Humility in Maturity

Humility in Maturity. 

How would you rate your spiritual maturity from one to ten? Before answering that question, we must first ask, what is maturity? In a nutshell, spiritual maturity is growth—to become more Christlike, to know God more, and to the piety of the fear of the Lord. So, in a ‘rating’, ten would be Christlike, and zero would be immature. 

This was one of the discussion questions that struck me during the retreat a few weeks back. As the people around me tried to answer this question, I thought about what I should say before being given the spotlight. It sure wasn’t an easy question to answer. Most of the people in my group rated themselves in the lower half of the spectrum. But as I pondered hard, I couldn’t settle on an answer. Who are we to be the judge over ourselves? Who are we to set the standard? The standard we judge against must be of the absolute truth—the Bible—through God’s lens. 

To grow, we must know the truths

We must build the foundation of our growth on the truth, which is the Word of God. Not only that, but also on the unity that we can have with and in Christ. Only when we are in this union, this one ship in Christ, we may be sanctified by the Holy Spirit. And this relationship that Christ has offered us is only through His sovereign grace. Christ is the one who has initiated; He loved us first, allowing us to be sanctified and grow daily in oneship with Him. And because of that, we cannot take our short life lightly. Only through knowing Him we can grow to be more like Him. Only through knowing Him may we understand the truth. 

To know the truth, you must have Humility. 

Without humility, you will never be able to learn the truth. We are such prideful people. I know it’s an easy thing to say, and listening to that just turns into a breeze. But trust me, I understand how hard it is to be humble sometimes. I cannot stress how much of a trap false humility can be. 

Sometimes we even act humbly to be seen as humble people, and I am sure guilty of doing that. Whether we realise it or not, we bring our pride and ego into the most minor things. I’ve recently been struggling with my pride and anger. To me, everyone and everything seems to be against me. My parents would get mad at me for what I considered small and petty things, which would constantly be tiring. I’m sure that all teens can relate to me here.

It’s been quite a struggle for me recently, and it’s pretty contradicting for me to write an article about humility when I am struggling with pride myself. But the words shared from the last retreat have allowed me to reflect on myself and my spiritual maturity. From the outside, you might see me as an avid churchgoer involved in so much ministry. But just because I live with that culture, it doesn’t mean that I’m growing and having that personal relationship with Him. Because to grow, our faith must be nourished. Just like a pot plant, if it is not well kept, watered, and given sufficient sunlight, it will surely die. It is the same with our spiritual lives. If we do not nourish our faith with the Word of God, our faith will surely wilt.

The Bible is what can refresh our souls. It sounds quite cliche and abstract. But personally, sharing from when I genuinely ponder on His Word is very sweet. Whenever we have that personal and intimate relationship with Him, it is beautiful. We cannot fill our lives with worldly things because it will only take away from the strength of our faith. But only picking the Bible up and reading it won’t cut it.

We must deny ourselves if we want to accept the truth and learn and know the truth. Deny our pride. I’ve used this analogy many times, but there is only one seat in your heart. And on it, it’s either you or Christ. If it is not Christ that reigns in your heart, then you cannot grow in the truth. Even if you are surrounded by godly people, the church community, or you study theology. 

If we reign over our own lives, we will never be able to accept Christ as our Saviour nor grow in Him. But when we humble yourselves, then we can accept His Word and allow it to rebuke and change us.

To grow more like Christ, we must increase in the knowledge of Him and grow in godliness with the fear of the lord. But, first, we must learn to humble ourselves. The bible states this countless times. 

2 Chronicles 7:14 

if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Psalm 18:27 

For you save a humble people,

but the haughty eyes you bring down.

Psalm 149:4 

For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;

he adorns the humble with salvation.

This is a short article with one message. I hope that I’ve made it clear. You cannot know God without a humble heart. So ask for His grace, because when we humbly and truly thirst for His Word, of knowing Him. James 4:6, says, “He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. 

So pray, ask God to have a heart that yearns for His Word, and ask for a humble heart to grow in spiritual maturity. 

Psalm 147:6 

“The Lord lifts up the humble;

    he casts the wicked to the ground.”

The Untold Story of C.T. Studd – The Cricketer turned Missionary

I am no cricketer, but I do love a good story. Missionaries, apart from famous ones (like Jim Elliot and the Auca Five), are often unknown. But, their stories are inspirational and have affected so many people – even those we don’t know.

Charles Thomas (C.T. as he was often called) Studd (1860 – 1931) was a professional cricketer from England. During the 1880s, he was one of England’s greatest cricketers. He grew up in a wealthy family and was educated at prestigious schools.

Studd’s father, Edward Studd, became a Christian during a meeting held by D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey. The newly evangelised man deeply wanted to share the good news. As a result, the Studd Mansion turned into a centre of meetings and discussions with pastors and missionaries. Though his three sons tried to avoid the topic of Christianity, their determined father was not going to stop there.

Who do you really live for?

One afternoon, whilst on a break from college, Studd’s father invited a visiting preacher. The preacher confronted each of Edward’s sons, and they all came to faith in Christ that day. He asked them if they believed in God’s promises to give eternal life, quoting John 3:16. He questioned them on who they really lived for. This very challenge convinced C.T. Studd, and he became a Christian. From then on, his life was changed.

The Ashes

Even before his conversion, the Studd brothers were cricket enthusiasts. Not only did they admire the game, but they were also talented and soon shone out among other players. C.T. stood out, particularly on one occasion, when an Australian team visited their university. The Australian team was undefeated and in their first victory, C.T. was pronounced the best player. 

He then captained his university team, and soon a bigger opportunity arose. He and his brother George were selected to represent England at the Ashes.

The first ever victory of England in the 1882-83 Ashes Series was incredible to the people at the time. Cricket was growing in popularity at that time and the fact that England had won greatly excited the people.

