Volume. XXX, No. 51
Sunday, 12 June 2016

From the Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (12)

The Bible tells us that there are two ways of life in Matthew 7:13-14: the strait gate with the narrow way and the wide gate with the broad way.  There are many different ways we can describe or explain these two ways of life.  It could be described as two humanities of the heart: love of self and love of God.  It could be described as the city of God and city of man, or as the people in the world and the people not of the world.  It could even be expressed as the people of the world and the pilgrims (strangers) in the world, or as the people conformed to this world and the people transformed in the world.  The Hartford Declaration in 1975 says that Christians are called to be “against the world, for the world.”  All of these different descriptions of fundamentally the same concept regarding the believers of Jesus Christ in the world, pose both hopes and challenges to us.  The number one challenge is that there are difficulties in attempting to be critical of the world, while being engaged with the world.  These challenges put faithful Christians uncomfortable in the world at times.  Their discomforts come also from their spiritual discernments, which allow them to see clearly what it means to be in the world and not in the world.  These discomforts are even encouraged to resist, refuse, or reject the world not to be conformed to or complied with the world, if it is against the values, priorities, and ways of the Lord as written in the Bible.  If Christians feel at home in the world and its culture, they are probably in it and of it.  It means that they are not capable of shining forth their light before the world.  They do not have any taste to offer as the salt of the world.  G. K. Chesterton put the issue beyond question when he observed, “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it” (Everlasting Man, 361).    

In order to come to such realization, the first thing we need to do is to be critical of ourselves.  It is because we cannot properly see the mote in the eyes of the world, until we see the beam in our own eyes first.  In fact, it is the work of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit within us.  When the Spirit comes, He convicts us of our sins.  And also the Gospel works in our hearts.  In order not to be conformed to the world but to be transformed with the newness of mind, we ought to search our hearts, seek sin out and confess them to the Lord for forgiveness.  We often find problems here.  How can we find and know that we have sinned?  The first measurement we use is probably the commandments of God like honoring parents, not stealing, not killing, or not lying.  We begin to think of our life and examine it to see if there is any violation against them.  In fact, when a young rich ruler came to Jesus to ask Him about eternal life, Jesus gave him a few commandments for him to review his life.  Luke 18:20, “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother.”  This young man’s answer was quick and swift.  In verse 21, he said, “And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.”  We all know the end of the story.  He could not resist the pleasure from wealth and this world, and he left the Lord with sadness.  

When we deal with sin issues, there is a danger in looking upon sin as if it consists of disobeying particular commandments, as we could see from the story in Luke 18.  As long as we do not remember that we have lied, cheated, stolen, murdered, or disrespected our parents, we judge ourselves as morally clean and spiritually acceptable to God.  However, what we have not understood is that, though any evaluation of our morality and spirituality may begin with such commandments, it should not end with it.  As we saw before, we know that there are people coming from different religious persuasions and even atheism, who are moralists who do not break such mentioned commandments in the literal sense.  And also we must not forget that even the compliance with such commandments can be accomplished in two different levels: external and internal.  For example, we may not kill someone literally.  However, the Lord equates hatred of someone with murderous acts.  Lustful thoughts are not different from adulterous acts.  It means that, though we have complied with external requirements of the commandments, it is more than possible that we  have committed such heinous sins inside of our hearts.  

To cleanse the external part of our transgressions is important.  It must be done quickly and thoroughly.  However, we must know that external purge is not the same as internal cleansing.  There are inclinations in our hearts toward selfishness, lusts, lies, jealousy, or even hatred.  We must be surprised that we can be still moralists externally, though we carry all kinds of corruption and depravity within us.  It is no wonder that even spiritually minded Christians are mourning over their sinfulness and low state of their heart conditions.  They are often broken hearted, and interestingly, David says in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”  When our thoughts reach to the holiness and glory of God and we begin to feel deeply about our inadequacies in fully manifesting them all in our hearts and lives, we do groan.  William Shedd, in his book "Sermons to the Spiritual Man" said of such a grief in the hearts of the people known to be spiritual as following: “When they prayed, their prayers were defective from a lack of full faith in God's being and readiness to bless; and this was coming short of God's glory. When they praised and worshipped, their emotions and utterances were far below God's worthiness and desert; and this was coming short of God's glory. When they obeyed the statutes and commandments of God, it was not with that totality and completeness of service which is due to such a perfect and excellent Being; and this was to come short of the Divine glory.  They could not say, as did the only perfect man that ever lived upon earth: ‘I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work thou gavest me to do.’  And their apprehension of the sinfulness of this falling short of the chief end of man's creation was as painful as that which accompanies an ordinary Christian’s sense of guilt when he violates some particular commandment of the decalogue.  They had passed beyond the more common forms of sin, because they had, in a great measure, overcome and subdued them.  A class of temptations which assail us, on our low position and with our low degree of spirituality, had little or no influence with them.”  

I cannot but introduce you to a few more precious thoughts of William Shedd from “Sermons to the Spiritual Man.”  Hope and pray that we will be able to examine the kind of our spirituality, morals, and righteousness.  He said, “A worldly mind is selfish in its love, and selfish in its hatred.  It is displeased with sin when it interferes with its own enjoyment, and it is pleased with righteousness when it promotes its own happiness.  If the worldly loses something in his own mind, body, or estate, by the theft or the lie of a transgressor, he inveighs bitterly against these particular sins.  And if he is the gainer in his worldly circumstances by the industry, honesty, or godliness of a Christian man, he is profuse in his praise of these virtues and graces.  But he does not love holiness for its own intrinsic excellence, neither does he hate sin because of its abstract odiousness.  If the sins of his fellow-men would promote his selfish purposes, he would encourage them, and be highly displeased at any attempt to check or remove them.  His character and feelings are exactly the reverse of those of God.  He has no love for the soul of his fellow-man as the workmanship of the Creator, and no abhorrence of his sin as an evil thing in itself and under all circumstances.  He cares not what becomes of the immortal part of his fellow-creature.  He never toils or prays for its welfare.  And his feelings towards the sins of a fellow creature depend entirely upon how his interests are affected by them.  Terrible as is the fact, that the selfishness of the natural heart hesitates not to sacrifice the very soul, the very being itself, of a fellow-creature, in order to attain its own purposes.”

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*Kitchen Roster - Helpers this week: Bro William Song; Sisters Ashley Chia & Amy Han. Helpers next week: Bros Daniel Volvricht & Benjamin Wong; Sis Bernadette Ng.  
*Deepest sympathy to Bro Edwin D’Mello for the homegoing of his cousin Grace.
*Basic Bible Knowledge Class starts next Lord’s Day.
*30th Anniversary Magazine is now available. Please help yourself to a copy.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Elder David Yeo;& others arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in the  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.
Special Prayer: Those in affliction.
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
Cambodia Missions
Other missions: Bro Surish Dharmalingam & Ministry (Laos).  
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: all those who are travelling.
Safety in pregnancy: Sis Emily Zhang.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
Jobs: Those seeking for jobs in Adelaide.
University students upcoming exams & final reports. Exam list available in the foyer.
God’s guidance & provision of new church. property for worship, office & fellowship activities.
Persecuted believers in Islamic & Communist countries.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041