Dr. Kurien Thomas: God's Trailblazer in India and Around the World

DR. KURIEN THOMAS (1922-2000) was a pioneer of the Pentecostal movement in central India. He came to Itarsi, the heart of India, in 1945 and laid the foundation of the Pentecostal Church there. In 1962, he began the Bharosa Bible School which grew on to be known today as Central India Theological Seminary. In 1967, he became the first Chairman of the Fellowship of the Pentecostal Churches in India. Dr. Thomas was a prolific writer in Hindi, English, and Malayalam. He was editor of Satyadoot, a continuing Hindi Christian monthly, and was author of several books. Kurien Thomas: God’s Trailblazer in India and Around the World, written in 1986, was his autobiography.

Kurien Thomas was born on 9 January 1922 at Ranny, Kerala, into a Keralite Syrian Orthodox family that traced its origins to the first converts of Thomas the apostle of Christ. In 1939, during a gospel meeting in his village in Kerala in which the renowned Pastor K.E. Abraham ministered, Kurien gave his life to Jesus. Hungry for God’s Word, he joined the Hebron Bible School at Kumbanad with the assistance of Pastor Abraham. At that time, Kurien was not fully committed to ministry, and since the School didn’t allow such students to live in the hostel, he along with some ten other friends arranged to stay outside the campus and attend the School for the classes. From 1940-41, he also voluntarily taught at the English Medium School there started by Pastor Abraham. After leaving the School, Kurien had intentions to join the Indian Armed Forces and applied for the same. However, during the 30 days in waiting before the joining letter could come, he experienced a spiritual turning point, his baptism with the Holy Spirit. With the baptism came a deep longing to serve God fully; Kurien, rejecting the offer to join the Armed Forces, set out at the age of 20 to serve the Lord.

On 2 November 1944, Kurien was married to K.M. Annamma, daughter of Pastor K.G. Mathew. His zeal for the Lord’s work was so intense that only two days after their marriage, he set off to preach in a convention at Melpadam. He recounts how when, during the meeting, it began to rain and people were running helter-skelter, he called them to become still and then he prayed; the rain abruptly stopped.

Only a few months later, in February 1945, Kurien Thomas and his wife Annamma entered Itarsi as the first Pentecostal base missionaries to that region. Pastor M.K. Chacko of Delhi had earlier made a short visit to this place and seen the absence of any Pentecostal work in the central province. On reaching Kerala, he shared this burden with Kurien and his wife. The couple felt that this was God’s will for them and started out with Pastor Chacko arriving at Itarsi in the first week of February, 1945. The next day, Pastor Chacko left for Delhi, leaving the 23 year old preacher and his 19 year old wife before a mountain of mission challenges ahead of them. The next few years were times of intense and multiple trials, but the Lord was faithful; the ground was finally broken and in the years to come, a formerly barren land bloomed with harvest crops of the Spirit’s outpouring, having turned into a giant mission base that trained and sent out hundreds into the mission fields of the world.

In 1946, the first Pentecostal conference was held in Itarsi. In 1948, the Hindi monthly, Satyadoot, was born. In 1962, the Bharaso Bible School (now Central India Theological Seminary) was started with only seven students. In 1966, several independent Pentecostal churches, primarily in North India, decided to come together as a Fellowship under the leadership of Dr. Kurien Thomas. The Fellowship, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee this year, came to be known as the Fellowship of the Pentecostal Churches in India.  Dr. Kurien Thomas ministered in several conferences, conventions, churches, and seminaries in India and all over the world. He spoke in most of the major Pentecostal conventions and travelled to several countries. Dr. Kurien authored several books including, in English, The Holy Spirit, and God’s Trailblazer;  in Hindi, Dharmavijnan Pranali (Systematic Theology), Pavitra Atma, Parinayagatha (Commentary on Song of Solomon), Daiviya Prakashan (Commentary on the Book of Revelation), Ish Adarsha Niketan (Typology of the Tabernacle); and, in Malayalam, Ecclesiology, Arithayade Alambam (on Book of Ruth), and Elohiyude Eliyavu (on Elijah).