But in 1884, George, his brother, fell gravely ill. The realisation that his brother’s achievements and cricket career meant nothing in comparison to eternity, made Studd rethink his actions and direction in life. Studd even questioned:

“What is all the fame and flattery worth … when a man comes to face eternity?”

He realised that everything in this world is nothing in comparison to heaven. This realisation called him to be a missionary.

“I know that cricket would not last, and honour would not last, and nothing in this world would last, but it was worthwhile living for the world to come.”

The Cambridge Seven

Through his brother’s illness and its effect on him, Studd felt called to pursue mission work. He joined the China Inland Mission, an organisation founded by Hudson Taylor. Studd encouraged other members of his university, Cambridge, to join. Together, they formed the Cambridge Seven and together they ventured to China.

The news of the departure of one of England’s best all round cricketers at the time came as a shock to the public. Leaving behind fame and fortune to pursue mission work in an unknown land didn’t make any sense. But, Studd was determined. Before his departure, he lead a series of ‘revival meetings’ to universities, impacting many. Then, in the February of 1885, less than three years after he had won the Ashes Series, C.T. Studd left for China.

China and India

During C.T. Studd’s time in China, many things happened. In China, he met his wife, Priscilla, an Irish missionary, and married her three years after setting foot in Shanghai. 

Also, when Studd was in China, his father, Edward Studd, died. Edward Studd left behind 29 000 pounds for Studd as his inheritance. Instead of using it all for himself, he gave away the money to various organisations such as the Moody Bible Institute, George Muller’s orphanage, a man working with the poor in England, as well as the Salvation Army. After serving in China for nine years and with deteriorating health, C.T. Studd returned home to England. But it wasn’t long before he felt a calling to India. He served there between 1900 and 1906.

Worldwide Evangelisation Crusade

However, during a return trip to England from India, he met Karl Kumm, a missionary in Africa. After visiting Sudan in 1910, he set his heart to Belgian Congo (now in modern day Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1913. Here, he spent the rest of his life, serving God wholeheartedly until his death in 1931.

Application

C.T. Studd began his life for the world and ended it for God. So, what can we learn from him?

  1. Devote yourself to God

Devoting yourself to God doesn’t necessarily mean to be a missionary and go to the middle of nowhere. In the case of C.T. Studd, it was. But even before his missionary work, he devoted his life to God through cricket. As he grew in spiritual life, he realised that his life was not of this world and that he should focus his life on God and for God’s Glory. As he wrote in his poem, “Only One Life, ‘Twill Soon Be Past”:

Only one life ’twill soon be past.

Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Let us remember the words of this poem.

2. Use your talents for God

C.T. Studd pursued his talents in cricket for God’s glory. As he used these talents and answered his call to be a missionary, he also used his fame and fortunes for the same purpose. His fame allowed him to give his testimonies to many people and his fortune gave him the opportunity to support those who needed support.

Conclusion and Summary

C.T. Studd was a man of talent who gave his life to God. But the question now is not about Studd – it’s about you. Will you too give your life and use your gifts for God?

Ethan Chow (14) 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.

Keep in Step

What plans do you have for yourself? What do you want to do in university? What career do you want to get into? What do you see yourself doing in the next ten years?

Tragically, we are swept up in our self-righteousness — striving to take control of our lives. Have you stopped and asked yourself; is God’s plan for my life my plans?

Where are we walking in our life, and with whom are we walking? Are we insisting on taking the reins of our own lives? Don’t be too quick to deny this. Though we know in our heads that we must live a life dependent on God, trusting Him and following where He leads us, whether or not we really do this is another thing. 

When we don’t get our way when our plans fail, when God leads us down a different path, how will we respond? If God wants to redirect your life, showing that He has something else planned for you, His will shall be done. So, are you going to move in grumbling and complaining at every turn? Or, will you willingly follow Him and joyfully give up your own plans, for God’s plan that He has for you?

An Overthrow 

First thing’s first. If there is to be a place for Christ in our lives and firstly in our hearts, there must be an overthrow of someone else. 

In our hearts, there is one throne, with space for only one person. Now, the question is, in your heart, who is sitting on that throne?

If we sit stubbornly on our throne, we sit with our self-righteousness and pride. If Christ comes knocking at the door of our hearts, we may hear it but still foolishly insist on sitting at our own thrones. 

If this is you, you must know. If you want to follow God’s plan, you must be overthrown in your own heart first and foremost. Otherwise, there will be no room for Christ to enter, and there is no space for the righteousness of Christ. If you keep insisting on sitting at your throne, Christ will never be able to be King in your life? Why? Because you have unjustly crowned yourself as King of your heart. We all must question ourselves. Who sits at the throne of our hearts?

As sinful men, we have built high walls of pride and righteousness for ourselves. If God is to be king in our lives, these walls must first be crumbled and demolished. Our foundations must be completely and totally destroyed if Christ is to be our cornerstone. Note Isaiah 28:16, “So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation: the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.”

What is a cornerstone? A cornerstone is a crucial stone laid first to ensure the stability of the building. All other stones in the building are based and guided by that first cornerstone. So, if Christ is to be our cornerstone, then all foundations and previous plans must be completely destroyed. Buildings cannot have multiple plans. There is only one plan from where it is built — only one foundation.

You might question, why should I live for someone else when the things of this world satisfy enough? Why can’t I rule my own life? Because God has told us this, that only He can fully satisfy us, that a life we lead is a life walking to the path of destruction. We cannot fill our hearts with games, study, our reputation, material possessions. It will not work, and by the year, we will only feel emptier, seeking more and more extreme things to fill ourselves. The most satisfying and fulfilling life is a life for God, walking with Him and obeying Him. 

