Vishal Mangalwadi, Missionary Conspiracy, p. 137.
[3] Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 9.
[4] Vishal Mangalwadi, Missionary Conspiracy, pp. 138, 145.
[5] Ibid, p. 149.
[6] Ibid, p. 150.
[7] D.C. Ahir (ed.), Ambedkar on Christianity in India (New Delhi: Blumoon Books,1995), pp. 51-52.
[8] J.N. Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 10.
[9] Aleyamma Zachariah, Modern Religious and Secular Movements in India, p.20.
[10] Laxminarayan Gupta, History of Modern Indian Culture, p.218.
[11] Aleyamma Zachariah, Modern Religious and Secular Movements in India, p. 204.
[12] Krishna Reddy, Indian History, p. C149.
[13] Laxminarayan Gupta, History of Modern Indian Culture, p. 221.
[14] Aleyamma Zachariah, Modern Religious and Secular Movements in India, pp. 18, 19.
[15] Vishal Mangalwadi, India: The Grand Experiment, p. 171.
[16] K. Krishna Reddy, Indian History (New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., Ltd., 2003), p. C86.
[17] Laxminarayan Gupta, History of Modern Indian Culture, p. 227.
[18] Pages 8-16 as excerpted in Vishal Mangalwadi’s, Missionary Conspiracy, pp. 360-373.
[19] J.N. Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 20.
[20] Ibid, p. 25.
[21] Vishal Mangalwadi, India: The Grand Experiment, p. 186 & Krishna Reddy, Indian History, p. C86.
[22] Farquhar, Modern Religious Movements in India, p. 14.
[23] V.D. Mahajan, Modern Indian History, p. 487.
[24] Ibid, pp. 487-88.
[25] Ibid, pp. 488-89.
[26] Vishal Mangalwadi, India: The Grand Experiment, pp. 190-1.
[27] V.D. Mahajan, Modern Indian History , p. 489.
[28] As cited by Vishal Mangalwadi, India: The Grand Experiment, p. 196 [Author's Parenthesis and Emphasis].
[29] Vishal Mangalwadi, India: The Grand Experiment, p. 83 & Missionary Conspiracy, pp. 168-69.
[30] V. D. Mahajan, Modern Indian History, p. 645.

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2005, 2010


Shiftings - Guitar Instrumental by Domenic M.


Studies in Hebrews: The God Who is Not Silent (Heb.1:1,2a)

Have you ever felt as if God has been silent in your life? You hear people saying that they have heard from the Lord; but, personally, you wonder what that would mean?

How does God speak? Do people hear Him in an audible voice? How did He speak to Adam, or to Noah, or to Abraham? How does He speak today? Of course, it would only be mythical to suppose that He spoke in older times, but doesn't speak today? God must be unchanging. Well, we have good news. Our God has spoken and is speaking to us even today. The only thing we need to note is to learn to listen and to obey. The Book of Hebrews in the Bible teaches us that. It opens with this statement:
Heb 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
Heb 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son

He Spoke To the Fathers

In fact, He has been speaking since the first day of creation. The Bible says in Psalm 33:6 that the heavens were made by the Word of the Lord. It also says in 2Pet 3:5 that the heavens of old and the earth standing in the water and out of the water were by the Word of God. He spoke light into existence. The sun, the moon, and the stars flung into their orbits by the power of His word. By His word, He made the beautiful blue sky, the green and grassy land, the trees of the forests, the beautiful flowers, the buzzing bees and the colorful butterflies, the chirping sparrows and the jolly elephants, the playful dolphins and the oceans’ whales, they all sprang into being and received their own unique forms by the word that He said. This world is the handiwork of the word of God. Therefore, the Psalmist cries out “The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make Him known. They speak without a sound or a word; their voice is silent in the skies; yet their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to all the world.”  (Psalm 19:1-4, NLT). If one would only lift his eyes to the starry skies and behold those glittering lights which stud the heavens, one would be filled with wonder at the glory and splendor of the One who created them all by His Word.  He spoke the world into existence. What power that could swirl this giant galactic universe into its set of orbs and orbits! The ancients trembled at the prospect of hearing the voice of God, for they knew that it was stronger than the sound of many waters. And when He did speak to the fathers, they marveled “Who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?” (Deut. 5:26). There are a few things that the writer of Hebrews mentions to us with regard to God’s speaking in the Old Testament.

By the Prophets

Firstly, it is clear here that God did not speak directly to everyone. He spoke to the fathers by the prophets. That was one reason why people in the Old Testament had to consult the prophets in order to know what God’s will was. Peter tells us that these prophets did not speak by their own will or by the will of any man, but spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2Pet.1:21).

The Essence of God's Communication

Secondly, though not directly stated here, we must ask what God was in essence communicating through these prophets. The answer is found in Hebrews chapter 4:2. The gospel that was preached to us was also preached to them. Peter explains: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you” (1Pet.1:10). They prophesied of the grace that we now experience in Jesus Christ; even as Paul writing to Titus says “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men” (Tit.2:11). The prophets testified of Jesus Christ for “the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.” (v.11). Therefore, it is said that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev.19:10) and John could boldly write “of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (Jn.1:16).