On October 19 of 2000, two days before the Annual Conference would begin, Dr. Kurien Thomas breathed his last and entered into glory. He is succeeded by his son, Dr. Matthew K. Thomas, who, in addition to the ministries at Itarsi, also serves as the present General Secretary of the Pentecostal World Fellowship.


Originally written for the FB group "Remember the Leaders who spoke the Word of God to you"

Links:
Official Central India Outreach Page

Share:

The Pauline Method of Doing Missions - Oswald J Smith

Oswald J. Smith, The Challenge of Missions, pp.63,64

In Acts 19:8-10, 18-20, we have a marvelous example of the Pauline method. In two short years, we are told, all those in Asia heard the Gospel. Asia covered a territory of approximately 50,000 square miles. There was a mighty revival. Books belonging to various false cults were burned publicly. The upheaval was so great that books costing thousands of dollars were burned.

How did it happen? Paul took charge of a school and taught every day. Most certainly he did not travel throughout Asia and evangelize the country himself. So far a the record goes, he stayed in one place, but he taught others; then they in turn went everywhere preaching the Gospel, with the results described in the 19th chapter. Wherever he went, he "preached and taught" (Acts 14:21). That method cannot be improved upon. It will work everywhere.

The West Indies Mission has proved it. They started in Cuba with a Bible School. Not a church, mark you, but a Bible School. Then they went to Haiti and established another. Later they put one in the Dominican Republic and another in Jamaica. Now they are starting a fifth in one of the French Islands. What has been the result? The students in hundreds have gone from their Bible Schools throughout the length and breadth of the Islands of the West Indies, and more than 80,000 have been won to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The old method has been followed for decades. Churches had been built in the larger towns and cities, but the country districts, where most of the people lived, were left untouched and unevangelized. The West Indies Mission went in. The Pauline method was adopted. Now annual conferences number over 7,000, so great has the Word of God grown and multiplied.

In Ethiopia, the missionaries had made but little headway. There were only a handful of believers when I was there. Then the natives took over and during the Italian occupation, in spite of imprisonment, floggings, and martyrdom, 20,000 were brought to Christ without the help of a single missionary. Today there are 50,000 Christians and 300 native churches. What a miracle! That is the ideal way. It is the only method that really succeeds.

Such a method cuts down expenses. The natives can live cheaper. No furloughs are necessary. They can be supported by their own churches. Foreign funds are not required. All we have to do is support the missionary and his work, and leave it to the natives to do the rest. The work then becomes self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating. That is the Scriptural way. The Pauline method cannot be improved upon.
Share:

When Silence Seals

When silence seals the lips of friends,
You let me know You are here;
When cold confusion darkness tends,
You shine Your light over here.

When dull seems destiny, far unseen,
You still keep walking, closely by.
When friends fear failure will strike my knees,
You stand to hold and lift me high.

Share:

Mission, Missions, and Missional

Whenever a new word enters the market, there are many who wish to grab it and use it to express or verbalize concepts that occur to them. However, it is important to avoid sporadic use of expressions without understanding them in their original usage. It can lead to confusion of language. Two terms that are becoming more popularly used, in addition to "mission", are "missions" and "missional", and they require proper definition. Let's look at some popular definitions of these terms:

Christopher J.H. Wright, The Mission of God's People
--Mission is all that God is doing in his great purpose for the whole of creation and all that he calls us to do in cooperation with that purpose. (Analogy: Science)
--Missions is the multitude of activities that God's people can engage in, by means of which they participate in God's mission. (Analogy: Sciences)
--Missional is to have (Analogy: Scientific)

Ed Stetzer, Missions vs. Missional?
--Mission is the reason the church exists and the church joins Jesus on mission. And, this mission is from everywhere to everywhere.
--Missions refers to an international pursuit to preach the gospel to all the corners of the earth.
--Being missional conveys the idea of living on a purposeful, Biblical mission.