We cannot walk with God if we are insistent on walking ourselves. We might pray for it and say that we want to walk with God. We may even trick ourselves into thinking we want to walk with God, but we must check ourselves: do we genuinely yearn for this, or is it just empty words?

An Exchange

All glory in the past and hope in the future that we put in ourselves must be put aside. Exchanges must be made. 

We know that true joy and a truly fulfilling life first starts from a true overthrow — a true surrender. We know it is the best for us, yet we insist on keeping our own plans. Proverbs 3:5-6 — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” — reminds us not to trust on our own limited, feeble, understanding. Yet, we still do so. It is utterly foolish. 

God wants us to surrender. Surrender our hearts, lives and plans to Him so that when He reveals a path He wants us to go down, we can be willing and ready to do so — that we go wherever He leads, whether or not it is what we want. We hold tight onto our desires, but to experience the joy in walking with God, we must first let go. 

This isn’t something that comes naturally to our sinful nature, and even once we follow, we experience doubt. Due to our impeccably limited understanding, we can’t (and often don’t) understand everything that God chooses to do in our lives. God tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” (Isaiah 55:8). So, we have a choice to make. Either we depend on our limited understanding, forcing our own plans. Or, we follow God, walk with Him and pray that our wants for our lives can be transformed and synced with what God wants for our lives. 

Remember, what are we exchanging these things for? We exchange these things not worth keeping for God’s plan for us. God’s good plan will shape us and lead us to grow closer to Him. Only in obedience to Him will we be able to follow Him. God wants us to delight in Him, and in following Him, we will be given things far more valuable than anything our own plans could ever produce — things that are eternal, things that are good for the deepest parts of our souls. So why should we ever follow in grumbling, holding tight to rubbish?

So what NOW?

We can’t expect our whole life plan to be revealed to us in a few seconds. It’s not as simple as a ‘step by step’ plan on walking with God. Don’t forget that we walk in faith in a DAILY struggle. 

So, how can we follow God’s plan for our future when we don’t even know what it is? We follow God at the moment. NOW. It’s not something far off, reserved for our later studies or jobs. It is daily obedience to God NOW. God has specifically put us in our lives. God has purposely put us in our families, the country we live in, the opportunities we receive. So, we first follow God’s plan at the moment from what He has given us, and He will lead us to our future. 

Denying our own dreams isn’t a far off thing. It’s something we do every day, now. When we want to waste our time, then first think, what does God want us to do? How else could we use our time? Let us not be reluctant to follow God’s current calling for us. We see in Jonah’s story. He didn’t want to follow what God asked of Him, what He planned for Jonah. Jonah ran away, but in the end, God’s will was fulfilled. This applies to us. If God has a calling for us (whether that be something currently or something later on in life), in the end, His will shall be fulfilled. 

To know what God wants, we must first know God and saturate our souls with His will. We need discernment which comes with spiritual maturity. We cannot expect to know what God wants us to do if we do not know Him and if we do not read His word. Our calling won’t be unveiled to us in a second. It’s not something we don’t know in one moment and know in the next. We need to walk with God daily and slowly. By having a true relationship with Him, we will know what He wants us to do with our lives. 

In small situations, we must keep in step with the spirit, bearing fruits of the spirit while we are led by the spirit every day. Bear love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 3:22-23).

Keep in step, small steps, steps in the present. Bear our cross and deny the fleshly desires we have, that God may be the true King of our lives, that He may sit in the throne of our hearts, that He may truly be glorified and that His Kingdom comes, that His will be done in and through our lives.

The Importance of Family

Family, you know, the people that you kinda see every day. One day you might love them to bits, but other times they might be the last people you want to see. They are hard people to live around sometimes and arguing plus emotional rollercoasters are inevitable. I’m sure that we are all familiar with family even though all of our families have imperfections and differences within our family relationships, but, we can all relate to one thing, we all have a Father in heaven. Aside from having a strong relationship with God, family is important. Without our family, we would not be alive, and you surely wouldn’t be the person you are today. Before we continue, let me ask you this question. What is the point of family?

Father in heaven

Everyone has different families (unless you are siblings, of course), but there is one thing that we have in common —Our Father in heaven. I’m putting this at the front of the list, not only because it’s one of the first things that I thought of, but because it’s the most important. Many teens in this age neglect this, and many don’t realise that this relationship is the most important.

He is invisible; you can’t see Him. How could a person be your father if you can’t see Him? How could you love someone who you cannot see? How can you rely on someone who you cannot see? A lot of us teens stumble here because we do not have faith. It’s quite hard to depend your life on a father that you cannot see. Yet, by reading the Bible, praying, and talking to God, we can have faith, and surely, that faith will grow. Just like a normal father, you must spend time with Him for the relationship to grow.

Family is important, don’t take it for granted while you can.

Sometimes the people around us will frustrate us, and they might be hard to love at times. For example, I used to get angry at my older brother a lot. If you grew up with me, you probably know that my temper back then was pretty short. There was a time when I w nine (I think) I got so mad at my brother I tackled him to the ground out of anger. But now I’ve grown more mature (I hope), and I’ve come to realise that the time left living with your whole family is not much longer. My brother just finished school, and his leaving the house feels like it is right around the corner. Time with your family is precious, sooner or later you and your family will depart from each other, and you will have your own family to take care of.

If you look at what lies around your house, the things they have done for you —the roof they put over your head, the food that you had this morning, not only from your parents but the atmosphere and care that your sibling may bring—hey have done all these things, and often we forget the love they have for us. Do we love them back as much as they love us?

God chose who your family is, so be grateful.

What is so special about a family relationship is that we didn’t choose to be in any of our families. We were born by God’s will in His will. God chose who we were going to grow up with, what last names we would have, and who would teach and guide us to grow into men and women for His glory. I’m not trying to focus on how we didn’t choose to be brothers with our brothers or sisters with our sisters—even though that is important‚—but I’m focusing on being grateful for our family and God’s providence. God put you in your family for a reason. Even though you may not think so, God’s plan is always the best plan for your life. Remember that God is always in control, and when things happen, God is trying to teach you something.

