On Talents

Talents. Our natural gifts or abilities, ranging from playing music, expertise in sport or writing articles. But why do talents matter? Why should we bother with thinking about them or even cultivating them?

It’s a question I’ve been thinking about lately. At the school that I attend, we  did a few surveys and tests to find out what our different strengths, weaknesses and talents were. Although the context was to help us pick what HSC subject to do, I was surprised (and not surprised) about some of the results it gave me.

These aptitude and talent tests cost money – and it struck me – why does the school bother spending money on tests like these? Why couldn’t the school just let us figure it out ourselves? Why would they put money, time and effort into setting these up for students? Because knowing our talents is vital to be able to live life to its fullest in serving God.

Now obviously not everyone’s raison d’etre is to serve God, but in any case, it’s important to consider what your purpose in life is and how your natural abilities and gifts fit into it. After doing a little research, I found that science says that talents are a mix of both genetics and the environment we live in. This means that your socioeconomic status and place in the world defines how talented you are. If you’re born rich and have good genes, you have a greater chance of being smarter.

I’d like to clarify that I’m not saying that your situation financially will not affect your cultivation of talents. It will almost certainly impact it. But that should not be the hindrance to us and be used as an excuse.

To a Christian, talents are not just a result of our situations and genetic patterns. Talents are a gift from God. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus tells of the parable of the talents. In the parable, there are three servants which are given different amounts of ‘talents’; one was given five, another given three and the last given one. Talents, in this case, aren’t literally talents as we know them. Talents were a monetary measurement, worth about 20 years’ wage of a labourer in Jesus’ time. The master basically asked the servants to cultivate and increase the money he had given them. At the end of a long time, the master came back to check with his servants and the servants with five and three talents had cultivated their portion well – this pleased the master. On the other hand, the one with only one talent became lazy and didn’t do anything. In the end, he was punished for not using the talents he was given, even though he only had one.

What can we learn from this? That God is a harsh master who forces us to do work? If we read this literally, that is definitely a conclusion that we could get to. But no, that isn’t what God is like. At the same time, however, it doesn’t mean we should slack around and not do anything about our God given gifts.

If we think back to ourselves, how can we work hard with the gifts that God has given us? In James 1:17, James writes that:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…”

God’s talents for us are good and for our benefit. We are encouraged to use them to their fullest, even though they are different in quality and quantity. As Romans 12:6 says:

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.”

It doesn’t matter who you are – every person has talents. At the same time, we all have a different number and types of talents, yet they are all still God given. No other talent is more important than the other.

Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

– This article is inspired by Erin. There is something about you that inspires me to also do my best in my ministries. I’ve learnt from you to be grateful for the one or two talents God gives us. Always remember, no talent is ‘greater and more useful’ than another. Instead, we all work together as one body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12–14)

The Christian Leader

What comes to mind when you hear the word leader? Perhaps you think of headmasters at school, ancient royals, modern day politicians or current world leaders. But does this idea of leadership match with what the Bible calls leaders to be?

First, let’s establish what a leader is and why leaders are important. A leader is someone who leads a group, organisation or country. Furthermore, leaders are important because they guide their people and set the standard for them to follow. This implies that a leader must both uphold a strong standard and a clear direction in which to take their followers. On the other hand, the leader also needs a team and in turn, that team needs to follow the leader fully.

For example, let’s take Alexander the Great and his army. Without his army, Alexander the Great would not have been able to overcome any other army, let alone a different country. Alexander the Great needed an army if he wanted to succeed. However, without Alexander the Great’s guidance and leadership, his army would not have been able to coordinate itself to conquer another country. The army needed to listen to guidance from their leader in order to succeed.

In this same way, leaders need a clear direction and to uphold a strong standard. For Christians, we uphold the Bible as our standard and our direction is to fulfil God’s Will for our lives. However, here we arrive at a difficult question: how do we know what God’s will is for our life? Or in other words, what is our calling? This is a whole other topic which I’ll leave for another article. In this article however, we’ll explore a Biblical character who God used as a leader for His people, Israel, and identify the characteristics of a Christian leader.

