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Forget not all His Benefits (Psalm. 103:1)


The Beginning

Sharon BPC celebrates her 42nd Thanksgiving Anniversary this afternoon with praises and gratitude to the Lord for all His benefits towards us. After 5 years in Life BP Church and 2 years serving as a Sunday school teacher, I was moved to begin a church ministry in Toa Payoh in June 1971. During that time Toa Payoh was a new housing estate and was known as ‘Chicago of Singapore’. At the age of 24, I did my best to pastor the church in the way I had observed being done in Life BPC. The worship service was modelled after Life BPC with some changes. The difference was the exclusion of the Psalter. Sharon BPC was one of the first among the Bible-Presbyterian churches to involve church leaders to chair the Lord’s Day worship services. The tradition of the Church Anniversary service as a thanksgiving to God was also adopted from the practice of Life BPC .

In the beginning most of the worshippers were young Lifers who were eager to go with me to distribute gospel tracts in Toa Payoh. They were my supportive partners for Christ in the new outreach. My desire was to build a Christian family church. It was not my plan to draw a crowd of spectators. Many eloquent speakers can capture an audience’s attention. Many churches can draw people and hold their interest through Sunday school contests, bike races, kite flying and crowd pullers’ activities. The focus was attracting multitudes, not building a personal, intimate family church.

 

The Belonging

In the first 7 years, the Lord blessed our church in a sovereign way. Many who stayed in Toa Payoh came to join the church. They have heard of the church’s existence through their Christian friends or colleagues. Every Sunday I was excited due to their fervent response to join in the worship service and willingness to help in the Sunday school and Youth Fellowship. My concern for the growth of the church was not in terms of numbers but the willingness of the worshippers and helpers to identify with the church. I felt there must be a sense of belonging not only to the Lord but to the local church. Toa Payoh BP Church (English Service) was held in the HDB shop house which could accommodate 50 people at the most.

There are certain advantages of a small church. It offers a real sense of a family church where everyone knows each other. People in small churches also have much greater direct access to their pastor. Through the interaction of the different age groups, the enthusiasm and energy of younger believers

blended well with the wisdom and experience of senior adults. I have often kept in mind that growth in numbers is not always a sign of God’s favour and blessing. A church cannot be judged by its size, but by the heart of its members and their impact on the society.

 

The Bonding

In Sharon BPC there is an opportunity to get everyone involved in the Christian ministry. This was demonstrated at the musical “The Love Story” staged at Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School last month. The musical itself was a mammoth work. The choir, the production crew, logistics team and Gospel Musical committee had spent many months getting the musical ready. And when the curtain came down on 24 August, the overwhelming feeling was: “It’s been worth everything we put into it.

Many people in the audience testified that watching the musical has been a moving and challenging experience. The narrations, music, songs and dances have spoken to people in various points of need. Participants themselves have also lived out the reality of what they presented. God answered our heartfelt prayers to have a good attendance to fill the auditorium. The support given by our fellow like-minded BP Churches was encouraging.

The musical has brought the church members closer together. Many members and friends worked on the project, mostly behind the scenes. This was clear even to our guests. A guest from a sister church mentioned, “The Musical served as a great challenge to me. I would like to express that I was deeply moved and touched by the sacrificial and dedicated work that had been put into it”. The musical proved to be a rallying point as we have intended.

Finally, we must thank God that we have staged something of such fine quality. It was indeed an outstanding musical production The Musical is not over. We are spurred on to the next level perhaps in preparation for our 45th Church Anniversary celebrations. God willing, in one and a half years’ time we may stage it at Evangel BPC in Petaling Jaya. Let us continue to uphold one another in prayer and provoke one another unto love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). Let us take time to think of all the blessings we have received from God, lest we become unthankful. Now how can we best express our gratitude as we think about all that God has given to us? Shall we not give our full devotion to Him as what you have done for the 2013 Gospel Musical?

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Fulfilling your Child’s Potential


Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs. 22:6) This statement has been misunderstood and misquoted. The common interpretation of that verse goes something like this: Be sure your child is in Sunday school and church at an early age. Teach him a lot of Bible verses and hymns. Make sure he learns the Ten Commandments, a few prayers to be used at mealtimes, at bedtime, and in case of emergency. If possible, send him to a Christian school, see that he attends a Church camp during the school holidays and enforce your rules and regulations with unbending strictness.