If you remember the first paragraph, I asked you to think about this question, ‘What is the point of family?’ I’ve been writing about all these aspects of the importance of family, and you might be wondering where I’m trying to bring you here. And the question still lies, what is the point of family? Well, as you grow in relationships with your family, you yourself will grow, not only in relationship back with them but also in yourself, growing together, sharing in love. Just imagine if there was no such thing as family if you were born alone, what would you do? How could you survive? It’s the same spiritually. We are helpless, bound to our sin, born of darkness, and we cannot save our souls. But we have a Saviour that can help us, A Saviour that can save us from our own sin. A Saviour that will take us in as His own child. But the real question is, Are you part of Christ’s family?

Jeremy Sangtoki (15) is a writer and videographer for RE Generation-Z. Through his passion for videography and photography, he hopes to proclaim the truth and bring more teens to Christ. Like his brother, he has a predilection for classical or baroque music. 

God and Me

Who or what do you put your faith in? When your world turns upside down, what is it you cling to?

In seconds our life could be flipped upside down, and our time on earth could end at any given moment. In times like these, where do we turn to? Where do we seek comfort, strength and rest?

What is there to hold onto in an unstable, constantly changing, and wicked world?

What is it that you put your trust in and look to as your ray of hope?

Fears of Mine

In a world soaked with sin, we don’t need to look far to see sin’s effects on us and the people around us. As you read this sentence this very moment, hundreds and thousands of people are experiencing great, great hardship. People are constantly facing loss, poverty, persecution—the list is continuous. There are so many things that we may fear, things that can take over our minds and things that have us thinking of all the possible “what ifs”. 

However, it is too often that we worry about such worldly things. At times we fear so much, which traps us into a state of worry. We worry about our future, our grades, about disappointing our family and friends, about materialistic belongings. Fearing the wrong things can be like a trap that holds us so that we cannot move — and go anywhere. Our fears pile on top of each other, some bigger than others, some we’ve had for longer than others. 

These piled up fears only point to even bigger fears and lies we hold in our hearts. Without a personal relationship with God, our hearts are blackened and hardened. Only by God’s grace and mercy may God change our hearts to be meek, earnest and trusting in Him. Without going back again to God, to lay at His feet these fears, our hearts will only continue to rot. Covering these fears and lies by blocking them out, ignoring them or ‘fixing’ your heart with a replacement (e.g. friends, games) will not in any way solve the problem. By letting the problem stay, it will only continue to grow and grow until it will one day overcome us. 

When fear seizes us, life seems overwhelming, and God’s solid promises seem to falter before our eyes. In moments of panic and worry. It is crucial that we stop ourselves from diving deeper into the rabbit hole of “what ifs”, and pause to think—what is it I fear, and is it something that I should be fearful of? 

Godly fear and the Biblical response to fear

There was a time I had an experience where I faced uncertainty. During that time, my mind was all over the place. I was thinking about so many things, and I felt unsteady. Safe to say, I was overwhelmed with everything, and I felt lost in it all, so I went to kneel down in prayer. 

It was at that moment that a verse I read earlier that day came back into my mind. Psalm 46:10, He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

I started to think. Why am I so overwhelmed? what exactly am I afraid of? Is it the uncertainty? Fear of the future? Fear of loss? After reading the rest of Psalm 46, God had once again reminded me of His greatness and His goodness. “Though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging” (Psalm 46:2-3), we have nothing to fear, and we will not be afraid. 

The almighty and steadfast God is our God, and He is our refuge and our strength. What else is there to fear? He is present—God is with us—He remembers us and inclines His ear to us. He is gracious, providing us with all the grace we need to overcome any trials. He is sovereign, in control of every situation in our lives. He is trustworthy; He knows what is best for us and will work through everything for good to those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose, those whom He has predestined and called. 

Along with the devotion that morning (P. Tripp’s ‘New Morning Mercies’) where the Bible passage was Psalm 145, I was reminded how God could use everything for His glory. His Holy Name will be exalted, and His wonderful works will be made known. Every day, including our highest and lowest points, times of fear and times of assurity, God can use it all for His glory. He will be exalted among the nations, He will be exalted in the earth. God gave me peace, once I lay at His feet and placed my burdens on Him. 

So my question is, do we truly trust Him? Or are we uttering those words in emptiness? Where do we put our faith?

Once we know of God’s greatness and holiness, then why do we still fight to keep each day, keep our future, for ourselves? Why do we not trust God with each day? This by no way means carelessness or simply going with the flow of each day. No. Each day is a spiritual battle, a war. Our whole heart must be given to God and nothing less. Trust in Him wholeheartedly and nothing less.

The Fragility of Life and the Vanity of the World

As I said earlier, I wanted to remind each other that our lives can turn around in mere seconds. As teens, we usually think that we’ve certainly got plenty of time left on earth, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

We take His grace for granted. Each breath we take is only by His grace. Things that we have no control over can change our lives. Things we have absolutely no power over, not us or any other man on earth. We arrogantly think that we are strong and knowledgeable enough to lead our own lives. We have so little insight, so why do we still insist on choosing our own way? Why do we refuse to follow and submit to God?

Things like the pandemic have shown us just how weak we are, but even after seeing that, we still choose to follow our own self, pleasures and plans. It is foolish to lead our own life for our selfish desires, and our lives will be in vain. 

As written in Psalm 1 — those who follow their own counsel, those who are content with dwelling in sin and wickedness will blow away like chaff. Their lives lead to nothing, and they will not stand in judgement, as the only way that road leads to is complete destruction. When this world is gone, what will be left? If God were to call on you now and ask you about your life, what could you say? Do not frolic in your sins, but repent and beg God for His mercy. 