Bit At A Time

But, we also note, thirdly, that this testimony to the fathers was not given all at once, or at a single time. It came at various times, in other words, was given a bit at a time. The Greek word translated “various times” is polumeroswhich means “in many portions” or “in many parts”, implying a spreading over a long span of time. Many of the prophecies that God spoke through the prophets were a great mystery to these prophets themselves. We are told that they inquired and searched carefully and minutely in order to know what this salvation which they prophesied was all about. The things that the Spirit of Christ was testifying about, namely, the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow, were a great mystery to them. They were looking at bits and blurred images trying to figure out what the reality would look like, until the Glorious Son of God came; then, all these cloudy guessworks were erased and the disciples could confess that this was Christ the Son of the Living God. John testified that the Law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, and Paul writing to the Colossian Church declared that the regulations of past time where only a shadow of things to come; the reality that brings real meaning and salvation to life is of Christ (Col.2:17). Yet, we have only had a glimpse of His glory, and the knowledge that we have is nothing compared to the reality that will brighten the horizon of His return in the clouds of glory. Of course, we have a better experience than what the fathers of the Old Testament had, but there is yet to come. It is with this view that Paul writes in 1Cor.13:9,10: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away” and Peter writes in 2Pet.1:16: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” referring to their experience on the Mount of Transfiguration where Jesus’ garments glowed with such whiteness that cast them dumbstruck while a voice from heaven witnessed “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Peter continues to say “so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (v.19). We still await to see Him face to face; but, yet isn’t it glorious that the Father has finally spoken and sealed the testimony in His Son. Though we only know in part and we prophesy in part; yet, the revelation has been sealed. Jesus is the end of all the law and the prophets. He is the fulfillment.

Various Ways

Now, with regard to the testimony in the Old Testament, we are also told, fourthly, that it was given in various ways. To the prophets, God spoke through visions, dreams, prophetic utterance, and word of knowledge; but, His speaking did not end there; the prophets were God's instruments to convey the message to the fathers. The prophets spoke and recorded God's message in the in those 39 books of the Old Testament. The various ways also includes those variegated styles and genres of writing, like history, poetry, aphorisms, parables, symbols, etc, through which God communicated with the people.  God was not monotonous in His communication; He employed all the best methods of language in order to get His message through to the people. Also, each writer had a distinct style. So, the styles were as various as were the human instruments, for the Spirit of God worked through them and not at the expense of them. Their personality was not annulled or set aside. The prophets were never in some trance where they were totally unconscious of themselves when they were communicating the word of God. The prophets had zeal when they spoke, emotions welled up within them, of joy when they spoke of that Messianic age to come, of pain when they looked at the condition of their people around, and of wonder when they thought of those few things that they knew God was showing them, but were such that were beyond their understanding. God was speaking by the prophets. When the faithful Moses took out his quill to inscribe the instructions that God had given to Israel, the Spirit of God moved over his legally trained personality to write down the words of God in the language of men. Yet, could he have imagined that the dimensions of the Tabernacle, the laws regarding the altar, the cleansings, and the sacrifices being prescribed were all pointing to the One of whom these were but mere shadows. When the young David ran his fingers on his harp to sing “The Lord’s my Shepherd”, the Spirit of God did run in his veins to sing in his own rustic, shepherdish way a testimony of trust in the Great Shepherd of all man. Did he ever know that this Great Shepherd would one day walk the same land where he tended his sheep and declare “I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” And, when the writers of the Chronicles recorded those lengthy genealogies of the children of Israel, could they ever have foreseen that on this historic line was destined to be born the King of kings, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who would conquer death and bring life and immortality to light for all who believe. God spoke through the Law. God spoke through poetry, God also spoke through History and through the Prophets. Yet, in all the diversity of styles as diverse as the writers, there was that sacred scarlet thread of unity running throughout the sacred scriptures. God was revealing to humans His Son and speaking to them of grace and salvation. But, the picture was fragmentary. For, it was not time yet for Him to bring the firstbegotten into the world. Therefore, the Scripture also says that “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb.11:13).

But in these last days, says God’s Word, He has, He has spoken unto us by His Son.

We will look into this more in our next teaching, God willing; but, let me ask you a question: If there was something of ultimate value that you would like God to tell you about, what would that be? What would that one thing be that would determine the meaning and purpose of your life, without which you would know that life had no sense and meaning at all? What would that one revelation be for the sake of which you would be willing to renounce everything else, that one precious gem for which you would be ready to sell everything in order to gain it? For Paul the Apostle, it was the knowledge of Jesus Christ and Eternal Life in Him. For you and me as well, it can’t be anything else. Jesus Himself said, “Without me you can do nothing”. Our lives have no identity nor meaning apart from the meaning that God gives to us through His Son. The Son brings healing, He brings salvation, He brings forgiveness, and gives us a New Life. The Son delivers us from the kingdom of darkness and makes us heirs of His Kingdom of light. I would have liked to end this talk with the testimony of some person somewhere who was saved and transformed by the Truth in Jesus Christ. There are millions of such testimonies. But, is there any testimony more closer than the testimony that can be you? In these last days, He has spoken to us in His Son. Do you hear His voice? Will you respond to Him and say that you accept Him today when you hear His voice?

© Domenic Marbaniang, May 2011.

Adoniram Judson, Missionary to Burma

Portrait drawing of American missionary to Bur...
HE hung, his ankles tied together and fastened to a pole several feet above the floor. The pain was excruciating, unimaginably. The prison smelt vermin infested “death”. By dawn he was so stiff and numb, he could barely walk. Though separated from her husband, his wife managed to smuggle in food to him by bribing the guards. These efforts were curtailed, however, within no great time. His location was to be changed. The journey was gruesome. He was terribly weak from the confinement, and the gravel road, sharp, hurt his barefoot. Some of the other prisoners with him died along the road. The pain was unbearable, but he continued on, vowing to live if only for Ann and the baby. Two years later, his wife would die. Ten years from now, he would present this land of his persecution, the Kingdom of Ava (the land of the Burmese), the greatest gift they could ever receive: the Bible in the Burmese language.