David Wesley, The Church as Missionary, Missio Dei
--Mission is the very nature of the church, seeking first God and his kingdom. It flows directly from God. A living relationship with the God of mission distinguishes the church as a living organism, as opposed to a mechanistic (and secular) organization. Because of this relationship, we truly can say that the church does not support a program of missions; rather, the church is the missionary.
--The missional church begins with the idea that mission is God’s nature and God’s activity (the missio dei) and, furthermore, that the church is the missionary. By definition, the church is the sent church. The “business” of the church, then, is to train missionaries to go and to live out the gospel in their spheres of influence. The missional church, therefore, does not shape programs around consumerist Christian desires. The missional church designs ministries that equip people to show the gospel to the nonbeliever.


The term "mission" is not found in the Bible. The Bible only talks of covenants, of commandments, and of calling and setting apart for some ministry. In fact, the very work of Gospel proclamation is called as the ministry of reconciliation (2Cor.5:18). The word "mission" comes from the Latin word mittere and missio meaning "to send". The New Testament Great Commission of Christ in the Gospels that commissions the disciples to "Go and preach the Gospel" to the uttermost parts of the earth played an important role in the development of the theology of mission. The plural "missions" began to be used for the varied works of mission that people engaged in. For some people, it includes works of charity, social justice, and assistance. However, it is very important for us to distinguish between the Great Commandment (to love our neighbor as ourselves) and the Great Commission (to preach the Gospel to all nations). The commission to "Go" is at the heart of mission. Thus, it includes both evangelization (to turn them from darkness to light), in whatever way possible, and discipleship (to walk in the fellowship of the Light).
Share:

Respect for All Religions

For peace and harmony to exist in any pluralistic society, it is important to have respect for all religions. Those who wish to be respected must also show the same respect for others. In the past, religion has acted as a great dividing line and has spurred and continues to provoke among some incidents of violence and hatred. We must learn to respect other religions, but what does this respect involve?

1. It means to respect fellow humans as humans, first of all, as our neighbors. It means to show ourselves as good neighbors to them.
2. It means to respect the religiosity in humans, their quest, their pursuit for spirituality, for purity, for a good life, for a transcendent ideal that lifts us above the world of mere brutes.
3. It means to respect the confessions of saints, of communities, regarding their longing to know the unknown, to be delivered from darkness to light.
4. It means to respect their literature of wisdom and deep meditation on serious life truths.
5. It means to respect their freedom of choice, their convictions, their freedom of conscience and not consider them inferior for their choice or for any changes they make in their convictions on the basis of proper reasons.
6. It means to respect their attempts to rationally (not disrespectfully or violently)  communicate their understanding of their beliefs to people.
7. It means to respect them as invaluable members of human society and consider each individual as precious.

But, it does not mean:
1. To think that all contradictory views are equally true. This is illogical.
2. To try to justify oppressive and discriminatory elements in religions.
3. To syncretize or try to blend religions into a new religion. It solves nothing.
4. To keep away from trying to understand faiths of people.
5. To stop sharing your faith with others, if you believe it is true and will help individuals, society, and the nation.

I don't think religious tolerance is the main issue. The main issue is to learn to love our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of their religion.

Share:

God's Faithfulness Gives Me Confidence - Dr. Matthew K. Thomas

Remember God is faithful. In the midst of difficulty, acknowledge God is faithful. The faithfulness of God gives us courage, comfort, confidence.

1. Faithfulness is an Attribute of God.
God is absolutely reliable, absolutely trustworthy, absolutely steadfast, absolutely constant.

Faithfulness of God speaks of the stability of God in a changing world. What was once considered sin is now considered a weakness. Values are changing. But, we have a changeless Christ who is faithful.

1Cor. 1:9 - God is faithful.

Psa. 36:5 - Your faithfulness reaches unto the clouds.
Man cannot outstretch it. No matter where you are, His faithfulness can reach you.
The extensiveness of His faithfulness.

Psa. 119:9 - Your faithfulness is unto all generations.
Man can never outlive it.
The everlastingness of His faithfulness.

Lam. 3:23 - Great is Your faithfulness.
The exceedingness of His faithfulness.
Man can never outmatch it.

2. Faithfulness is an Activity of God.
The Bible tells us how God was faithful to His people. The OT talks of the activity of God's faithfulness.

We have seen the faithfulness of God in our lives.

