29 August 2014 by Dr Yeo Teck Thiam –
I suppose many people are surprised that Jesus said unless we change and become like little children, we cannot enter the kingdom of God. We think that when we become adults, we should be throwing away childish things!
Even Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council in Jesus’ time, did not understand what Jesus meant. Jesus told Nicodemus that he must be born again. Then he wanted to know how he will be able to do this! John 3:3
Obviously, a person is not to take the wisdom of this world as his guide, when he chooses to believe in Jesus. He is seeking God, instead of seeking his own destiny and this world.
For many, this may be changing their lifestyles, and turning over a new leaf. So the Christian begins his first steps like any new born babe to live as Jesus calls. He is learning like any child must do, to know God.
Likewise, this is also for children, but this is easier since they are learning everything new! Children will not have to “unlearn” or discard many worldly values which hinders the godly life in Jesus.
So there is a paradoxical catch in what Jesus said. It is how to think maturely, and yet live the Christian life with child-like faith.
Footsteps of Faith
The Christian also knows that faith plays a pivotal role in his life. For he is saved from death’s condemnation by grace through faith in Jesus, and this continues in the revelation that the righteous shall live by faith. For we walk by faith, and not by sight.
This walk by faith refers to trusting and walking with God; and since we cannot see God, to walk by faith is hence not by sight. But it is not blind, as some protest on “not by sight”.
This is because, when a person walks with God, he talks and discusses with God the things in his life on earth. The person listens to God and seeks to know from God the best ways to decide or act.
Naturally, this means he tells God what he is seeing in his life, and what he is thinking. Therefore to walk by faith is not blind. It is because the person is telling God about his views and what he sees; and he is asking God what are the best actions to take.
So the Christian also understands that faith is not merely about believing in God. The essence of faith in God is in trusting, and listening to what He says. When we speak of “listening”, we are, of course, talking about hearing and obeying what God says. So Jesus said to the Jews, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
What About God’s Will?
Nevertheless, many think about God’s will in this context. It is thinking about how we can tell that God is directing us in decisions. And how would we “know”? How can we “plan” for this life, and know God is in this will?
Thus this poses a dilemma for various Christians in how to respond to the activities and decisions in interacting with this world.
On the one hand, all of us read the news, and assess the impact of events in this world. We know these have impact on our lives, especially crimes and taxes!
On the other hand, must we turn off the TV and social media, and listen or live to the preaching of Christian leaders? Can preachers teach us how to make money on the stock market, or help us make a living?
So we reflect on how to respond to the world. This is about our daily living. We keep our eyes open to watch where we are going. Yet, when we consider our responses and reactions, we wonder how we can recognize Jesus is in our decisions and actions.
How do we know, or ensure that our decisions have God’s wisdom and His will?
To Recognize a Voice
Perhaps it need not be so difficult. At least, I think God won’t make it difficult!
For I consider that, if it needs great brains to work out how God speaks to us, then, I must wonder how God will speak to a child.
We must, of course, use our brains when we are thinking. But surely, it must not require too much brain power to know, for we also know not all of us are born “smart” or “street wise”.
Thus, I think about what Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 18:3
So then, I consider that a child always recognizes a mother’s or father’s voice. Children need not ask anyone to tell them who is speaking because they instinctively know mum is talking to them, or when dad is going to “lecture” them!
This is natural because children interact with their parents all the time. A child can always “hear” mum say, “Wash your hands,” before eating in the school canteen. But mum won’t be standing next to him in school for this!
So I think God speaks to each of us in similar ways, for we are children of God.
Thus, I consider that when a Christian prays regularly to God, and reads the word of God, he is hearing God speaking to him. The conversation with God, and reminders from God’s word, are useful guides to lead the Christian in many things for this life. He learns to know instinctively and recognizes what God says.
God is also perfectly consistent in what He says. He does not contradict Himself by giving confusing instructions. So I can be very sure that a suggestion that conflicts with God’s word cannot come from God Himself.
I know the reason why, because I read this in Scripture. God’s word contains commandments and instructions to be a lamp for the feet and a light for the path.
About Right and Wrong, Good and Evil
Besides, God gives to everyone knowledge of good and evil to help him also. This knowledge was given in God’s grace to help Adam when he fell into sin. It is in everyone, whether he is good or bad.