David was a famous leader in the Bible that was used by God to fulfil his purpose for Israel. Originally, humans were created to showcase God’s glory. Psalm 19:1 writes that “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Why is our purpose to ‘declare the glory of God’? “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him.” – Colossians 1:16.

In his many war victories, David led Israel to turn back to God by setting his standard and direction in God’s Word and Will. However, it wasn’t always this way. The Bible records that David had humble origins and was never destined to be king at birth. In fact, he was a shepherd boy, coming from an ordinary family in a small town.

To everyone around him, he was nothing special. But God had plans for David, as he does for each and everyone one of us. From a young age, unbeknownst to David and his family, he was being prepared to shepherd the people of Israel. While David’s brothers were warriors in the battle field, David learnt to protect his sheep from wild animals. Lions, bears and threats to his flock were no match for David. I think we can imagine that it was beyond David’s dreams to one day defeat a giant enemy warrior and later become the king of Israel. 

However, when the time was right, God sent His prophet Samuel to anoint David as Israel’s next king. To the human eye and even to Samuel, David was just an ordinary kid. Definitely not a king. It was clear David’s warrior brothers would suit the role much better. But here God reminded Samuel:

 “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

– 1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV) – 

What a powerful, encouraging reminder! Though sometimes we don’t feel as if we have any chance of being something great, God has a plan for each of us that is beyond our thinking.

As the story progresses, we can see how David grows closer to God. It wasn’t perfect, but in everything, the ups and downs, David still clung to God. In short, David’s life ultimately fulfilled God’s purpose for Israel: to show God’s glory on Earth. So, how was David shaped to be a Christian leader? What was his standard and what was his direction? Psalm 86:12 and Psalm 119:15-16, which David wrote, reveals his answer:

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”

– Psalm 86:12 (ESV) –

“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”

– Psalm 119:15-16 (ESV) –

God’s Word was David’s meditation (constant thought) and delight. Spending time in God’s Word helped David to stay on track and fulfil his purpose. God’s Word was David’s standard and God’s Glory was David’s clear direction.

Before finishing this article, I would like to note that not every person is called to be a leader. Yes, God has a plan for each of us, but that doesn’t mean everyone is called to be in the spotlight. Remember Alexander the Great and his army? Without an army, Alexander the Great, the leader, would be powerless. But without Alexander the Great, the leader, the army couldn’t function. To some, God calls them to be a leader on a grand scale, such as a politician. To others, God calls them for ordinary roles, but to lead small groups of people to lead them back to God. Not all of us can be the leader. If that was the case, there would be no army. To many, God calls to be members of the army, just like the multitudes of soldiers in Alexander the Great’s army.

This analogy of the army can also be likened to a human body. There are many parts to the body; the eye, the nose, the mouth, the ears etc. Every part is important in its own way and no part is ‘more important’ than the other. In the same way, soldiers in an army are of equal importance to their leader. Read about this in 1 Corinthians 12:12-30.

David was an excellent leader in the Bible, but if we look further, Jesus was the perfect leader. We should look at Jesus’ actions towards others as our example. Jesus was humble, servant hearted and disciplined for godliness.

Being a leader doesn’t mean we make everyone do the work and we simply make the decisions. Being a leader means also getting on our knees and washing other people’s feet (John 13). Leaders should lead and serve. Leaders not only lead the battle, they fight it too. If I was to write about Jesus’ as our example, this article would not be finished. So, take time, like David would, and meditate on Jesus.

Now remember:

– God’s word should be our meditation (constant thought) and delight

– The Bible should be our standard and God’s Glory our direction. This applies to leaders as well as everyone

– Not everyone is called to be a leader but God still has a plan for each and everyone of us

I hope this article can be an encouragement both to those who are leading and those who are following.

Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

– This article is inspired by Tim. Always remember to look to Christ as the perfect leader. Sometimes you will fail and sometimes you will do amazing. But, in all this, remember who provides for you and who gave you the gift of leadership (Matthew 25:14-30). Remember your army, remember your God.

Pride, The Original Sin

Pride. It’s the ‘original sin’. It’s been here since the world first fell into sin. But what is it and why does it cause such a big fuss in the Bible?

What is Pride?