A Skeptic turns to the Savior

Adoniram Judson was born on the 9th of August, 1788, the son of a stern and humorless Congregationalist minister, in Malden, Massachusetts, USA. When sixteen, Adoniram left home and entered Brown University. Here he was greatly influenced by the Deistic beliefs of his friend Jacob Eames. On his return home, he announced to his shocked parents his rejection of Christianity and left for New York to take up a career as a playwright. But success in New York proved to be elusive. A reckless, vagabond life was what accompanied him throughout this time. Frustrated, he left New York one night silently and set out for his uncle’s home in Sheffield. Desiring to rest for the night, he stopped at an inn, and this, next door to a dying man. The agonizing cries and groans of this sick man wouldn’t allow him to sleep. A question arose in his heart: Is the man in the next room prepared for death? Then, was he himself? He was terrified. And he felt as one mocked at. What would his classmates at Brown say to these terrors of the night, who thought of him as bold in thought? What would Eames say – the clear-headed, intelligent, witty, skeptic Eames? He imagined Eames laugh and felt abashed.

When he awoke in the morning, the terrors were no more. He ran downstairs to the innkeeper and asked for the bill. Then, casually, he asked whether the young man in the next room was better. “He is dead,” was the answer. Judson inquired if he knew the man who he was. “Oh yes,” replied the innkeeper, “Young man from the College in Providence. Name was Eames, Jacob Eames.”

Shocked, depressed, and weary Judson arrived home. He joined the Andover Theological Seminary. Here, after several months, he came to know the Lord by dedicating himself to him. This commitment was followed by a pledge to serve God as a missionary – America’s first such. After reading a copy of “An account of an Embassy to the kingdom of Ava,” Judson purposed to preach the Gospel to Burma. Finance was a problem, and so the American board sent him to the London Missionary Society to raise support there. On the way, his ship was captured by a French privateer. But God was with him and helped him to miraculously escape from the French prison bringing him safe to London. On his return to the States, it was decided that the new mission would be funded exclusively by Americans, rather than jointly with the LMS.

To the Land of the Burmese

On 19th February 1812, and so, Adoniram, his wife Ann (Nancy) together with another missionary couple – Samuel and Harriet Newell – sailed from Salem, Massachusetts on board the big Caravan; their destination, India. On the voyage, Adoniram continued a translation of the New Testament from Greek into English, and as he did so he became convinced that he Baptist position of baptism by full immersion was the Scriptural one. After arriving at Serampore, Adoniram and Nancy were baptized by William Ward, one of Carey’s assistants – the result, he had to resign from the Congregationalists and solicit the American Baptists for support, though as yet they had no missionary society.

But, Adoniram Judson’s heart burnt for Burma. Carey informed him, although, that Burma was not an easy field. His own son, William, had been there for four years and was on the brink of abandoning the attempt. The East India Company interfered and forced the Judsons to evacuate their territories. Knowing not, now, what to do they were exasperated until they finally decided to sail on to Java or Penang. The Company still bothered them. 1813, they reached Rangoon the capital of Burma. A land of Pagodas, Buddhist shrines, of the little eyed stiff-strong people; a land all too strange for them and they had nowhere to go. Nancy was ill and so was Adoniram. And most terribly enough, the Judsons knew no Burmese and the Burmese, no English.

Miracles and Missions

The miraculous hand of God, however, led them to a shack (which an Englishman once owned). The little girl living there knew some English to the Judsons’ comfort. In addition, she was hospitable, though poor. Adoniram was willing to pay anything for a little land and to avail of shelter. But the Burmese law wouldn’t allow for that so easily. Added to that, the Burmese officials were horribly corrupt. The Lord used their personal tragedy for good. Nancy, now took the initiation (They had just lost their second child, Roger). She went directly to the Viceroy’s wife and soon formed friendship with both the Viceroy of Rangoon and his wife assuring them some protection from the unscrupulous, petty officials. They were soon able to have land and to build a house. Amazingly, God provided Judson a tutor in the Burmese language. Very soon he picked on the language.

Soon he began printing tracts, with the arrival of the printing press with Mr. George H. Hough and his wife Phebe. He also began to print portions of the New Testament which he had patiently translated into the Burmese language. Evangelism was not an easy go here. Then an idea occurred. Why not build a Zayat – a Buddhist-style meditation room (open) on a main street where he could hold meetings and passers in their own way? The idea worked, and they had their first convert, Maung Nau after a toil of about six years! It must be noted that conversion was not legal in Buddhist Burma. Judson once even tried to petition the despotic Emperor to allow religious freedom by presenting an English Bible to him. The Emperor threw the Book and an undesired event would soon have followed as it often did when the Emperor got angry, except for the immediate exhibition of dancing girls. Judson failed and there was no respite for these new believers from persecution.

Tragedies: God Works Them Towards Good

Then the undesirable happened – the war with the East India Company. Adoniram was thrown into death prison, where we find him at the beginning of this story, along with the other foreigners. Those were days of pain and torture. In 1825, after nearly a year and a half, Adoniram was released in order to serve as an interpreter for the peace negotiations. He spent a little time with his wife and baby Maria, but was called back to service. This separation from his wife and baby was final. Ann (Nancy) soon died, little Maria following soon after.

Adoniram, in an effort to assuage his grief, poured himself into his translation work. But the fact and shock of his wife’s death affected him greatly. It was a time of despondency and unbelief; at least for forty days. In his letter to his in laws, he wrote: “God to me is the great unknown. I believe in him, but I find him not.”

Prayers and support of fellow missionaries helped bring Adoniram back from this paralyzing depression. As a matter of fact, God used this convalescence to strengthen and energize him as never before. In the years that followed, Judson completed his translation of the Old Testament and the Burmese Church continued to grow. In 1834, eight years after Ann died, he married Sarah Boardman, a widowed missionary. She bore to Judson eight children in less than ten years. And then she died in 1845. The following year, he met and married Emily Chubbock, a “secular” author, and less than half his age. Emily rose to the occasion and served effectively alongside her husband and delighted readers back home with her fascinating descriptions of primitive missionary work.

