Saturday, November 12, 2016

Diyos at Agham

Sa pamamagitan ng sangnilikha ay ini-uulat,
Ang kaluwalhatian Niya sa paningin ng lahat.
Walang maika-katuwiran ang sinumang tao,
Pagka’t pagka-alam natin sa Diyos ay ‘di salat.

“Walang Diyos!”, wika ng mga tampalasan,
Na ang puso’y pawang inalipin ng kasalanan.
Hamon nila’y ganito: “Sige, inyong patunayan,
Na ang Diyos niyo’y ‘di isang kasinungalingan.”

Dagdag pa nila, “‘Wag kang gagamit ng Biblia,
Bagkus ay magpakita ka ng mga ebidensya;
Ang batayan ko ay walang iba kundi syensya,
At kung ika’y mabigo, bakit paniniwalaan kita?”

Paano tayo dapat tumugon, mga kapatid ko?
Paano ba natin sasagutin ang hamong ito?
Sa paanong paraan tayo makikipag-argumento?
Dapat ba nating isangtabi ang Salita ni Cristo?

O, huwag nawa itong mangyari, mga kapatid.
Hindi ebidensya ang sa kanila’y dapat ihatid.
May Diyos, at ito’y kanilang nang nababatid.
Ang problema’y nasa puso nilang makikitid.

Ano daw ang kanilang batayan ng kaalaman?
Ito daw ay ang mga kaparaanan ng agham.
Sa mga bagay na nakikita sila’y nananangan,
Upang sila’y makasumpong ng katotohanan.

Ngunit ang disiplina ng agham ay nakasalalay,
Sa pangangalaga ng Diyos sa lahat ng bagay.
Ang sangnilikha ay may pagkakaisang tunay,
Pagka’t sinusustina ito ng ating Diyos na buhay.

Posible lamang ang agham dahil sa “pagkakaisa,”
Ng lahat ng maraming bagay na magkakaiba.
Ang saligan nito’y ang banal na Trinidad lamang,
Na Siyang Manglilikha; mismong “Marami” sa “Iisa.”

Anong rason ang maibibigay ng mga tampalasan,
Upang ang “pagkakaisang” ito ay kanilang asahan?
Sa kanilang kathang-daigdig ay walang gano’on;
Ito’y hiram lamang nila mula sa Salita ng Panginoon.

Kung gayon, hindi ang syensya ang huling saligan,
Upang ang pag-iral ng Diyos ay ating malaman.
Bagkus, ang awtoridad ng Salita ng Diyos lamang,
Ang mismong basehan ng posibilidad ng agham.

-Jeph

Ang Tula ng Isang Tupa







O Diyos, puso ko noon ay kasing tigas ng bato;
Walang pag-asa at hindi kayang magbago;
Hinding-hindi lalapit sa Panginoong Jesu-Cristo,
Malibang ang pananalig ay ipagkaloob Mo.

Ngunit ang iyong pagibig ay napaka-dakila;
Sapagkat Kaligtasan ko'y iyo nang itinakda,
Noong bago pa man likhain ang langit at lupa,
Para sa kapurihan ng iyong habag at biyaya.

Kay Cristo Jesus nga ako ay iyong ibinigay;
Sa Pastol na para sa katubusan ko'y namatay.
Pagliligtas Niya'y tiyak na magtatagumpay,
At lahat Niyang tupa ay magtatamo ng buhay.

Panginoon, tinawag mo ako at iyong binago,
Sa pamamagitan ng iyong Espiritu Santo.
Ipinaunawa mo sa akin ang iyong Ebanghelyo,
Upang aking makita ang kagandahan ni Cristo.

Mayroon bang bagay na makapaghihiwalay,
Sa mga hinirang at sa kanilang Diyos na buhay?
Ang mga iniligtas ay patuloy Mong iniingatan,
Upang matamo nila ang lubos na kaluwalhatian.

—Jeph

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Solus Cristus and the Eternal Destiny of Dying Infants

One of the most difficult and tricky questions one could ask a Calvinist is whether or not babies who die as babies automatically go to heaven. To the non-Calvinist, the question itself seems very trivial. What an insanity it is to insinuate that such cute little "angels" could possibly go to hell! The thought of babies being burned in hell is for some reason intuitively unbearable. And yet, Calvinists for many centuries since the Reformation, have always been divided over this issue.