Proverbs 22:6 begins with, “Train up a child”… It is suggested that the verse should literally be read, “Train up a child according to his way” (New American Standard Version). The Amplified Bible translates the verse “Train up a child in the way he should go (and in keeping with his individual gift or bent), and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

 

Determine your priorities

Bringing up children is fulfilling if you can help them to fulfill their potential. If you stop to think carefully, the whole purpose of parenting and child-minding can actually be distilled into the objective of fulfilling the child’s potential. It is important to remember that we should not merely focus on helping children fulfill their academic potential. This is a problem with many Asian societies. It is important to know that a child has other non-academic qualities which are equally important in the development of Christian character.

Each child is unique – with his own talents, characteristics, traits, strengths, flaws and weaknesses. Coming from the same family, with the same set of parents, siblings can be alike in looks, temperament and behaviour. However, they can also be so different that they seem to have come from two different families. It is important for parents to take the time and make the effort to know their child’s character and ability.

 

God could have created each child to be the same as the next, but he chose not to. Parents who acknowledge and act on this fact that each child is created differently are wise. The Bible speaks often about the uniqueness and diversity of man. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 7:7 that “every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that”. Romans 12:4-8 also deals with the varying gifts of people. Christ in the parable of the talents spoke about the people being dealt with “each according to his ability” (Matt. 25:15). And 1 Corinthians 12 provides a clear description of the variety of gifts of each individual.

 

To train a child is not simply providing information about God. Christian education is distinctive because it seeks to understand the child’s personality and gifts. You

nurture him by steering him toward God’s goal and plan for his life. You train not by rules, but by learning to know of your children’s abilities, characteristics, the good and the bad. Parents must assist a child’s talents, interests and the purposes for which he is suited, called or directed. Children have an intrinsic desire to know who they are, why they are doing and where they are going. For effective learning to take place, direction, purpose and goal should be clearly understood by the children.

 

Record your observations

If a child reveals his or her bents in everday life, those things are worth writing down. Keep a journal on each child. As you write, pray for wisdom. Ask God to guide your thoughts. Please remember, each child is unique. Parents should not compare and compete with their neighbour’s children.

 

God is not expecting any of your children to do like the others. He expects your children to do what He has equipped and provided. There was a man who was always complaining about his hens’ eggs. One day he took his hens over to the neighbour’s farms. There he showed his hens the big ostrich eggs and said, “I want you to see what the neighbours are doing, and I am expecting you to live up to it.” Isn’t that silly? God never expected a laying hen to lay an ostrich egg.

 

Share your findings

Children long to know themselves better. They respect your counsel, and will long remember your remarks. Be candid and honest as you help them see who they really are. Do not try to force your child to fulfill what was never fulfilled in your life. If you didn’t make into the professional football ranks, watch it, Your son may not even like the game. Wise parents will train their children according to the way God has put them together.

 

The task of training your child begins with you as a parent. If you are convinced that God wants only the very best for your children, talk to them about God’s way and plan for each one of your children. Parents can help children develop lasting values. God boldly communicates His values to us. In Jesus He comes and lives out those values, so we can see and follow Him. The Bible and the behavioural sciences agree that communicating values is more a matter of relationship than of providing information.

 

When parents build warm, loving relationships and share thoughts and feelings with their children, values are communicated, and lives are shaped. There is nothing you and I can do to “guarantee” how our children will turn out. Each human being has, and exercises the freedom of responsible choice. But when we pattern our parenting on God’s way of dealing with us we have confidence, and a promise. We can “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Prov. 22:6). At each stage of the child’s development the parents are to dedicate, instruct, and motivate the child to do what God evidently has best equipped the child to do for Him.