What will you do?

Fellow teens, plead to God that He may open your eyes to turn them to Him and that He may reveal to you a glimpse of His glory, that you may see His greatness and almighty power, that you can truly taste His goodness for yourself, PERSONALLY. God and me. God and you. 

So, will you follow Him? Will you give your whole heart and your whole life to Him? To not look back, to have no regrets and to walk with Him from now until forevermore.

Where is your heart right now? Pray, that God may reveal it to you and that you may know your heart and just how much we all need God. 

Cling to God as your one and only hope in this unsteady world. Put your faith in Him, and keep praying. Always. 

Soli Deo Gloria,

Your sister in Christ – Samantha

Samantha Wy (17) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through this ministry, she strives to spread the truth to many other teens. Besides playing musical instruments, she also loves to bake and make random things.

The Five Solas

Introduction

The five solas – Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. These five solas are what separates the true biblical gospel from other teachings. But before we get into what each of them mean, we need to understand what are the Five Solas? The Five Solas are 5 Latin phrases that sum up the Reformation’s declaration. The word “Sola” in each of the phrases means “alone”, in the context of “grounded”, which we can see from what each of the solas mean.Sola Scriptura means “Scripture Alone”, Sola Fide means “ Faith alone”, Sola Gratia means “Grace alone”, Solus Christus means “Christ alone” and Soli Deo Gloria means “To the glory of God alone”.

The 5 Solas are the foundational beliefs laid down by the Reformers that we firmly hold on to today, because they are what the Bible teaches. During this next month, we’ll go through to explain what each of them means.

Sola Scriptura

The first sola we will go through is “Sola Scriptura”. Sola Scriptura translates to “Scripture Alone”. The Scripture is not man’s words, it is breathed out by God. This means that the Bible alone, God’s Word, is the highest authority in the church. All other authority in the church has to submit to Scripture. God’s Word is essential for the life and growth of a Christians’ life (2 Timothy 3:16). God’s Word is the most valuable thing that anyone can read or hear.

In fact, this is a significant reason why the Reformation was sparked. During Martin Luther’s time, the Catholic Church had the highest place in society in Western Europe. However, not everything they taught was right according to the Bible. One big example was the practice of selling indulgences, saying it will help them get to heaven. However, the Bible tells us that a person is saved by faith, not by one’s deeds. In Ephesians 2:8, the Bible tells us “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” 

So how can we apply “Sola Scriptura” to our spiritual lives? Nowadays, we humans tend to base our judgment on “feelings”. However, we must remember that we, humans, are sinful, so Jesus’ teaching will not always make us “feel good”. We must set our thinking in line with the Bible, and our feelings in line with our thinking.

The Bible is the only source of hope and truth. 

Sola Fide

Sola Fide means “faith alone”. Jesus Christ is our only saviour, and we are saved through faith alone in Him. We are not saved through good works or by our own strength (Galatians 2:6). Faith means accepting Jesus Christ into your heart. It means living a life in the truth.  Just as Martin Luther says, (Sola Fide) is “the article with and by which the church stands.” Without this, we will have no hope for salvation. 

In an excerpt of Martin Luther’s Commentary on Romans (translated by J. Theodore Mueller), Luther writes, “Faith is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1). It kills the old Adam and makes altogether different people, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. And so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly….Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. ”

Luther reminds us that good works comes because of faith. Good works cannot buy our salvation. True faith isn’t only for getting into heaven, faith changes our entire current selves. Faith is essential for the lives of Christians and the church, even today.

Sola Gratia

“Sola Gratia” translates to “grace alone”. We are saved by faith alone (sola fide) by God’s grace alone (sola gratia) , not by our own doings or strength. So, what is grace? Grace is God’s undeserved mercy to us, sinners. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” We need to understand that nothing we, humans do by our own strength can ever lead us to salvation. Humans are sinful by nature. We can never be “good” enough to be saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.” Sola Gratia is important because it shows how God saved us because of His mercy and grace, not because we did something that makes us worthy to be saved.

So do we truly thank God for His grace? Everything in us is by God’s grace. We can never fully realise and understand how great is God’s grace until we understand what sin truly is and we realise how sinful we humans are. 

Solus Christus

Solus Christus translates to “Christ alone”. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. He is our Lord, Saviour and King. Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Church. 

But why is Jesus Christ our only hope for salvation? Because He is perfect and sinless. In this world, fallen into sin, there is no human that is perfect enough who is able to pay the price. As Romans 3:10 states, As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one”. Only Christ can save us.

We humans do not and can not add to what Jesus has already done on the cross. This means that no sinner is beyond the reach of God’s salvation. No-one’s sin is too great to separate a sinner from God, if they put their faith in Christ for salvation.

By understanding Solus Christus, it helps us to understand the other solas. We receive grace (sola gratia) from the Father through Jesus Christ. We are saved through faith alone, however it is not our faithfulness we are saved by, but the faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done. Jesus Christ is at the centre of the Scripture (Sola Scriptura).

All humans have a God-shaped hole in their heart and only Jesus Christ can fill that hole. (Blaise Pascal) 

Soli Deo Gloria

The last sola we will go through in this series is “Soli Deo Gloria”. Soli Deo Gloria translates to “to the glory of God alone”. God alone is the one to receive the glory for his wonderful works- creation and redemption.  Therefore, we live for God’s glory alone. 

God’s glory is something that is emphasized throughout the Bible, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation. But why is God’s glory so important? God’s glory is God’s magnificence and purity. We, with our human limitations, cannot express the fullness of God’s glory. 

The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarises what the Bible says about this.  “What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” 

In  1 Corinthians 1:31 it says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” The Bible shows us that the ultimate goal for the works of God is to glorify His name.

