Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Faith Secures, Doubt Shut the Doors


I know that this might never happen, but what if our government high official says, “Come graduates, go to our nearby PTPTN office on Saturday between 10am to 1pm, we will cancel your entire education loan!” How would you respond? Unbelievable, right? I think so. But here is true story: I read that Lord Congleton of Dublin once devised a clever plan for teaching his tenants how faith secures forgiveness of sins, while unbelief shuts one out from the benefits of the Gospel. Many who owed him several years’ rent were expecting severe action in the court. Instead, he posted a notice promising remission of back dues to any who would meet him on a certain day before twelve noon. One the designated day, he sat in his office waiting their response. They crowded the street, whispering and talking, but not one of them entered the open door. Just a few minutes before twelve o’clock, a tenant who had been delayed came running in to ask for his receipt.

Do you really expect to be forgiven for your debt?” ask Lord Congleton.
Yes sir, because you faithfully promised it.”
“And do you believe me?”
“Yes, I do, because you would not be the kind to deceive a person.”
“But are you a good and industrious man?” the landlord inquired.
The notice said nothing about that, sir.”
“So you just believed what I said and have come for your receipt?”
“Indeed, I have.”

Lord Congleton wrote “paid in full” on his bill and handed it to him. Just as the hour struck, the happy fellow ran out of the house waving the release crying, “I’ve got it! I’m a free man!” The others milling in the street rushed to the house, but the door was shut! One man had believed, and he alone received the benefits.

Doubt sees the obstacles –
Faith sees the way!
Doubt sees the darkest night –
Faith sees the day!
Doubt dreads to take a step –
Faith soars on high!
Doubt questions, ‘Who believes?’
Faith answers, ‘I.’

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Adakah Yesus berkata "Wow!" Apabila Melihat Imanmu?


Ketahuilah! Belum pernah Aku menjumpai sesiapa pun antara umat Israel yang mempunyai iman sebesar ini” (Matius 8:10, BM). Wow! Kepada siapa Yesus berkata seperti itu? Kalau petikkan ini diambil tanpa membaca konteks ayat, mungkinkah kita beranggapan bahawa Yesus bercakap tentang iman pengikut-pengkut-Nya? Atau mungkin berkata tentang Yohanes Pembaptis? Atau tentang seorang yang lumpuh disembuhkan? Atau seorang yang kerasukkan kemudian dipulihkan? Atau kepada umat Israel yang percaya kepada-Nya?

Mungkin Yesus pernah melihat iman dalam setiap mereka yang disembuhkan dan dipulihkan-Nya dan dalam setiap hati kebanyakkan pengikut-pengikut-Nya, tetapi Yesus bukanlah berkata seperti itu kepada mereka semua. Dia berkata: “Belum pernah Aku menjumpai sesiapa pun antara umat Israel yang mempunyai iman sebesar ini” – kepada seorang hamba ketua askar Roma. Kamu tahu apakah yang sangat mengejutkan disini? Askar Roma itu ialah orang bukan Yahudi! Wow! Yesus Kristus dan ketua askar Roma itu mempunyai latarbelakang yang sangat (sangat!) berbeza. Mereka dipisahkan oleh bangsa dan kaum, kedudukkan dan pangkat, bahasa dan budaya. Fikir secara logik: ketua askar Roma itu merupakan seorang yang mempunyai kuasa dan harta yang boleh meminta bantuan daripada ‘pakar-pakar’ yang lain atau sesiapa sahaja. Tetapi sebaliknya, dia datang kepada Yesus. Ini ialah salah satu faktor kenapa Yesus “Wow!” kepada iman ketua askar Roma itu.