A Legacy

Adoniram Judson died on 11th April, 1850, after four decades of active ministry. And when he died, he left behind one of the greatest possessions the world, especially Burma, could ever receive – the complete Burmese Bible translated from the original Greek and Hebrew, not from a translation. He didn’t convert a many of the Burmese, though he became a Burmese to win the Burmese. He suffered pains which he could choose not to suffer. Yet, he was not despaired and confused by them forever, because Truth was paramount. He never compromised. When he realized baptism by immersion was the right method, he obeyed not caring for the consequences. God honored this man – the first great American missionary, a faithful missionary.

© Domenic Marbaniang                                               
September 18, 2000
Central India Theological Seminary

Be An Example in Peace (2Tim 2:22) - Audio Sermon (2011)


Text: 2 Timothy 2:22
Language: Hindi
Speaker: Dr. (Rev.) Domenic Marbaniang
Place: Kumbanad
Event: Special Hindi Service, IPC Kumbanad Convention 2011

Is Faith in God Different From Faith In Other Things?

Excerpt from the book, Explorations of Faith, 2009 (Read/Download Full Book)

FAITH in God is of ultimate kind and is, therefore, both unique and absolute. Since it is not concerned with contingent things of this world it is also not like the belief in the contingent things of the world. Further, belief in God is foundational to our common-sense assumptions about this world as both moral and rational. Anyone who denies God must also deny the existence of absolute morals and absolute truth, for both lose their foundation if their foundation is found within this world itself. It would be like trying to place a ball on that ball itself. Without an unchangeable transcendent ground, there can be no absolute point of reference (as in outer space where all bodies hang in positions relative to each other). The unchanging nature and character of God is the foundation of true morality[1] and His veracity is the foundation of all reasonability and truth. Therefore, divine existence is the surest fact of reality as the psalmist also says that it is only the fool who says in his heart that there is no God (Ps. 14:1). Since God is the final cause, ground, and reason of this universe and all human experience, faith in God is also final and ultimate. It is this reason why God can accept no excuse for unbelief from the unbeliever. For the faith of God (Mk. 11:22)[2] is both distinctive and final; it is the ground of the ultimate form of experience which is divinely given.

[1] This is not the same as saying that the difference between right and wrong is due to God’s fiat, a thesis that Bertrand Russell tried to rebut (Richter & Fogg, Philosophy Looks to the Future, p. 382).  It means to say that moral goodness is ultimately based on the eternally unchanging character of God and everything that is morally good is in so far as it conforms to God’s character. For instance, falsehood is evil because God cannot lie and there is no falsehood in Him: not just because He has commanded us not to lie. In such case, we do not say that God is above good and evil but that God is the embodiment and reality of ultimate goodness; evil is His opposite and therefore against Him.
[2] The Greek word θεου used here means ‘of God’.


At Your Feet!

When the breeze is tender, then at Your feet;
When the winds get wilder; still, at Your feet!
When there ain't either; still, at Your feet!

Rebekah (Gen.24)

REBEKAH (Gen.24)
  1. A Woman Chosen By God For Isaac (Gen24:14)
  2. A Woman Who Was Young (24:16)
  3. A Woman Who Was Beautiful (24:16)
  4. A Woman Who Was Chaste (24:16)
  5. A Woman Who Was Hospitable (24:18)
  6. A Woman Who Was Diligent (24:16,20 "quickly", "ran" (v28)).
  7. A Woman Who Served With Generosity (24:19,25)
  8. A Woman Who Was Faithful to Her Family (24:28)
  9. A Woman Who Was Submissive to the Will of God (24:58)
  10. A Woman of Faith (24:58)
  11. A Woman Who Was Blessed in Her Family (24:60)
  12. A Woman Who Honored Her Husband (24:65)
  13. A Woman Who Was a Comfort to Isaac in Happiness and in Pain (24:67)

Qualities and Uses of SALT

Was just looking at some old notes and found this from an homiletical attempt during my Seminary student days.

Qualities and Uses of Salt

1. Seasons Food (Col.4:6)
2. Acts as Preservative
3. Is a Symbol of Purity - Out of Sea (2 Kgs 2:201,21)
4. Symbolizes Peace (Mk.9:50)
5. Symbolizes Loyalty, Faithfulness, and Constancy - Covenant
6. Symbolizes Judgment (Gen.19:26; Mk.9:49; Cp. Lk.10:10-12)
7. Symbolizes Holiness
8. Symbolizes Righteousness (Lev.2:13)
9. Symbolizes Right Teaching as Opposed to Leaven
10. Ratification and Renewal of Agreement (2 Chr.13:5; Lev.2:13; Nu.18:19)
11. Sterilizing Enemies' Land (Judg 9:45)
12. Purifying Agent (2 Kgs 2:201,21)
13. Refreshing
14. Used for Bringing Good Health
15. Used as Medicine - Antiseptic
16. Used as Manure (Lk.14:35)
17. Catalyst of Heat
18. Energy Restoration
19. To Clean and Wash (Leather)
20. To Remove Stains
21. Adds Flavor
22. To Soothe, as Pain-removal, anaesthetic
23. Used as Soluble
24. To Cure Fodder (Isa.30:24)
25. Symbol of Incorruption as Opposed to Leaven
26. Symbol of Permanence or Durability
27. Symbol of Aggravation ("Don't sprinkle salt on burnt..")
28. To make Skin dense and firm (Eze. 16:4)
29. Soothing Agent
30. Melting Agent
31. Unity (NaCl).