God and God alone is the one to receive the glory for His wondrous works.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Eliana (Anju) Tambunan (14) is one of the writers for RE Generation-Z. She strives to share and spread God’s Word and what she has learned from it to other teens. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, drawing, sewing and attempting to bake new recipes.

Pride: the Universal Disease

At one point or another, we’ve all struggled with pride — myself included. Pride is definitely still a struggle I face at times. From our achievements to our self-image, pride can be hard to spot, and it takes so many different forms. Whether we’d like to admit it or not, we have more pride in our lives than we realise. 

All man has fallen ill with sin and pride. Pride keeps away the humility, meekness, and reconciliation that we so desperately need. In the middle of COVID-19, we’ve seen the devastating destruction disease can cause. However, we ‘sleep’ on a disease that infects all mankind, from Adam and Eve to our generation; sin, precisely pride. 

Maybe we brush it off, or perhaps it may seem like an endless struggle. So what is pride, and where is its end?

The Disease

As mentioned earlier, pride takes many forms. It’s constantly shape-shifting. It can be seen in many subtle ways, and it varies for each of us. For example, it could be the desire to prove ourselves, receive pity, and have a specific reputation. 

With hearts naturally inclined towards sin, we naturally lean towards self-glorification and self-centred lives. The self-righteous pride that we have leads us to give ourselves credit for who we are and what we’ve achieved. By no means is this only restricted to outward appearances or actions. Especially now, where we live in a modern world that idealises self-satisfaction and self-praise, pride spreads and multiplies rapidly.

Once we’ve dipped our toes into this seemingly tiny pleasure, we forget that God is the only reason we are here in the first place. As written in Psalm 10:4, “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God”. When we become prideful, we simply forget. Just like that, we’ve forgotten all the undeserved graces that God has already given us. 

Pride is so great, making it so dangerous to simply push aside. Satan was cast from heaven because of his pride. In Isaiah 14:12-15, we can see the pride that made him think he could replace God as the rightful ruler of the universe. We, too, think we’re worthy of controlling things, controlling our lives entirely independently. However, it is foolish to think that all we have and all we are is thanks to our own hard work. 
Pride imprisons us in foolishness, and not only that. In Proverbs 16:18, it is written, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”. So not only will pride stunt our spiritual growth, but just like any other sin, it will bring us away from God and destroy us.

The Symptoms of Pride

Though it comes in many different shapes and sizes, pride always results in the same thing. It produces the same fruit, the same symptoms. Here are just a few:

Superficiality

When we live in our pride, we are far more concerned with earthly things rather than things of eternity that truly matter. We value how people perceive us more than the state of our hearts before God. This leads us to only ‘fix’ the visible sins and leave the ‘invisible’ ones to have an outward sense of ‘holiness’. Pride leads us to devalue true discipline and obedience, which also must happen when we aren’t ‘seen’ by people. 

Fault-seeking Ignorance

It’s exactly what it sounds like. After ignoring the evil in our own hearts, we go to blame and judge others. Not only is it ignoring our own evil, but seeing ourselves through pride-tinted glasses removes all the faults we see in our hearts. There is so much wickedness in our hearts that if we were to look at our hearts, we should be more focused on our own sins before we leap at others’ sins. 

Self-justification

Excuse after excuse after excuse. Of course, I’m not entirely in the wrong. There are so many reasons why I did what I did or why I am like I am! That is the way pride makes us think. Maybe it’s after not doing your homework or after not paying attention in the service. With pride, we are never in the wrong. We find a million-and-one excuses to justify ourselves and our sins. 

Attention Seeking

Whether it’s ‘subtly’ boasting about achievements, feeling the need to achieve, or saying “yes” to everyone, a symptom of pride is the need for attention and praise. In essence, this symptom occurs because our prideful selves seek earthly glory, validation and praise from man and not from God. 

These are just a few of the many symptoms of pride. It’s not easy to spot, and because of the nature of pride, it can be tough to spot pride in ourselves. But, unless God opens our eyes and shows us our hearts, we cannot see the pride intertwined within our lives. 

Curing Pride

Like most illnesses, we cannot be cured of pride half as quickly as we contract it. So what are the first steps to getting better?

We need to cling to the truth, remember how we are hopeless without Christ, and remember how God has saved us from our sins. We must turn back to Christ and have faith in Him. Faith is to look away from ourselves and to look towards God. This is exactly what we need to do amidst our pride, where we have looked away from good and instead looked to ourselves. We must turn our eyes to Christ and have faith in HIm.
Faith is God’s gift to us, “for by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus, faith is to call on God’s strength and not our own, which in itself is a great grace.

Grace Alone

On the topic of grace, we must remember that everything we are and all we have is simply by grace alone — Sola Gracia, one of the 5 Solas of the reformation. No one can boast because it is only by grace alone that we have been saved. So if we find pride in being ‘holier’ than others, remember, it is only by God’s grace that we have come to know Him. 

This brings me to the hymn “Grace Alone” by Scott Wesley Brown and Jeff Nelson. It reminds us that every promise and difference we make, every prayer and step of faith, is only by His grace. Each word we say, if we can be a blessing for others, it is only by His grace.

Grace alone, which God supplies,
Strength unknown, He will provide,
Christ in us, our cornerstone,
We will go forth in grace alone.”

By grace, and grace alone. 

We are not better or worthy of salvation than anyone else. We are just as blind and sick. We have nothing in ourselves to boast about because we’re all helpless. So, if we are to boast, it could only be about one thing; grace in God’s goodness and sovereignty.

The Path of Humility

So fellow teens, while we live in a spiritually diseased world, it does not mean that we too should follow this flow. Instead, we must fight against our sins, against our pride that (if left undealt with) will lead us to a sickly death. 

