Volume. XXXIV, No. 28
Sunday, 12 January 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: Do We Know What We Know?

I am working in my study on this first day of January.  I am still thinking about many thanksgiving testimonies from last night, which gently but deeply touched my heart.  If such testimonies cannot move our hearts, I wonder what can.  Once a year, we have opportunities to share our testimonies with the Hopefuls and to hear others sharing about how the Lord has led their lives each day in the past year.  There are testimonies of thanksgiving as well as painful stories, lessons to share, and even some exhortations from our fellow believers.  I wish that all Hopefuls will come and share their stories and hear from others, and that they can end the session with praises and gratitude unto God.  It is an opportunity for parents to teach their children about thanksgiving to God and giving testimonies before others.  It is a good form of religious education.  Where can they learn such things?  It is a time to bring families together in the spirit of thanksgiving.  Whatever we do in the name of the Lord is not only for the glory of God but also for our benefits.  Come and join us next time. 


Today, I was going through some interesting articles I could find from Science journal.  As I expected I found a very interesting and challenging paper co-authored by three scholars, Sorough Vosoughi, Deb Roy, and Sinan Aral.  I do not know how each author contributed to the research, but somehow Sinan Aral’s name was pretty much associated with this paper.  He is a professor at MIT.  The title of the paper is “The Spread of True and False News Online” (Vol 359, Issue 6380, 09 March 2018, pp. 1146-115).  A reason that it caught my attention is because the problems of “false news” or “fake news” have been raised by many people from journalists themselves and politicians to common and ordinary people like you and me.  In other words, we should not believe everything we hear or read.  This particular caution is also related to one of the end time signs.    Matthew 24:6, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”  Jeremiah warned his people about the danger of lies in 7:4a, “Trust ye not in lying words….”  False prophets prophesy lies in the name of the Lord (Jeremiah 14:14).  In contrast, Paul says in Romans 9:1a, “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not… (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:31; Galatians 1:20; 1 Timothy 2:7).  False teachers speak lies in hypocrisy (1 Timothy 4:2). 


As we can see, the Scriptures warn us of false/fake news.  These lies will come even in the name of the Lord.  It is in contrast to the very attribute of God, that He cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).  We are exhorted not to lie against the truth (James 3:14), because “no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21).  There are many causes or sources that lead us to believe in false news.  For example, we may be the source of false news because of our prejudices, bias, misunderstanding, erroneous thoughts, misinformation or wrong information, misconstrued conclusions from previous experiences, eclectic methods of research, inflated self-confidence in making judgments, or simple ignorance forming and leading to wrong convictions.  All of our inner causes could feed our minds again and again, and without realising the problem we are feeders of the very thoughts we have.  We are bound by our own hypotheses which will lead us to make conclusions accordingly.  Thus, we are convinced that we cannot be wrong.  If we are in this category, it simply shows that we are our own teachers, and we have not learnt properly, which is contrary to Paul’s exhortations in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”  God wants His people to learn from His Words.  Deuteronomy 4:10 says, “Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (cf. 5:1; 14:23; 17:19; 31:12).  Proverbs 1:5, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” 


Let me return to the paper I mentioned.  It speaks of the spread of true and false news online.  These days everything travels very quickly from one end of the earth to the other through the internet.  Here is a brief introduction to the paper for Science, “There is worldwide concern over false news and the possibility that it can influence political, economic, and social well-being.   To understand how false news spreads, Vosoughi et al. used a data set of rumor cascades on Twitter from 2006 to 2017.  About 126,000 rumors were spread by ∼3 million people.  False news reached more people than the truth; the top 1% of false news cascades diffused to between 1000 and 100,000 people, whereas the truth rarely diffused to more than 1000 people.  Falsehood also diffused faster than the truth.  The degree of novelty and the emotional reactions of recipients may be responsible for the differences observed.”  What is outstanding from the paper and what causes me to be concerned are not different things but one and the same,  “Lies are believed more than truth much more easily and spread quickly.”  And also, people who believe in lies tend to become more passionate to defend and spread their thoughts than the ones who reject the false news and believe otherwise.  


The paper says, “False rumors have affected stock prices and the motivation for large-scale investments, for example, wiping out $130 billion in stock value after a false tweet claimed that Barack Obama was injured in an explosion.  Indeed, our responses to everything from natural disasters . . . to terrorist attacks … have been disrupted by the spread of false news online.”  The premise of this paper says, “New social technologies, which facilitate rapid information sharing and large-scale information cascades, can enable the spread of misinformation (i.e., information that is inaccurate or misleading).  But although more and more of our access to information and news is guided by these new technologies … we know little about their contribution to the spread of falsity online.  Though considerable attention has been paid to anecdotal analyses of the spread of false news by the media … there are few large-scale empirical investigations of the diffusion of misinformation or its social origins.”  This paper mainly talks about the methods of its study and does not present any solution, because it is not the purpose of the paper.  However, there are some implications about which we should we should take serious note of in order to apply them to our spiritual life and church’s health. 


For example, the paper says, “When we estimated a model of the likelihood of retweeting [this study samples are from twitters], we found that falsehoods were 70% more likely to be retweeted than the truth.”  “Falsehood diffused significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in all categories of information . . . .  We found that false news was more novel than true news, which suggests that people were more likely to share novel information.  Whereas false stories inspired fear, disgust, and surprise in replies, true stories inspired anticipation, sadness, joy, and trust.”  In pastoral ministry, what this paper talks about is quite often felt and experienced.  There are very few regular learners with systematic studies of the Bible.  Many believers either take not-so-healthy methods of learning or do not learn at all.  When people come to church with their preconceived ideas (wrong thoughts, theologies, or convictions) it is very hard, if not near impossible, for me to change their mind and attitude.  They would rather believe something else, and they influence each other, which is like the blind leading the blind.  Do we really know what we know?  How do we know it? 




Your Pastor


More Lively Hope



  • Women of Hope Family Picnic this Sat, 18 Jan, Glenunga Hub @ 9:30 am. Everyone is welcome. Please bring a plate to share. (Picnic will be cancelled if the weather for the day is forecast to be 35 degrees or above).
  • Easter Family Bible Camp – those willing to serve in the committee please inform Dn Kevin Low or Bro Edy Lok.
  • Wednesday Bible Study & Prayer Meeting, all fellowship group activities will resume in February. For more details, please contact the fellowship group leaders.
  • Please observe all parking signs. DO NOT park on council land, nor let your vehicle protrude into council land even when parking on our church parking lot. Council is very strict & fines apply. If unclear, please ask the ushers and/ or welcomers.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Next week: VFG.


Looking Ahead

  • Easter Family Bible Camp, Fri - Mon, 10 – 13 Apr.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Church visitors in the past week.
  • Firefighters, health care workers and volunteers in the bushfires across the country; their safety & wellbeing.
  • All who donated items & funds for the bushfire relief effort.
  • Journey mercies:  those who have travelled.



  • Healing: Rev George van Buuren; Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore); and others afflicted by sicknesses.
  • Bushfire crises across the country - Comfort for families of victims & those affected; firefighters, government officials & others fighting & managing the crises.
  • Missions – IBPFM missionaries worldwide; Air conditioners for worship area of Faith Krang Angkrang Church (PhnomPenh).
  • Batam & Phnom Penh Missions Teams in Jan/Feb – preparation, planning & fund.
  • Persecuted believers & churches around the world.
  • Journey mercies: Those who are travelling.






© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041