1. SEASONING - A Flavor to Life
  • Have a Meaning in Life
  • Show it thru words and works (Col. 4:6)

2. PRESERVATIVE - Preserves from Decay
  • Of Life (Gen.19)
  • Of Testimony
  • Truth
  • Unity and Friendship, Relation, etc

3. PURITY - Symbol of Purity, Out of Sea
  • Of Life, Conduct
  • Speech

4. PEACE - Symbol of Peace (Mk.9:50)
  • Preservative and Permanence
  • Interest in each other
  • Loyalty

5. FAITHFULNESS - "Eating one's salt & being faithful to him"
  • Permanence
  • Preservation

6. JUDGMENT - Gen.19:26, Mk.9:49; Lk.10:10-12


  • Holiness
  • Right Teaching
  • Incorruption

The Meaning of Doubt in the Bible

© Domenic M, Explorations of Faith, 2009 (Read Full Book Online)

THERE are chiefly seven Greek expressions that have been translated as “doubt” in the New Testament (KJV): aporeo (Jn. 13:22) meaning “to be perplexed”; diaporeo (Ac. 2:12; 10:17) meaning “to be thoroughly perplexed”; meteorizo (Lk. 12:29) meaning “to suspend as in mid-air”; airo psuche (Jn. 10:24) meaning “to keep the soul in suspension as in air”; dialogismos (Rom. 14:1; 1 Tim. 2:8) meaning “to reason” or “to argue”; diakrino (Mt. 21:21; Rom. 14:23) meaning “to judge differently” or “to discriminate”; and distazo (Mt. 14:31; 28:17) meaning “to waver”. We can learn of the different ways in which doubt finds intrusion in one’s life by looking at the usage of these words.

First, doubt appears in the form of perplexity or a loss of answer. This is indicated by the word aporeo. For instance, when Festus introduces Paul the prisoner to Agrippa the King, he says that the Jews were accusing Paul of some questions related to the Jewish religion; but since he was not well acquainted with this religion he was at a loss of answer or doubt (aporeo) how to judge him (Ac. 25:20). Obviously, the KJV would have done better to translate the word as “was perplexed” or “confounded” instead of “doubted”. But, still it is also true that perplexity is a condition of doubt since it contains the element of uncertainty. Festus lacked the confidence to judge Paul because he was confounded by the complexity of the problems that this trial presented to him. Therefore, he doubted about this matter of judging Paul. He was at a loss of answer. An intense form of this perplexity is indicated by the word diaporeo which means to be thoroughly (dia) perplexed. Perplexity indicates the condition of doubt as dilemma. It is the condition of neither knowing nor not knowing. It is the condition of being totally unable to understand something that seems to be significant and demanding an answer. Undeniably, faith does sometimes come across situations that confound and perplex it for a want of answer. There are things that can happen to us that we can’t explain by any rational means, for instance. Or, there can be a question put forth before faith which it immediately lacks an answer for, though it knows that there must be some answer to it. However, in many cases when complexity presents itself to us the temptation is to turn away to simpler things.
...in many cases when complexity presents itself to us the temptation is to turn away to simpler things.
This is a natural instinct. One tries to avoid unwanted complications, especially when they appear insoluble or even too demanding. One tends to walk around the problem and if incapable of, tries to turn on it. This is what happened with those disciples who turned away from Jesus because they felt He was becoming too complicated for them to get along with (Jn. 6:60, 66). But when Jesus turned to the twelve and asked them if they would also go away, Peter gave an answer which is a classic response to this dilemma of faith. He answered: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the Words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68, MKJV). Peter understood the fact that there cannot be a turning away from something without a turning away to something else. There is no middle ground. Peter knew that this was an either/or situation. One could choose Christ and eternal life or choose to relinquish both. He made the wiser decision to stay with Christ despite the inability to understand several things. A more practically existential situation confronted Job, as seen earlier. It was practically existential because the absurdity or perplexity of the suffering that he went through was thoroughly personal and its answer too evading (Job 7). Yet, he knew that there could be no turning back from God. God was where his world came to an end. God was his no-returning point. Therefore, despite all the confoundedness of his suffering, Job held on to God in faith. And when his wife reprimanded him for holding on to his faith and told him to curse God and die instead of bearing the brunt of this absurd life, he answered her saying “You speak as one of the foolish ones speak. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10, MKJV). In other words, he in turn demanded from her an explanation for considering experience of evil as sufficient proof for turning away from God, even if such evil came from God. The finality of his faith in God could admit no doubt in God.

Another way in which doubt presents itself to us is suspense. The word comes from the Latin suspensus meaning “suspended” (akin to the Greek meteorizo and airo psuche, see above). The word indicates a condition of uncertainty fraught with intense curiosity, fear, or anxiety. Jesus told His disciples to stay away from such a condition (Lk. 12:29). Feelings of anxiety due to uncertainty may come to suspend our souls in doubt, but they should not be allowed to take hold of our lives; in other words, worry or anxiety should not become the condition of our lives. For such anxiety can easily lead to despair and a total shipwreck of faith. Similarly, unwanted curiosity can also be fatal to faith as seen in Eve’s case. For when the devil told her that the forbidden fruit was forbidden not because God sought her welfare but because He didn’t want her to be like Him, she immediately was convinced by his words (Gen. 3:4-6). Her curiosity regarding the forbidden fruit led her obey the devil’s lie. If God has forbidden us something, there is no danger greater than trying to conduct a scientific analysis of the forbidden thing. It is no surprise then why the Ephesian believers burnt all books of curious and magical arts[1] when they accepted the Lord (Ac. 19:19, KJV, Amplified).
Feelings of anxiety due to uncertainty may come to suspend our souls in doubt, but they should not be allowed to take hold of our lives; in other words, worry or anxiety should not become the condition of our lives.