First, it would be helpful to define what pride is and honestly, this is where I was stuck before I even began writing. What is pride? It took a bit of researching and looking through definitions, but I find that St. Augustine’s version is the most accurate for this article. According to him, pride is “the love of one’s own excellence”. St. Augustine was, of course, a prominent theologian but let’s see how this definition goes up against the Bible.

The Bible and Pride

Pride has quite a few appearances in the Bible, which gives it a lot of variety in meaning. Interestingly, the word in Hebrew for pride varies depending on its context. Pride in the Bible can mean two main things. The first is exaltation, majesty and excellence. This definition can refer to two main things. Firstly, the exaltation, majesty and/or excellence of nations, through their wealth, power and/or magnificence of their buildings. Isaiah 13:19 reads, “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the splendour and pomp of the Chaldeans” The ‘splendour and pomp here’ in other translations has been replaced with excellency and pride.

On the other hand, it can also refer to God. Exodus 15:7 says, “In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble.” The term ‘of your majesty’ is replaced with ‘of your excellence’ in other translations.

Aside from this, pride can be used for the usual definition we know for it, “the love of one’s own excellence”. Proverbs 16:18 is a good example: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Pride itself goes a long, long way back. It is often referred to as the ‘original sin’. After all, everyone has faced it, starting from Adam and Eve. They exalted themselves over God’s wisdom, thinking they knew their own ‘excellence’ and loving it more than God’s holiness. They chose themselves over God and thought they knew best.

This same story is reminisced throughout the Bible. We can see this in 2 Chronicles 26, which talks about King Uzziah. Uzziah was sixteen years old when he began to reign in Judah. Uzziah was a good king, because ‘he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” v. 4. But afterwards, the Bible writes that “when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction.” In the end, Uzziah fell short of the ‘perfect king’ that the Israelites had been hoping for.

Pride, the shape-shifting sin

Pride is a sin that can come in many shapes and forms. This is what makes it so hard to pinpoint where it is in our lives. I myself personally struggle with understanding it. Pride can range from how we behave towards others to how we behave to ourselves. Pride can come in the forms of perfectionism or insecurity, but it always revolves around thinking about what others think.

There are so many different ‘fruits’ and ‘shapes’ of pride that it would take a long time to write all about it. But, I would encourage you to look further into it. Ask close friends about what they think, but remember too to turn to the Bible, for there is much wisdom there. Yet in order for someone to become wise, humility is needed beforehand. In fact, Proverbs 11:2 says:

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”

– Proverbs 11:2 (ESV) –

In contrast with pride, the Bible also talks about humility. Humility is pretty much the polar opposite of pride. Humility is meek obedience towards God. Humility is not saying “I’m not good at this, there are people who are better than me,” or refusing to accept compliments and always putting yourself down. No! God calls us to make use of the talents he has given us, rather than burying them away and not acknowledging them.

“Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honour.”

– Proverbs 18:12 (ESV) –

When I read this passage, I see a contrast from what we’ve read before. First, a haughty or prideful spirit goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Secondly, before honour (or exaltation) comes humility. This exaltation is not from our own pride and our own way of exalting ourselves. This exaltation comes from God, as is confirmed in James 4:10,

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”

– James 4:10 (ESV) –

However, humility is not something that we can achieve on our own. Our sinful nature makes us always inclined to be the prideful one. Paul the Apostle knew this too, and so he directs us to look to Jesus as the ultimate example of humility.

“[Jesus] who thought he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

– Philippians 2:6-8 (ESV) –

There is no way that any of us can humble ourselves more than Jesus. If anything, Jesus had every reason to be the most prideful person on earth; he was literally equal to God! Yet instead of that, he died a shameful death on the cross to save us.

What does it mean to be humble? Why is being prideful such a big thing in the Bible? That’s because only when we’re humble can God lift us up to see more of His glory. A prideful heart would never want to accept God’s guidance. Let me leave you with some lyrics from a song I learnt a long time ago in Sunday School:

A Prayer for Humility – Mark Patterson

Mighty God and gentle Lamb, Lord of all creation

How we long to know you, how we strive to serve you

Help us now to love you even more

Give us humble hearts to praise you,

and listening ears to hear your voice,

willing hands to serve you,

thankful spirits to rejoice.

