Volume. XXX, No. 46
Sunday, 08 May 2016


From the Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (9)


When we think of a relation between Christian faith and Christian culture, there are a few things that may surprise us.  Let me list a few things.  (1) Jesus seems to indicate that it was not His intention to build His own kingdom in this world.  John 18:36, “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”  If His desire was to make His name popular and to build His own power belt on earth, He would not have said so as in this verse.  His birth was literally obscure, and He did not promote Himself to earn more popularity or reputation.  He did not go to cosmopolitan areas but ministered quite often around the Sea of Galilee.  (2) Jesus told His disciples to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  The context of this teaching is important.  Matthew 5:13-16 says, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  (a) The scope of the disciples’ testimonies and life is the whole world.  Jesus helped them see the bigger arenas of their activities.  The whole world is their parish.  It may imply that their influences must be felt throughout the whole world.  (b) The means of achieving this goal is good works in verse 16.  If they are not good as the salt, they will be cast out.  In contrast, if they are doing good works and the world sees it, then the world (men) will glorify the Father in heaven.  Again, it indicates that Christian influence or culture must come from the way of Christian life, by which I mean a good life.  (c) It could be understood that a primary reason that the name of the Lord is not honored is none other than professing Christians who do not live up to the life of truth, sincerity, integrity, compassion, patience, and love, according to their confession or Christian faith.  Such Christians are indicted of their own dishonorable life.  Paul’s harsh words against the Jews may have to be echoed in our wounded consciences.  He said, “. . . the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you . . .” (Romans 2:24).  (3) Jesus and His Word have transformed the world.  Though the beginning was small and invisible, the Christian faith has created the most influential culture in human history for a very long time.  There is no other teaching, religion, or civilization that has covered more areas/regions than the Christian faith.  He has power but did not use it to conquer the world with it.  He is the truth itself, but He did not become an Inquisitor to torture and torment all who disagreed with Him.  He is pure and holy but did not act as a moral judge to condemn all sinners.  He is life, but was killed on the cross.  He did not use conventional means to attain to His goals.  He was like a sheep led to a slaughter house.  He did not take arms to fight back.  But His name prevailed and His followers have extended their influences bigger and bigger.  His truth transformed the world, and Christian faith has grabbed minds and souls of mankind and made them turn away from sin and seek after His righteousness.  It is not just a motto that we ought to return to Christ.  Our mind and soul must be fully offered to Him, and our thoughts must be in subjection to His thoughts.  

Then, we come back to the square one.  We have not honored the Lord as we ought to.  What can we find more from our faults and is there any caution we must take to improve our position or condition before the eyes of the world?  (1) We need to consider our attitude toward the world.  It is closely related to our attitude toward unbelievers including people from other religious persuasions.  Whenever people in the world speak against Christianity or express their ill feelings against Christian faith, they name words like Crusade or Inquisition.  In some countries, Christianity is labeled as a religion of Imperialism.  Whatever words or names they use, every one of them is related to professing Christians’ mistreatments of others.  There is an attitude of superiority, whether it comes from pride, spiritual eagerness, religious zeal, or even self-imposed moral code.  Misdemeanors and so-called religious atrocities have made many people turn their backs against Christianity.  There is so much Christian contribution to the betterment of life in general in history, and they are buried under legitimate accusations against all the offences Christians and their churches have made in history.  The consequences are found in responses and reactions the world shows today toward the name of Jesus, the messages of Christ, sin, salvation, and all other biblical doctrines.  (2) The world sees Christianity as a cause of all problems today.  It is not seen as a solution to the problems it faces today.  Also there is another problem.  The accusations coming from the world against Christianity come as a result of the confusion over the Christian faith and its cultural influences and practitioners.  The so called Christian West has been understood as the same as Christian religion.  Thus, all the faults and wrongs Western society has committed are seen as evils committed by the Christian religion.  This incorrect view has led the world to be antagonistic to the Christian faith.  It produces an unwanted consequence, too.  Things that were considered best in the past through positive influences of Christian culture are thrown out, denied, despised, or neglected, which effectively cuts the present generation from its previous generations.  There is a historical disconnection.  The present generation should not forget all the benefits coming from Christian background.  Think of the Good Samaritan story, which is widely used by all men.  Hospitals and orphanages are also deeply rooted in the Christian philanthropic spirit.  Religious freedom, human rights and universal education are also deeply rooted in the Christian spirit.  They are just a few examples.  