1Cor. 1:9 - We are called into His fellowship.

I. God's faithfulness gives me Confidence because of His Provision.

God's faithfulness gives me Courage.

1. Fellowship of Togetherness, of His Son. (1Cor. 1:9)
1Jo. 1:3 - Fellowship with us, with the Father, with the Son.

There was so much disunity in the Corinthian church.  Paul talks about fellowship of Jesus Christ.

2. Fellowship of Truthfulness
The Son is the Truth, the Truthful One

3. Fellowship of Trustfulness
Gal. 2:20 - by the faithfulness of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me

II. God's faithfulness gives me Confidence because of His Protection.
1Cor. 10:13 - He is faithful... Will make a way of escape. Gives us confidence.

Once my dad was traveling with Pastor K. O. Varghese from Itarsi to Delhi. But, he was led by God to get down in Bhopal. After few hours, they heard the train had a derailment. Protective faithfulness of God.

He was once at Bhopal to speak. He was supposed to speak for Pastor A. J. Samuel the other day. But,  11pm God woke him and he knew he had to come back and not stay in Govindpura. He decided to come to Itarsi and go from here to Indore. That night there was the carbide tragedy in Bhopal. God's protective faithfulness.

My wife keeps reading Psalm 91 thousands of times, again and again. She keeps Psalms and Proverbs in her bag while traveling. We know the protective faithfulness of God.

God sends His angels to protect us.
He shields us with His favor.
It's a double protection.
Then,  He says "I will be with you always."

III.  God's faithfulness gives me Confidence because of His Power.
1Thess 5:23-25. Power for blamelessness.

IV. God's faithfulness gives me Confidence because of His Presence.

Share:

The Immutability of Divine Faithfulness - Dr. Matthew K. Thomas

God's faithfulness must be seen in perspective of 5 attributes of God:
1. Omniscience - He knows everything
2. Omnipotence- He can do everything
3. Omnipresence - He is within our reach
4. Truthfulness- He cannot lie
5. Immutability - He cannot change.

An understanding of these attributes gives us Courage, Confidence, and Comfort in times of trial.

Divine Immutability
1. God's Character never changes (James 1:17; Mal.3:6)
2. God's Truth never changes (Isa.40:8; Matt.24:35)
3. God's Purposes never change (Psa.33:11)
4. God's Love never changes (Psa.100:5)
5. God does not change His Mind (Num.23:9)
6. God's Words do not change (2Cor.1:20).

Share:

The Paradox of Divine Faithfulness - Part 3 - Divine Immutability in Justice, Mercy, and Grace

"And also the Strength of Israel will not lie nor relent (nacham). For He is not a man, that He should relent (nacham)." (1Sam.15:29)
…the LORD regretted (nacham) that He had made Saul king over Israel. (1Sam.15:35)

There seems to be an apparent contradiction between the above two passages: the first tells us that God never regrets; the second, that He did. This again seems to conflict with the idea of immutability or the unchangeableness of God.

…the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (James 1:17)

But, does historical information in the Bible contradict the idea of divine immutability? Well, 1Samuel 15 is not the only case we are told about divine repentance (or regret or change of action). Remember that we aren’t talking of ontological immutability here (i.e. as related to His being); we are talking here of moral immutability – that God is unchanging in His decisions and moral character. In the book of Jonah, we find again the issue of divine repentance. God wanted to destroy the Ninevites, but

“Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” (Jon.3:10)

Now, in order to understand both these situations in light of the nature of God, we must first understand three of God’s attributes that come into action in these situations: Justice, Mercy, and Grace.

Justice is to reward and punish people according to their works.
Mercy is to not punish people according to their works.
Grace is to reward people, not according to their works.

In the case of Saul, the relenting of God is an act of Justice. Saul, by his action of disobedience, forfeited the promises of God.

In the case of Nineveh, the relenting of God is an act of Mercy. The Ninevites, through repentance, became subjects of the Mercy of God.

