Volume. XXX, No. 40
Sunday, 27 March 2016


From The Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (5)


Last week I considered Paul’s exhortations to us about non-conformity to the world and renewal of our mind. At the end of the previous article, I pointed out the potential problem of going only by numbers and statistics. The Scripture does not forget to warn us that even the majority can be wrong. Even in the secular world, we may find some examples. For example, think about many countries suffering under dictatorships. It is quite funny to see that most of them use a democratic voting system to choose their leaders. Do you know the official name of North Korea is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea? Congo is the Democratic Republic of Congo. Before Afghanistan became The Islamic State of Afghanistan, its formal name was the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan. If we think of a word, “republic,” we will be even more amused. By dictionary definition, republic is “a state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.” As a result, citizens or members of a republic are supposed to have a certain equality among them. Well, with that thought, think about the Republic of Yemen, Arab Republic of Egypt, Syrian Arab Republic, Republic of Iraq, Islamic Republic of Iran, or the People’s Republic of China (Republic of China). Tim Schwarz of CNN reported something about a local election in North Korea on July 21, 2015, in his article, “99.97% of North Koreans turn out for local elections,” as following: “North Korea's elections are over, the ballots are counted and we have a not-so-surprising result. With 100% of participants approving the candidates, the word 'landslide' hardly seems sufficient. Turnout was an impressive 99.97% of eligible voters, coincidentally, the exact same turnout percentage to two decimal places as the previous local elections in 2011. For the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, democracy is too serious a matter to leave to chance.” We must not be surprised by a simple fact that “democracy” or “people’s republic” does not guarantee freedom, equal rights, or justice. There is even a possibility that the ignorance of the people causes them to choose dictators as their leaders under democratic systems.

Mere numbers and statistics do not always reflect any degree of the validity of propositions approved by them . We must not forget that every church has its own congregation governed by its own constitution. In such constitutions, there are articles regarding voting systems that decide various church issues. We must not forget that many churches have taken the path of denying the Biblical truths of God over the years and gone into secularism and liberalism. They have also taken democratic values seriously and voted on key issues. As a result, they are where they are and what they are today. When too many professing believers became conformed to the world and not transformed by the renewal of their mind, they formed a majority and changed their own religion! It was the majority that cried for the crucifixion of Jesus. Therefore, though we value majority opinions, we do also recognize that they are also human opinions which must be in subjection to the authority of the absolute truth. We may need to heed to what Kierkegaard had to say: “The trend today is in the direction of mathematical equality” (William Edgar and K. Scott Oliphint, eds., Christian Apologetics Past and Present, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011, 314). We also need to hear what Jacob Burckhardt, a historian, had to say in 1866, “Even more serious is the steady increase of complete despair about every kind of smallness; anybody who does not belong to a nation of at least thirty million shouts: ‘Help us, oh Lord, we are drowning!’” (Letter, September 1866, quoted in Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Liberty or Equality, 39). What really matters is whether we are the lovers of truth and keepers of it. Oh, how sadly, preachers of the Word have become men pleasers! Even secular ones have noticed the danger of positioning themselves with popularity and popular ideas. Seneca even said, “I never wanted to please the people. What the people want, I ignore, and what I know, the people do not realize” (Letters to Lucilius 29.10). Sadly and mournfully, prominent church leaders and enthusiastic followers have come to believe in numbers and statistics. Churches have even changed their doctrinal confessions to invite non-believers to come to them. They have forsaken and forgotten divine authority by choosing popular approval. The SNS has contributed to this trend. People are bombarded with clicks on “likes” or “dislikes” through various social medias. They want to bring them into their churches even for the matters of doctrines and confessions of faith. Where is the authority of “thus saith the Lord”?