 

Saved to Serve


“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: 
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, 
who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

All of us have been coming to church every Lord’s Day to worship God.  Some of us have come to a personal relationship with Christ only not too long ago.  Others may have known Christ many years back.  Our congregation comprises a group of seniors, families, singles, working adults, youths and children.  A faithful few would attend the Tuesday night prayer meeting regularly.  But, have you ever pondered deeper as to the reason of your involvement or that of others in our church?  Why would you or others want to spend precious time, money and effort in the activities of the church?  Wouldn’t it give you better “returns” if your resources are channelled to other things in your life?  Why do you go to church?  Is it because there are always thoughtful and caring people whom you can make friends with in the church?  Or is it because you have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon?  Or is it because of the wonderful snacks you can enjoy at Tea Fellowship after Worship Service?  Why would you want to spend your time every Sunday to come to church?
Some of you may have answered rightly that you do this simply because of the love of God for you.  I’ll say a hearty, “Amen” to that.  Yes, we worship God and serve Him out of our gratitude towards Him.  God has showered His great love upon us.  The least we can do is to give Him the glory and praise.  The life that we have is no longer our own but belongs to God.  Jesus had redeemed us by His precious blood.  Hence, we have to live our lives to please God and to glorify Him (1Cor. 10:31).
The apostle Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).  This verse is an interesting paradox.  Paul says that we are dead (crucified) but yet we live.  What does he mean?  Does He mean that we are the “living dead” or “zombies”?  Certainly not!  What Paul states here is the transformation of our nature in us.  Before we come to know Jesus Christ, our old nature reigned in us.  We are under the bondage of sin.  Whatever we wish to do, we do it in subjection to sin.  Sin is our master.  We are only free to do what sin dictates to us.  In our bondage under sin and without faith, it is impossible for us to live a life that pleases God (Heb. 11:6).
When God saves us, the Holy Spirit indwells in us.  We receive a new nature and become a new creature: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Cor. 5:17).  We are “born-again”.  With our new nature, we can do that which was impossible before – to be freed from the dominion which sin has over us.  Our old nature, which subjected us to sin, is put to death.  Death of our old nature does not mean total destruction of the old nature.  Death of the old nature does not mean that we have become perfectly holy such that we are incapable of sinning any more.  Death simply means separation.  Thus, the death of our old nature simply means that we are separated from it.  Our old nature no longer has dominion over us like before.  We are freed from our old nature and hence, we should no longer serve sin.
The apostle Paul exhorts us, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Rom. 6:6).  In our saved state with a new nature, we are still capable of sinning.  In fact, when we sin against God now, it is not that we have no power to overcome sin.  Rather, it is a deliberate choice we made in life.  We do not have any more excuse when we sin.  So think twice before you choose to give in to temptation.  We can overcome temptation and not let temptation overpowers us because we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us.  The Holy Spirit is able to empower us to overcome temptation: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1Cor. 10:13).  Do you believe in this promise of God?  Would you prefer the easy way out of giving in to temptation and then earning the displeasure of God?  Or would you fight hard to ward off the temptation by the power of the Holy Spirit and clinging on this precious promise of God?  Which would you choose?  It will be a deliberate choice you have to make in life.  Choose wisely.
Remember, with this new nature in you, the life that you possess is no longer yours anymore, for your life has been redeemed by Christ.  Your life belongs to Christ who has loved you and gave Himself for you.  It is no longer you that live, but Christ in you.  You have to live your life reflecting the nature that Christ is in you.  That is why the apostle reminds us, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).
We have to learn to live our lives to serve Christ.  Learn the ancient law of gratitude.  In this unspoken law, when a drowning person was saved by another from his death, he would be totally indebted to his benefactor.  Likewise, if we have understood that Christ has saved us and has given us eternal life, the more we ought to express our gratitude towards Him.  He is the Son of God who has given His life to save us.  His life is exchanged with us so that we may have a changed life.  If we totally comprehend that, can we live a life except that out of gratitude?  Living our lives to serve God is a logical conclusion.  As one person put it this way, “Our life is a gift from God, but the way we live our lives is our gift to God.”
But how should we live a life to serve God?  Start by having a renewed conscience towards sin.  When you are tempted, remind yourself that you are no longer of the old nature.  Do not go by your own power and strength to resist it.  Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to grant you the strength to resist that temptation.  Strive to live a life that is pleasing to God.  In all that you do the whole day, communicate with God.  Ask, “God, what would you want me to do?”  Love and serve the Lord with all your heart and soul.  When you worship God, come before God with a heart of rejoicing and thanksgiving.  When the Word of God is read and preached, received it with gladness of heart; taking it to be the Lord is speaking to you through His Word.  Offer yourself freely to serve the Lord.  When you see things needed to be done, don’t wait for invitation.  Instead, take the initiative and offer yourself to help.  I thank God for the many of you who had offered yourselves freely to serve in the Gospel Musical.  On behalf of the Church Session, I want to thank God and thank you all for serving the Lord wholeheartedly.  But remember, we can do nothing for Christ except Christ first does something in us first.  And thank God that He did! HCL.
 