Lord of all, we adore you

and we bring this prayer before you.

Create in us, humble hearts

When our thoughts turn proud,

remind us of the grace your freely give

When we lose our way, Lord find us

draw us close to you again.


Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

This article is inspired by Emily. Thanks for being a friend who I can have meaningful conversations with and for helping me see the log in my eye, my very own pride. Remember, the Lord sees not as man sees, your outward appearance doesn’t matter, for God looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)

Obedience: Absurd, Marvelous and Beautiful

Note: This is the final article in a mini trilogy of articles. The first one being ‘A Ticket to Heaven’ and the second was ‘Do You Really Love Jesus?’

In my past two articles, I’ve talked about what it means to have faith in Jesus and to love Jesus. But there’s still one last bit that I haven’t touched on yet and that is obedience. In my first article about faith, I mentioned that ‘faith is not without works’ (James 2:26) and in my second article about love, I wrote, ‘Love is told out by our thoughts and actions. To know whether we actually love God relies on our actions, our obedience.’.

Obedience is another important part of the original question I had 3 months ago, that is, ‘Are you saved?’ So, what is obedience? Obedience is following what another person or thing says. This can vary from obeying laws, your own self, social norms or people above you in authority. But in the case of this article, we’ll talk about obeying God. Obeying God means that when we hear God’s Word, we act upon it. We obey God out of love which is why we follow God’s Will. One might ask, what is God’s Will? Why should I follow it? Well, the Bible says in Romans 8:28,

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

– Romans 8:28 (ESV) –

God is good and knows what is best for us. Even more wonderful than this is that God created us and loves us so much that he died on the cross for us. This is also something that is so amazing – that God’s love for us is so deep and wonderous.

Now that we know what obedience to God is, let’s focus on how absurd it is. Now, you might be wondering, what do you mean by absurd? I already obey God… I read the Bible, go to church, I don’t do bad stuff!

Well, first of all, if you really think you’re super perfect, you’re wrong. Romans 3:23 states that:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

– Romans 3:23 (ESV) –

No person is perfect and without sin. Yet, sin is the opposite of God. God is holy and cannot be with sin. After all, opposites are not supposed to be like each other. If we’re sinful, then, how can God expect us to follow His Will?? Following God’s will is everything we don’t want to do naturally. Our very nature is to disobey God! It’s absurd. How can we be expected to follow God’s Will perfectly to go to heaven? No one can do that!

Now, you might be thinking, no, I actually want to obey God! Now, there are two possibilities that can stem from this. One is that you aren’t actually obeying God out of love. You think that obeying God is like a law or rule you have to abide by, because otherwise, you go to hell. This is the wrong motivation to obey God.

Saul was the first king of God’s chosen people, Israel. Before waging war against an enemy, God commanded Saul to not leave any living thing behind; to ‘devote them to destruction’. But Saul decided that his way was better than God’s and left the king of the people and many animals that could be used for sacrifice. Sacrifice was the Israelites’ symbol of obedience and devotion to God and his commandments. But here, despite his intentions, Saul disobeys God’s commandment to destroy the enemy completely. The prophet Samuel confronted Saul in 1 Samuel 15:22,

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.”

– 1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV) –

Now, you might be thinking,  how do we know whether we have the right motivation then? How could God expect us to be obedient on our own? Well, if you’re thinking this, then you have every reason to give thanks to God! Why? Because he doesn’t expect you to follow his Will perfectly. In fact, he doesn’t expect you to follow His Will at all – that is, on your own. The most marvelous thing about being saved is that obedience comes as a response to our faith. Here’s how Jon Bloom from Desiring God (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-do-i-know-if-i-really-love-jesus#not-that-kind-of-must) puts it:

“Though they [faith, love and obedience] are distinct, they are inseparable. We cannot love Christ without trusting (exercising faith in) him (1 Peter 1:8)”

1 Peter 1:8 explains that we cannot love Christ without believing in Him beforehand. Faith strengthens us because even though we have not seen Jesus in person, we still believe in Him.

