This book is an highly recommended Christian introduction to real Christian theology. The value of the book is magnified by how it debunks love the sinner and hate the sin which is virtually the rock modern Christianity is built on. Even if Christianity is the true faith, what virtually passes for Christianity is certainly not. Vincent Cheung is an excellent writer and his ability to think and interpret the Bible is exceptional.


Theological knowledge is the prerequisite of walking in love. This destroys the anti-intellectual notion that a person can love God without studying theology, or that loving God is superior to knowing about him. To love God is to obey his teaching, but to obey his teaching, one must first grasp it with the intellect, and this is to study theology. Theology makes love possible.

A closer look at the "first and greatest commandment" will further emphasis this. Here are some relevant biblical passages:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes…


Moral separation from the world implies that our lifestyles should be very different from the non-Christians. It is inconceivable that Christians who live in accordance with God's precepts and who are able to perceive that moral implications pervade all that we do would have much common with non-Christians in their beliefs, preferences, communities, reading materials, and so on. Christians hate "even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh" (Jude 23).


A "mystery" in the Bible does not refer to something that man cannot understand. Rather, it is something that has not been fully told to man before, but that is now more fully told and explained (see Romans 16:25-26, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54, Ephesians 3:4-6, Colossians 1:25-27, 2:2-3). Thus the word has to do with the chronology of God's revelation instead of man's intellectual limitation. In fact, when the Bible calls something a "mystery," it is a sure sign that we have been informed about it and that we can understand it.


Love your neighbor as yourself" comes from Leviticus 19:18.

Man is a dichotomy, and consists of soul (mind, intellect, heart, or spirit) and body. He is not a trichotomy of spirit (heart), soul (mind, intellect), and body. The heart or the spirit is the soul (mind or intellect) of man. In the passages under discussion, heart, soul, and strength are synonymous terms, used for emphasis, and refer to a person's inner being, which Jesus interprets as the mind of man. Some commentators impose fanciful distinctions between these terms in this verse, but this is illegitimate and unnecessary. Even if Jesus has not added the word "mind," the commandment would mean the same thing as what is claimed here, since the heart and soul are synonymous with the mind. See Vincent Cheung, Godliness with Contentment, chapter 2.

Mark 12:30 - Jesus says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

He mentions four items here with which we must love God, namely, the heart, soul, mind, and strength.

If 1 Thessalonians 5:23 demands the understanding that man consists of three parts, then Mark 12:30 demands the understanding that man consists of four parts. Thus the trichotomist argument from 1 Thessalonians 5:23 fails. Scripture uses repetition for emphasis. The fact that the above verses use different words to refer to man does not necessarily mean that each word designates a different part of man; rather, the intention is to refer to the whole person.

Popular Christian preaching often assumes a sharp distinction between the spirit and the soul, identifying the "heart" with the spirit, and the mind with the soul. However, the Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament defines "heart" (Greek: kardia) as, "the inner person, the seat of understanding, knowledge, and will…."

Kittel contains a lengthy article on the word, and says, "The heart is the seat of understanding, the source of thought and reflection."

And as with other lexicons, it confirms that "The New Testament use of the word agrees with the Old Testament use…."

The word "heart" includes a range of meanings in Scripture, but except when it is speaking of the physical organ, it refers to the mind, while the context stresses its particular functions. Gordon Clark estimates that, "the term heart denotes emotion about ten or at the very most fifteen percent of the time. It denotes the will maybe thirty percent of the time; and it very clearly means the intellect sixty or seventy percent [of the time]."

Since both the emotion and the will are functions of the intellect, or the mind, except when it refers to the physical organ, the word "heart" means the mind in the Bible.


Similarities between the human body and that of the animals imply common design, not common descent.

A "right" is something to which one is entitled. Since God is the creator and owner of all things, only he has the authority to assign rights to his creatures. Humans and animals do not have intrinsic rights; only God has intrinsic rights. Humans and animals have rights only in the sense that Scripture commands that they should be treated in the manner it prescribes. Such rights only exist in relation to other creatures, because God is free to treat his creatures in any way he desires.


One question regarding the atonement is whether the substitutionary death of Christ was necessary to redeem sinners. Two significant answers to this question are the HYPOTHETICAL NECESSITY and the CONSEQUENT ABSOLUTE NECESSITY views of the atonement.

John Murray explains these two views as follows: The view known as that of hypothetical necessity maintains that God could have forgiven sin and saved his elect without atonement or satisfaction – other means were open to God to whom all things are possible. But the way of the vicarious sacrifice of the Son of God was the way which God in his grace and sovereign wisdom chose because this is the way in which the greatest number of advantages concur and the way in which grace is more marvellously exhibited…. The other view we call consequent absolute necessity. The word "consequent" in this designation points to the fact that God's will or decree to save any is of free and sovereign grace. To save lost men was not of absolute necessity but of the sovereign good pleasure of God. The terms "absolute necessity," however, indicate that God, having elected some to everlasting life out of his mere good pleasure, was under the necessity of accomplishing this purpose through the sacrifice of his own Son, a necessity arising from the perfections of his own nature.

If only these two options were available, the preferable one would be consequent absolute necessity. The atonement was not necessary in the sense that God


Indeed, all the non-Christians that have died are already there. If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell. (Matthew 18:8-9)

You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? (Matthew 23:33)

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels….Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25:41, 46)

In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire….Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment." (Luke 16:23-24. 27-28)

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

In any case, it appears that most of the people who oppose the biblical doctrine of definite atonement do not affirm actual universalism; rather, they assert a position that may be called HYPOTHETICAL UNIVERSALISM. They maintain that Christ has made salvation possible for all men, and all of them could be saved if they would only believe in the gospel. However, the problem remains: if Christ had indeed paid the price for the sins of every person, then why would anyone go to hell? What is left for God to punish? The usual answer is that a person must accept what Christ has done, else God would still condemn him even though Christ has fully paid for his sins. But this means that God would punish the same sins twice – once on Christ as he suffered on the cross, and a second time on the person who has committed those sins.

One preacher tried to escape this problem by suggesting that the only sin for which God sends people to hell is the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ. But this contradicts the biblical passages that say God will in fact take account of the personal sins of the reprobates:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. (Romans 1:18-19)

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 5:5-6)

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. (Colossians 3:5-6). 


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