Volume. XXX, No. 31
Sunday, 24 January 2016


From the Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (1)


There are a few events in history that we cannot but notice.  They cannot be denied but evaluated, observed, and eventually analyzed for our benefits, because they are not theories but historical facts.  I am talking about the comings and goings of human civilizations.  There is no absolute civilization that will survive forever, because history proves that once mighty civilizations and superpowers are not here anymore.  In addition to that, there is no unchanging and everlasting civilization either.  As Os Guinness said, “all civilization is essentially fragile.”  We may count at least 10 civilizations, though there are more than ten.  They are: the Incas (the largest Empire in North America in the Pre-Columbian era), the Aztecs (around Mexico), the Roman, the Persian, the Greek, the ancient Chinese, the Mayan (in central America), the Egyptian, the Indus Valley (northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India), and the Mesopotamian civilizations.  They are not here any more except through relics like pots, tools, tombs, houses and architects, clothes, jewelly, coins, statues, etc.  They have archaeological values from which we can learn of the life and culture of these ancient people.  They also have value for historical tourism and museum displays.  I have visited a few of the largest museums in the world and felt quite overwhelmed by the invaluable archaeological pieces in them.  I was personally very impressed by the civilized life of the Romans in Ephesus, where there was a flushing style of public toilets, indoor running water and a sewage system.  These were available to all Roman citizens 2,000 years ago, while even today some people do not have any access to running water, neither inside their houses nor from nearby places.  However, no matter how high and advanced civilizations were at different stages of history, they are all gone.  Of course, we have lots of benefits from them all, because each generation has been built on the advancement of  previous generations,  their cultures and civilizations.  This does not cancel the fact that these civilizations have existed in the past. 

This factual conclusion from history must send a message to those of us living today.  This message is as simple as this: our present civilization will be a matter of the past someday.  It will be gone like any other civilization.  The wisdom and achievements of man are not eternal.  What interests me is the ways that each civilization collapsed.  There are two common elements we find from them: (1) They collapsed suddenly, and (2) they collapsed tragically.  Of course, these two elements must be understood within certain contexts.  For example, though the Greek empire fell, the Greek influence did not.  Thus, while the Romans did not discontinue the Greek architectural feats, they left indelible marks in law and order after their demise.  However, if we relate civilizations to governing and super powers, we cannot but notice that those two elements are still standing.  In some cases, some civilizations collapsed very abruptly from their zeniths to total destruction.  The external causes of such collapses may be military conquests or natural disasters, but my interest is, rather, about the internal causes.  What caused them to cease to exist, or to be conquered and destroyed?  Just for contrast and for comparative study benefits, let me quote Henry Kissinger, who wrote, “At the dawn of the new millennium the United States is enjoying a preeminence unrivalled by even the greatest empires of the past” (Does America Need a Foreign Policy? Toward a Diplomacy for the Twenty-First Century, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001, p. 17).  Is the Empire of the United States of America going to be glorious forever?  The answer must be found from history.  The West has dominated the advancements of many things, from science to literature and art for the last 500 years or so since the time of reformation or I would say, from the renaissance era.  We do not know how long such dominance will continue, with a humble and somber thought that no civilization will be forever.  This particular thought is very pertinent to all of us, especially the believers of Christ living in the West.  We often mourn over the decreasing Christian influences in the West.  We are also grieved over the declining of Christian churches in the west.  Of course, such news is not glad tidings.  However, on the other hand, does our disappointment reflect our false understanding of Christianity and Christian churches?  Have we thought that the earthly churches are the same as the eternal kingdom of God, which is indestructible?  Then, why did our Lord Jesus teach His disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom of God in the Lord’s prayer?  Are we surprised by all the negative signs against Christian churches and professors of the Christian faith today?  Oh, no.  We have been gravely mistaken.  The declining Christian influence in the West is not the same as the declining Church of Christ.  The eternal kingdom of God is yet to come.  The heyday of Christianity has not come yet.  This so called, civilization (in the West it is often identified with Christianity, which is not a correct view) will not be forever but is destined to die and perish.  Only the eternal kingdom of God will be forever.  At this point, we return to the previous question about the internal factor that has contributed to the demise of previous civilizations.  What is the primary cause (out of many) for the disappearance of civilizations? 

