Volume. XXX, No. 49
Friday, 10 June 2016


From the Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (10)


In the previous article, I briefly mentioned the importance of good and clean Christian living in the name of God.  If I elaborate this thought a little bit more, I must say that I am not just talking about some sort of moral frames, by which we must form a lifestyle.  We do not have to be Christians to be moralists.  Basically all religions teach their own morals and ethics.  I am sure that many people will argue that religion is not necessary for morals.  There are atheists who desire to live morally and ethically.  They also desire to live with a clean conscience.  Then, what kind of good and clean Christian life am I talking about?

I am talking about the Christian life which is formed and moulded by the power of God through His Spirit.  This thought will make a huge difference in Christian living.  Very sadly, the work of the Holy Spirit has been either distorted or minimized in Christian churches.  The enthusiasts of the work of the Holy Spirit tend to speak about miracles, signs and wonders, or health and prosperity, as if they were the inevitable and unavoidable end results of the work of the Holy Spirit.  The minimalists do not like to be called by such a name.  They talk about the person and work of the Holy Spirit, but they are more like reactionists to the former group.  They have seen errors of the enthusiasts too often, to talk about the work of the Holy Spirit.  Thus, they speak of His person and work only on a minimal level.  

However, Christian life begins and grows with the work of the Holy Spirit.  Christian life is also a manifestation of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.  Without the Spirit of God, no one is able to confess Jesus as Lord.  Without the Spirit of God, there is no freedom from the law of sin and death.  The righteousness of the law is fulfilled only when we walk after the Spirit.  Unless we are walking after the Spirit, we cannot mind the things of the Spirit.  It is the Spirit of God who dwells in us.  If we do not have the Spirit of God, we are not the people of God.  The Spirit of God is the One who will quicken our mortal bodies someday.  The Spirit of God is everything to the believers from regeneration to sanctification.  This same Spirit is the enabler who helps us mortify the deeds of the body (Romans 8:13).  This Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.  Thus it must be the Spirit of God who forms, moulds, improves, and even initiates our Christian life to be pure and holy.  

Our obedience to the Lord’s instructions and commands is necessary for an unblemished life.  However, it is more than our self-determination to obey Him.  Just think of the immensity of God in terms of holiness and purity.  How can anyone attain to the expected level of holiness and purity with sheer determination only?  Especially, if we recognize that God has set His holiness and perfection as the mark we must follow (“be ye holy for I am holy”; “by ye perfect for I am perfect”), we ought to know and confess that we are hopeless in becoming God’s moralists.  We must extend this thought to our good works, too.  Good works are the instrument to bring people’s attention to God.  How can we produce good works that meet the expectations of God?  If we understand that good works are the fruits of our faith (implied justification by faith alone), we will also understand that these good works are not purely our own products but the fruits of God’s enabling grace to us.  We need enormous power to do good.  

The followers of Jesus Christ are expected to live out the Gospel in the world, which could not but be a good life.  How can they show the truth of the Gospel in their daily life?  The way that they live demonstrates and expresses the character and power of the truth they believe.  Such a powerful testimony of a good Christian life cannot but be a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  A mature (often described as perfect in the New Testament) spiritual life totally depends on the believers’ fullness of the Spirit of God.  The Spirit bears its fruit in their lives and character as Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  A person with such character traits cannot but be respected and produce good fruits in life.  People will see them and their good works and glorify God.  Hence we find an important hint about the power that may shape or influence surrounding cultures.  When a person is ruled by the Spirit of God, his life is changed, and mostly his thoughts are changed.  His worldview, perspectives, and ideas are changed.

We may think that such a change is a small thing.  However, it is not so.  As Proverbs says, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (23:7a).  What defines a man is his thoughts.  Or, borrowing words from Richard Weaver, “ideas have consequences.”  Natural man keeps his heart and thoughts as natural man's depravity.  However, spiritual man is a changed and transformed man with the Spirit of God.  He is not perfect but pursues after maturity.  If all believers of God are led by the Spirit of God, and their thoughts are molded by guidance of the Spirit of God, then we shall see that every one of us lives out the truth of God, and our thoughts are linked together with one purpose, which is to glorify God.  If our thoughts are portrayed and practiced in unity and we live out what we believe, then the whole world will see it.  The people in the world will not say that they must do what the believers of Jesus say, but not what they do.  Instead, they will see the power behind the consistent and pure life of the believers.  They will see the believers’ thoughts and beliefs.  They will see that the believers are forming and shaming outstanding character and social shape, which will inevitably bring cultural consequences.  

Unfortunately, the cultural reality in the world has shown many odd views of Christian values and biblical character.  However, we must not deny that the modern culture is a consequence of ideas.  These ideas are not obviously God-centered and God-fearing ones.  What must sadden our hearts is that we Christians are also the culprits of such a culture in the world.  A critical mass of believers have failed to live out their Christian ideals.  Their life and work have not consistently reflected what they have professed to believe.  Instead of shaping their life according to their beliefs, they have lived a life shaped by the world.  If the early Christians lived a life after Jesus and amazed the world, modern day believers have failed to live the same kind of life and have amazed the world in different ways.  They have been conformed to the world, and their churches have spitefully succumbed to the impacts from worldly culture.  Even the culture within churches becomes like that of the world, which is another sign that churches become the end products of the ideas of the world.  It is no wonder that  modernism, liberalism, humanism, and totally unacceptable secularism exists within Christian churches today.  

I believe that there is a close relationship between culture within churches and truth.  If Christians really believe what they claim to believe, then their churches will be shaped by their beliefs.  If Christians truly believe what they claim to believe and live out a life accordingly, then their beliefs cannot but influence the culture in the world.  Here we find both a problem and its solution.  A problem is a disparity between confession of faith and life, which is shown by the church having no influence in the cultural world.  The solution is found in the power of truth and the consistent life of its believers.  Can our churches be changed?  Can the truth of God influence the culture in the world?  Oh, yes.  Why not?  A challenge lies in the believers’ heart and life.  Do they really believe what they have claimed to believe?  Do they live out the truth they claimed to be God’s?  Do you?

Lovingly,
Your Pastor

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ECM 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 any Constitution amendment must be voted on at two ECMs.

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Helpers this week: Bro Phil Surman; Sisters Natalie Cheng & Natalie Gan. Helpers next week: Bro Sung Hyun Ma; Sisters Seong Yeng Chu & Megan Lim.
*All members to stay behind for a short ECM after worship service.
*Deepest sympathy to Sis Grace Chung & family on the passing of her mother in South Korea.
*Wishing Bro Lucas Yiew & Sis Grace Seow a blessed wedding on Sat, 4 June.
*30th Anniversary Magazine is now available. Please help yourself to a copy.
*Basic Bible Knowledge Class starts on 19 June.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Rev Keith Coleman (USA); Rev & Mrs David Koo (Auckland); Elder David Yeo (Cebu); & others arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in the  past week.
New Life B-P Church (UK) - 20th Anniversary.
Healing: Bro Rick Kim.

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.
Special Prayer:For those in affliction.
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
Cambodia Missions
Other missions: House of Hope, Cebu - 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: Rev Ed & Sis Lehia Paauwe (S’pore/M’sia);  & all those who are travelling.
Safety in pregnancy: Sis Emily Zhang.
God’s blessing on Bro Lucas & Sis Grace Seow.
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