This is so because such curiosity can lead to a departure from faith. It is in this regard that the Mosaic Law commanded the Israelites to destroy all images and things related to false belief to prevent their influence from corrupting the Israelites (Deut. 7:3-5). The images represent the symbols of false beliefs that stand against the faith of God. They are doors to disbelief. Therefore, sympathetic curiosity towards what is logically known to be wrong must be avoided. By “logically wrong” is meant those ideas that contradict the rational sense. For instance, in the story of Eve she turned towards the illogical belief that she could become like God (who is spiritual and infinite in wisdom) by eating a physical fruit and to the false idea that God was either jealous or afraid of her becoming like Him; as if she could become like Him and that God was afraid of His own creation. Similarly, the sympathy towards idols is absurd since an idol is not only a lifeless object but also symbolic of the vanity and falsehood of man. Therefore, one must guard oneself against any fear or excitement that is both irrational and godless.
...unwanted curiosity can also be fatal to faith as seen in Eve’s case.... Her curiosity regarding the forbidden fruit led her obey the devil’s lie. If God has forbidden us something, there is no danger greater than trying to conduct a scientific analysis of the forbidden thing.
The third kind of doubt is more intriguing. It appears in the form of reasoning or argumentation and is indicated by the word dialogismos meaning that form of argumentation that is controversial, unending, or false. It is in this sense that it is sometimes rendered as “imaginations” for its speculative nature is averse to any conclusion. In other words, dialogismos is doubt that expects no final answer. The imagination keeps going on finding no final ground to stand on; thus, hanging suspended (meterorizo) in curiosity and doubt all the time. I think our age understands this form of doubting better than any age before since, in our age, it is this kind of a scholar that is highly appreciated while the one who claims to have the answer is labeled as fundamentalist and narrow-minded. While in the past the wise man was he who had more answers and fewer questions, now he is one who has more questions and fewer answers. The modern wise man is like the Greek sophist who excelled in clever arguments but had no belief in absolute truth: his arguments generated more doubts than solutions. Our English word “sophistry” comes from this “sophist” and means “clever, misleading, and deceptive argument”.
I think our age understands this form of doubting better than any age before... While in the past the wise man was he who had more answers and fewer questions, now he is one who has more questions and fewer answers. The modern wise man is like the Greek sophist who excelled in clever arguments but had no belief in absolute truth... Our English word “sophistry” comes from this “sophist” and means “clever, misleading, and deceptive argument”.
Obviously, this form of doubt or methodological skepticism is deliberate, proceeding from the bias that detests absolute solution to any problem. That is the reason why the Scripture warns several times to keep away from such love for show of cleverness and unhealthy disputing that signifies pride and rebellion instead of humility (Phil. 2:14; Rom. 14:1; 1Tim. 2:8; cf. 1Tim. 6:3-5).

The next kind of doubt is diakrino meaning “to judge by analysis” or “to make a difference”. In relation to doubt it means “to make a different judgment”, “to think otherwise”, or “allow for some other possibility as well”. It is in this sense that it is used in Matthew 21:21 when Jesus tells His disciples “Truly I say to you, If you have faith and do not doubt (me diakrithete), you shall not only do this miracle of the fig tree, but also; if you shall say to this mountain, Be moved and be thrown into the sea; it shall be done.” (Mt. 21:21, MKJV). Similarly, James says: “let him ask in faith, doubting nothing (meden diakrinomenos). For he who doubts (diakrinomenos) is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed” (Jas. 1:3, MKJV). Obviously, this kind of doubting is antithetical to faith since it introduces a rival element (a foreign particle) into one’s framework of belief. This kind of double-thinking is what leads to distazo or to the inability of holding on to faith, thus becoming unstable (as in Peter’s case when he walked on water and then started sinking due to fear); for the natural thoughts of the mind are set in conflict against the supernatural truths of God leading to a weakening of faith. The imbalance and instability caused by diakrino can be compared to an airplane (on flight) that loses its balance due to some technical failure to keep up with the laws of aerodynamics. That technical failure may be compared to diakrino when the plane wobbles between the law of aerodynamics and the law of gravity, for instance. The loss of balance is due to the plane’s inability to totally comply with the law of aerodynamics. The problem is solved if the airplane keeps to the purpose of its design, which is to be in air till it lands safely on the ground; the tragedy is when it fails to do that by giving in to anti-elements.
The imbalance and instability caused by diakrino can be compared to an airplane (on flight) that loses its balance due to some technical failure to keep up with the laws of aerodynamics. That technical failure may be compared to diakrino when the plane wobbles between the law of aerodynamics and the law of gravity, for instance....The problem is solved if the airplane keeps to the purpose of its design....
Now, the anti-element may not be false in itself; for instance, the law of gravity is true as well as the fact that Peter could not naturally walk on water. However, in matters of faith the natural must submit to the supernatural and not vice versa. Even as the airplane is designed to fly in air, a man of faith is designed to sail on the winds of God’s promises. Abraham was a man of faith. He was not a man of a double-opinion or double-thinking. Therefore, there were no regrets about his obedience to God; neither was there any possibility of a return for him. The Scripture testifies about him that “he staggered not (ou diekrithe) at the promise of God through unbelief (apistia); but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20). Apistia is the antonym of pistis which is faith. Thus, Abraham didn’t allow an anti-faith element to make him double-think about and doubt the promises of God.
Abraham was a man of faith.... The Scripture testifies about him that “he staggered not (ou diekrithe) at the promise of God through unbelief (apistia); but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).

[1] The Greek periergos means “busy about trifles” indicating curiosity about unwanted things. The English word “occult” used for all such curious arts comes from the Latin occultare meaning “hidden” or “concealed” indicating the non-normalcy and unhealthiness of all such practices.

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2009

A Summer Sunday Service

The sun beat his beams outside...
with fiery heat;
The Son let His breeze inside...
on every seat.