By now, we must have learnt a few important lessons to remember.

(1) Faith and work must be understood side by side.  The fruits of justification by faith are good works, which is the will of God.  Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  We know who we are by our fruits.  It shows that our good works and good testimonial Christian life are not peripheral but essentials, not only for our spiritual health but also as the correctional antidote for the perverted view of the world toward Christian faith.  

(2) Genuine faith cannot but transform us to be better and cleaner vessels for God.  Of course, the Spirit of God within us helps and assists us to achieve this goal.  At the same time, it is because the power of the truth of God.  Faith presupposes that there is its object(s).  The object of Christian faith is Christ alone, who has testified that the Scriptures are His testimonies.  The Scriptures, the written word of God, helps us know and understand who Christ is.  Thus, accurate knowledge of the Scriptures is an important part of our faith.  Scripture knowledge also implies that there is understanding of what we know.  Paul prayed for such understanding in Ephesians 1:17-18, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”  Hence we must know that knowledge and understanding are important, especially, in relation to the truth of God.  Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  It means that the Word of God has power to transform us.  It is not just a theoretical talk.  It has been known to us that ideas change people.  Ideas also have consequences, as we have learnt from the history of thoughts classes.  If ideas can change and produce results, then how much more the truth of the living God will change us and produce results in us?  Isn’t it true that the Truth is bigger than ideas?  I’ll continue . . . .

Lovingly,
Your Pastor


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ECM 29/5 Agenda
To amend Clause 16.1 of our Church Constitutions from:
“The number of Deacons shall not be more than seven, or one to every forty communicant members, whichever is the greater number.”
to:
“There shall be a minimum number of two Deacons in the Session at all times.”

Please note that an email about this proposal was sent to members on The Lord's Day, 24 April 2016, at 6:36 pm.

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Helpers this week: Bros Edwin D’Mello & Eric Lai; & Sis Grace Gan. Helpers next week:  Bro Houston; Sisters Jen Xin Li & Jasmine Tanuwijaya.
*Wishing all mothers & grandmothers a Blessed Mother’s Day.
*Concert Rehearsals for Friday & Saturday– please refer to the insert.
*Hospitality rosters for Rev Keith Coleman, Rev & Mrs David Khoo, & Pr Hai Seng Lim are on the door outside the chapel. Today is the last day to sign up.
*Kitchen helpers please update your availability on the list in the dining hall. New volunteers welcome.
*New Basic Bible Knowledge Class will begin soon. Anyone seeking Baptism, Reaffirmation of Faith or Membership Transfer, please see Elder Michael Lee.
*No Neighbourhood Bible Study Meetings this week.
*No Adult Sunday School next Lord’s Day.


Praise & thanksgiving
Journey mercies: All 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 & others in affliction.
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
Cambodia Missions: Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry; Bro Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh).
Other missions: Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry (Laos); Sis Ang Liang Phoa (Batams).
New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for congregation.
Future ministry at Hope BPC: Bro Kevin Low & family.
Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.
Providence B-P Church, Mawson Lakes - Ps David & Sis Susan Weng, & congregation.
Journey mercies: Bro Raymond Ang (Adl/Pinnaroo); Sisters Sarah Carpenter (Coober Pedy) & Amy Wong (Adl/Pinnaroo); William Selvanayagam (Adl) & all those who are travelling.
Safety in pregnancy: Sis Emily Zhang.
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.
Various Anniversary activities next week.
Hopefuls working away: Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo) & William Song (Goolwa) & Sisters Jen Xin Li (Barossa) & Iris Surman (Syd).
Persecuted believers in Islamic & Communist countries.

 

 

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