When I was a medical student, my pharmaceutical lecturer cautioned me about “Look Alike Sound Alike” (LASA) medications. LASA applies to medicines that have a name so similar to another medicine that people may confuse between the two.
There is an antibiotic for the sexually transmitted disease syphilis called benzathine penicillin. To administer benzathine penicillin, a doctor must inject the patient through their muscles where it would act in the body for a long time. However, benzathine penicillin may be confused with benzylpenicillin which has to be injected into a patient’s veins so that it can act quickly in the body. If a doctor injects the wrong medication the wrong way, a patient may develop cardiorespiratory arrest, and die1.
There are some biblical terms that look so similar to another, that we may have misapplied or misquoted them. A misunderstanding of God’s Word may not kill immediately, but it may stunt your spiritual growth.
Let’s look at 4 pairs of terms in the Bible that look alike and/or sound alike:
1) Tree of Life & Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
When God created the Garden of Eden, He put two special trees in it – the Tree of Life, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (TOKOGAE). (Genesis 2:9)
Then He made man and woman and told them that they may eat of every tree of the garden, except TOKOGAE. (Genesis 2:17, 3:3)
However, the Serpent tempted Eve so that she ate fruit from TOKOGAE, and she shared it with Adam. The first sin of mankind separated them from God. (Genesis 3:1-21)
Wait, they haven’t eaten from the Tree of Life yet! If they eat from the Tree of Life, both of them are going to live forever, in a sinful state, apart from God’s grace forever. God loved them too much to allow this to happen, so he shooed them out of the Garden, and set a cherubim to guard the Tree of Life so nobody eats from it. (Genesis 3:22-24)
However, later, he will send His Son, Jesus, to die on the Cross, so we can go to Heaven (John 3:16), where we will live forever as we eat from the Tree of Life which was originally banned to humankind (Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19).
So what’s the difference between these two Trees:
|Tree of knowledge of Good and Evil||Tree of Life|
|Location||Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9)||1) Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9) |
2) Heaven, on the sides of the River of Water of Life (Revelation 22:1-2)
|What does it do?||1) Allows one to have knowledge of good and evil, just like God|
2) Allows one to acknowledge one’s nakedness
(Genesis 3:7, 22-24)
|1) Bears twelve kinds of fruit yearlong|
2) Has leaves which are for the healing of the nations
2) Book of Life and Book of Remembrance
We rejoice when we know our names are written in the Book of Life. Why? Because every person whose name is written there will go to Heaven.
However, there is another book that will determine what other things God will give us along with the rooms in His house: the Book of Remembrance. (John 14:2, Malachi 3:16-17).
The prophet Malachi reminds us that our faithful, omnipotent God is the best Accountant ever. God noticed the evil done by the people of Israel, and scolded them for good. (Malachi 1:8; 2:8, 13-16). However, He then tells them about his compilation: A Record Book called the Book of Remembrance to write down every good deed done by His people. (Malachi 3:16-17)
In ancient times, people who did service unto the King often went unrewarded for a long time. Kings were known to keep written records of good deeds, so that at any time when the King pleases, He may scan his records and issue out rewards accordingly – Queen Esther’s cousin Mordecai was given a royal parade for service because King Xerxes read about him in his Book as a bedtime story (and because of the royal parade, Mordecai escaped death by hanging by Haman) (Esther 6:1-11)
What’s so special about these heavenly books:
|Book of Life||Book of Remembrance|
|What’s written in it||Names of everyone who will go to Heaven||The good deeds done by people who go to Heaven, which God will reward accordingly|
|Who wrote it||God who is omnipotent||God who is omnipotent, but He could have asked His Heavenly Beings to be His secretary: see “written before Him” in Malachi 3:16|
|When was it written||Before the start of time because God already knew who was going to follow Him and who wouldn’t, even before they were born. (Revelation 13:8, Romans 8:29,30)||Though there is no clear indication of when it was started, it seems to be updated on the spot every time someone does something that brings God glory (Malachi 3:16-18)|
|I want my name in this Book. What should I do?||6 easy steps: (Credits to Full Gospel Assembly Kuala Lumpur church diary):|
1) Acknowledge you have sinned (Romans 3:23)
2) Repent (Luke 13:3 Acts 3: 19)
3) Confess (1 John 1:9, Romans 10:9)
4) Forsake your old ways (Isaiah 55:7)
5) Believe in God (John 3: 16, Mark 16:16)
Receive Christ as LORD and Saviour (John 1: 11-12)
|Since no one is “good” by themselves, every good deed you do must be through Christ. Work as unto the LORD in everything you do. Seek the Giver before you seek the gifts. (Colossians 3:23-24)|
Wait … I have a question about the Book of Life: “Does this mean that God picks names to write, and chooses people to go to Heaven or Hell? Well, it’s not quite that way …..
