Angkor Wat: An Architectural Masterpiece

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Visiting Angkor Wat was a once-in-lifetime and an exciting experience for me and my family back in December 2007. It never occurred to me that I would be able to set foot in Cambodia. But it was truly a blessing that was so unexpected. My sister who was then living in Phnom Penh invited us to visit there. What an opportunity it was!

Angkor Wat
During my college days, my professor in History of Architecture talked about Angkor Wat, a great architectural masterpiece. I never dreamed I could visit and see it!

We visited several tourist spots in Cambodia but the highlight of our vacation was our visit to the world-famous Angkor Wat, an ancient 12th century Buddhist temple, one among several other temples within a huge man-made (square or rectangular?) land mass (“island”) surrounded by a huge moat (like a wide river) isolating it to the rest of the world. It took us the whole day (about 6 hours maybe) by bus to go there from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap up north of Cambodia where Angkor Wat is located.

Angkor Wat: First Heard About it in Architecture Class

During my college days as a student of Architecture at the University of Santo Tomas – College of Architecture & Fine Arts, it was my first time to hear about Angkor Wat when my professor in my History of Architecture class told us about this great architectural masterpiece. It was considered an architectural wonder like the construction of the pyramids and the Mayan temples. My interest to see it was even heightened when I read in the Reader’s Digest (maybe during the 80s) that it was one of those wonders that was already forgotten (during the communist regime) but was “rediscovered” again.

Angkor Wat: World Heritage Site

Angkor Wat
Our tourist guide led us first to the backside of Angkor Wat —not the usual route for tourists. We had a better time away from the thousands of tourists. The tourist guide was really great.

It felt so good for me to actually see it myself (with my family who are all art lovers) and not just listen to my professor talk about it. I marveled at its huge size, how it was professionally crafted and constructed. It was so amazing to actually see the details of it all. Truly an amazing piece of architecture! I couldn’t fully describe it all in words. Our tourist guide was so well-informed and he helped us understand a lot about the place and the structure. Angkor Wat is considered by UNESCO as a “world heritage site.” What a great vacation it was!

What is a Born Again Christian?

The term “born again” or “born again Christian” is a common term used and heard everywhere in conversations. In the Philippines, it commonly refers to Christians who are non-Catholics, in general. It refers to Christians who are Protestants, evangelicals, charismatics and the like.

But in the Bible, what does the term really mean? We find a reference to it in John 3 when Christ said to Nicodemus that he needed to be “born again” (or born from above) in order to see or enter the kingdom of God.

For some Christians, they interpret this to  mean as that time in the future at the second coming of Christ (at the resurrection) when those who belong to Christ will be changed into spirit beings — from mortal to immortal. That, for them is to be “born again.” It is something in the future, yet to happen, at the resurrection, at Christ’s second coming. Of course, not all Christians believe in this interpretation of John 3. This is a minority view.

For other Christians in general, they mean and they are referring to that point in time in their lives when they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. It’s that point in time when they were “saved,” when they believed and/or when they got baptized. This is the general understanding of many evangelicals or “born again Christians” when they talk about being “born again.” To them, it simply means a time when one is considered a Christian. It’s that point in time when they “accepted Christ” and were “saved.” I have no problem with this view and I agree with it.

“Christ in our place and Christ for us in every respect” —Thomas F. Torrance
“Christ in our place and Christ for us in every respect” —Thomas F. Torrance

But there’s something more that is really intriguing to me and it has expanded and broadened my understanding of what it means to be “born again.” According to theologian Thomas F. Torrance in his book, Mediation of Christ on pages 85-86 he wrote:

“…a highlander asked me whether I was born again, and when I replied in the affirmative he asked when I had been born again. I still recall his face when I told him that I had been born again when Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary and rose again from the virgin tomb, the first-born from the dead.”

For Torrance, we became “born again” when Christ was born in Bethlehem (the incarnation) and when he rose again from the tomb (resurrection). As our representative and substitute—in his vicarious humanity—we were implicated in Christ’s incarnation and resurrection. This is through what theologians call as the hypostatic union — the union of the two natures, human and divine in the one person of Jesus Christ. That’s when we were “born again” according to Torrance. I now understand this to refer to the objective truth that all of humanity has been reconciled through what Christ has accomplished for all in his humanity.

I now therefore understand the term “born again” not only in the subjective, personal sense but also in the objective, universal sense.

Not everyone know about this broader view of “born again” yet. I thank the Lord for opening my mind to this wonderful and liberating truth. The truth indeed sets us free!

Some are still unaware of this reality and in their minds, they think they are alienated and are enemies of God knowing that they have been sinning and going against God’s will all their lives (Colossians 1:21). Many people think God hates them. But I now know, that in reality, God really does love us and he has already reconciled all of us back to him through Jesus Christ.

All have been reconciled (universal, objective sense) but not all are participating yet in that reconciliation (personal, subjective sense).

We can joyfully receive this reconciliation freely given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. By participating, we can then personally experience and enjoy the benefits of our reconciliation in Christ. By participating, we can then “see,” “enter” or enjoy our reconciliation in the kingdom of God.

This is now my understanding of being born again or being born from above.

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Updated: 8/9/17

It’s Not Your Faith But the Faith of Christ

I really like the illustration given by Dr. Elmer Colyer on the quality of the ice in an interview hosted by Dr. Mike Feazell. He explained that it’s really not the quality of our faith that matters but the quality of the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some people have faith in their faith instead of trusting in the faith of Christ. They think that their strong faith is what will help them make it to God’s Kingdom. They think their own strong faith is what healed them. The truth of the matter is, it is the faith of Christ on our behalf, in our stead, for our benefit, that brings us salvation—that brings us healing.

The Faith of Christ Does Save Us

Yes, it is true that our faith does matter but ultimately and in the final analysis, it is the faith of Christ that does save us and give us eternal life. Our faith is a mere response to the faith of Christ that made it possible for us to be saved. According to theologian Thomas F. Torrance, it is like two poles of faith. Our faith is on one end of the pole and the faith of Christ on the other end of the pole. But when you really think about it more deeply, even the faith that we have also comes from God and is also a gift to us. So everything therefore comes from Christ.

It’s not our faith that upholds and saves us but it’s the faith of Christ.

For the full length interview of Dr. Elmer Colyer by Dr. Mike Feazell, please click this link.