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

– 1 Peter 1:8 (ESV) –

“We cannot trust Christ without obeying Him (James 2:17)”

James 2:17 explains that we cannot have faith in Christ with no obedience. Faith will not sit still and do nothing, obedience is the believers response to faith.

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

– James 2:17 (ESV) –

“So, naturally, we cannot love Christ if we live in persistent, conscious disobedience to Him (1 John 1:6, Luke 6:46)

1 John 1:6 and Luke 6:46explains that it is impossible to be two opposites (light and darkness). We are either light or darkness and it is evident through our actions. What we do is a telltale sign of our love to Christ.

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”

– 1 John 1:6 (ESV) –

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?”

– Luke 6:46 (ESV) –

And my own addition:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever.”

– John 14:15-16 (ESV) –

Something I haven’t mentioned yet is the Helper that is referred to here. The Helper is the Holy Spirit and this is what is so beautiful about salvation. God isn’t going to leave us alone to figure it out for ourselves. Oftentimes, we don’t know what to do with our lives. But, we should always remember, we have a Helper that will be with us forever.

And with that, this trilogy has come to a close. My question to you now is, what will you do? Will you sit with this discovery and ignore it? Or, will you do something about it? Will you seek out true faith? Will you love Jesus as much as you can? Will you obey Him?

The answer to these questions, I hope, is that you will seek out God for yourself and pray that He would reveal Himself to you. But, whether you do that or not, my friend, is up to you.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you… Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

– Matthew 6:33, 7:7-11 (ESV) –

Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

Do You Really Love Jesus?

Note: This is a follow up on the previous article ‘A Ticket To Heaven’

Previously, I talked about what it meant to be saved and how we know if we are saved. Well, in the last two months, I’ve been thinking about the question I left for the readers to think about: 

Do you truly love Jesus at all?

Looking back, I feel that I didn’t even know the answer to this question myself when I challenged people to think about it.I thought it would be helpful to unpack what love is so we can all understand what it means to truly love Jesus. 

First, it would help knowing what love is, right? So today, let’s find out what love actually is. C.S. Lewis, in his book ‘The Four Loves’ talks about the four types of loves:

1. Romantic love (eros) – a different, deeper love than friendship.

2. Friendship love (philia) – the love we feel towards our friends.

3. Affectionate love (storge) – this can range from our mother’s care or admiring cute animals. It’s a certain place, visual, smell or sound that reminds us of happy moments or a loved one.

4. Charity love (agape) – this is God’s unconditional love to us, so much that he gave His only Son to save us from our sins. Agape love stays through thick and thin and doesn’t fade in any circumstance.

God’s love towards us is agape love – sacrificial love that will never let us go. God’s love for us is incomprehensible. It’s unconditional and is something no human could ever achieve to fulfil for anyone, let alone for God.

Many people might stop here and ask: why does God love us? Does he lack something? Perhaps we think that God is lonely and created humans and the earth to satisfy Himself.

No! We are the ones lacking and, in God’s love, God is the one giving us His love so we can find ultimate satisfaction in Him. Our hearts are like a bottomless, infinite pit. How could we expect to fill it with finite things? Only something infinite could fill the void.

The ultimate goal of God’s love is that we can have ultimate satisfaction in Him so that the world is filled with people who treasure, enjoy and love Him.

The ultimate fulfilment of God’s love is found in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ died on the cross to save us from our sins; a sacrifice made out of His love for us, unworthy sinners.

So, what does this mean for us? What is our love to God like? How do we know if we truly love God? Here are some telltale signs:

Love is willing

When we love someone, we don’t need to be asked to spend time with them. We don’t feel forced to be with them and we even forget about time and what we were doing beforehand. When he or she asks us to do something, we don’t think twice – we’ll do it with all our heart’s desire. Our sole purpose, focus and desire is on that person at that moment!

This is the same when we love God. Our sole purpose, focus and desire in life is to do His will, to spend time in His Word and to talk with Him in prayer.

Love encompasses our whole life

Again, when we love something or someone, we spend most of our life with that thing or person. Even when that person or thing isn’t in our physical presence, they’re always on our mind. It influences how we think, feel and interact towards others. There is an aching and desire to be back with said thing and we feel satisfied when we are reunited. When we love someone who, for example, doesn’t like chewing gum (wild example, just so you get my point) we would make an effort to not chew gum in front of them.

