Volume. XXX, No. 45
Sunday, 01 May 2016


From the Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (8)


Though we do not identify Christian culture with Christianity or the kingdom of God per se, we must not ignore the importance of Christian culture in society today.  We may be wondering why there are still some Christian cultural influences staying with us in society in general, though the Christian faith is not honored by society.  We must admit that these are none other than the testimonies of the faithfulness of past generations.  They are tokens of the impact that the forefathers of the Christian faith had upon the society in which they lived.  They had shown their fellow countrymen the way that Jesus lived and the way  He wanted His disciples to live.  In contrast, the reason why Christianity is mocked and Christians are scorned by the world today is because the way of life that Christians have adopted is not the same as those of faithful generations before or that which is described in the Bible.  What they do is different from what they say or what the Bible says.  Then, the blame does not necessarily rest upon the world, but upon Christians.  Consider a few countries known as Christian countries.  For example, there are many Christians in America, and thus they want to call her a Christian country.  Australia is one such example too.  If we carefully look into such categorisation, we will find that such countries do have a Christian cultural heritage.  However, the citizens of these countries do not live the life of biblical Christians, or to put it more precisely, they do not practice the way of life set by Jesus.  This way of thinking could be applied both to believers and unbelievers.  The unbelievers of Jesus are not in question here, because they reject any association with Jesus.  However, it turns out that believers are not much different from unbelievers in terms of their way of life.  They call themselves Christians, but their way of life is as worldly as non-believers.  Thus, they are not able to shape their own Christian culture at all.  Instead, they have become followers of worldly culture, which has brought many changes into Christian churches, from music to messages.  

A problem cracks into Christian churches right from here.  The world sees Christian culture as a plausible measurement of Christian faith and religion.  When the world finds that there is either no such thing as Christian culture or that so called Christian culture is as worldly as its own, it cannot find any credibility in Christianity, or at least it does not find any reason to uphold Christianity as the only, absolute truth.  By knowing that Christian culture is more than a culture but a way of life, Christians have to come to a serious awareness that the plausibility of their faith is directly related to the way of their Christian life before the eyes of the world.  

It poses two significant problems to Christians who desire to demonstrate and form a Christian culture and to spread it to the society in which they are living.  The first problem is at the personal level.  As individual Christians, they must confess that they have not made efforts for personal sanctification.  Or, they have failed to be better people in terms of Christian virtues and integrity.  They have not been holy as their Father is.  They have not been loving and affectionate to their neighbours as they should have been, as the Lord commands.  In a word, they have failed to be the light and the salt to the ones around them.  What they say is Christian, but what they do is not.  The second problem is in the corporal level.  As a body of the believers, the church has not been doing well.  We have heard about the moral and ethical corruption of churches and their ministers.  We as Christians feel despair when such shameful news reaches to our ears.  The world has certain expectations of a true religion, or Christianity, and Christian churches have not reached that level.  In some cases, they are worse than the world.  These two levels of failures have produced two unwanted consequences: one, the world discredits the Christian faith all together; two, the world misinterprets the failures of believers as the limitation of God.  Thus, it finds no reasons to believe in Him.  We find a simple application from what James has to say in James 1:20, “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”  When faith is not practiced and demonstrated in works, it is effectively dead.  The world sees it, and who wants to be a follower of a dead faith and religion?  While most of us are mourning over dwindling Christian influence in society, we have forgotten that the primary cause of the demise of Christian influence is in our own way of life.  We have not lived as we preach.  We have not lived out what we confess.  We have not practiced what we believe.  