Therefore, when I am seeking good with this knowledge, I put aside the need to consider how “right” or “wrong” my decisions are.
I do not worry about “right” and “wrong” decisions because all deliberations in this world’s wisdom, and all standards and laws in this world are human legislations. These human laws are not perfect, and differ from society to society. We know human codes of conduct, and strategies keep changing because of imperfections!
Since a “right” decision today can also be “wrong” tomorrow because circumstances change, we can never be sure how “good” for our lives that a “right and wrong” decision bring. A “right” decision in this world can only take account of known facts, but no one knows the future.
So I decided it is better to know what makes good decisions. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes already taught this! So I seek God to know “good” decisions.
God is good, and does good things for me. I know God is good all the time also. And God also sets out what is good for me when I seek Him.
Thus, the Holy Spirit writes important things about the law for good in my heart, so that I “know the LORD”. He guides me to know truth and good. Jesus promised this in John 16:13. This covenant of the law of the Spirit is in my heart, as spoken also in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
A Road Block
It is true that we will encounter road blocks in life. Paul met a stiff resistance when he tried to go into Bithynia because the Holy Spirit would not allow him and his companions to. So they passed over Mysia and went on to Troas. Acts 16:7
In times like this, we know God has set road blocks to keep us from going to wrong places. Then, we also expect God to show us the right way, as He did to Paul through a vision of the man from Macedonia. So Paul concluded God was taking them into Macedonia. Acts 16:10
We may not be so fortunate in most times to have visions, or even spoken to through dreams. Nevertheless, God must lead, if we are to walk by faith. So I expect God will show us by opening ways to lead us as well.
So God also says that whether the Christian turns to the right or to the left, his ears will hear God speaking behind him, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21.
God will make sure His counsels are unmistakable to all who trust in Him. These are His promises. We believe because we walk by faith. So I seek to know God first.
He Leadeth Me
So what then, is there in knowing God?
This prompts us to see how God leads us in common ways for our good in life. However, I think the first thing to remember is that God is a Person.
A relationship with God is always personal. This is because God is a Person.
So what I want to know about God is always about how often I spend time to know Him. It is never about how well God knows me — because God knows all things already.
Jesus says He stands at the door of the heart and knock. If any man will open the door, He will come in, and sup with him. It is up to a person to decide whether he wants God or not.
God does not force His will on any man. God does not need to do this because He does not need us. Rather, it is because we need God!
It is God who chooses to give a man this opportunity, and it is up to a person to accept or reject God’s offer. So, one has to decide.
If a person chooses some other time, then he does not have God with him yet. The consequences for delaying this decision are our personal problems. Whatever comes our way in this life, we do not know whether it is for good or bad. But we cannot expect God to be there to protect us because we choose not to call Him yet. This means we have no guarantee God must help.
God promises everyone who calls on His name shall be saved. Unless a man chooses to follow God, he won’t be able to claim the promise.
Thus I just tell God the situation on hand. I just ask God if I am not sure of anything.
All I know is that God always took care of problems I faced, through giving a way for me to come out well.
God guaranteed this as He promised. It has nothing to do with my abilities.
So, I can tell that it has never been how smart or lucky I am. It is not because God gave me gifts that I planned well, solve problems, had great success.
If I had little to start something, God provided.
If I already have things in hand, God does not provide where it is already enough.
So I know God always takes care of the details of my needs.
This comes about because God is there. But it is personal.
In all these, God makes things work out for good for those who love Him.
It is about God’s love. The key to this is that I choose to obey God.
I just listen faithfully to God and do as He commanded in Scripture. These are His instructions and statutes that He laid down for me to follow.
By this, I also know I am in God’s will.
Not By Bread Alone
There is no better method than as God planned.
Who can teach better things than God?
Even my best plans I lay out do not account for everything, but God’s plans do.
So I find this means man shall not live by bread alone.
Jesus gave a larger meaning of life when He said that man shall live by every word from the mouth of God.
So it is written: The righteous shall live by faith. Habakkuk 2:4
NOTE : Mr Yeo Teck Thiam is a retireer who used to work as a chemical engineer, specializing in food and perfume chemistry for an international food company and perfumer. His other main interest is astronomy and other mathematical matters, relating to the Biblical passages.
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