Before we move along, I must candidly confess that I personally hope that all babies dying in infancy are indeed saved, and I say "hope" because I also acknowledge the fact that the Bible is simply silent on the issue. I am convinced that in any attempt to answer the question"are all dying babies saved?", one necessarily enters into the realm of speculations. That being said, I would want to make it clear that it is beyond the intention of this blog to offer an answer to that particular question. My concern here deals with something way more important than the dispute over whether or not all dying infants are saved. What I'm concerned about is the preservation of the purity of the Gospel message in all this.

A few days ago, I had a discussion with a certain Calvinist who claimed that all babies dying in infancy are saved. Of course, there's nothing inherently wrong with that assertion (note that I personally have that hope myself!). What made his position wrong, however, is the reason that has been provided to justify it. My Calvinist friend made a bold assertion that it would be unjust for God to send dying infants—who have never committed any personal/actual sins—to hell. To state it positively, what he implies is that God's justice requires the salvation of dying infants by virtue of their innocence from the charge of having committed any actual/personal sins. This is tantamount to saying that some people (i.e. dying infants) are bound to go to heaven by the merit of their own innocence and not by the gracious redemption of Christ! I am convinced this is an implicit affront to the Gospel of Grace that Calvinists are expected to hold dearly.

During our discussion, my Calvinist friend also insisted that while it is God's justice that requires the salvation of dying infants, such supposedly innocent infants would nonetheless still be saved by grace. But I could only imagine a snake eating its own tail when I read that statement. It is a fatal self-contradiction that ultimately reveals a serious misunderstanding of why is it necessary for us to be saved "by grace" in the first place. 

Saved by Grace Alone

Salvation is by grace simply because we don't deserve it.. God's justice condemns us (Rom. 3:19-23). If we deserved anything, as far as divine justice is concerned, it is only death: "for the wages of sin is death" (v. 6:23). Thus, grace presupposes our unworthiness before God. It presupposes our just condemnation. No sinner who is saved by grace can claim that God saved him because he justly deserves it. It also follows that God is never under any moral obligation to save any sinner. He could have thrown us all to hell in an instant and yet remain perfectly holy and just. If this isn't the case, then our salvation becomes a matter of legal obligation on God's part, and grace would no longer be grace (Rom. 11:6).  The mere mention of grace assumes that the recipient of such a bounty is justly condemned before God. In other words, the person who receives saving grace from God, left in himself, is a guilty sinner, and being guilty he is NOT innocent. So how can it be argued that dying infants are justly saved because they were innocent, and yet their salvation is still by grace? One can already see the absurdity of such a position.

Can a Christian hope that all dying infants will enter the kingdom of God? Sure! But let him confess that such little ones must enter the kingdom of God by grace alone; and if by grace, then it is not by any merit of their own (e.g. merit of innocence). Nobody is innocent before God—even infants (Psa. 51:5). "Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath" (Eph. 2:3, NIV). If dying infants are innocent and must be saved by virtue of their innocence, then they are saved by bare justice, and not by grace.

Saved in Christ Alone

At this point one may ask: If salvation cannot be acquired by anyone on the basis of God's bare justice (which can pronounce nothing but condemnation for our sins), does this mean that "grace" is unjust? No. God's grace has been made available because God's justice has been answered for in and by the Cross. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21). Justice is served by Christ's death on behalf of His people so that salvation may come to them by grace alone (Rom. 3:23-26). No Cross, no grace.

Our need for a Savior presupposes the reality of both our depraved condition and our just condemnation apart from God's mercy. So, do babies need Christ and His grace? If the answer is "Yes," then it follows that they, too, are not innocent and are justly condemned; for "it is not the healthy who need a Physician, but the sick" (Mat. 9:12). But if the answer is "No," then Jesus was lying when he said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn. 14:6, NIV).

Conclusion

As a closing remark, let me suggest that whatever our position is concerning the eternal destiny of dying infants, we nevertheless ought to uphold the scriptural fact that heaven is a glorious place filled with people who are redeemed and forgiven by the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ. No human being can be found in heaven who is not redeemed by Christ. If this declaration is true, then how can we imagine babies in heaven without also accepting the fact that even those babies were—as far as God's justice is concerned—guilty and condemned, so much so that they were not less in need of Christ's forgiveness as we are? Do you imagine babies in heaven? I do. But I imagine babies in heaven who are saved not because they were innocent, but because of God's grace in Christ.

-Jeph