Now I See My Weakness

Now I see my weakness
My difficulty in faith
Lord, come now and succour,
Pour out Your grace.

The Humanity and Divinity of Christ

Published in revive, Kumbanad, May 2011. revivemegod.org

IN BEGINNING to write this article, I dare to add another string to a theme in the exposition of which, wrote Muggeridge, “literally billions of words, oceans of paint, acres of canvas, mountains of stone and marble, have been expended, not to mention, in recent times, miles of film” [Jesus Rediscovered]. But, it is a theme well deserved. Saints and sinners, critics and divines, princes and subjects, all have marveled at the magnificence of this event called the Incarnation of the Son of God, in which divinity united with humanity. It baffles human imagination to think that God would condescend to the state of a human. The Bible calls it the mystery of godliness (1Tim.3:16). Sacred in its very essence, it is the story of the love of the King of the Universe, a story so sacred that the colonnades of Romance tremble in disbelief.

That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heav’n’s high council-table,
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside, and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

[John Milton, On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity]

To the Apostle John it defined the essence and foundations of Christian ethics: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him… Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1Jn 4:9, 11). For, if one but looks at human society and where we have faltered and then, at the Divine Community (the Trinity) and see how it stands, one wouldn’t fail to perceive the brokenness of our kind that He came to heal with the love that binds heaven: “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us…. that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn. 17:21, 26). And, He did that when He stepped into the skin of man, when the glory of infinite resplendence got wrapped into the frail flesh of a babe, and immortality encased itself in a mortal frame. Once and for all, the divine and human elements united, inseparably, yet without any admixture in the birth of the Son of Man.

Now, this truth is so sublime that history has bred several misconceptions, as well, in an attempt to fathom it. The misunderstandings must be cleared before we can proceed on to grasp what significance the manifestation of God in flesh has for us.

Clearing Misunderstandings

1. Christ’s Humanity is not at the Expense of His Divinity, nor Vice Versa. To many of us this is, by fact of the matter, the truth. But, there are some cults, for instance, the Christadelphians, who deny the divinity of Christ and claim that Christ’s life began in the womb of Mary. There are others, meanwhile, like the modern day Jehovah Witnesses for instance, who think that Jesus’ life began a long time before His incarnation (a position similar to the one held by a bishop called Arius, whose heresy was condemned at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325). The Bible, however, very specifically teaches us that Christ’s life is without any beginning or end (Heb.7:3). He is eternal, and therefore is called the Son of God. Alexander of Constantinople (ca. 244-337) was right when he said that the Fatherhood of the Father is eternal, likewise the Sonship of the Son is eternal as well; therefore, Christ has eternally been the Son of God.

There have been others, besides, like the Adoptionists, for instance, who taught that Jesus was adopted at His baptism and thence became the Son of God. The Docetists taught that the humanity of Jesus was a mere illusion and the Monophysitists believed that Christ had only one nature, His humanity being swallowed up by His divinity. Of the Monophysist group, the Eutychianists believed that the humanity and divinity of Christ were fused to produce a single nature. Contrary to all these heretical views, the Bible clearly reveals Christ as fully human and fully divine; both the divine and human natures being united in His person without any confusion or mixture of any kind (Col.2:9).

2. Misunderstandings in Islam. There is another misunderstanding, especially among our Muslim friends, that we teach Jesus to be the Son of God in the sense that He was conceived by Mary through some kind of union with God. That would be incorrect from the Biblical point of view as well. For, the Scripture clearly states that the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb was by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit (Lk.1:35).  Jesus was not produced. He incarnated. Various ancient mythologies falsely talk of their gods coming and cohabiting with women to produce semi-divine offspring. Such myths are both false and unbiblical. The Incarnation was not so. For, in it the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son Himself, took on the form of man (Phil.2:6,7). Jesus was not a third element produced from the fusion of the divine and the human. There was no mixture of natures. He was fully God and fully man. The Incarnation did not make Christ the Son of God. He was eternally the Son of God. In the Incarnation, He assumed human nature and became the Son of Man. Through the Virgin Mary He became the Seed of the woman that would finally crush the head of Satan (Gen.3:15; Gal.4:4).

3. Essential Differences between Christ’s Incarnation and the Avataras. The four main differences between the avatara and the Incarnation relate to the nature, duration, mission, and instances of the two concepts. In its nature, the mythological avatara is not completely the form that it assumes; but in the Incarnation, Christ became fully human; not merely in appearance but in essence and reality. Also, the duration of the avatara is limited, after which it returns to its original form; however, in the Incarnation Christ became permanently human; He continues to be the Son of Man, our High Priest in heaven and the Glorious King who will one day return to reign from David’s throne. Next, the mission of the avatara is conceived to be the destruction of evil forces or personalities; on the contrary, the mission of the Son of Man was to seek and save them that were lost – a propitiatory mission that meant His ultimate sacrifice on the Cross. Finally, the avatara is said to repeat for at least ten instances to put an end to evil. But, the Incarnation of Christ was once for all. It was final. There cannot and need not be a second Incarnation; for He already is Man forever and He has finished His propitiatory mission on earth (Heb.9:26,28; 10:10-14).

God in Flesh for Us

Apart from the facts that we have noted regarding the Incarnation as being real (not mere appearance), complete (not partial), permanent, propitiatory, and final, there are some important truths that the Bible wishes us to know.

1. The Logos of Fellowship. As the Incarnate Word (Logos), Christ stands as the Reason and Logic of our acceptance into the family of God. In the Incarnation, Christ partook of human nature, so that through Him we might become partakers of the divine nature and experience the glorious liberty of the children of God (Heb.2:14; Rom.8:15-17,21,23). Paul mentions that Jesus was made in the likeness of men (Phil.2:7) and John records that He was made flesh (Jn.1:14), both using the same Greek word ginomai for “made”, asserting the realness of His humanity. This doesn’t imply that there was any change in His divinity. That could never be; for, God is beyond change – He is immutable. But, since “the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb.2:14-15; cf. Col.1:13).