Here, do I not deny the difficult conditions set around us that keep us from moving forward and upward for sanctified life.  Though we are living in a more advanced society today, more conveniences and choices do not necessarily help us to be holier and godlier.  From shopping to recreation, there are too many choices, which were not available to previous generations.  There is an inundation of information from books to internet about everything.  Movies, games, music, art, or anything we can name is at our finger tips.  Besides, we are living in a globally mobile age.  We can be reached globally anywhere we go, at any time.  Though we may desire to leave certain things or influences behind, we may not be able to run too far away from them.  Even in churches, lots of programs are offered for people’s choices.  Of course, travelling is much easier than before.  There are too many distractions and attractions that take our minds away from God and His truth.  Thus, there are more and more challenges to the believers of God in the modern world than before.  Challenges will eventually bring changes within our society.  These changes will not be favourable to Christians but unfriendly, if not antagonistic.  They will bring a two pronged attacks: (1) They will reject Christian values and moral.  We are and will be told that Christian values are not for all people.  Christian morals are for Christians and not applicable to all mankind.  Thus, moral issues like marriage and divorce have already seen many changes.  (2) They will bring new laws, rules, and moral codes.  Rejection of Christian values is not enough for the world.  It will bring its rules and values and make legislations accordingly.  It means that Christians will be demanded to oblige to follow the rules, though they are not in accordance with the Biblical laws.  Under the pretext of freedom, liberty, and even human rights, we have witnessed many turnarounds in art, literature, music, and in issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.  They are only a few examples.  

While discussing such dangers and pitfalls of human efforts to remove the boundaries set by the Lord, we must not have only two compartments in our thoughts.  We should avoid a thinking pattern that whatever Christians are doing and saying is good and holy, while whatever the world or other religious teachers are saying is bad, wrong, and even evil.  Such a fallacious thought often elevates sinful Christians to be honoured, simply because they claim to be Christians, while it despises and disrespects honourable people simply because they are not Christians.  We may need to consider what St. Augustine had to say, “All truth is God’s truth.”  In fact, all men, whether believers or unbelievers, are made with the image of God.  Thus, though they are spiritually dead and not restored in Christ, the unbelievers can still have good qualities in terms of kindness, generosity, even graciousness.  In the same token, we must say that some immature Christians have failed to display such qualities in their character and way of life.  Thus, God has left a room for hope and peace even in the darkest era.  We expect that we will find many good (not in theological terms), gracious, kind, compassionate, and merciful friends and helpers amongst the unbelievers.  Many will stand up for justice and fair treatment of all men.  It is interesting to know that even gangsters have their own kind of justice and generosity.  Therefore, there is no reason for Christians to be people with permanently miserable and unhappy looks in the world.  Instead of eying on other’s problems and blaming the world for weakened Christian influences, we’d better look inside of us and live a life as true followers of Jesus Christ.  

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 Danny Chu & Daniel Volvricht; & Sis Clara Ki. Helpers next week:  Bros Edwin D’Mello & Eric Lai; & Sis Grace Gan.
*Mother’s Day Lunch will be held at Empress Restaurant, 351 Greenhill Rd, Toorak Gardens at 11.30am. For more information, please see Sis Sally Law.
*Hospitality rosters for Rev Keith Coleman, Rev & Mrs David Khoo, & Pr Hai Seng Lim is on the door outside the chapel for sign up.
*ECM will be held after Worship Service on 29 May to amend Clause 16.1 of the Church Constitution. Please see inside cover of Lively Hope for details.
*No Joy & Maranatha Neighbourhood Bible Study on Sat, 7 May.
*Catered Fellowship Lunch will be held every Lord’s Day until after Anniversary when it will resume to 1st & 3rd Sundays.
*2016 Church Camp media order form available on the sideboard outside Sanctuary. Today is the last day for orders.
*Today is the last day to purchase Anniversary Dinner coupons. Please see Sis Serene Wong at the Bookshop area


Praise & thanksgiving
Journey mercies: All arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in past week.
Healing: Sis Thoko Ngoma.
Covenant B-P Church (Perth) - 6th Anniversary.
Evangel B-P Church (M’sia) - 10th Anniversary.


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: Bro John Saray & Ministry (Sihanoukville); Bro Chanthon & Ministry (Siem Reap); & Bro Thi Chhay & Ministry (Kratie).
Other missions: House of Hope, Cebu for salvation & healing of drug addicts. 
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:  Sis Peng Ha Yeo (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.
Persecuted believers in Islamic & Communist countries.

 

 

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