When we love God, it shapes our thoughts and actions. We know that God is holy and cannot be around sin – thus, we would make every effort to keep away from sin and be more like God in His holiness.

Love is joyful

This one is pretty straight forward – when you love you feel joyful! There is really no such thing as love which isn’t joyous! 

When we truly love God, we would feel true joy. Joy is different from happiness. It is deeper than just a superficial emotion. True joy can only be found in knowing God and being in a relationship with Him. Sound familiar? This is what being in a relationship, whether romantic or friendship, feels like. We are joyful when we spend time with that person. We feel joyous when we get to know the person better and find out more about them through spending time with them. This same concept can be ‘transferred’ into our relationship with God. Spend more time with Him, get to know Him better through His Word and you’ll find the true joy there is in a relationship with your Creator.

Love gives all

The final main thing is that love gives it all. You wouldn’t hesitate or think twice about giving up time, money or effort to fulfil the wishes of your loved one! Even when you do this, you feel satisfied – you don’t feel you have lost anything. When we love God, we find ultimate satisfaction in God! Whether that be reading the Bible, going to church or serving in ministries – if we are truly on the hunt for ultimate satisfaction, there really shouldn’t be anything temperamental holding us back!


Obviously, love is much, much easier to envision and feel when we can see the person we love. But this is where faith comes into play. 1 Peter 1:8-9 writes that:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”

– 1 Peter 1:8-9 (ESV) –

Though we don’t see Christ, we have both faith in Him and love for Him. In fact, we love Him because of our faith in Him!

Here’s a direct quote from a Desiring God article written by Jon Bloom that honestly sums it up better than I can:

How do we know if we love Jesus? By what we consistently (not perfectly) do and don’t do. All lovers of Jesus keenly know we don’t love him perfectly. “We all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2), and “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). But “if we say we have fellowship with [Jesus] while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6).

– (https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-do-i-know-if-i-really-love-jesus#by-this-we-know-love)

Our thoughts and actions tell out our love. Knowing whether we actually love God relies on our actions and obedience. This, of course, is a whole ‘nother article, so stay tuned. 🙂

I know this article has been focused on our love for God. But, in conclusion, let me leave you with some lyrics from a hymn that talks of God’s love for us that I think really shows God’s agape love towards us.

It was Love, E.C. Heidelberg

Why did Jesus give up heaven’s glory

For this world of sin and misery?

Why did Jesus suffer in the garden,

Drain the bitter cup of agony?

Why did Jesus stand in Pilate’s judgement hall,

Wear that cruel crown of thorns so patiently?

Why did Jesus give His life to save me?

It was love, God’s wondrous love for me!

Why does Jesus lift me when I stumble

Take my hand whene’er I go astray?

Give me strength I need for each tomorrow,

Grace to face the trials of the day?

Why does Jesus share the load I cannot bear,

Fill my soul with peace and joy beyond degree?

And why does He watch o’er me and keep me?

It was love, God’s wondrous love for me!


https://regenerationz.org/the-ticket-to-heaven/ (my previous article)

https://www.cslewis.com/four-types-of-love/ (C.S. Lewis on the Four Types of Love)

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-is-love (Part of John Piper’s series ‘Ask Pastor John’)

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-do-i-know-if-i-really-love-jesus (Article by Jon Bloom that I quoted in my article)

Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

The Ticket to Heaven

Disclaimer: this article is a reflection of what I have learnt from the book ‘Can I be sure I’m saved?’ by R.C. Sproul. I highly recommend this book if you would like to delve deeper into this topic. It’s a very short book but covers the topic clearly.

Are you saved?

A tough question for a Christian to answer with confidence. It’s a question that I wanted to explore because I and many around me weren’t quite sure. Even people who have been ‘Christian for all their lives’ fail to answer this simple three word question. But, our life and death depend on the answer to this question.

