Volume. XXXII, No. 10
Sunday, 03 September 2017

From the Pastors Heart: Marks of True Church and Christians - Part 1

This message was preached at the 3rd Anniversary Thanksgiving Service of Providence BPC on 13 Aug 2017. Christian churches have been suffering some setbacks in recent times. The opponents of Christian faith and churches have risen to grab stronger power and positions to make louder voices against Christianity. Such oppositions are not new because the power of darkness has been always vicious and evil toward God and His people since the time of the Garden of Eden. These powerful and unfriendly voices are coming from education sectors, political arenas, music and arts, literature, and science, and so on. The list seems to be very long and gets even longer. Christians working in organizations and companies have told me that they do not have many Christian colleagues. It seems that Christian influence has been dwindling in society in general. However, the more we see such challenges, the more we must stand on the truth of God, because all men are sinners and they ought to be saved by the grace of God. If I illustrate the clash between church and the world, I may use a story about St Helens Church in Bishopsgate. It is an Anglican church, I believe. It is located in the heart of Londons financial district. This church has developed the lunch-hour Bible exposition during weekdays. Hundreds of men and women, young and old, came to this church during their lunch hour just to bow their heads down for prayers and to hear preachers expounding some Scripture passages. Amazingly, financiers and office staff working in the busy district flocked together just to hear Gods Word. The church needed to renovate the building to make more seats available, and at this point, there were clashes between two opposite camps. The church needed to expand the building to accommodate more people to come and hear Gods Word, while society in general wanted to preserve the architecture. What the secular mind wanted to do with the church was to preserve the church as an architectural monument, but the church wanted it to be a center for gospel proclamation to the city. Such clashes are being continued between the Bible believing Christian churches and the secular world and society in general. Oftentimes, in these conflicts, Christians are lost and baby Christians or seekers of truth through gospel messages are really confused. As Hope Church tries to stand on its own feet and to continue to grow, so there are and will be trials, challenges, confusions, and discouragements, coming into the minds of the people of God. The more we expand ourselves beyond the walls of this building, the more we may face such strong and even vicious oppositions from the world. Today, Id like to talk about some challenges we ought to fight against and some principles to establish a God-pleasing church and to become God-pleasing Christians. Challenges to face There are lots of challenges against the church of Christ. However, Ill pinpoint only a couple of lessons. First, we must be aware of the dangers of religious pluralism. Some of you may never have heard of the term pluralism, though I believe that you know what it is even without knowing the term. 1. Religious pluralism generally refers to the belief in two or more religious worldviews as being equally valid or acceptable. a) Religious pluralism promotes an idea that there are many ways to bring us to heaven. Though we may have different religions, it really does not matter, because all of us will meet in heaven anyway. It is the essence of the religious pluralism. It argues that it really does not matter which religion you have or which god or gods you believe. Every religion has a way to bring its followers to heaven. b) Religious pluralism is usually contrasted with exclusivism, which is the idea that there is only one true religion or way to know God. Christian faith proclaims that there is only one God, and there is no other God besides Him. Thus, Christianity is an exclusive religion. Then, some people may think that Christians are too proud to believe that only they are right and others are wrong. Thus, I need to explain to you the next point. c) Religious pluralism is different from sharing of certain values or agreements on some social issues. For example, whatever religion we may have, we should agree that helping the poor is good, domestic violence is bad, and honouring parents is commendable. Therefore, Christians do not say that Christians are good, while non-Christians are bad. d) Religious pluralism is dangerous because it argues that every religious belief is equally valid and truthful. We must know the fallacy of pluralism because it is neither reasonable nor sensible. For example, some religions make images or idols to worship, while Christianity forbids it. If Christians worship idols, they are sinning against God and breaking one of the key commandments of God. Then, how can we say that both teachings of Christianity and teachings of idol-worshipping religions are equally valid? Some religions worship gods and goddesses, while Christianity claims that there is only one God. Then, how can we say that Christianity and religions of worshipping multiple gods are equally valid? If one is right, the other is wrong. Therefore, religious pluralism is wrong. I hope that we will not fall into the wrongs of religious pluralism. 2. The Bible speaks against religious pluralism. a) The Bible acknowledges only one God (Deuteronomy 6:5). Therefore, religious pluralism is incompatible with biblical teaching, since pluralism accepts multiple views of God or even multiple gods. b) The Bible teaches exclusivism in that there is only one way to know God - through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 notes that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. The apostles taught the same message in Acts 4:12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. c) The Bible frequently condemns false religions as following gods that are not really gods. For example, Joshua 23:16 says, When ye have transgressed the covenant of the LORD your God, which he commanded you, and have gone and served other gods, and bowed yourselves to them; then shall the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and ye shall perish quickly from off the good land which he hath given unto you. 3. At this point, we ought to understand that the Christians understanding about Christianity as an exclusive religion does not mean that we are against religious liberty in our country. Religious liberty guarantees that multiple religions can worship peaceably, and Christians appreciate such liberty, as it allows for open worship of God. In contrast, religious pluralism teaches that multiple religions are true or equally valid, something the Bible clearly refutes. We encourage religious liberty, but at the same time we communicate the Bibles teaching in 1 Timothy 2:5, For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. To be continued

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* Blessed Fathers Day to our fathers & grandfathers. * Registration forms & pamphlets for Holiday Bible Club are available in the foyer. * Helpers needed for Holiday Bible Club. Please see Dn John Wong if you can help. * Integrated Fellowship Retreat forms and payment are due today. * Cambodia Missions in Jan 2018. Those interested in going, please see Elder Michael D Lee. * Kitchen Duty helpers - This week: Team A. Next week: Team B. Praise & Thanksgiving * New worshippers & church activities in the past week. * Journey mercies: Elder David Yeo (Adl); & others arriving safely at their destinations. * Calvary Jaya BP Fellowship 33rd Anniversary. * Sharon BP Church 46th Anniversary. Prayer * Healing * Journey mercies: those who are travelling. * Holiday Bible Club & AFG/YAF Camp speakers * Postal Plebiscite on same-sex marriage: Gods wisdom & guidance for people. A comprehensive prayer list is available at the Sanctuary foyer. Please take a copy for your personal or corporate prayer time.



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