Having given all the cautionary remarks about faith in metrics, I need to caution you about the other end. There are extremely conservative people who argue that what they need is only Jesus. Thus, nothing else is needed. Such an expressive faith appears to be good, pious, godly, and heavenly. However, there are at least two pitfalls which may lead this group to the wrong side. (1) The first pitfall is that this group of people probably do not fully understand the Lord’s prayer in John 17, when He prayed for the people who were in the world but not of the world. A simple fact is that the disciples of Jesus are in the world. They are living on earth, not in the eternal kingdom of God yet. It means that they live with various situations. Think about 1 Corinthians that we have been studying during our neighborhood Bible study sessions. In particular, Paul says in 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Having read it, we may have an impression that what we must do as good Christians is to talk about Jesus and His crucifixion all the time. However, if you are familiar with the book, you must know that Paul also talks about church divisions, moral issues, money matters, or marital relationships. In other words, he talks about various issues of life. If I relate it to us, people living in modern days, I have to say that there are issues we must be interested in as the believers of Christ today here on earth. Examples are plenteous. Issues of consumerism and money must be addressed. There is a huge gap between the rich and the poor, which is a great problem that may destabilize the society. There are diseases and vaccinations needed in under-developed countries. There are conflicts of religions in the world. There are refugee issues. There are people living under persecutions and oppressions. The disabled must be supported, and the elderly should be looked after. Tax issues are humongous. It is because tax policies will affect other policies related to social welfare and infrastructure. There are marriage issues, divorce, adoption, child abuse, and so on. The freedom issue is also huge including freedom of speech and conscience. Politics is a big arena of many battles. Of course, art is another area which needs our careful scrutiny. What I am saying is not that we should be preoccupied with such matters but Jesus.  Our focus must be on Him, and we are also responsible to look into other things to keep the testimony of Jesus in this world. As long as our attention is not diverted from the Lord Jesus, we also need to look into other subjects. Talking about cultural issues is not worldly.  

(2) The second pitfall is the lack of knowledge of Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said that the Scriptures testify of Him. In other words, if we desire to raise our voices in the name of Jesus, we need to know the Scriptures first. Otherwise, we may talk about our views on various subjects in the name of Jesus, but with some missing points. In other words, while we say that Jesus is all in all, and what we must say is only of Jesus, we do not know Him well enough! What a tragedy and what an irony it surely is! While we are saying things about Jesus, this Jesus could be Jesus minus something. Otherwise, how could someone argue that we must approve and embrace homosexuality with the love of Jesus? How in the world, could anyone say that the ordination of woman to be a pastor is the will of God? People put their thoughts and interpretations of Jesus into the name of Jesus (as a result, there appear to be many brands of Jesus) when they argue for their own causes. The spelling is the same, but the nature and character of these Jesuses are different from the One testified in the Bible. No matter how they emphasize the name of Jesus in their contexts, their Jesus has to justify what they want to say. If I have said of all these things with a critical mind toward liberal theologians, I also cannot but say some critical words toward sincerely serious friends in the Lord Jesus. They also put their own thoughts into the name of Jesus and accuse everyone else but themselves. They tend to condemn everyone who seems to be different in certain things, not essential doctrines. Well, well, well . . . . that’s enough for the day. I’ll continue . . . .

Lovingly,
Your Pastor

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Kitchen Roster - Helpers next week: Bro Sung Hyun Ma; & Sisters Natalie Cheng & Kristy Low.  
*A Blessed Resurrection Sunday to all worshippers.
*Please note: Daylight Savings end the next Lord’s Day. Please remember to turn the time backwards by 1 hour before you go to bed on Saturday.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Bro Raymond & Sis Swee Yee Chia; Bro Gregg Eustice; Sisters Nicole Gan, Agnes See, Corinne Teng & Peng Ha Yeo (Adl); Campers to campsite (Wellington); & others arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in past week.
Healing: Jemima Sun (Rev Paul Sokha’s daughter).

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; 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: Bro Sopheak & Ministry (Kampot); Rev Srum Chivan & Ministry (Sihanoukville).
Other missions: House of Hope, Cebu.
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 (S’pore); Sisters Agnes See (Tas) & Iris Surman (Syd); Campers (Adl); & 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); Sisters Jen Xin Li (Barossa) & Iris Surman (Syd).
Comfort & healing for victims and families who have lost loved ones or have been affected by the Brussels bombing.

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063