Volume. XXX, No. 39
Sunday, 20 March 2016


From The Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (4)


As we have been considering some social and cultural aspects of the world in relation to Christian churches today, we cannot but consider a serious exhortation from our dear apostle Paul.  He says in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  I see at least four elements from the passage that make this very relevant to our discussions: (1) Our bodies: they are not spiritual bodies but physical, which implies that this passage speaks about our life here and now, which is under the influence of culture, trends, and philosophies of the day, (2) this world: again it does not refer to the spirit world but the physical world we are living in, (3) not conformed to this world . . .be ye transformed by renewing of our mind: it appears to speak to us about our attitude, responses, and reactions to the things that the world offers.  It could lead us to consider matters of culture, morality, norms, or civilization, and (4) prove what . . . will of God: mindless acceptance of the offers from the world is not to be tolerated.  There are many more elements in the passage that require our more careful considerations.  However, at least these four points indicate that Paul’s Christianity was not irrelevant to this world and life here and now.  It means that our spiritual life is not about heavenly life in eternity but our everyday life here on earth.  

From Paul’s exhortations, there are a few lessons we need to consider in relation to our cultural issues.  First of all, I cannot but point out that the phrase, “renewing of your mind,” may open the door for further insights about our attitude toward culture and the world.  (1) The necessity to renew our mind tells us about our natural inclinations.  Instead of strengthening our natural mind, what we need to do is to renew it.  Lexicon definitions of the word “renewing” are “a renewal,” “renovation,” or “complete change for the better.”  In other words, we should not respond and react to the world with our natural inclinations, which implies that they need to be fixed or corrected one way or another.  Or it means that we should not trust in our natural inclinations as reliable resources.  The consequence of relying on our natural inclinations will be to be confirmed to the world and its offers.  (2) The necessity to renew our mind implies that this renewal does not come from our self-reliance because the object of the renewal is none other than our mind.  Thus, this renewal requires external assistance.  And also, this renewal is not simple reformation of our behaviors only.  It has to be a renewal of our internal faculty, the mind.  Second, the phrase “renewing of your mind”, tells us about the scope of renewals.  The Greek word for “mind” has a huge spectrum of meanings.  Let me show you the lexical meanings as follows.  The word “mind” means “1) the mind, comprising alike the faculties of perceiving and understanding and those of feeling, judging, determining 1a) the intellectual faculty, the understanding 1b) reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognising goodness and of hating evil 1c) the power of considering and judging soberly, calmly and impartially 2) a particular mode of thinking and judging, i.e thoughts, feelings, purposes, desires.”   If we think about these meanings of mind, we must know that the areas of renewal are truly vast from thinking, understanding, desiring, and feelings, to inner purposes and the state of mind.  All of them have to be renewed.  Again, what does it tell us about our attitude toward the world and its offers including culture?  Well, do not accept them without discerning them first.  If our mind is not renewed, we are in danger of being their servants.  

Second, there is an inevitable question we must raise if we sincerely and seriously desire to be renewed in mind and not conformed to the world.  How do we know when we are not conformed but transformed?  How can we know if our mind is renewed or not?  These questions are basically the same as the following question, “how can we transform ourselves by not conforming us to the world? “ It speaks about the means or instruments we can apply or use to know if any transformation has taken place or if any conformity to the world has happened in our lives.  These means or instruments are referring to the measurement made from our understanding and thinking to emotions, desires, and purposes of life.  These means or instruments must be comprehensive enough to offer us with principles and guidelines.  At the same time, these measuring standards must meet two requirements: (1) They cannot be from either the world or from any man including ourselves.  It is because we are expected not to be conformed to the world and our minds are expected to be renewed and eventually transformed.  Thus, the measuring standards are from without the world and us.  (2) They have to be absolute truth.  If they are not both truthful and absolute, they cannot help us to be renewed and transformed accordingly.  It is because the ultimate goal is to present our bodies to God as reasonable services and to prove the will of God.  In both cases, God is the ultimate being to be praised and honored.  God is perfect, holy, eternal, truthful, and absolute in all things.  Therefore, we cannot think of any way to measure us to worship God and prove His will but the absolute truth.  It speaks to us about the supreme place of the Scriptures as God’s inspired Word in our faith and religion.  