First, it’s important to understand what it means to be saved. To be saved means to be regenerated or born again. Regeneration is when we are ‘transferred’ from the Kingdom of Darkness (being away from God) to the Kingdom of Light (being with God). Those who have been regenerated are the only ones that can receive salvation. The famous Romans 8:28-30 explains more about it.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

– Romans 8:28-30 (ESV) –

Here, Paul talks about a certain group or people. In other parts of the Bible, they are referred to as the elect. The elect are the people who God has called before the creation of the world to be regenerated and are the only people that can be regenerated or saved. If you are amongst the elect, you will be saved as God has sovereignly chosen you. Sovereignty is God’s divine will. So how do we know if we are amongst the elect?

The first step is to understand the different steps that lead to salvation. This is often called the Order of Salvation or ordo salutis. This is key to understanding what salvation actually is.

Often, we are told contradicting things about what we need to do to be saved. We are told we have to be good and just hope we’ve made it. Or sometimes, we think we just need to believe one time and that’s it; we’ve got the ‘ticket to heaven’. Maybe we think that everyone can be saved and it’s just unfortunate that some don’t believe in God.

Well, Romans 8:29 says that God foreknew [and] predestined. Foreknowledge is the knowledge that only God has about our future. God knows who we will be in the future because he knows all; he is omniscient. God knew that we were going to be the horrible sinners we are. Yet, in his love and grace, he still sovereignly chose us to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. This is called predestination. God predestined those whom he sovereignly chose to be with him forever as part of the elect. Predestination is determined by God’s sovereign will. God’s nature is sovereign, therefore he has the highest power and authority. We cannot challenge it, since we are only God’s creation.

After we are foreknown by God and predestined, in God’s time, the elect will be called and regenerated. This is no ordinary calling. The Holy Spirit calls us from within and opens our hearts to be able to bring about God’s purpose in our life. This is followed by regeneration. As I wrote beforehand, regeneration is being born again; being ‘transferred’ from the Kingdom of Darkness to the Kingdom of Light. Regeneration happens when the Holy Spirit first works in our heart. Naturally, when we fell into sin, we were unable to trust God or love Him. We were cold and hostile towards him. However, when we are regenerated, the Holy Spirit enables our hearts to be able to trust and love God. We have the ability to have true faith. Faith is trusting in God and in His word. True faith is given to us when we are regenerated. Faith is a gift from God, as written in Ephesians 2:8. We can’t work to earn it; it’s only by God’s grace we can receive it.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God”

– Ephesians 2:8 (ESV) –

For some, it is obvious when they are regenerated and for others, it isn’t. It is important to note that some people don’t have a sudden ‘conversion experience’ where their world is turned upside down. For some, it’s a little less noticeable. But, this doesn’t affect the sincerity of the conversion. But, it is important to be able to decipher a ‘fuzzy experience of emotions’ from the Holy Spirit beginning to work in our lives. 

So, how can we know if we are truly regenerated and truly have faith? How do we know that we’ve received the true faith? James 2:26 says that:

“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

– James 2:26 (ESV) –

Therefore, if we have true faith, we will do something. True, sincere faith brings sincere obedience. Along with works, faith brings justification as well. Romans 5:1 says:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– Romans 5:1 (ESV) –

In other words, faith justifies us. Justification is when God makes us right with Him. Previously, we were unrighteous sinners in God’s sight, but now we have been made righteous in God’s sight.

After this, there is the ongoing process of sanctification. Sanctification is the process where a person becomes more Christ-like. Then, in heaven, the elect are glorified. This is the process of the elect:

Foreknown by God -> Predestined -> Called -> Regenerated -> Given faith -> Justified -> Sanctified -> Glorified

Understanding what salvation really is in our own life is vital to knowing whether we are truly saved. So, how do we know if we are saved?

R.C. Sproul, in his book, ‘Can I be sure I’m Saved’, talks about how many people have come to him asking him how they can get assurance on if they are saved or not. Sproul answers that we should analyse ourselves with these three questions:

  1. Do you love Jesus perfectly?

The answer to this question for all is no. We do not love Jesus perfectly. Jesus says in John 14:15:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

– John 14:15 (ESV) –

No human keeps God’s commandments perfectly. None, not even one.

  1. Do you love Him as much as you ought to?

The answer to this is also no. Since we don’t love Jesus perfectly, we don’t love Him as much as we ought to. We know it, but we are too sinful and helpless on our own.