While Grace is more specifically the experience of saints in the New Testament because of the atoning work of Jesus Christ, divine favor and graciousness is not absent from the Old Testament. Favor, in the Old Testament, is more a disposition of God to do good to the one He is favorable towards. Jonah weaves all these attributes of God in this statement:

“I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.” (Jonah 4:2)

At any cost, it is clear that we cannot demand mercy, we cannot demand grace. We only seek it. We can only demand something that we are worthy of. The laborers in the Vineyard had to be content with what the Master gave them. They had no right to demand why He gave the same to those who came later.

God’s explanation to Jonah is worth looking into:
“Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?" And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!" But the LORD said, "You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left -- and much livestock?" (Jon.4:9-11)

Obviously, the justice of God related to His eternal moral order and law. The mercy of God related to His consideration of the people as persons. Jonah pitied the plant because he found it useful to him; he was angry because it died. From the perspective of mercy, the people of Nineveh were more valuable to God than the plant was to the selfish Jonah. Of course, the people didn’t provide a shade for God, but they were valuable for who they were. In this anger and pity of Jonah, and the response of God to him, we find a grand interweaving of the ideas of justice, mercy, and grace. Does it mean that God contradicts Himself? Does it mean that He is not actually immutable?

Of course not. It only means that God is just, merciful, and gracious and we must understand the immutability of God as not being limited by justice only but also extending in grace and mercy. It also means that God expects us to have a soft corner while not forgoing rigidness and discipline. We must remember that the same God who forgave the Ninevites was the One who struck Ananias and Sapphira to death in the New Testament. More importantly, we must not lose sight of the justice of God when we’re seeking His mercy. There is no mercy for those who lack the sense and appreciation for justice. The depth of our understanding of divine mercy is proportionate to the depth of our understanding of divine justice.
It is not the case that God changed His mind; however, it is the case that God’s character is immutable with regard to His justice and mercy. It’s like the tap which has a hot water knob and a cold water knob. The hot water and the cold water is there; however, it is up to us whether we let the hot water out or the cold water out. Similarly, the justice and mercy of God is unchanging. However, it is also true that not everybody receives mercy though mercy is for all; similarly, not everyone stays condemned though all deserve the judgment of God. Let’s look at some qualities of those who receive the judgment of God and do not receive the mercy of God. Then, we will look at the qualities of those who receive the mercy of God in their lives.

Recipients of Judgment
1. The Rebellious (1Sam.15:23)
2. The Unforgiving (Mat.18:32-34; James 2:13)
3. The Unbelieving (Rev.21:8; John 3:18)
4. The Proud (James 4:6)
5. The Unrepentant (Rev.3:3; Rev.16:9-11)

Recipients of Mercy
1. Those who Fear God (Psa.103:11,17)
2. Those who have Faith in God (Eph.2:14; Titus 3:5)
3. The Humble, Broken Hearted, and Repentant (Luke 18:13,14)
4. The Merciful (Matt.5:7)
5. Those who come to His Throne of Grace (Heb.4:16; Psa. 4:1; Psa.86:5)

God is faithful in His justice and mercy. He does not show personal favoritism on any man (Gal.2:6). However, no man can also demand the mercy of God. It is His prerogative and sovereign determination. He has mercy on whom He wills (Rom.9:18). It is His to give equally to those who came later as to those who came first (Matt.20:14). There is nothing faithless and unlawful in what He does with His own things (Matt.20:13). However, one can choose to either be a vessel of mercy or vessel of destruction; it's up to the person. Evidently, one who stands and says "I am worthy of divine mercy" has no brokenheartedness and humility. He cannot be a vessel of mercy, but only of wrath. However, the one who bows down and cries out with a true repentant heart receives mercy. Thus, God is faithful in His mercies to help (Heb.4:16), to deliver (1Cor.10:13), to forgive and to cleanse us (1Jn.1:9).
Share:

The Paradox of Divine Faithfulness - Part 2 - In The Hour of Trial

Paradox: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement which, when investigated or explained, may prove to be well-founded or true.

