Volume. XXXI, No. 7
Sunday, 14 August 2016


From the Pastors Heart: The Gospel, the Hope of Mankind (15)


In my previous article (no. 14), I briefly mentioned that the Western churches have ignored or neglected the person and work of the Holy Spirit.  Of course, we cannot miss the point that many churches have misunderstood the person and work of the Holy Spirit, which has resulted in unbiblical, unsound, and even weird stories and practices.  Nonetheless, nothing should keep us from longing for the filling of the Spirit of God.  There is no way for us to talk about the Gospel as the hope of mankind, apart from Him.  It is because He is the Promised One by the Lord in John 16:13-15, Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

 

Rely on the Spirit of God

The necessity and privilege to depend on the Spirit of God must give us two clear thoughts. 

 

(1) Man is not his own master.  The Noah Webster’s 1828 English Dictionary defines the word, “master,” as “A man who rules, governs or directs either men or business,” or “The owner; proprietor; with the idea of governing.”  In other words, 'master' is a person who should be able to do what he intends to do.  He must be able to plan and execute it to happen.  However, man is not in such an honorable position.  In real life, he may have many thoughts and he also knows that he is not in full control of everything.  Biblically speaking, Proverbs 16:1 testifies it well: The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.”  Though man may have all the right instruments, means, and opportunities to succeed, he has all potentials and possibilities to fail, too.  It is simply because he is not capable of handling and planning, and executing everything to make things happen as he wishes.  Though a Christian man has the Gospel, desires to proclaim it, and has knowledge of it, he alone cannot achieve anything.  T. S. Eliot said quite interestingly as follows: “Culture can never be wholly conscious—there is always more to it than we are conscious of; and it cannot be planned because it is also the unconscious background of all our planning” (Christianity and Culture, New York: Harcourt, 1976, p. 170).  Pride has a place in man on the way of destruction.  Man is designed to depend on his true Master.  Man who has dreamed and prayed to change the world and its culture is not a person who believes in him.  He is a person whose trust and confidence are in God alone.  The dependence on the Spirit of God awakens the believers of Jesus Christ that they must be humble and submissive to His guidance.  God used Moses, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Elijah, or even Mary who were all humble people.  They were not even volunteers of the Lord’s Work.  They trembled at the callings of the Lord.  They were surprised by the Lord’s summons. 

 

(2) The Spirit of God is the source of all power and abilities.  Zechariah 4:6b says, “. . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  The Spirit of God distributes diverse spiritual gifts.  His manifestation is given to every man to profit all (1 Corinthians 11:4, 7).  Only when the Spirit of God comes upon man, does he receive power to be a witness of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8).  The apostles’ effective ministry depended not on how great their talents were but on the coming of the Spirit of God.  Os Guiness made a good example to illustrate this very point in his book, Renaissance (Kindle location 1444), as follows: “So yes, we strive for excellence. We know that nothing less than our best is worthy of our Lord. Our concern is always to achieve our utmost for his highest. We know that leaders have more influence than followers, that the center of a culture has an influence that far outweighs the periphery, that kings outweigh commoners, that the rich can get far more done than the poor, and that the well-educated know far more than the average person. We know all that, we respect all that, and we take it seriously—and yet, and yet. So we are also always ready for the surprising voice, the far-from-obvious leader, the last-person-you-would-ever-think would be the key player. And yes, we are always ready to recognize God’s nobodies and God’s fools. For these may be the truly anointed ones prepared to be seen and treated as nobodies and fools for Christ’s sake, whom God uses far more than we who are the obvious ones for God to use.”  Man is empowered by the Spirit of God, which offers him a sufficient reason to depend on Him.

Focus on the Gospel

Serious Christians are concerned about secular culture and anti-Christianity sentiment of the world.  They are also anxious that churches have lost their members and that many churches are even closed.  Out of their concerns, they have devised many ways to bring people into their churches.  There are many conferences teaching the concerned Christians about how to organize worship styles, how to make more positive messages, or how to do better in church marketing.  It is true that mega-churches have hired consultant firms to get their suggestions to attract more people.  Their reasoning behind such practices sounds right: they are doing it for the glory of God; churches without people are useless, churches must have more attractive messages, churches must be changed according to the spirit of the modern age, etc.  In other words, they have noble goals and aims to achieve.  Then, they strive to reach the goals and to meet the targets.  For example, they are sad that the contemporary culture is worldly and secular.  Christian young people go to secular music concerts and are excited.  Why can’t Christian churches provide the same opportunities to them so that eventually Christian messages can be heard and the world is exposed to Christian culture?  They plan to bring desired results to the world by using various means, methods, and plans. 

Hence we must see a fallacy in this sort of thought and mentality.  Let us return to the first century.  The Lord Jesus left the world to return to glory and His disciples were left with the Spirit of God.  The first century world was full of idolatries, and Christians were persecuted and not welcome.  The world was obviously non-Christian, and its culture was ungodly and nonspiritual.  In this kind of spiritual, social, and cultural climate, what did the apostles do to bring Christian culture into the world?  What kind of efforts did they make in order to bring a birth of Christian civilization into the world?  What did they do to change the world?  Did they change music, government policies, revolution, Christian psychology, or worship styles to accommodate the minds of the world?  No, none of these means were employed.  Listen to John Baillie, saying, “There is a sense, then, in which the ages to whom we owe our Christian civilization valued that civilization less highly than we do today. They valued it indeed, but gave it only a secondary place. It may be said to have come into being as a by-product of something immeasurably more to be treasured” (What is Christian Civilization?, London: Christophers, 1945, p. 60).  My point is that all of us have missed the real point.  We have lost the confidence and trust that our forefathers had in the Gospel.  We need to chew and digest Romans 1:15-17 again and again: So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”  I’ll continue . . . .

 

Lovingly,

Your Pastor

 


More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

*Kitchen Roster - Helpers this week: Bros Daniel Ki & Daniel Volvricht; Sis Clara Ki. Helpers next week: Bro Danny Chu, Eric Lai & Edwin D’Mello.
*Congratulations - Ordination of new Deacons & installation of New Session. Ordination by Pastor Ki, Rev Alfred Ngoma & Rev George van Buuren.
*New Trustees - Dns Colin Gan & Aaron Tan; & Sis Joyce Gong.
*Congratulations to Pastor David Weng & congregation on 2nd Anniversary of Providence B-P Church.
*Sunday School teacher training starts on 28 Aug. New teachers required. Please see Dn John Wong for details.
*Holiday Bible Club - Helpers needed. Please see Dn John Wong if you are able to serve.
*Due to unforeseen electrical issues at CLG, there will be no Prayer Meeting & Bible Study on Wed. Electricians to replace worn-out cables and lights over next 2 weeks.
*S4C & YAF Retreat forms are now available on the foyer table or from Bro William Song.

Praise & Thanksgiving

Journey mercies: And others arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in the  past week.
2nd Anniversary Thanksgiving of Providence B-P Church (Mawson Lakes) today.

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 Hanoi, Vietnam.
Cambodia Missions: Rev David Koo & Ministry; Life University (Sihanoukville); Khmer pastors & families. 
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 final weeks of pregnancy: Sisters Maritas Mangco (HoH, Cebu) & 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