Learn instead to walk with God in the path of humility, just like Christ did when He was on this very earth. Treasure Him and keep His word deep in your heart. And most importantly pray, that God may guide you and provide His strength to help you overcome the sin that has plagued all of mankind. 

Samantha Wy (17) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through this ministry, she strives to spread the truth to many other teens. Besides playing musical instruments, she also loves to bake and make random things.

The Media We Breathe

We are the “tech-savvy” Gen-Z—the generation born and raised by the growing virtual world. Social media and technology have infiltrated every single aspect of our lives. We use technology for everything. It dominates our lives—whether we realise it or not.

Our phones keep us connected. Our TV’s entertain us. The internet gives us information on anything we want to know. A world without our devices seems comparable to the dark ages. Even listening to music would be completely different without the technology we have today. It’s a massive part of our lives, and more often than not, we don’t even realise it. 

As Gen-Z, we’ve grown up in a world where we have everything on demand. From TV shows to music to news, it’s all laid out for us. Without these, we’d be seeing plays instead of TV, listening to music only in concerts, and to learn we’d have to go to the library. Things are always instant for us, so we expect everything else to be instant when that is not the case in reality.

Our Screens in Lockdown

Now, when we may find ourselves in a long and dreary lockdown, it seems like the time we have to fill has doubled. Yet, even after studying and doing everything we need to do, it still seems like we have so much ‘extra time’. 

We all know that we shouldn’t waste our time, that we need to “make the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). Like me, maybe you started lockdown with determination and zeal to do so, but as lockdown extends time and time again, we notice that fire slowly dying. As the fire dies, we start to believe it’s okay to waste our time and eventually, we build up a tolerance for wasting our time. Consequently, social media has become more significant in our lives as we rely on it more and more to stay entertained. 

With online learning, we easily spend 5 hours in front of our laptops, plus the additional time we spend watching videos or scrolling through our feeds. The Australian Health Department recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time. Yet, we see our screen time on our laptops and phones nearing or even reaching double digits (really, you should have a look at your screen time. It might just surprise you!). 

A survey of over 1000 Australians showed that the average screen time on phones being 5.5 hours daily, with Gen-Z’s having a higher screen time than any other generation (an average of 7.3 hours). Even the average 5.5 hours would add up to 2.7 months every year, and with our 7.3-hour average, it would be 3.6 months every year spent solely on our phones. So if we use our phones for approximately 67 years of our (possibly) 80-year life, we would be on our phones for 20.3 years of our whole lives. Yes, as Gen-Z, we spend 20 years of our lives on our phones. 

A few hours on Youtube or Instagram is nothing today. But added up, you will unknowingly end up wasting so much priceless time. This is exactly how Satan wants it, that you just do it bit by bit and eventually lead you to problems, regrets and grave damage. 

The Truth of it All

But of course, social media is not all bad. God uses media to share His word to others, and it’s used as a source to connect and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ from across the entire world!

Although amazing things are done with technology, the so-called ‘truth’ we see in the media is often twisted. Social media mixes so many worldviews where nothing is neutral; almost none are true or match up with what the Bible says. 

To tell right from wrong, we need to discern everything we hear and see on social media. As it says in Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil”. Discernment comes with growing spiritual maturity and a strong foundation on the truth. With lies everywhere in our lives, it is so important that we know the truth and keep it deep in our hearts. 

In the book ‘Lies Young Women Believe’ by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth and Dannah Gresh, the impact of wrong worldviews is compared to an IV drip, slowly dripping poison into our bodies. The book also explains how we first fall into lies by just listening to them in the first place, and social media is an open book of lies that we constantly read. 

They write, “It all comes down to whether you’re going to let the world’s values, morals, and thinking drip day by day into your system, or you’re going to intentionally choose to be exposed to input that will help you become more wise and godly.” So, let’s learn to set our minds on things above. Things that we may not be able to see or touch or experience now, but things that are actually significant that we will carry for eternity. 

Matthew 6:19-21 says, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Getting in Control

As much as we’d like to, at this point, we might not be able to say that we have control over our screen time. Addiction is real, and it’s something that must be overcome.

Ask yourself a few questions, test yourself.

  • Is the time I spend on my devices more than enjoyment? 
  • Do I feel the need to be on/check my phone? 
  • Do I depend on my phone more than I depend on God? 
  • When I use my phone, do I lose track of time and forget about everything else?

If we find ourselves stuck somewhere, we need to ask for help. First, pray and ask God to guide you and give you the strength to overcome the struggles. Then, ask for help from others to help keep you in check and set limits if needed. 

Humans created technology, so we should be in control. Yet many people live their lives around their phones, having their phone or social media as masters of their lives. If we aren’t in that situation, we shouldn’t just ‘walk past’ those who are. Instead, we should pray for them. Being addicted to our phones is just as dangerous as any other addiction; it will snowball and eventually overcome us.

I stopped using social media for five days, this is what I learnt

For the past five days, I stopped using my phone. No social media, no internet, nothing for five days. Apart from essential school work, I stopped using my devices. 

Before I started, I was honestly puzzled at how I was going to spend my week. It seemed really hard beforehand. But, when I did start, I realised just how much technology impacted my life. A habit I realised I had was that, at times, I would subconsciously bring my phone with me, even though I wouldn’t use it. But, again, we rarely ever realise just how much we use our phones or the impact it has on our daily lives.

It was surprisingly easy and enjoyable to stop using my phone and the internet. It was nice to take a break from the virtual world and look more at the real world around me. I spent more time practising skills, studying, bonding with my family, and it really helped me use my time wisely. 

We must live in reality, not a made-up world with false expectations and ideals. By not using my phone or the internet for five days, I could see and appreciate my surroundings, the little things that would otherwise go mostly unnoticed. 

