Ask Jacob Cheriyan (August 5-9, 2019)

Hello, friends! (@Interested_In_Ask_RZIM)

This week, we have the opportunity to ask our questions of @Jacob_Cheriyan, itinerant speaker and trainer with RZIM India, i.e. the RZIM Life Focus Society. After completing his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, he went on to do an MA in Biblical studies. He further pursued an MDiv in theology and apologetics from South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies.

Jacob has interests in topics related to Biblical theology, the intersection of faith and culture, and understanding Eastern worldviews. He has spoken in various university, church, and corporate settings and published many articles for the RZIM Life Focus Society magazine, Engage.

Do take the courage of ‘going first’ with your question - many others likely have the same concern and will benefit from this discussion. It is awesome for us, whether we live in India or another part of the globe, to have this opportunity to interact with a member of the India team!

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Thank you for receiving my question. I have been reading about the “weapons of our warfare” *. Would you share what some of these weapons are as shown in Scripture, please? Thank you.

  • 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 New King James Version (NKJV)
    For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,
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Hi Jacob,

I have asked below question in other category but would like to know your thoughts please when it comes to faith & culture. thank you in advance.

I would like to ask your views if it is appropriate or Biblical to say that Jesus is our superhero? Is it acceptable, ethical, moral or simply correct for a church to use well known comics characters, their characteristics, their sacrificial saving powers fighting the bad guys (E.g Superman, Spiderman, etc) as a tool to explain or attract or engage them, that, hey, do know that amongst these superheroes, Jesus is the real superhero? What could be the possible impact this may bring to a non-believer using such approach or even to kids in children’s church?

I have also attached below a link of children’s song that is quite catchy whereby some churches use it as a praise song for kids. While the tune is nice to listen, the lyrics are easy to follow, the beat is danceable, should it be a concern knowing that children are vulnerable?

Jesus is my superhero

There are also sellers selling t-shirts where Jesus is sitting together sort of having discussion with comics Superheroes where he said on a callout “And that’s how I saved the world”. See the link below. What are your thoughts about this?

Jesus t-shirt design

Appreciate your views about this. Thank you for your time! God bless!

Good day Jacob, I like your video on ‘heaven and hell’. Is heaven as described in Revelation? “Gold and gems etc.”?

Second question: At funerals it is often said that the deceased has now joined their husband/wife in heaven. If we are spirit, how will we reconise each other?
Thank you
Bill

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Hello! Jacob it is my honour to asked you
In corinthians it’s says that women should cover head in worship, should we need to fallow in today context? But some say it’s for olden time. But if it is for olden time then Bible is effective only in Paul time not eternal?

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Hi Jacob,

Thank you for taking my question. I recently entered a conversation with a friend about the below info: I’m wondering actually how to resolve what he is saying g here with what scripture actually teaches. It feels new age sequence to me. I did mention to him that and asked how does sin, salvation and actualkynworkshiooing God fit in. He seems to want to always defer to “did you know the Christian Faith is not monolithic? And allow for all perspectives to be of value as though we can say yes to all perspectives as truth since we “only see in part”
This is also a friend that started out in his Faith in a fundamentalist church and New seems to have gone far left. Believing that the bible is not inerrant but a book to honor its principals while at the same to professing Christ.

In the end, I’d like to simply know how to approach this-to knownreally the right questions to ask him-
Thanks in advance - below is the note/ post
————
WARNING: For outside the box thinkers only.

Spirit = vibrational source energy

The spiritual teachers of old used a different nomenclature than the quantum physicists of today, but were speaking of the same dimension, I believe.

God, heaven, angels describes high frequency energy and devil, hell, demons are the lower forms of vibrational energy. It all resides everywhere and particularly within us: Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is within you…but the inverse is true, the kingdom of hell is within you as well. The full spectrum of vibrational energy is in you, and then you will choose from which higher or lower signals you will resonate, that will then match exactly the life experience that you vibrationally attract.

The gospels communicate that “spirits” are seeking for places that will “house” them. We know that like attracts like.

It’s Interesting to me that the word “habit” and the word “habitat” originate from the same etymology. Your energy, your familiar spirits, your habits…have found a home in the vibrational habitat that you have created to house them. That can work for you or against you.

“If you build it they will come.”

Hello Jacob.

Is it wrong for Christians to fear death or how death will come? Ultimately the only one who’s seen the other side of life is Jesus. Even though we are to trust in him his dying experience wasn’t pleasant. Even in his humanity he was afraid to die. Yes he defeated death, but what does that truly mean for us when facing the fear of death?

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HI Sherpa,

Thank you for your question and for posting on this community. It is a delight to have you with us.