Let’s put it this way:
People start a spiritual marathon when they accept Jesus as LORD and Saviour. Some people never start the marathon. Some people start the marathon but quit halfway because they get distracted or give up. Some end the marathon. Before every marathon, God already knew who was going to finish. So before the marathon started, He wrote the names of people who will finish.
Do you notice that the Book of Remembrance is not for recording who goes to Heaven? Nobody goes to Heaven by their good deeds. All are saved only through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9)
3) Lion of Judah and Roaring Lion who Seeks to Devour
On March 30 2018, Christian singer/songwriter Phil Wickham released the song “Living Hope” that goes:
“Out of the silence, the Roaring Lion
Declared the grave has no claim on me”2
I raised an eyebrow when my brothers and sisters in Christ started to praise this “Roaring Lion” because Roaring Lion may just be another name for Satan. (1 Peter 5:8)
God and Satan are both powerful. It is indeed appropriate to compare the both of them to a majestic beast that inspires both awe and fear. However, there is a great difference between these two Lions:
|Lion of Judah||Roaring Lion|
|Who is it?||Jesus, because his earthly father Joseph was a descendant of the tribe of Judah from whom kings were born until the time of Babylonian captivity (Matthew 1: 1-17, 1 Chronicles 2, 2 Kings 24). Before these things happened, Jacob had compared Judah’s potential royal status to a lion in Genesis 49: 9-10||Satan, as he looks for people to devour (1 Peter 5:7)|
Similarly, a roaring lion is used to describe a wicked ruler who oppresses his people (Proverbs 28:15)
But… it does state that the Lion of Judah roars too, but when the Lion of Judah roars, an action follows (that inspires reverence):
1) Redemption (Hosea 11:10)
2) Judgement (Amos 1:2, 3:4)
Note that in 1 Peter 5:8 the Roaring Lion is a comparison, not a title.
As powerful as these two Lions are, one Lion (God) will indeed overcome the other (Satan). (Revelation 20:10)
4) Childlike and Childish
When I was 12, I read a Teen Bible foreword which reminded me that even as we go through puberty, there are still aspects from our childhood God wishes us to retain.
God loves his people and asks that they remain childlike, however, in order to mature, He asks us to put away childish ways. What’s the difference?
|What it entitles:||1) Dependence on our Heavenly Father (Luke 9:46-48, Matthew 18:3)|
2) To be trusting and teachable (Mark 10:14-15)
3) To seek God for provision (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 7:11)
|1) To have immature speech, thought and understanding (1 Corinthians 13:11, Jeremiah 4:22, 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, Hebrews 5:12)|
2) To do things that have no consideration for the spiritual growth of others, eg: believers speaking in tongues which do not edify an unbeliever who is in their midst (1 Corinthians 14: 20)
3) Gullible and easily deceived (Ephesians 4: 14)
How do we grow to be more childlike, and less childish?:
- Long to learn God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2-3)
- Humbly ask God for wisdom (James 1:5-8)
So how can we avoid confusing between Look Alike Sound Alike Terms of the Bible?
- Learn God’s Word diligently
- Apply it within the correct context
- Grow and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ so that you can discuss, admonish and rebuke one another for the sake of Christ’s body
- On benzathine penicillin and benzylpenicillin https://medicalguidelines.msf.org/viewport/EssDr/english/benzathine-benzylpenicillin-injectable-16682488.html)
- Phil Wickham’s “Living Hope” (truth be told, it’s a beautiful song) https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/philwickham/livinghope.html, https://www.sksbooks.com/products/living-hope-studio-album/
- Understanding the Tree of Life and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/justin-taylor/online-evangelical-culture-self-promotion/
- Do names get blotted out of the Book of Life? https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-is-the-book-of-life-is-it-the-same-as-the-lamb-s-book-of-life.html
- Record Books for Good Deeds at https://www.gotquestions.org/book-of-remembrance.html
- What does it mean to be childlike in our faith? https://www.compellingtruth.org/childlike-faith.html
- A joke with true meaning: Scoring points by good deeds to enter Heaven: http://aumamen.com/joke/how-many-points-to-get-into-heaven (Note: I do not agree that St Peter alone will be waiting for us at the Gates, also, to enter Heaven by the Grace of God, we have to accept Him as LORD and Saviour on Earth, before we die and not after)