Ketua askar Roma mencari orang untuk menyembuhkan orang suruhannya dan dia datang kepada Yesus kerana dia tahu bahawa Yesus ialah satu-satunya orang yang boleh membantunya. “Tuan, orang suruhan saya sakit di rumah, dia terbaring di katil dan tidak dapat bergerak. Dia sangat menderita” (Matius 8:6). Apabila Yesus ingin datang secara fisikal untuk menyembuh orang suruhan itu, ketua askar Roma itu menjawab, “Tuan tidak usah datang ke rumah. Saya tidak layak menyambut Tuan ke rumah saya. Perintahkanlah sahaja, tentu hamba saya akan sembuh” (8:8). Apakah respon Yesus? Kebanyakkan terjemahan Alkitab menulis “Yesus hairan mendengar hal itu” (8:10). Hairan? Adakah dia hairan seperti tidak tahu apa-apa? Hmmm... mungkin terjemahan yang lebih tepat lagi ialah: Yesus “kagum sekali(terjemahan Bahasa Indonesia Masa Kini). Yesus kagum! Ini ialah salah satu lagi faktor kenapa Yesus “Wow!” kepada imannya.

Mungkin agak sukar bagi kita untuk membayangkan bahawa Yesus “kagum sekali” dengan iman ketua askar Roma itu. Sebagai Anak Allah, Tuhan Yesus dapat “melihat” imannya; sebagai Anak Manusia, Yesus Kristus “kagum” dengan imannya dan berkata, “Ketahuilah! Belum pernah Aku menjumpai sesiapa pun antara umat Israel yang mempunyai iman sebesar ini.” Apa yang terjadi seterusnya adalah sesuatu yang diluar jangkaan kita, “Yesus berkata kepada ketua askar itu, ‘Pulanglah! Apa yang kamu percayai itu akan berlaku.’ Hamba ketua askar itu pun sembuh pada saat itu juga” (Matius 10:13). Yesus menyembuhkan hamba itu dari jauh – pada saat itu juga! Yesus Kristus ialah Tuhan. Wow!

Apakah mesej yang TUHAN ingin sampaikan kepada kita sekarang? Tiga perkara: Harapan yang Hidup, Rendah Hati dan Iman Percaya. Kenapa ketua askar itu sungguh mengasihi orang suruhannya itu saya tidak tahu. Tetapi apa yang saya tahu ialah ketua askar itu bukan sahaja berharap bahawa Yesus akan berdoa bagi hambanya tetapi pergi berjumpa dengan-Nya secara peribadi dan menyerahkan dia kepada Yesus untuk bertindak. Baca Firman Allah ini (Matius 10:6), dia tidak meminta Yesus untuk menyembuhkan hambanya, dia hanya memberitahu Yesus, dan Yesus sendiri menjawab bahawa dia akan datang untuk menyembuhkan hambanya (10:7). Wow! Harapan yang hidup! Malah ketua askar itu sedar bahawa sebagai seorang Yahudi, Yesus tidak dibenarkan datang ke rumah orang bukan Yahudi [tetapi Yesus tidak kesah sebenarnya]. Dia dengan rendah hati juga sedar bahawa Yesus ialah seorang yang mempunyai autoriti ke atas penyakit seperti dia mempunyai autoriti ke atas orang bawahannya (rujuk Matius 10:8-9). Oleh itu, dia berkata kepada Yesus, “Perintahkanlah sahaja, tentu hamba saya akan sembuh.” Wow! Rendah hati!

Iman ketua askar Roma ini sangat unik bagi saya dan sangat dikagumi oleh Yesus. Semasa kebanyakkan orang Yahudi dan guru-guru agama tidak percaya kepada-Nya (walaupun Yesus telah melakukan banyak mukjizat dan penyembuhan, menggenapi nubuat-nubuat Perjanjian Lama mengenai Mesias dan mengkhabarkan Firman Allah kepada mereka semua) seorang Roma yang dibenci oleh penduduk tempatan, seorang bukan Yahudi yang dianggap sebagai bukan umat TUHAN dan seorang askar yang tidak mempunyai (atau sedikit) pengetahuan tentang Taurat Musa – boleh memiliki iman percaya kepada Yesus Kristus. Wow! Ini bukan tentang Yesus boleh menyembuh dari jauh; ini tentang iman percaya bahawa Yesus mempunyai autoriti ke atas segalanya. Wow!

