Volume. XXXI, No. 4
Sunday, 24 July 2016


From the Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (13)


John 5:17 declares, “But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”  There are a few interesting observations we must be able to make: (1) Jesus answered them.  Who are they?  They are the ones who must have raised concerns, challenges, questions, or oppositions to Jesus.  In response to them, Jesus answered.  Jesus said it in the midst of the Jews’ persecutions of him because of His healing of a man on the Sabbath day.  This healing episode ends in verse 16, which says, “And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.”  Thus, Jesus responded to their charges.  Verse 18 supports this view, “Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”  In this verse, it is clear that it was the Jews who heard the words of Jesus.  We must be reminded that Jesus was in this hostile environment.  He did not enjoy any peaceful relationship with the enemies of His messages.  (2) Jesus said that he worked and His Father worked too.  His words may give us a hint on our responses to the world.  We need to see that Jesus was present in the hostile world with His messages.  And also His role did not end with His faithful presence in the world.  He said that He worked.  The Father in heaven works too.  In other words, Jesus the victorious Savior was not passive, but intensely active even to bring oppositions from the world.  Of course, He was not actively working just for the sake of work.  His work was to fulfill the role and missions He was supposed to complete.  Thus, He extensively taught, healed the sick, delivered the demon possessed into freedom, and confronted the religious hypocrites.  Hence, we must know that the Gospel we have must be proclaimed as clear as possible and as sharp as possible.  The believers of Jesus Christ should not give themselves to accommodate the world in order to avoid any confrontations.  Instead, their sincere and faithful work may produce critical tensions with the world.  However, without this the world cannot and will not know what it ought to know and believe. 

“Who will influence whom” depends on who is working harder than others.  Examples are not too difficult to be found.  We just ask one question. Is the church shaping the culture of the world we are living in, or is the world shaping the church?  It is not even a sporadic, infrequent, and weak voice coming from the world that the church and its messages are outdated and they must be changed.  It seems that the general public does agree with such arguments.  The pews are getting emptier year after year.  It is not just more conservative and evangelical Christians who say that the church has become too worldly and secular.  In fact, the secular world says the same thing.  The Church is responsible for preaching the Gospel to the world, if she desires to shape the world.  This hard and challenging work requires the believers to be ready for at least four things: (1) They should be ready to love the world.  Of course, I am not bringing any contradiction here against the Lord’s instruction that we should not love the world and the things in it.  What I am saying is that they ought to love the world in the same way that God loves the world.  God wills and desires to bring the lost souls to Himself.  At the same time, they all know that He does not love the spirit and the system of the world, which is against Him.  They ought to bring the Gospel to the world with the love of the lost souls and the desire to bring them to Christ.  (2) They must not forget that they must be faithful.  They are to be found in faithfulness (1 Corinthians 4:2).  (3) They must be obedient.  In obedience, there has to be a willingness of heart too.  (4) They must be able to discern to say no to the world.  There are lots of pressures from the world from politics, social issues including morality and marriages, culture including philosophy, psychology, arts and music, and education.  They are told not only to transform themselves to be conformed to the will of God, but also to share it with the world. 
When we emphasize the role of man in transforming the world, there are always two conflicting views popped up: (1) As we have considered so far, we must be faithful and relentless in our work for the Lord to transform the world.  (2) By emphasizing the work of man, we seem to minimize the role and work of God in transforming work.  These two conflicting thoughts are easily found in all controversies depicting that the sovereignty of God is in conflict with the work of man.  However, again and again, there are no contradictions between these two concepts. 

Its understanding must begin with an unchangeable truth of God – He is sovereign.  It is something that is not known to man but the decisive factor behind every event.  God is sovereign over the course of history and the rise and fall of powers.  We must not forget what Daniel says in Daniel 4:26, “And whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the tree roots; thy kingdom shall be sure unto thee, after that thou shalt have known that the heavens do rule.”  The heavens do rule.  It speaks of God as the ultimate source of all power.  Probably, Hannah has explained it very well in her prayers in 1 Samuel 2:6-10, “The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them. 9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.” 

Such a sovereign God uses means and instruments as secondary causes.  The work of man is a part of such means and instruments God uses for purposes.  For example, evangelism is a work of God, and God does not do it for man.  Work for food belongs to man, and God does not work for him.  Patience and faithfulness are required for man, though God Himself is patient and faithful.  Man must pray, because God does not pray for him.  The point is that God has given all enabling grace and opportunities available for man to do what he needs to do.  However, if man does not use them and neglects his duties and responsibilities, he will suffer accordingly and his loved ones will also experience consequences.  There is a good example in Acts 27.  The boat taking Paul to Rome as a prisoner met a fierce storm, named Euroclydon, in the sea.  The Lord appeared Himself in verse 24, “Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.”  However, it did not mean that the sailors were not needed.  Paul said in verse 31, “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved.”  God’s providence to spare the lives of the sinking ship included the work of the experienced sailors.  Using them does not contradict the sovereign will of God to spare the lives in the boat.  Thankfully, the centurion listened to Paul and kept the sailors from fleeing away from the boat. 

Now we go back to our primary concern of culture, church, and the Gospel.  The world is tough and even getting more antagonistic toward the church of Christ and her Gospel message.  We are frightened and scared to be open about our religion and faith in the world.  We feel weak and intimidated.  We even feel that the world is too strong for us to stand against.  We just comfort ourselves that God will do everything for His glory, and we pray in secret rooms.  What is said is not necessarily wrong.  We depend on God.  However, what we need to realize is that God wills to use us for His purposes.  He will help and assist us, because He is sovereign.  However, the same sovereign Lord wills us to be faithful in our work!

Lovingly,
Your Pastor

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Helpers this week: Bro Kevin & Sis Kristy Low; Sis Seong Yeng Chu. Helpers next week: Bros Sung Hyun Ma & William Song; Sis Ashley Chia.
*Deepest condolences to Bro Edwin D’Mello & family for the passing of his mother.
*8th Session Candidates: Pastor Ki; Elders Michael Lee & David Yeo; Deacons Colin Gan & Wai Kin Wong; & Bros Boong Atijatuporn, Sung Hyun Ma, Raphael Ng, Aaron Tan & John Wong.
*Contract to purchase the Colonel Light Gardens church property & rectory was signed by our Trustees on Thurs, 20 July. God willing, settlement will be on 20 Jan 2017.
*Working Bees to assemble at Rectory, Unley.
*Groups/Individuals rostered for Sanctuary Setup at Bible College SA are requested to set up by Saturday evening.

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: Those arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in the  past week.
Signing of contract for new church property.
Healing: Sis Narelle Chong.

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.
God’s comfort for Bro Edwin D’Mello & family.
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
Cambodia Missions
Kenya Missions: Deaconess Purdee Yeo & Sis Sarah Carpenter.
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: Deaconess Purdee Yeo & all those who are travelling during the school holidays.
Safety in pregnancy: Sis Emily Zhang.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
God’s guidance for settlement of new church property.

 

 

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