Confidence in God during troublous times


God’s covenant is secured (1-7)

John Paton was a missionary in the South Pacific Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station. Paton and his wife were totally helpless. They cried to God for deliverance. When daylight came, they were amazed to see their attackers had left. A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present – but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station. God preserved these missionaries for they are not only His servants but His children.

In times of trouble David was able to cry out to God to save him. In his earnest prayer he lamented ‘I am poor and needy’ indicating to us that he was afflicted, totally depressed and helpless. He prayed “preserve my soul, for I am holy” – for I am godly. This statement does not mean that he deserves for God to answer his prayer. David had sinned often and he needed God’s forgiveness. David’s confidence in the Lord was established on the basis that God had entered into an everlasting covenant with him. It was all by the grace of God.

As God’s chosen people, David can have the free access to God despite of his failures towards God and man. We can come to God because we are His children. Whatever our condition, we are accepted by God and He is eager to hear our voices. When we go to God in prayer, He is always near and real. We may not always feel that God is listening, but He is. He cares and He will respond. Psalm 145:18 reminds us that we can take comfort in the fact that God is deeply concerned with what concerns our hearts: “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth”.

God’s character is unchanging (vv. 8-13)

David knew the character and attributes of God which gives him the hope and endurance in prayer. Seven times in this Psalm, David uses the name, Adonai or Lord. It emphasizes God’s lordship and sovereignty. He made the nations and all are under His control. David said in Psalm 86:8, “There is none like unto thee” and in verse 10 he says, “For thou are great, and doest wondrous things”.

As children we used to sing the song, “My God is so great, so strong and so mighty there’s nothing my God cannot do. The mountains are his. The valleys are his; the skies are his handiwork too. My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do, for you”. God is sovereign and in control of everything. He is above our understanding and nothing is too difficult for Him. He is also

merciful and gracious, slow to anger and full of unfailing love, mercy and truth (13 -15). The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22-23). We can take heart that even when we fail, our faithful God comes to us in mercy and compassion that never fails. God’s abundant love, grace and mercy should motivate us to come to Him in prayer. He knows what is best for us. His ways are higher than our ways and we should not resent them in any way. Therefore David always remains teachable. He writes, “Teach me thy way, O Lord.” (11-12). David surely remembered how the Lord carried out His greater plan through Joseph when he allowed him to be sold into slavery in the hands of their enemies, the Egyptians.

Never get to a point where you are too wise in your own eyes. Solomon wrote in Prov.3:5-7 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” Do not think that everything always has to work out perfectly and immediately to suit your expectations. Realize that God is working His greater will, way and wonders in and through you if you are trusting, obeying and praising Him.

God’s glory shall prevail (vv. 14-17)

David’s enemies were proud of themselves and their abilities. They were violent and totally ignorant of and indifferent to the God of Israel. But David asked the Lord to demonstrate to the nations that He is alive and able to deliver him from destruction. The battle against evil men wasn’t just a spiritual warfare. David affirms that it was to be a witness of God’s power and goodness. David affirms that he will glory God’s name forever (v.12). One reason that God brings trials into our lives is that we will call upon Him and then glorify Him when He rescues us. In all troubles we should look for ways to magnify the Lord so that others will be drawn to Him.

We live in troublous times in which we need to pray for our nation. In the celebrations of her 48th birthday, let us be thankful to our political system and in their leadership. If you must disobey, do it respectfully. We must use every legal channel to express our protest. If we resort to anarchy to promote our cause – no matter how noble – we are violating the principle of submission to authorities. The end does not justify the means. Violence, vandalism and other destructive acts are to be avoided. Bombings, assassinations, harassments and deceptive propaganda have no rightful place for the Christians. We are to be witnesses and do all things for the glory of God.

Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2013 in 2013

 

Tangkak 13th Thanksgiving Anniversary


In His time, In His time, He makes all things beautiful in His time. Since my last trip to Tangkak sometime this year, I was curious to find out whether the initial issues that surfaced then were resolved. So on a few occasions after Pastor returned from his ministry in Tangkak, I asked him how things were getting on there.

Initially when Pastor asked me whether I would be interested to attend Tangkak’s Anniversary, I was very keen to join him and Mrs Chua. However as the date approached, I realised that David’s Term 2 Continual Assessments were scheduled the week following the anniversary. In addition, I was teaching the P1/P2 class as Phoebe and Joyce were away. In Kids’ Hour, Amelia was scheduled on 28 July to practise the songs that they planned to present for the Church Anniversary. Since they started their practice, I have been around to learn the songs and to encourage the kiddies and parents. With so many things to take into consideration, I felt it was best for me to be around in church instead of going to Tangkak. These were my plans, but God had greater plans for me.

After the Worship Service on 21 July, John decided he wanted to go to Tangkak so when Dn. Leo approached him to teach his students in S3/S4, John indicated his interest in going to Tangkak and told Dn. Leo to find another solution to his problem. I suggested that Dn. Leo ask his students to join Rev. Ho’s Adult Bible Class just for that Sunday.

As I sensed that John was keen to go to Tangkak, I tried to make arrangements for the P1/P2 class to combine classes with the P3/P4 class. Praise and thank God that as I claimed Rom 8:28, He was at work and eventually it was confirmed that Jenjira would teach the combined classes with Amelia assisting.

Just when we thought everything had been taken care of, God brought another challenge. Amelia had informed Mrs Chua that she had sore throat and couldn’t practise the songs with the kiddies on Sunday, so she asked if anyone else could take over. Thank God that Joy was one of the few parents who knew the songs and actions and she was available to teach the kiddies.

 

Finally on Sunday morning, John and I made our way to Tangkak having settled all the issues before leaving. As we entered JB, God allowed me to witness His beauty and creation as I saw the sunrise among the clouds and the sun’s rays shining in the distance. It was indeed a beauty to behold. Even though everything had been settled, I was still anxious about David. However as we approached Tangkak, God spoke to me and taught me not just to claim Phil 4:6,7 and 1 Peter 5:7, but to put my complete trust and faith in Him. Only then did I have peace of mind to focus on going to Tangkak to celebrate their thanksgiving anniversary and to encourage the brethren there.

This time round, God enabled me to learn about the history of Tangkak BPF and its origin after Pr. Yap shared about it. I also noticed that Pr. Yap was more fervent for the Lord and was not distracted by family or other matters. It was evident as he shared his convictions at the pulpit.

I also learnt about the need and desire to start the SS ministry in Tangkak BPF. We thank God too for the warm hospitality of our Tangkak brethren in providing potluck lunch and warm fellowship. We had the opportunity to try wild boar curry, very sweet home grown mangoes and durians, dry mee siam and other delicacies.

Praise God that this time round, 4 out of 5 Session members were able to attend Tangkak’s 13th Thanksgiving Anniversary. We pray and hope that Tangkak BPF will continue to grow from strength to strength in the Lord; that our brethren will learn to abide in Christ and henceforth to use their talents to serve the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
May Tie
31 July 2013

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2013 in 2013

 

Faith and Reason


“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1Pet. 3:15).

Faith and Reason – many people see these two entities as the source of the great conflict in our system of beliefs. Many times in our Christian walk, we are not sure whether we should possess faith and discard reason; or for that matter embrace reason and abandon faith. If we appeal solely to reason without faith, we would become liberal Christians, rationalizing every miracle in the Bible to natural dispositions and reducing the unexplained to purely myths produced from the imaginative minds of the disciples of Christ. On the other hand, if we appeal solely to faith without reasoning, we will easily become heretics, proclaiming and practicing the truth in an illogical manner no different from the mystical cults. How do we reconcile faith and reason in our system of beliefs?
What is reason? Reason is the intellectual faculty of our mind in drawing conclusions based on facts of the evidences. It must be noted that the power of reasoning is not something we should despise, in spite of the conflict that it may cause to our approach to faith. In fact, the power of reasoning is from God. The ability to think logically and systematically is a blessing from the Most High. Hence, we have systematic theology – a course which brings about the understanding of God in a systematic and logical manner.

 

Faith, on the other hand, is not rational thought; neither is it irrational. The Christian faith is not about taking a leap in the dark. A person, who closes his eyes and crosses a busy street proclaiming that he has faith in God to protect him, is not a man of faith – as such a belief is totally an alien to the biblical faith. The Christian faith is not a blind leap in the dark. At the same time, it is also not the belief in the absence of evidence. Rather, Christian faith is a belief which rests completely upon biblical evidence.

 

Faith must not be seen as being superior to reason. Ponder for a moment – without the faculty of reasoning, would you have been able to understand the Gospel when it was presented to you? The Lord says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18). The Gospel presents us as sinners who are unable to cleanse ourselves of our sins. It is only the blood of Jesus Christ which is able to cleanse us. If we are to put our complete trust in Christ, though our sins are as scarlet, yet they shall be white as snow. Isn’t the Gospel reasonable? That is why the Bible exhorts us to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1Pet. 3:15). Because the faith that we have come to embrace is a reasonable faith!

 

But in like manner, neither can reason be made superior to faith. Without faith, how can you believe in a Saviour whom you have not experience with your senses – see, feel and touch? No matter how logical the presentation of the Gospel is, if the Holy Spirit does not work in the heart of the hearers, they will not come to the faith.

The Bible says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is…” (Heb 11:6). On the one hand, the Gospel must be reasonable that it can be comprehended by others; on the other, without the working of faith, one will never be drawn any closer to the heaven even when he is presented with the most reasonable Gospel. Thus, faith is subject to reason; and reason to faith, such that with both working together, one can progress in his understanding of God and His will for one’s life.

 

Take the classic case of Abraham. In Genesis 22, Abraham was called to offer Isaac as a sacrifice unto God. This put Abraham in a great conflict. Why? Because prior to that, God had revealed clearly to Abraham that the covenant which God gave him would be through Isaac (Gen 17:19). Now, Abraham reasoned, if Isaac were to be sacrificed, wouldn’t that nullified God’s promise unto him? Here, Abraham had to wrestle between faith and reason – to sacrifice Isaac against God’s covenant or to spare Isaac against God’s command. How could he reconcile between two seemingly contradicting entities? If you were Abraham, what would you do? Eventually, Abraham went to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. He believed God had given him a clear command. At the same time, Abraham reasoned that God would not contradict Himself. In fact, Abraham, in his finite wisdom, believed that Isaac would be killed in accordance to God’s command but God would raise Isaac up alive again in accordance to the promise of God’s covenant: “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Heb. 11:17-18). Bear in mind, that before that, there was no such incident of the miracle of one being raised from the dead ever recorded in the Bible! Such was Abraham’s faith and reasoning. With perfect hindsight, we know that this was not what happened. Instead, God intervened as Abraham was about to offer Isaac and provided a ram for the sacrifice.

 

We may not be Abraham, but many times in our spiritual lives, like Abraham, there is always a constant struggle between our faith and our reason. We have to constantly seek wisdom from the Lord to guide us in our decision-making: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (Jas. 1:5). If we are certain of God’s will for our lives which is biblical, do not try to find reasons beyond the Scripture for your reluctance in walking in the will of God for you. If we are fearful, then confess our lack of faith to God, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). But if your faith is not rested upon the word of God, be reasonable as not to build up a castle on sand. Instead, acknowledge your lack of understanding and continue to search the Scripture and seek the Lord’s guidance. Blind “faith” will only lead to destruction.

 

Faith and reason are not two irreconcilable entities in our Christian faith. Instead, they are twins which are essential for us to understand God and His will for our lives. Faith and reason are not the left and the right hands – where most people are stronger in one hand than the other, and thus hardly use the weaker one. Instead, faith and reason are likened to a pair of legs; both needed equally to walk properly. Every step taken by the leg of faith is always balanced by the leg of reason. Let us learn to embrace faith and reason together as we walk with God. Let us not just hop on one leg only as we walk in the will of God. What God has given us is a reasonable faith.

 

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The Fear in Sharing Our Faith


“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16).

One of the greatest responsibilities of a believer is to share his faith to those who are still outside the kingdom of God. When this topic is broached, many Christians would unanimously agree on its importance. But when this issue is pointed directly to ourselves, most of us would have mixed feelings about it. First, there is a feeling of fear because this task involves the eternal destiny of the soul of human beings. Then, there is also the feeling of incompetence because we felt that we may not be able to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. And because of that, we always come up with reasons (read excuses) why we do not share our faith. Finally, all these lead to dejection – for we know that we have not fulfilled this obligation required of us. Thus, fear leads to incompetence, and incompetence leads to dejection, and with dejection, even more fear. The vicious cycle goes on …

 

Many times, this feeling of fear is a stumbling block in our path to carry out the mandate which God has entrusted to us. In order to overcome this major problem in all of us, we must get rid of the fear factor. Most of the time, our fear comes about because we are overly conscious of our own selves. We fear that WE are not able to do a good job for God in sharing our faith. We fear that WE may be embarrassing ourselves in front of others. It is high time that we get rid of WE and start letting God works out His will through us. To do that, we must note that salvation of souls is the work of the Holy Ghost. The normal means of salvation is through the outward preaching of the Gospel and the inward working of the Holy Ghost. In other words, no matter how well the Gospel is presented, if the Holy Ghost does not work in the heart of the hearers, they would not come to salvation.

 

This understanding is crucial to help us to overcome our fear. The success of sharing our faith does not solely depend on the way we present Gospel – it depends on the work of God in the hearts of the people. If we truly believe that God is the source of salvation, then we ought not to fear that we may speak the wrong things. God will guide us as to what to say, if we yield ourselves completely to Him, to be used by Him. We are just messengers of the Lord. As messengers, we carry the Gospel to those who would want to hear it. We have nothing to fear as messengers. To use an analogy, it would have been ridiculous for a postman to fear the letter he is delivering would be rejected. Such a thought would not have been acceptable. Similarly too, we are postmen (messengers) of God. And our job is to deliver the good news of the Gospel of salvation to the hearers. Because of this, we ought not be ashamed but depend on God to work out His plan of salvation. The apostle testifies, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…” (Rom. 1:16). Salvation rests on the power of God, and not on us. Let us not think that by the wisdom of our speech, our oratorical skill and our power of reasoning would be able to turn a soul to Christ. The apostle Paul reminded us, “4And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1Cor. 2:4-5).

We ought to present the Gospel in a precise and concise manner, pointing out that we are all sinners and in need of a savior in our Lord Jesus Christ. We must address the great human need of forgiveness and love. We do not beat around the bush and camouflage our speech with human wisdom to make people feel good with our words, and neglect to sharef the unsavoury message of sin. Why would people need a Saviour if they do not know understand that they are sinners? Good news can only descend if we know that things are bad. But at the same time, we must also season our speech with grace: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6). God sends us as His messengers not to condemn the world but to preach Christ that the people may be saved. We know this saying very well, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). This verse is the most well-known verse in the whole Bible. Many of you can recite this verse with ease from your memory. But do you know John 3:17? “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Yes, we preach the love of God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We preach not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through our Lord Jesus Christ. Isn’t this good news to the world?

 

Sharing your faith is nothing to be fearful of, especially when we have felt the wonderful love of God in our lives. If God has been so wonderful to us, then shouldn’t we be joyful to share this experience with others? But if we have never felt God’s amazing grace in our lives, then it would be hard for us to share this experience in a vacuum. For example, when asked where to find the best chicken rice stall is in town, you realized that you can share it expressively, even describing in detail how succulent the chicken is, how fragrant is the rice and even the “oomph” in the chilli sauce. But when it comes to the Gospel, you are in a loss of words. Why the contrast? Is not salvation the better of any chicken rice? Surely, you have tasted the goodness of the Lord in saving you and you would like to share this experience with others, don’t you?

 

I believe all of us are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. Rather, it is our fear that cripples us as far as the sharing of our faith is concerned. Our church will be conducting the Gospel Musical “The Love Story.” Many of you have put in a lot of hard work in the practices and rehearsals. You have sacrificed your time for this evangelistic project. But if you do not go out and invite the people for this Gospel Musical, then all your efforts in practice will be wasted. Who will be coming to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ? We are not singing to ourselves. We are proclaiming the Gospel to those still outside the kingdom of God. We have to bring the people in to hear the Gospel. Do not be fearful of what people may say to you. Be courageous. Invite them. Whether they will come or not, let the Lord work in their heart. May the Lord grant us the boldness and grace to do this task. May the words of this hymn below spur you and challenge you to do your best for our Lord Jesus Christ. HCL.

 

I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus, Who died upon the cruel tree?

To think of His great sacrifice at Calv’ry! I know my Lord expects the best from me.

How many are the lost that I have lifted? How many are the chained I’ve helped to free?

I wonder, have I done my best for Jesus, When He has done so much for me?