I shall continue with my discussion on "questionable teachings" listed in Rev Kong Hee's article "Balance is the key of life (Part 3)". Again,I want to emphatically say that I have no intention whatsoever to discredit the ministry of Rev Kong Hee or City Harvest Church. I believe they are working for the kingdom of God but here I want to question whether those teachings that Rev Kong Hee deem questionable are really questionable.
Questionable Teaching #6: Under Grace, Holiness Is Transferable Through Personal Contacts!
The adherents of this brand of extreme grace believe that holiness is transferable through personal contacts. That under grace, those who are clean can pass on their holiness to those who are unclean. Christians should therefore pass on their holiness by touching the personal artifacts of sinners. As such, believers are strongly urged to touch the sinners' pillows, plates, pens, shirts etc., because as they do so, they would inadvertently cause the sinners to catch their holiness!
Is holiness instantaneous? Is holiness transferable by touch and contacts? If a Christian shakes hands with a family member, does that gesture instantly makes tire family member holy?
Those in the unbalanced grace camp definitely think so. They believe that holiness can be imparted through personal contacts and that this is taught in both in the Old and New Testament.
In page 88 of Renewal Theology (Volume 2) by J. Rodman Williams, Dr. Williams writes the following: "Under the old covenant it was not enough for Israel to be claimed as a holy people by virtue of their calling; Israel was called to holiness. Thus the Lord said to Moses, 'Say to all the congregation of the people of Israel, you shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy' (Lev. 19:2). Then follows a number of divine prescriptions — the 10 Commandments and various ordinances— by which this holiness is to be manifested. To be a holy people, therefore, is to walk according to God's command. In the New Testament the people of God are called to an even more extensive holiness: 'Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy'(I Pet. 1:15-16)."
The source of holiness or sanctification is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). It is erroneous to believe that Christians can go around imparting and transferring holiness to others around. Besides, holiness is not a one-time separation unto the Lord, it is a continuing process of purification and perfection.
Addressing the Corinthians, Paul says Christians are those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:2 KJV). However, shortly after that, he urges them to "flee sexual immorality" (1 Cor. 6:18). Hence there is an additional call for continuing sanctification or holiness. In his second letter to the same people, he writes,
Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you"... Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 6:17-7:1)
These words were written to believers — including Paul—when he says, "Let us cleanse ourselves!" Hence, although they, and Paul, were saved, there is the call to continuing sanctification. There is simply no short cut to holiness. To teach you can transfer holiness through personal contacts "under grace" is not only unscriptural, it is grossly wrong and irresponsible.
I agree with Rev Kong Hee that the teaching that "holiness is transferable by touch and contact" is incorrect. If holiness can indeed be transferable in such a manner, then there is no need for preachers to preach the Word; we can just go around touching people and the whole world will be saved.
No, the Word of God says, "for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" (Rom 10:13-14)
However, I must stress that I have never heard this questionable teaching before, either in my previous church or NCC. I am speculating that this questionable teaching is a misunderstanding of Jesus' ministry on earth. You see, under the old covenant or the Law, if you touch something/someone which/who is unclean, you become unclean (Lev 5:2-3, Num 19:22). However, Jesus showed that He had come to be the mediator of the New Covenant, making obsolete the old covenant or the Law by making the unclean become clean after they touched Him or He touched them.
For example, Jesus healed a leper (who is considered unclean under the Law - Lev 13:45) when He touched him:
Matthew 8:1-3 (NKJV)
1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. 2And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
In another case, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years (who is considered unclean under the Law - Lev 15:25) touched the hem of Jesus' garment and was immediately healed. She did not make Jesus unclean but was instead made clean by Jesus:
Luke 8:43-44 (NKJV)
43 Now a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any, 44 came from behind and touched the border of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.
Although Jesus is now not on earth to physically touch us, we are now made clean when we receive Christ as our Lord and Saviour, for Christ has cleansed us from our sins with His own blood (Rev 1:5). We, who have been made clean under the New Covenant, can no longer be made unclean when we touch the unclean or the unclean touch us.
However, this is NOT the same as saying we can now touch the unclean to make them clean (which is what questionable teaching #6 essentially teaches). NO, ONLY the blood of Christ cleanses. We cannot do the cleansing by touching the unclean but we can preach to them that the blood of Christ washes their sins away and makes them clean (Rom 10:14).
Since we, who have been cleansed, cannot be made unclean by the unclean, why does 1 Cor 6:18 tell us to "flee sexual immorality" and 2 Cor 6:17 says "Therefore “ Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.”" ?
Firstly, let us put what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in context. The old city of Corinth was burned down in 146 B.C. and the Corinth of Paul's day was rebuilt in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar, and became a prominent centre of commerce in the Mediterranean world and also a place for all sorts of vice. (source: http://executableoutlines.com/1co/1co_sg.pdf)
As the church in Corinth was situated in such an immoral environment, it was eventually infiltrated by sinful practices (including sexual immorality) and false doctrines. Paul wrote the first epistle to the Corinthians to correct sinful practices and refute false doctrine.
However, this brings us back to the question of why the Corinthian church was affected by all the unclean things surrounding it since the clean cannot be made unclean by the unclean. I think Jesus gave us a clue to the answer when He was preparing to wash Peter's feet and Peter refused to allow it.
John 13:8-10 (NKJV)
8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”
Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”
9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”
10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.”
Jesus said in John 13:10 that he who is bathed still needs to wash his feet BUT he is completely clean. The key word here is "feet" which speaks of our walk. We, who have been bathed in Jesus' blood are completely clean. The unclean cannot make us unclean but it can still dirty our feet ie. affect our walk with Christ and Jesus says He needs to wash our feet with water in order to walk with Him. Notice that Jesus said in verse 8 "you have no part with Me"; he did not say "in Me" because once we have been cleansed, we are forever in Him.
How do you wash with water? Through the Word of God:
Ephesians 5:25-27 (NIV)
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
The sinful practices and false doctrines creeping into the Corinthian church did not make the church unclean but its feet were dirty, so Paul wrote to the church to wash its feet "with water through the word". Speaking of word, what does the word "holy" mean?
According to Brown-Driver-Briggs' Hebrew Definitions:
קדשׁ / קדושׁ
1) sacred, holy, Holy One, saint, set apart
To be holy also means to be set apart. Paul wrote in 2 Cor 6:17 telling the Corinthian church to "come out from among them and be separate." In fact, Paul had already essentially told them the same thing in his first epistle - "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us." (1 Cor 2:12) Paul is merely reminding the church that they are holy ie. set apart and to be conscious of this holiness by separating themselves from the surrounding immoral environment with its sinful practices.
Holiness or being set apart for God cannot be imparted or transferred. We are set apart only by the blood of the Lamb, just as the Israelites were set apart from the Egyptians on the night of the Passover by the blood of the lamb on their doorposts.
afternote: I just read a sermon "Re-defining Holiness" by Ryan Rufus. He says:
Holiness has got NOTHING to do with sinning or not sinning! If that is what we think, then we think WE are the cause of our holiness and I am telling you there is only ONE Person who is the cause of our holiness and His Name is Jesus Christ!
If you are in Him, then YOU ARE HOLY! You don't have to try and be holy or get holy - you ARE holy!