Third, we may approach this matter from a more practical point of view.  Many professing Christians are afraid that their churches and religion have become irrelevant to the people in general.  They argue that churches must offer things to accommodate the people outside of the church one way or another.  Their reason is that we should bring people to church and God.  Thus, we need to open the doors for them to come without being stumbled.  As a result, they have changed lots of things from messages to praises.  They say that it is important for Christian churches to present unified, peaceable, and harmonious messages to the world.  However, what Paul exhorts us today is somewhat different.  It is because his exhortations do imply the inevitability of struggles and conflicts within the genuine Gospel message and Christian faith and living.  (1) We cannot but expect conflicts with the world, because we refuse to be conformed to the world.  Walter Lowrie wrote in his introduction to Kierkegaard’s Attack upon Christendom, “The world does not persecute the world when it discovers it in the Church” (Walter Lowrie, “Introduction,” in Søren Kierkegaard, Attack upon “Christendom,” trans. Walter Lowrie, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968, p. xi).  Liberals come along and say that we cannot follow the Bible completely because of . . . and so on.  Thus, they deal with the Bible fragmentally.  Instead of recognizing the Bible’s absolute authority over all things, they take the Bible according to their preferences, by which they want to remove the conflicts with the world.  However, it leads them only to be conformed to the world, which is forbidden.  (2) We cannot but expect conflicts internally within our hearts, thoughts, and minds.  It is because we have to be transformed and also renew our mind.  It is like a battle against our nature.  It may explain why the American style of health-and-wealth theology and the so-called prosperity gospel have gained such popularity even within Christian churches.  Any conflict is considered wrong.  Thus, they have become obsessed with public opinions and numbers.  They are accustomed to go by numbers and statistics.  Thus, if the majority vote for something, it must be considered good.  We often forget that depending on numbers and statistics does not have anything to do with faith.  Rather, Moses warned his people in Exodus 23:2a, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil . . . .”  They have forgotten that many people will follow the broad way and only a few people who are a separate and distinct people will follow the narrow way.  It is interesting to know that as for the prophets of God, the nation of Israel was not to be governed by the opinions of the majority of people but by “Thus saith the Lord.”  I’ll continue . . . .

Lovingly,
Your Pastor

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Kitchen Roster - Helpers today: Bro Kevin Low; Sisters Jen Xin Li & Jun Lin. 
*There is NO Fellowship lunch or Tea/coffee & Biscuits Fellowship at Bible College of SA after Worship next Lord’s Day.
*Catered Fellowship Lunch: $3 per person. Free for pre-primary & primary school children, & visitors.
*Camp programme & campsite/directional sheet available at sideboard outside sanctuary.
*Campers requiring transport please refer to “transport list” or check with Bro Yick Ho Lam.
*Due to problems with visa applications for Dr & Mrs Johnson George, Pastor Ki will be the camp speaker. Theme has been changed to “Unity In Christ”.
*Adult & Junior RPGs, Daily Manna for Apr-Jun QTR are available on the literature table. Donation: $1 per copy.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Bro Miguel & Sis Emily Zhang & Grace; Bros William Song (Adl) & Greg Eustice (Melb); Deaconess Joyce Gong (Canb/Adl); Bro Jason & Sis Tabitha Tan & Joel (Jpn); Sisters Wendy Liang (Bris/Adl), Corinne Teng (Melb) & Peng Ha Yeo (Melb); & others arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in past week.

Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Pastor Ki; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore) & Rev George van Buuren; Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Tony & Sis May Zhang; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Herbert (Dilly) Anderson (Kenya), Raymond Ang’s father (S’pore), Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Peter Lkayo (Kenya), Elton Law, Tony Law, Tien Lee’s father (Penang), Grant Munchenberg, & Paul Sokha’s daughter– Jemima; Sisters Nita Chong, Margaret Hooper, Myung Ki, Wol Hee Kim & family (S Korea), Grace Gan’s father (healing), Queenie Lau (Canberra), Choon Fong Lee (KL), Margaret Pearson, Yashu Qin’s father (China), Corinne Teng, Susan Weng, Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation); Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong; Mr Lucas Lee; Mrs Eva Allocod (stroke-Cebu), Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Mumbai), Mrs Janet Jara (Chile), Mrs Poh Lin Lim (Melb), Mrs Pat Johnson (W Virginia); & others in affliction.
Special Prayer: Sisters Thoko Ngoma (fracture),  Christabelle Selvanayagam (post-procedure) & Linda Tan (S’pore); Mrs Siew Fong Cho (M’sia).
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
Cambodia Missions: Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry (Phnom Penh); Khmer pastors & families. 
Laos Missions: Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry.
New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.
Bro Kevin Low & family as he prepares for ministry at Hope BPC.
Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.
Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.
Journey mercies: Bro Raymond & Sis Swee Yee Chia; Bro Greg Eustice; Sisters Nicole Gan, Agnes See, Corinne Teng & Peng Ha Yeo (Adl); Campers to campsite (Wellington); & all those who are travelling.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.
God’s guidance & provision of new church property for worship, office & fellowship activities.
Easter Family Bible Camp: Speaker - Pastor Ki; camp organisers & campers.
Hopefuls working away: Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo), William Song (Goolwa) & Jason Teng (Arusa, Tanzania); Sis Iris Surman (Syd)

 

 

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