Ask Jose Philip (April 22-26, 2019)

(Kathleen) #1

Hello, friends! (@Interested_In_Ask_RZIM)
We’re thrilled to have Jose Philip, a member of the RZIM Asia-Pacific speaking team, with us this week to answer our apologetic and evangelism questions! He and a number of others from the RZIM team just finished up leading the Festival of Thought in Singapore, where over 70 events were hosted in various business communities, event spaces and boardrooms across the city.

Jose’s RZIM Bio

Jose Philip was born in Kerala and grew up in Chennai, India. He graduated from Loyola College in 1992 and went on to complete his Masters degree in Zoology from the same institute in 1994. He was the first student from Loyola to be awarded the Tamil Nadu State Science Council Scholarship for his Masters Research in Prawn Biology. Jose worked as a Prawn Biologist in India before going to the Middle East to join a software firm in 2001.

Jose became a follower of Jesus Christ when he was fourteen. However it was only after moving to Dubai that he discovered nothing satisfied him more than “teaching and preaching the Word”. In 2005 he resigned from his position as Head of Operations and left to pursue his theological studies in Singapore. During his studies at the Singapore Bible College, Jose distinguished himself by becoming the first student in the history of the institution to have secured two masters simultaneously. He completed both his Masters of Divinity in Biblical studies and his Masters of Theology from Singapore Bible College in May 2008.

Jose is currently serving as an Evangelist and Apologist with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (Asia-Pacific). He also lectures on Apologetics, Christian Ethics, and Gospel & Culture at Singapore Bible College, Baptist Theological Seminary and Bible College Malaysia. Jose is married to Cinu, a special educator by training and they are blessed with two children Jayden and Yaira. They are currently based in Singapore.

(Carson Weitnauer) #2

Hi Jose,

On the heels of the Festival of Thought in your hometown of Singapore, can you share with us some advice on what to do - and not to do - in terms of discussing faith in the workplace?

(James Hunt) #3

Hi there Jose. Difficult question (as mine often are), but here goes: taking into account the Old Testament never once mentions the idea of eternal punishment, rather always speaks of death or destruction, should we reconsider the prevailing view of hell as eternal punishment? Or should we accept that this is a new revelation from God in the new?

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(Moses) #4

Hello @Jose_Philip, Interesting I grew up in Chennai and graduated from Loyola as well :slight_smile:

Would you mind sharing some of your experiences living out of Chennai particularly, some of the cultural challenges you had to face in Dubai and SEA.

Of course I would appreciate if you take some time to describe your church background in Chennai and how was it like for you to be a part of a Christian Community in Dubai and SEA as a believer grew up in Chennai?

You may very well choose to address both questions individually or separately.

Thank you! Glad you are here.

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(Jose Philip) #6

Hi Carson,
Thank you for your question, and it is good to be on RZIM Connect. I deeply appreciate the opportunity. Yes, it’s been a hectic few days for us here in Singapore. It was our first FOT, and, a huge blessing.

When it comes to sharing our faith in the workplace, as with any other environment, it is crucial to remember that we are dealing with people. The challenge is (given that for many ‘work’ is primarily about achievements, efficiency, procedures, and processes) that sometimes we forget our questions, at its very core, are ‘relational’, not ‘transactional’. The Gospel is about the deep sacrificial-redemptive love of a personal-relational God for people. Our task as evangelists is to invite people to have a conversation with Jesus.

The people we work with offer us a unique opportunity both to ‘state and demonstrate’ the love of God, and to ‘persist and persuade’ them to consider Jesus Christ. So I would say, seek every opportunity to engage the ones we work with with the Gospel, but steer clear of doing so for any reason other than the fact that God loves them and you would love for them to know Christ.

I hope that helps.

Thanks Carson,

(Jose Philip) #7

Hi James,
Great question!

The idea of ‘eternal punishment’ might not be as pronounced in the Old Testament as what we see stated in the New Testament. And, yes, Jesus spoke more about hell and eternal damnation than anyone else in the NT. I would not, however, be too quick to conclude that it is an idea alien to the Old.