For instance: Scientists say that Light is a wave, and then also say that Light is a particle. Now, something cannot be both a particle and a wave at the same time. Thus, when you look for light as looking for a wave, light appears to behave like wave, and when you look for it as a particle, it appears to behave as a particle…

TEXT:
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1Co 10:13 NKJ)
However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew (azab) from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart. (2Ch 32:31 NKJ)

Reading:
At that time Berodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures -- the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory -- all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, "What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?" So Hezekiah said, "They came from a far country, from Babylon." And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them." Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD: 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,' says the LORD. 'And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.' " So Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good!" For he said, "Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?" (2Kings 20:12-19)

2Chronicles which is a priestly chronicle of Israel interprets this event as God’s forsaking of Hezekiah in order to test what is in his heart.. And, what was found was nothing but foolishness, pride, credulity, and inability to foresee the results of one’s actions. But, what looks amazing is the fact that we are told that God withdrew or left Hezekiah alone to himself in order for him to be tested.

Let’s go back a little and look at the Original Fall of Man. Calvinists tell us that the Fall was itself in the foreplan of God, was part of His Plan. God knew that Adam would inevitably fall into sin if He withdrew His grace from him, and so in the First Test of Humanity, God withdrew Himself from man. They say this because they argue, “Suppose Adam didn’t fall, how would it be possible for Christ to incarnate as man and die for our sins, making available for us a greater glory than that which Adam ever had?” They believe that the Fall of Adam was predestinated.
I believe this is a very erroneous view of the nature of God and the nature of temptation as well.

We are strongly told that God is faithful, who will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that we may be able to bear it.
But, this is where we encounter the Paradox of Divine Faithfulness again. THE GOD who promised to be with us even in the hour of testing is the one who is said to have left Hezekiah alone in order for him to be tested…

When the Chroniclers tell us that God withdrew from or left Hezekiah alone, the Hebrew word used is azab – to leave, to forsake, to loose. What is paradoxical is that the Bible uses this same word azab to remind us that God will never leave us nor forsake us again and again in the Scriptures.

Moses says to all Israel:
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." (Deu 31:6 NKJ)
Moses tells to Joshua:
"And the LORD, He is the one who goes before you. He will be with (Deu 31:8 NKJ)
GOD says to Joshua:
"No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. (Jos 1:5 NKJ)
David said to his son Solomon, "Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the LORD God-- my God-- will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD (1Ch 28:20 NKJ)
Solomon prays:
"May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers. May He not leave us nor forsake us, (1Ki 8:57 NKJ)

The Writer of Hebrews tells the Christians:
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb 13:5 NKJ)

THE PROMISE IS CLEAR: GOD WILL NEVER LEAVE NOR FORSAKE…

And yet we are told that Hezekiah was left alone by God.
What does it mean to be left alone?
What does it mean to be tested?

I don’t think there is any person here who has not experienced at sometime in his life a feeling that he is left alone and that the tests of life are too hard beyond strength.

One of the greatest cries in history was when from the cross, Jesus cried, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Mat 27:46 NKJ)

In the midst of his fiery trial Job calls out in chapter 23:3-9
Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, That I might come to His seat! (Job 23:3 NKJ)
"Look, I go forward, but He is not there, And backward, but I cannot perceive Him; When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him; When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him. (Job 23:9 NKJ)

The paradox is painful because it is also true at the same time that the God who forsakes at the time of our test is the same God who is there to hold us up.

Here is the point of Job’s victory: verse 10
But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10 NKJ)

David prays to God:
Do not hide Your face from me; Do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation. (Psa 27:9 NKJ)

Jesus taught us to pray
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. (Mat 6:13 NKJ)

1. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of our Testing Does Not Mean God’s Abandonment of His People. God only abandons those who have been tested and proven to be thoroughly godless (Rom.1:24).
2. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of our Testing Does Not Mean God’s Presence is Not With Us. This is impossible; because He is everywhere, and secondly because His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us can never change. So, how is it possible for God to leave us alone and at the same time be with us? How is it possible for the Son of God, God Himself, to cry out “My God and My God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the paradox of divine faithfulness: He leaves us and still He is with us.
3. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing is not in order to make us fall, but in order to allow our faith to be seen as it is; in order for our love to be seen as it is. After Abraham was tested, God said “now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me." (Gen 22:12 NKJ). Peter talks about our faith coming out of the fire of trials as pure gold. Testing is not in order to make us fall but to reveal to us what we are and where we are so that we can move forward. There is difference between exercise and test. Exercises help us be strong, but it is only a test that leads us to the next level.
4. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing does not mean that God is Not with us in the Hour of Testing. He promised to walk with us when we walk through fire, through waters…
5. God’s Withdrawal in the Time of Testing is Real. But, His Presence is also equally Real. That’s why Christ who cried to God on the Cross, “Why have you forsaken me” could also say “Father, into Your hands I submit my Spirit”. We experience this withdrawal in the form of the silence of God, the absence of any feeling of God’s power, the great pressure of the trial that seems to almost crush us. Paul tells of one such experience in 2Cor.1:8-10, He says, “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, (2Co 1:8-10 NKJ)
6. We must differentiate between TESTING and TEMPTATION. The goal of temptation is to cause someone to fall into sin. The goal of testing is to help us move forward. God never tempts anyone. The devil is the tempter. James tells us to be careful not to say when we are tempted that we are tempted by God, for God never tempts anyone nor is tempted.
7. Prayer is the door of faith that connects us to the invisible. Therefore, Jesus said “Watch and pray so that you do not enter into temptation.” It is through prayer that one stays connected with the God who is still with us, while He has also withdrawn from us. Therefore, James says that when we face trials and we realize we lack wisdom, we must ask it of God. Solomon reminds us to fear God first for it is the beginning of wisdom and then says that we must not rely on our own understanding, not be wise in our own eyes, but trust in the Lord with all our heart. Not to live as if God is not there, but to walk in the Spirit and be led by the Spirit. Hezekiah missed this. He had become OVER CONFIDENT, so much that he thought prayer was not necessary. When he was about to die, he prayed with tears; but, now all that passion had died. There is nothing more godless and infernal/ hellish than a prayerless lifestyle. We must pray that God will not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. And, we must pray for each other.

GOD IS FAITHFUL, the Bible says. who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

When trials come, what is more important is not how fiery the trial is, or how overpowering and strong it looks like; what is more important for us is to BELIEVE and be unshaken in this faith that GOD IS FAITHFUL. THIS FAITH IN THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD IS THE KEY TO OUR VICTORY OVER THE FLESH, THE WORLD, AND THE DEVIL.
Share:

The Paradox of Divine Faithfulness - Part 1: Infinity At A Cost

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1Jo 1:9 NKJ)

The universe is not a free lunch. Nothing is free under the sun though some may think it is or wish it is. And if we see or receive something that is free, it is because somebody had paid for it.
Somebody has got to pay anyway.

-In any act of charity, the giver incurs the expense
-In any forgiving of debts, the creditor has to bear the loss

Generosity is a great virtue because God Himself is generous. Forgiving others is a great virtue because our God Himself is a forgiving God. But, then we generally understand that man cannot be compared with God.

It is understood by some that God is only and just the “Wholly Other” the One who has no comparative in this universe.

Sometimes, you may have heard people say, “Well, I’m not God; God can forgive so much, but I am not God”

We read about the miracles of Jesus and are stunned by the greatness of power. We read about Jesus turning water into wine at Cana and the miracle of feeding the 5000 men (besides women and children) with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, and we feel like saying, “Wow! This can only be the hand of God, the One who is infinite in His riches and unlimited in power!” “His resources never deplete though used from day to day, His treasures have no minuses nor pluses though there are debits on a daily basis.”

But, let's think of this. In John 6:12 after the miracle of multiplication of loaves and fish, when all are filled, why does Jesus say, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." (Joh 6:12 NKJ)

Why does the Infinite One need to gather fragments?? What does loss mean to God??

This is the cardinal truth of the Gospel. And the truth is that though God is infinite in His Power and in His Wisdom, profit and loss matter to Him. The fact is God also has to pay the price for what he does in a universe which is not a free lunch. Now, this may seem very blasphemous for some who think that God is not like man to suffer loss or gain due to His infinite nature. However, a little pondering over the scriptures will unravel many significant truths.