The most outstanding answer for such a question is to be found within the nature of man.  After all, man invents, discovers, uses, and handles whatever he desires to have for his enjoyment and for his benefits.  He builds and destroys his culture and civilization.  Man has claimed to be the user and master of cultures and civilizations.  A serious problem comes from this self-proclaimed authority.  Man is not perfect, and extremely sinful and impure even in his imaginations as Genesis 6:5.  Immanuel Kant and Isaiah Berlin called such a nature of mankind as “crooked timber.”  Nietzsche called it “dissonance in human form.”  Bible believers call it “the original sin” or “depravity.”  The Bible unashamedly discloses the bare face of mankind by denying a possibility that there may be at least one perfect and righteous human being.  Instead, it argues that the whole of mankind has gone astray from the path of righteousness, purity, justice, and truth.  Man is corrupt from his heart to his mouth.  Thus, his thoughts are unclean and his words are deceiving.  The root of every sin and iniquity resides in his own heart, from which he cannot escape.  Though he saw it from a different perspective, Christopher Dawson wrote in a letter after the Second World War that all the events of the past years had convinced him “what a fragile thing civilization is, and how near we are to losing the whole inheritance” (Quoted in Christina Scott’s foreword to Christopher Dawson, Progress & Religion, Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2001, p. xix).  Man is the very culprit for the demise and destruction of human cultures and civilizations.  Likewise, man will be continually devising his ways to destroy the West (incorrectly known as the Christian west).  Sin, depravity, and corruption of man has brought each civilization down to chaos and final death.  For sure, the world we live in and the culture and civilization we have seen and experienced will meet the same fate.  It is historically correct and biblically true, because the world and everything in it will suffer final destruction when Christ comes again.  Am I sad to see that Christian churches are mocked, and the name of God is scorned?  Of course.  Am I in despair?  Oh, no way.  The zenith of Christianity has not come yet.  The glorious moment is on the horizon. 

Here are a few of my predictions about our present and future.  Man will love himself more than God more and more.  He will become more covetous and proud than ever before.  His blasphemous words and deeds against God will be increased.  He will despise good but love evil.  He will be very ungrateful and despise his own parents.  He will even show off some form of spirituality but there is no power in it at all.  Am I too pessimistic and sarcastic?  No, in fact.  All these predictions are not mine but Scripture as in 2 Timothy 3:1-7.  These signs are not the signs of the final day of Christian churches but of the world.  The Lord will come again!  I’ll continue . . . .

Lovingly,
Your Pastor


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Welcome to our pulpit - Pastor David Weng of Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes.
*For each candidate seeking Baptism, Re-Affirmation of Faith or Membership Transfer please, please write a testimony & submit to Pastor Ki ASAP.
*Easter Family Bible Camp - Volunteers required for the Camp Committee. Please approach, call, message or email Dn Colin Gan. Your help will be most appreciated. First committee meeting after Worship Service on 7 Feb.

Praise & Thanksgiving

  1. Journey mercies: all arriving safely at their destinations.
  2. Visitors & new worshippers.
  3. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
  4. Calvary B-P Church (S’pore) - 43rd Anniversary.
  5. God’s protection during the heavy storm 2 days ago.

Prayer Items

  1. Health & God’s healing - Pastor Ki; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore) & George van Buuren; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe;  & others in affliction.
  2. Special Prayers for healing
  3. iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
  4. Cambodia Missions
  5. House of Hope, Cebu - Rehab of drug addicts & their salvation.
  6. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & family, & Ministry.
  7. New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.
  8. IBPFM - Board members & missionaries.
  9. Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.
  10. Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.
  11. Journey mercies: all those who are travelling during the summer vacation.
  12. Safe labour & delivery
  13. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
  14. Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.
  15. Persecuted believers in Islamic countries & Communist countries (N Korea, China & Vietnam).
  16. God’s guidance & provision of new church property for worship, office & fellowship activities.
  17. Australia: Wisdom and guidance for our political leaders.
  18. Hopefuls working away

 

 

© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063