One of the classical verses that people turn to for the spiritual weapons of warfare is in Ephesians 6:10-18. What is interesting is that Ephesians is a prison epistle so it is highly likely that Paul has in mind the prison guards who are dressed in this armor.

There are 6 pieces of armor mentioned and each of the armor corresponds to the following:

  • Belt = Of Truth (v. 14)
  • Breastplate = of Righteousness (v. 14)
  • Footwear = Preparation with the Gospel of peace (v. 15)
  • Shield = of Faith (v. 16)
  • Helmet = of Salvation (v. 17)
  • Sword = Word of God (v. 17)

These weapons are mentioned again in 1 Thessalonians 5:8. And since Paul is the author of Corinthians too, it is highly possible that Paul is emphasizing these weapons. He mentions clearly in the verse that the weapons are not carnal (or from this world) but from God.

This is a very important reminder for our apologetic endeavor. We often time think that our weapons for engaging with the philosophies and ideologies of the world are our intelligence or articulacy, but it is not. It is the Gospel revealed to us through the word of God. It is on these weapons we depend on.

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Hi Sherilyn,

Your question is a very interesting one. I have thought about these comparisons myself and how these comparisons could distort our understanding of Jesus Christ. When Marvel or DC releases a new movie, it is inevitable that I hear a sermon with the hero compared to Christ in some way.

The thing is any comparisons of Christ with characters we read about or watch will be reductionistic. No analogy or allegory can ever encapsulate the beauty or the complexity of Christ. Even Tolkien and Lewis were well aware of this when they put in their Christ-like characters in their fantasy fiction. An important question that we need to ask ourselves is what is lost when we make such a comparison and how is the image of Christ distorted through such a comparison.

I do think there are certain aspects of this endeavor of comparison that can be beneficial. Superheroes point to something deep within all of us. Our need for redemption, a savior who looks beyond himself, a hero who sacrifices himself in order to bring liberation to others, a hero who does not transfer the injustices faced by him/her onto the world but tries to uphold justice despite personal injustice. These are common themes that can be traced in every superhero movie. It points to the fact that deep down inside we all long for a savior with these traits. So if comparisons are done on such thematic levels- it can definitely help enlighten others on the person of Christ and the central message of Christianity.

But where I feel the message could be distorted is wrong ideas of who Jesus based on the perceptions of popular superheroes. Especially when it comes to children and the ways in which they use their imagination. If they start putting Jesus next to heroes like superman and batman on a flat level, then their understanding of the power of Christ, what it means to be omnipotent, the boundaries between fiction and reality- all of these will be affected in some way or the other.

I guess I am not dismissing the endeavor altogether, I am just pointing out the need to be cautious and not put flat level comparisons. There can be a place for it if it is done well.

But thank you again for your question, Sherilyn. I guess every Christian needs to battle this out in their context and see what is appropriate and to whom. I have just expressed my opinion. Hope the pointers help.

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Hi Billbrand,

Your question is indeed an interesting one. Revelation is a very tricky book to interpret. It is a revelatory, apocalyptic and prophetic all rolled into one. There is good evidence though to show that the description of heaven is allegorical rather than literal. It is immensely difficult to describe a world beyond within the language of the world we live in. The only way to do this is poetically and by using imagery which we are familiar with.

In terms of recognising people when we are in heaven? Well that is a question that will be satisfactorily answered only on the other side of eternity. We also note though that we are not just our physical bodies, our identity is not just based on our bodies- which is to say that our identity will not disappear with our physical bodies. But would we be able to recognise each other? We can take some good guesses based on what the Lord Jesus Christ said. In Matthew 8:11 Jesus says, “Many will come from the East and west and recline with Abraham, Issac and Jacob”. Even though these verses are not to be taken downright literally there seems to be evidence of some type of recognition.

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Hi Jacob, thanks for joining us this week to help answer our questions.

What are your recommendations on sharing the gospel in areas with high cultural practices that are not in conformity to God’s word?

Best regards,
Charles

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Hi Chuimatai,

Many churches have tried grappled with this question seriously. In India where I live there are a few churches which do still practice this custom such as certain brethren churches as well as a few charismatic churches.

The question of what is cultural and what is universal from the Bible is always a challenge. But it is a challenge that we as Christians should be able to wrestle with. One of the hermeneutic principles (ways to interpret the Bible) is that many of the practices which Paul writes about could be cultural but the principle is universal. And it is that which we need to focus on. Cultural practices have connections with cultural symbols at that point in time, it loses its symbolic meaning if the mere practice is taken elsewhere. For example folded hands is a respectful form of greeting in India, but if I directly apply it in Spain- it will have no meaning. But I still have to find ways and means to respectfully greet people even in Spain. Hence the principle is universal though the practice is cultural.
I think the head covering falls into the cultural category. It had deep symbolic meaning in the ancient world. It symbolised propriety, humility and so on. It is those values that we need to appropriate rather than the mere symbol.