- In His Parables of the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin, Jesus portrays God as someone who goes after the one lost one… Why should He do that if His resources are infinite? Why doesn’t He let the world and everything perish and create another new world? I believe it is because He is not willing to lose anything that truly belongs to Him, and He is not willing to let go. He will redeem His own no matter what price He has to pay for it. And you and I know the price He paid.
- In the Temptation of Jesus when the devil tempted Jesus, his first question was “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread”. Isn’t that the general tendency of humanity towards God, even the tendency of some Christians. We believe in a God who can turn stones into bread, we love fairy tales and magical worlds where wishes come true and fantasies materialize the moment they arise. But, Jesus rebuked the devil with the Word, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” In other words, though it is true that man needs bread and works for bread to eat and live, what does it matter to live a life that is opposed to the word of God and is going to hell? Bread can sustain man on earth, but God is sovereign over the universe. Life is not just about eating and drinking.

I believe one reason why the Son of God refused to turn stones into bread was because He knew that the Universe is not a free lunch and He Himself was the Price that Heaven paid in order for the Kingdom of God to come on earth. MIRACLES also have an economic value, a purpose, and are not meant for squandering on personal hunger. Jesus knew He was not going to die by hunger; that was the word of God, and so there was no rationale for turning stones into bread. Also, a Son of Man who turned stones into bread to feed his belly will know nothing of the price that humans pay in order to eat their bread.

Students of apologetics can find here some hints to the biblical answer to the haunting problem of evil in the world. God lets the world according to the principle of sowing and reaping. He allows suffering because the very principle of returns and fruitfulness involves the possibility of both profit and loss.

If you follow our line of argument, we have been meditating on the topic THE COST OF DIVINE FAITHFULNESS.

Faithfulness is a cardinal virtue of God because it relates to God Himself to who He is. It is an aspect attribute of Truth. The other aspects of Truth are righteousness, justice, and integrity.
Faithfulness, Righteousness, Integrity, and Justice are aspects of Truth which is a cardinal virtue of God. Therefore, we have the statement, “God cannot deny Himself” (2Tim.2:13). In other words, God is true to Himself, is faithful to His own nature and being. We don’t find expressions equal to God being merciful to Himself or kind to Himself or so on; because mercy, grace, and kindness are in relation to the universe, but Truth is cardinal and internal to God.
But, you may say, well that is true about anyone… However, we know that is different with men. Almost reverse. We are usually untrue to ourselves, faithless to ourselves; but on the other hand self-pitying, self-compassionate, self-kind, selfish and plagued with every kind of depression, emotional breakdowns, and psychological distress. Therefore, we read "If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself." (2Ti 2:13 NKJ)

"God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Num 23:19 NKJ)

It is impossible for God to be unfaithful because He is consistently true, He is Light. There is no darkness in Him.

Now, God is also merciful, kind, and longsuffering. Lamentations 3:22-23 says
Through the LORD'S mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. (Lam 3:22-23 NKJ)

In other words, God is faithful in showing His mercies and His compassions. Which means again that even the mercies and compassions or God do not stand by themselves but are consistent because of the faithful nature of God. But, faithful to what?
1. To HIMSELF – To Who He Is
2. To HIS Established Rule
3. To His Covenant
4. To His Promises
But, when there is a defaulting side, then God’s mercy comes into play and mercy is a costly affair and when God shows mercy on man, it is at a price He has to pay.

The Cost of God’s Faithfulness to His Own Nature of Justice and Mercy was His Own Son. And He paid the price. That’s why you and I are here.

We must not forget the Cross when we talk of the faithfulness of God. Even when we were faithless, He did not deny Himself. Even when His disciples denied Him, he did not deny Himself.

He is Infinite; yet, He suffers loss
He is Infinite; yet, He pays the price of redemption.

Again, God is Self-sufficient, and no loss is loss to Him. When man rejects God, it is man who loses. Yet, Jesus spoke about the lost and His mission to seek and save them.

That's the Paradox of Divine Faithfulness, because He will not let go what He knows He can redeem, though it cost Him Himself.


Share:

Latest posts

Popular Posts

Blog Archive

Translate