I deeply encourage you to give up social media and the internet for five days or maybe even more. If possible, do it with a friend so you can encourage each other, as well as share and grow together from the experiences you had during that time. 

Pray that during this time, where the end of the pandemic is nowhere to be seen, that God will use lockdown to teach and shape us to become more like Christ. Pray that God protects us from Satan and his temptations and that we can continue to grow and walk with Him.

Samantha Wy (17) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through this ministry, she strives to spread the truth to many other teens. Besides playing musical instruments, she also loves to bake and make random things.

Lazy Living

We’ve all found ourselves either thinking or saying something along the lines of “I don’t feel like doing that!” or “I’m just not bothered, I’ll do it later”. 

We have those days where we find ourselves longing to ditch everything we need to do and sit on our beds and do nothing, binge watch our favourite shows or daze off into the world of Instagram. 

Those days are all the more present, especially now, where some of us find ourselves in lockdown at the beginning of the school holidays. Just a week ago, we were immersed in our buzzing schedules, and now we’re at home 24/7 with almost nothing to do. The temptation to follow through with our lazy desires becomes so much stronger.

What is Laziness?

Let’s go back to the start; what is laziness?

Laziness is when we refuse to do chores or procrastinate on homework for more ‘free time’. In essence, we disregard the responsibilities that God has given us. Satan knows this exactly, and he will strive for us to waste the limited time we have and indulge our lazy ways. 

In Ephesians 5:15-17, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

“The days are evil”, how so? Hours themselves are not evil, used correctly. They are a priceless but limited gift that God allows us. Rather, it reminds us of the truth that we live in days full of evil, and it isn’t hard to see. We see violence and wars, disasters constantly happening all around the globe. Take COVID, to name one, with 181 million cases and 3.91 million deaths worldwide to this day. 

Living as a Sluggard

However, it’s what we don’t see that is the real problem. It’s sin that has polluted and diseased the entirety of the human race, worse than all disasters that there has been and ever will be. But we have yet to realise this because all seem smooth sailing from our worldly eyes. As a result, we relax and start to live at ease. This is not what God told us to do. We must use our time, our youth, wisely and with care of what we do according to God’s will. 

As ideal as it may seem, a lazy lifestyle is a wicked and pointless way to live. Ask God to teach you how to live for Him and to strive for a life that is wholly for His glory. God shows us how we should work even through ants as it says in Proverbs 6:6, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!” (I encourage reading Proverbs 6, specifically verses 6-11). 

Even the ants work hard, despite not having a relationship with God. So how much harder should we be working, knowing our Creator and being aware of the endless mercies we receive? 

How many opportunities, how much grace have we wasted all for the sake of our momentary ‘comfort’?

Be very careful, for to be lazy is to fulfil our selfish wants and desires. It is to idolise ourselves and place ourselves in the throne of our heart where God should be. It is the opposite of self-denial which is crucial if we want to follow Christ. It is rebellion and rejecting responsibility, wasting valuable time to humiliate God rather than glorifying Him. For it is in a life of obedience and submission to God that we find true joy. 

Proverbs 21:25, “The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labour.” Laziness cannot be overlooked or dismissed. 

Fighting Laziness

We are all more than capable of working hard for God’s glory, of using our talents and passions for Him. Of course, we must take rests and have time where we can relax for a while. But, it cannot turn into more than that. It mustn’t turn into our everyday life of relaxation, for when we let our guard down, Satan attacks mercilessly. 

God gives us work and responsibilities, and they are a blessing that is to be done with joy in obedience. Realise how fortunate we are to be able to do ‘basic’ things like going to school. While we still have the opportunity, do our best in all our responsibilities that God is glorified and his name known.

Christ has already come to earth, died, and resurrected for us. What is our response to that? Do we live as a sluggard, or will we live a productive and consecrated life for Him? Laziness stops us from doing so. Laziness makes us abandon the life God has called us to live. 

We are guaranteed to have days where we are exhausted, and there will be more times like lockdown where there will be a greater struggle to avoid laziness. To fight laziness requires self-discipline and good time management, which is undoubtedly hard to learn and something I personally still struggle with daily. But in Christ, we find strength and pray that He will guide and teach us to use our time wisely and learn self-discipline. 

Rev. Dr Stephen Tong said, “Squeeze your life, squeeze your time, challenge your limits for the glory of God”. Each one of us has different talents, some that we have yet to discover. Stop being slothful, and if you find yourself with nothing to do, then explore new things. Try something new, and who knows, it may be an unknown talent that God wants you to polish and use for His glory. 

A Challenge For You

As we continue to spend the rest of our holidays stuck at home, we must be vigilant with spending our time and using it wisely. I challenge you to take only five days and use it as productively as you can. Read new books (if you’re stuck on ideas, try ‘Screwtape Letters’ by C. S. Lewis or ‘The Holy War’ by John Bunyan), learn how to do something new, study, help out with more housework, and anything productive. Do not waste one moment of your waking hours. 

Most importantly, in your devotion during this time, ask God each morning to teach you how to spend your time wisely, that He protects you from Satan’s flaming darts. Ask Him to open your eyes that you may see every lesson and grace that He gives you, and ask for strength to keep going and learn self-discipline as the challenge may get more challenging as you progress. 

During these five days, I encourage writing short notes or a diary on your experiences each day. How is it different to how you usually spend your time? What have you done? How has God led you through each day? Is there any regret in spending your day this way? Reflect on each day before you go to sleep. 

Fellow teens, take the opportunity to work even harder and be even more productive, lest it is used as a tool by the devil to drag you away from God and squander our priceless time on earth.

Samantha Wy (17) is a writer for RE Generation-Z. Through this ministry, she strives to spread the truth to many other teens. Besides playing musical instruments, she also loves to bake and make random things.

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