If we look at the ‘death and destruction’ you mention in its context it is not just that the covenant community of God was ‘cut off’ from Him (exile - geographic), or that they died (physical death - Exodus), but that God’s presence departed (Ezekiel). What we see in a liminal form in the OT is amplified in the New and we see it clearly now because of the atoning work of Christ on the Cross.

The OT tells us that the soul that sins dies (Ezk 18:20). It is no wonder that Paul says that the proper starting point in considering the gospel of Jesus Christ is that we are ‘dead’ in sin (Eph 2). It is when we listen to Jesus we not only understand that unless we are born again we cannot see or enter the life God has for us (Jn 3), in Him, we find out how.

Every blessing,

(Jose Philip) #8

Hi Moses,
Good to hear from a fellow ‘Loyolaite’ which year did you graduate, and which program did you do?

Growing up in Chennai, and in a Christian home was great - except for the summer, but that that prepared me for the Middle East -:slight_smile: On a more serious note, going to the Middle East helped me realise two things, which I had taken for granted. First that being a witness for Jesus was not an option, and second, the Church is, by Divine intent, meant to be the visible manifestation of Jesus Christ. This is what then motivated me to pursue being an evangelist.

Growing up in Chennai, and then living in the middle-east, and now in Singapore, I must say that there are cultural-linguistic-ethnic distinctions that run deep, but the privilege of being part of a body of believers, the challenge of being a follower of Christ in the midst of unbelief, and the responsibility to make our Lord known is the remains anywhere you go.

Every blessing,

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(Moses) #9

Thank you for that reply Jose.

You are quiet senior to me. I graduated in 2012. I was majoring in English literature.

Thank you and God bless you ministry!

(James Hunt) #10

Thanks for the reply Jose. Yes I think that does sound a very biblical and logical reply to my question. I do have one more related challenging question though: In psalm 82, which the context is God addressing the rebel members of the divine council a.k.a the ‘fallen angels’, in verse 7 he says that these divine spiritual entities will “Die like mere mortals and fall like every other ruler.” How does that square with eternal punishment since the face value interpretation is that these divine rebels will die like humans.

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(Jerrold C William) #11

Hiee sir! This is Jerrold from RCCA chennai! Just loved your trinity session. Wish we were loaded with more of it, say two or more sessions. I was wowed by your philosophical depths with contradiction and mystery. I just have one question regarding trinity. In proverbs, there are places where God’s wisdom, an attribute of Him becomes a character. So, likewise, I’m just confused with the God’s Spirit and The Spirit of God, that the Bible specifically mentions at different times with exclusive usage of terms. Is it just easily understandable if had Hebrew background? Like in Hebrew it just says Ruaakh (clearing the throat)… I’m just unable to get my head around this… Pls help.

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(Jose Philip) #12

Hi James,
Thank you for your follow-up question.

Given that not every portrayal of divine judgment in the Scriptures is painted with the ‘eternal punishment’ brush we should be careful not to do so either. There are at least 3 ways to interpret the ‘gods’ in Ps 82: they could be humans in authority (Ex 21:6, 22:8f), or a polytheistic pantheon (2 Cor 10:20), or the demonic realm (Eph 6:12, Isa. 24:21; Dan. 10:13, 20f.; 12:1).

What we can see from this text (and the rest of the Scriptures) is that God is the judge, and his judgment stands irrespective of whether it is the Canaanite high god or humans.

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(Jose Philip) #13

Hi Jerrold,
How have you been? Thank you for your question. I appreciate your desire to grapple with the Scriptures and better understand it. There are many helpful commentaries that can be a meaningful supplement for the lack of Hebrew or Greek. I find the NIV Application Commentary series a good place to start.

To respond to your question(s): God is both the source of all wisdom and wisdom personified, this - wisdom personified, is how Proverbs uses it many times. Paul does the same when he speaks of Jesus Christ as the ‘Wisdom of God’. In a similar way, the use of the word ‘Spirit’.

God is, by nature, a Spirit Being (we are physical-spiritual beings - matter + spirit). We also know the third person in the Trinity is ‘God the Spirit’. The context of the passage should help you better appreciate whether the text is referring to the third person of the Trinity or the Nature of God, or the work of God.

Trust this helps.
every blessing,

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(Kathleen) closed #14

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