Adakah kamu hanya berharap kosong
atau benar-benar mempunyai harapan yang hidup di dalam Yesus?
Adakah kamu terlalu yakin dengan kehidupan ke-agama-an kamu
atau sanggup merendahkan hati dihadapan Yesus?
Adakah iman kamu mati
atau kamu memiliki iman percaya kepada Yesus yang hidup?
Adakah iman kamu membuatkan Yesus berkata “Wow!”?

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Martin Luther's Discovery of the "Righteousness of God"


My favourite speech (quote) from Martin Luther

In the passage below, originally written in 1545, the year before his death, Luther reflects on his early life, and particularly a major theological difficulty which he experienced as a young man. What was “Good News” about the proclamation of the righteousness of God? For Luther, this could only mean the condemnation of sinners, himself included. Luther here relates how, after wrestling with the meaning of Romans 1:17, he finally came to understand the “righteousness of God (iustitia Dei)” in a different way, thus opening the door of his theological reformation. He writes,

“Meanwhile in that year [1519], I had returned to interpreting the Psalter again, confident that I was better equipped after I had expounded in the schools the letters of St. Paul to the Romans and the Galatians, and the letter to the Hebrews. I had certainly been overcome with a great desire to understand St. Paul in his letter to the Romans, but what had hindered me thus far was not any ‘coldness of the blood’ so much as that on phrase in the first chapter: ‘The righteousness of God is revealed in it.’ For I had hated the phrase ‘the righteousness of God’ which, according to the use and custom of all the doctors (I think what he means are the theologians), I had been taught to understand philosophically, in the sense of the formal or active righteousness (as they termed it), by which God is righteous, and punishes unrighteous sinners.

Although I lived an irreproachable life as a monk, I felt that I was a sinner with an uneasy conscience before God; nor was I able to believe that I had pleased him with my satisfaction. I did not love (in fact, I hated) that righteous God who punished sinners, if not with silent blasphemy, then certainly with great murmuring. I was angry with God, saying ‘As if it were not enough that miserable sinners should be eternally damned through original sin, with all kinds of misfortunes laid upon them by the Old Testament law, and yet God adds sorrow upon sorrow through the gospel, and even brings wrath and righteousness to bear through it!Thus I drove myself mad, with a desperate disturbed conscience, persistently pounding upon Paul in this passage, thirsting most ardently to know what he meant.

At last, God being merciful, as I meditated day and night on he connection of the words ‘the righteousness of God is revealed in it, as it is written: the righteous shall live by faith,’ I began to understand that ‘righteousness of God’ as that by which the righteous lives by the gift of God, namely by faith, and this sentence, ‘the righteousness of God is revealed,’ to refer to a passive righteousness, by which the merciful God justified us by faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous lives by faith.’ This immediately made me feel as though I had been born again, and as though I had entered through open gates into paradise itself. From that moment, the whole face of Scripture appeared to me in a different light. Afterwards, I ran through the Scriptures, as from memory, and found the same analogy in other phrases such as the ‘work of God’ (that which God works with us), the ‘power of God’ (by which makes us strong), the ‘wisdom of God’ (by which he makes us wise), the ‘strength of God’, the ‘salvation of God’ and the ‘glory of God.

And now, where I had once hated the phrase ‘the righteousness of God,’ so much I began to love and extol it as the sweetest of words, so that this passage in Paul became the very gate of paradise to me. Afterwards, I read Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, where I found that he too, beyond my expectation, interpreted ‘the righteousness of God’ in the same way – as that which God bestows upon us, when he justifies us. And although this is expressed somewhat imperfectly, and he does not explain everything about imputation clearly, it was nevertheless pleasing to find that he taught that the ‘righteousness of God’ is that, by which we are justified.”
[Source: Preface to the Latin Works (1545); D. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, vol. 54 (Weimar: Bohlau, 1938), 185.12-186.21]

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