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I like that Jacob. Thank you. Bill

Hello Jacob,

I hope you can help answer my question. My wife has a fear of the concept of living for eternity in heaven, the thought of it makes her sick. I have been able to help her sooth the fear with prayer and encouragement. Is there anything you could share with me to help her?

Thanks,

Samuel

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Thank you sir even I am Indian to from Manipur… Yes indeed I find this problem mainly in South Indian… Thank you for your valuable suggestions

Hi Kim,

The New Age philosophies are seeping rapidly into the Christian church. The question your friend asked is a symptom of that. Things are explained in terms of energy, vibrations, and relativism. It is no doubt a difficult challenge and needs to be addressed. But the problem is that they are so vague and fluid that it becomes difficult to know where to start. Here are a couple of pointers

Firstly try and tell them that one cannot interpret the bible any way they like to. There are appropriate methods and frameworks. The Bible is an ancient book written within the Jewish world, so it is unfair to impose concepts into the book that they were not aware of at all. It is not being fair to the text. Just as one wouldn’t take Hamlet by Shakespeare and start reading quantum physics into it. It will distort the text.

Secondly, if they are up for it (or even if they are not) get into a dialogue with them about the exclusivity of Truth and the laws of logic. Truth by definition is exclusive and cannot be inclusive- it destroys the very idea of truth and meaning. RZIM uses helpful methods of logic to help a person clarify their own thinking and assumptions. I am attaching a talk by Ravi Zacharias which I found very helpful in tackling New Age worldviews. He beautifully uses these laws and also gives great insights into the history and assumptions of the new age worldview.
The Gospel in Light of New Age Spirituality by Ravi Zacharias

I am also attaching some notes on New Age spirituality that I had compiled some time back to help with the important distinctions between the New Age worldview and the Christain worldview.
New Age Movement Notes.pdf (5.5 MB)

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Hi Luna,

This is a great question. Can we really overcome the fear of death? Even though we as Christians hold on to the blessed hope revealed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in our flesh it is difficult to overcome this fear. We are always half-hearted worshipers of the God we love and truly hold on to. Because of that, there will always be a part of us that has these fears. But the difference is that we do not have to let this fear completely paralyze us. Deep down in us, we know that we are going to be with the Lord and that we are going to enjoy eternity with him. That death is not the end of it all. And so even though there can be fear within us that soothing voice of God which tells us that we are going to be with him will comfort and soothe our fears.

I have seen many Christians who in their last days have barely shown any fear. My grandad told us in the morning of his death that he was going to die and asked us to sit around him and sing hymns. He refused to go to the hospital, he wanted to die in our presence. There was that peace that passeth all understanding which had a huge impact on me as a teenager. I did not see any fear in his eyes. The overwhelming peace of God which he had displayed throughout his life gave him a strong sense of hope that melted the fear away.

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Hi Samuel,

Is there anything specific about living in heaven for eternity that makes her sick? I understand that many times our concepts and imageries of heaven might turn a person off from wanting to be there. I would get bored in a place which has streets of gold and so on. The important thing is that we are going to be with God and enjoy his presence forever.

That is the beautiful hope of the afterlife. To be with God. It is the relational aspect that makes heaven what it is. That presence of God which we feel so strongly in our hearts in this world will be manifested completely on the other side of eternity. That is a hope worth holding on to. That is an endeavour worth striving towards. I think if you emphasise the relational aspect of the Kingdom of God and the beauty of the harmony in relationships that God will restore for us, it could comfort your wife.

Praying for you Samuel. God bless you.

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“Truth by definition is exclusive and cannot be inclusive- it destroys the very idea of truth and meaning. “

My thoughts as well. Eliminate the what if’s. What if’s are philosophical pondering, or creative theorizing in my belief. It in no way identifies “the truth” as it is stated in the writing. Take it for what it is, and don’t over analyze it to death. It says what it means. But to also understand the way the writer, writes, from looking at their other works, helps understand the inflection and tone of their speech. I also found that truly understanding the culture at that time it is written , helped me to understand not only the way the writer would intend it, but how he would write it to the culture of the audience, that he intended it for.

Make sense? I hope I communicated that well.

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Thank you Jacob for sharing your opinions. Appreciate it very much!

I also searched online some related answer to my question. And its from late Billy Graham per link below:

Portraying Jesus as superhero

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