  1. Do you love Jesus at all?

The love that R.C. Sproul describes here, is love for Jesus. But not just any Jesus we imagine. It is only the love we have for the real Jesus that appears in the Bible to save us. The big question now is: do we love the Jesus of the Bible or do we love something similar to Him? Oftentimes we only love the characteristics of Jesus and not the person of Jesus Himself. 

If we can truly answer yes to this question, then we should look back at what regeneration is. Regeneration enables a person to be able to truly, genuinely love Jesus. If you truly love Jesus, you are saved. If you love Him one bit, you are truly saved. Even though we do not love Jesus perfectly and as much as we ought to, the Holy Spirit has transformed our soul to have true love for Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we do not have the power ourselves to love Jesus Christ one bit!

False assurance of salvation is one of Satan’s greatest weapons. He can make the true believer who is saved doubt forever that they are saved, restricting them from growing to know God more. When people misunderstand what salvation truly is, it can give them false assurance of salvation. This is the reason I wrote this article. I know many that don’t have full, true assurance of their salvation. I hope that after reading this, you can have the full, true assurance of genuine salvation. Don’t think that you can never obtain it. 2 Peter 1:10-11 says: 

 “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practise these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

– 2 Peter 1:10-11 (ESV) –

After reading this article, do you still view going to heaven as just obtaining a ticket? Is there more to salvation than just believing Jesus exists?

I’ll pose the question again to you now. Are you saved? Do you truly love Jesus at all?

Ethan Chow (16) is one of the website managers for RE Generation-Z. Through RE Generation Z, he hopes that this generation can be truly ‘RE Generated’. He is an avid chess player, learner of new things, listener and player of music.

The Small Things in this Big World

There are some things in this world that we often don’t notice. Yet these things are the very proof of how amazing the creation is.

The creation, as described in Genesis 1, tells of how God created the whole earth.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

God’s attributes are proclaimed through His creation. Everything that God created was ‘good.’ Yet there are many facts on God’s creation that have been ignored and have gone unnoticed by humans. Did you know an alligator’s brain weighs the same amount as 5 Oreos? Yet it still has the ability to be a top predator! Let’s see some more examples of God’s attributes in nature.

  1. God is Loving

This may seem a little cliché, but in reality, this is a valuable truth. Without God’s love, we would be lost in sin and far from the people who we were supposed to be. God’s love is no ordinary love. God’s love is described in the New Testament as ‘agape’ love. Agape love is a sacrificial love, that looks to the benefits for people around them. A love that loves God. Just like in Mark 12:30-31, 

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.””

The most obvious but meaningful example of God’s agape love is when He Himself died on the cross to save us from our sins. 

In nature, an example of love can be shown when Giant Pacific octopuses sacrifice themselves for their eggs. The females guard their eggs for 4 years – a time where they don’t even get to eat! Another example is seen when dolphins identify humans by checking our skeleton structure using their sonar. They often help shipwreck victims fight sharks and stay afloat, all because they too are mammals. Dolphins are willing to help other mammals survive!

  1. God is Selfless

God is not selfish. Selflessness is difficult, as sin is all about the opposite – selfishness. But, if God was selfish, He would have every reason not to care about us anymore after we fell into sin. But He loves us and sent his Son down to save us. Jesus was selfless when he died on the cross. He obeyed His Father’s will over his own. Just as it says in Philippians 2:5-8,

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!”

In zoology (the study of animals), selfless animal behaviour is often referred to as altruism. In 2008, two whales beached on the shore and yet were successfully led to the deeper waters by dolphins. In 2013, a deformed dolphin was ‘adopted’ by a pod of whales. Elephants have been documented helping other baby elephants trapped in mud holes to escape! Acacia trees are able to send out warnings to other acacia trees surrounding them, alerting them of any imminent danger.

Proof that God exists is everywhere. Every intricate detail in this world reflects who God is. It’s up to us whether we want to observe, take note and believe. Or if we want to be ignorant and think that only other humans can solve our mysteries about our origin. 

Nature around us resounds that God is real and almighty. Are you listening to it?

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox