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Pastoral Exhortation - Series of 2010

My B-P Testimony

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After accepting Christ in my late teens, I started regularly attending a Baptist church nearby my home. For a season, I was basking in my newfound peace and joy, brought about by an awareness of my sins being forgiven. After almost a decade, however, I found myself not growing in any significant way but rather uninspired by the teaching from the pulpit. Yes, the members there were active and enthusiastic to a large extent, but much of this ‘activity’ and ‘enthusiasm’ were self-generated. There was very little dependence on God, I felt; there was a general lukewarmness about the Word of God. I remember the time when the tide of Charismatic Movement was coming in strong among the churches. No clear stand was taken against it, save for a few feeble words of scepticism occasionally. As a result, many young members were confused (some were even swept over to Charismatic churches), while others (like myself) were, at best, undecided about this disturbing phenomenon. There came a point when I realized that if I didn’t go, my faith would go; but which church to go? I needed to beware of jumping from the frying pan into the fire!

During those months of ‘spiritual dryness’, I derived great consolation and inspiration from reading exploits of Chinese preachers like Wang Mingdao and John Sung. One book that warmed my heart no end was “In John Sung’s Steps” written by a certain Timothy Tow. In fact, I was so impressed that I began to look out for books written by this same author. On one such outing in 1990, I found “The Asian Awakening” and learnt through this book that Rev Tow was pastor of Life B-P Church. Not long after, I found myself listening to my first Sunday sermon by Rev Tow in Aug 1990.

I am full of gratitude and admiration for this ‘giant’ saint for his faithfulness to his Lord and the Bible-Presbyterian cause. Personally, I had been blessed by his faithful and scholarly preaching all those years I’ve been at Life Church (1990-99) under his pastorship. I could still remember how my parched soul was nourished and my faltering faith fortified by the pure and unadulterated teaching of God’s Word. Imagine my thrill when I heard being preached for the first time, key Bible doctrines such as ex nihilo Creation, the Genesis Flood, Christ’s Second Coming, Israel’s final restoration, Millennium, hope of our resurrected bodies, new heaven and new earth through Rev Tow and other fundamental B-P ministers / camp-speakers (like Dr Jeffrey Khoo, Dr SH Tow, Dr Arthur Steele, Dr John Whitcomb, Dr Gary Parker, among several of God’s choice servants)! Thank God for this faithful remnant of God-fearing preachers who “have not shunned to declare ... all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). They treat the Bible as “… none other than the Word of God, not some part of it more, some part of it less, but all alike the utterance of Him that sitteth upon the throne, faultless, unerring, supreme” (Dean Burgon Oath). Such a high view of the Bible was almost unheard of in Baptist circles. No wonder they aptly call themselves Bible-Presbyterians!

When my family later transferred membership to Gethsemane with Rev Tow’s blessings (to, in Rev Tow’s words, ‘boost up’ the small needy ‘daughter’ church), we found in Pastor Koshy a warm, principled man of like faith and no less in the true-blue ‘B-P mould’. Through his indefatigable pastoral oversight and teaching, we were further grounded in the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). To my mind, two B-P tenets have stood us in good stead insofar as the building up of our most holy faith is concerned. First, the principle of Biblical Separation. By taking a strong doctrinal stand against charismatism and ecumenism, the B-P church does well to protect her flock from falsehood and ‘damnable heresies’. Truth and error are mutually exclusive; what communion hath light with darkness? There can be no sentimentality in this, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Gal 5:9). Our most holy faith is at stake! Second, the adherence to the King James Bible (KJB). The KJB is God’s Word kept intact in English, as it is the only translation that accurately preserves the original Hebrew / Aramaic and Greek words in English, due to its fourfold superiority in its texts, translators, techniques and theology. And in the light of long-held biblical truths now being systematically distorted, ridiculed and misrepresented by modern English versions, it is very unsafe to turn to one of them for an accurate understanding of the words of the Bible. The Bible is God’s special revelation to man; in it contains the way of salvation and the doom of sinners. Our eternal destiny hangs in the balance, depending on how we respond to its sacred contents. Why settle for “second-best” (which is a far “second”) when we can have the best, namely the KJB? History may yet prove these to be the two greatest ‘legacies’ of the B-P movement. May we not take our spiritual heritage for granted.

I think it appropriate to end with the following quote by Longfellow, which I first came across in the inside front cover of Rev Tow’s book, “In John Sung’s Steps”:

“Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.”

Rev Tow (the founding father of B-P movement in Singapore) is certainly one such man. May the Lord continue to raise up more such “faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2). To God be the glory.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:13-15).

Praise God for the recent Children's Day gathering at Sister Annie Ho’s home, where the children of three of her neighbours were able to come. Unlike the norm  where parties are filled with presents and performances, this gathering was meaningful because it focused on God and His Word. The programme started with lunch, followed by a time of singing, a Bible lesson, memory verse review game, and a craft session.

In the month of September, God’s guidance and providence opened a door for Sister Annie to give English tuition to three girls who are around the same age as her daughter Grace.

The Lord impressed upon her to use the upcoming Children’s Day as a topic for Creative Writing. Each child also made an invitation card to put in a friend’s letterbox. Letters were also sent to inform parents of the purpose for the gathering on 1 October. It being a school holiday, the parents were happy to allow their children to attend the Children’s Day celebration.

Five unbelieving children (aged five to ten) came for lunch, each bringing a dish to share with their friends. After informal introductions and chatting during lunch, the meeting began with a time of singspiration. Simple action songs gave the children  some exercise, and other songs introduced the theme for the day – obedience. Before beginning the Bible story, Sister Annie reminded the children that God’s Word is true and powerful. She read the biblical account to the children before emphasizing the importance of obedience to God and their parents based on the story “Jonah Disobeys God” (Jonah 1:1-17). Following the lesson, she made available some storybooks for the children to borrow home. Then she taught a phrase from 1 Samuel 15:22.

The children took turns to recite the verse during the review game.

Sister Annie also took the opportunity to invite the children to Gethsemane Children’s Ministry (GCM) and gave them a GCM bookmark each. It was such a joy to see them holding it happily, and even asking for more so that they could give to their friends. The last part of the programme was craft time. Each child made and decorated their unique ‘Balloon Fish Lantern’, before having some refreshments and then going home.

Let us persevere in the battle, with the strength of the LORD, to win lost souls for Christ. May our every desire be like the Apostle Paul’s “… that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Pastoral Exhortation