He became one of us so that we, through Him, might become His forever. Therefore, all that have received Him have received the right to be called the children of God (Jn.1:12). He partook of human nature, so that we might have the right to partake of the divine nature (2Pet.1:4; Rev.2:7) by becoming partakers of that one Bread who came for our salvation (1Cor. 10:17; Jn.6:51), who through His death offered Himself for us an eternal peace offering so that we can be accepted into His divine fellowship by partaking of His Body (Jn. 6:51, 54-56; Matt.26:26; Deut.27:7; Lev.7:15). Unlike the sacrifices of the Old Testament, the Sacrifice of Jesus needs no repetition, for He lives forever, as the Reason of our acceptability. The Lamb that was slain lives (Rev.5:6). Those who partake of Him will never hunger again; He is the Bread of Life. Now, the promise of a blessed resurrection and a glorious eternity remains for all those who have accepted Him; because, through death He has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through His Gospel (1Cor.15:44,52,53; Heb.4:1; 2Tim.1:10).

2. The Logos of New Creation. Also, in the Incarnation, Christ did not just become a man; He became the Last Adam and the Second Man. He put an end to the old and began the new. Therefore, He says “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev.21:5). He bore the earthly image, so that we might bear His heavenly one (1Cor. 15:49, 45,47).

Both the titles, “Last Adam” and “Second Man” refer to His role as the Seed of the woman. His heel was truly bruised when on the Cross He bled and died for the sins of sinful Adamic race. He took upon Him the guilt of the old world and met death face to face. The Seed fell to the ground; sin was destroyed (Rom.8:3) - the world was wrapped in silence and darkness. Then, He arose. The Seed sprouted and He arose as a New Man, the Second Man, and the Beginner of a new race that was born not of the will of flesh, but was born of God.  Natural did the Seed die, but Spiritual did He arise; for the Seed was not merely Adamic, the Seed was the Eternal Son of God. Death could not vanquish Him, nor could the grave hold Him forever; for, He offered Himself once for all by the Eternal Spirit (Heb.9:14), dealing an irreparable death-blow to death itself. What mortal could qualify for such a sacrifice? For man must first pay for his own transgressions and burn for it eternally in the angry flames of hell, before he could do it for others; and, even if he were to suffer for other men, besides, the punishment would only be everlasting, with no hope of a resurrection. But, the Eternal One took upon Himself our eternal punishment and infinitely suffered it in time. Thus, by death He defeated the devil that had power over death; He crushed the head of the serpent and brought to naught the kingdom of darkness. By His resurrection, He obtained for us justification, redemption, adoption, and newness of life, so that we are now accepted before the Father in the Beloved. As the Second Man, He became the author of our faith and salvation, the Head of the Body which is His Church. (See Gen.3:15; Heb.2:14,15; 1Cor.15:20-23, 44-49, 55; Jn.12:24; 1:12-13; Eph.2:15; Rom.4:25; 8:3-4,10-11; 6:3-10; Heb.5:9; 12:2; Eph.1:4,22; Col.1:18).

The prophets of the Old Testament looked forward with anticipation to this day; but, God has given us the grace to be born in the Sunrise of His Love. We live in Anno Domini, the Year of our Lord. Let’s live our days for Christ our King!

© Domenic Marbaniang, 2011,  revivemegod.org

Looking to Jesus and Moving Forward

Message delivered at Sanjaynagar on May 1, 2011

looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

What does it mean to be looking at Jesus?

1. To Forget Ourselves and be Immersed in Him

Of course, this doesn't mean being absent minded. But, as long as we keep looking at ourselves, we'll be filled with all reasons that would keep us from moving forward. But, those who focus on Christ cannot be hindered by other things.

Have you seen some of those people who watch the TV and are so immersed in it that they become one with it? That is not good, anyway. But it is always good to be one with the Lord so that we feel with Him and are aware of His will.

2. To Be Attentive To Him

How would you feel about a person who looks somewhere else rather than at you when you're talking to him or her? Sometimes we behave like that when God wants to speak to us. And, so we fail to listen to and know His will. Let's be attentive in prayer, reading of His word, and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at all times. When we are sensitive to the Lord, we can follow His guidance and move forward.

3. To Have Faith in Him

The Bible says "They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed." (Psalms 34:5)
It means to wait on Him and be patient throughout, for patience builds character (Romans 5:4)
If our expectation is from God, He will never fail us. He is faithful and true. When we walk in faith despite all adversity, we grow in Him.

Work Throughout the Daylight

The harvest is ready,
The fields are white,
Your servant is ready,
The crops are ripe.
Bring down the hedges,
Remove these barbed wires,
We'll rush to bring in the harvest,
And work throughout the daylight!

"The zeal for Your house consumes me."

Drown Me in Your Light!

You entered my dark room
With Your gentle light,
My eyes were hurt
By this brilliant sight,
My soul lay bare open,
My thoughts all revealed,
Before the brilliance
Of Your gentle light!

I gazed on in horror
At the inadequacies within,
My face's to the ground
For I'm a creature of sin;
You reach out and touch me,
You say "It's alright,
Your sins are forgotten,
You're healed from within!"

As long as I look at myself,
My infirmities remain,
But, when I look at You, Jesus,
There lingers no stain.
For, You treat me as Your son,
Not as a stranger without,
And, when I'm in Your presence,
I remember no pain.

Be with me Lord Jesus,
Drown me in Your light,
Dispel my darkness,
Fill my sight!
Drown me in Your light!

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