Our worship service today is a thanksgiving to God for the 15 years of Gospel advancement among our Chinese-speaking parents, relatives and friends. What began as a small undertaking to minister to just a handful of people is now expanded to a worshipping group of more than thirty believers every Sunday. The Chinese ministry also reaches out through the Gospel ministry at Lions Home for the Elders on Sundays, Gethsemane Seniors’ Ministry on Thursdays, as well as Gethsemane prison-ministry on Sundays. Moreover, Pr Daniel Lim regularly ministers God’s Word to several Mandarin ministries in Malaysia and Singapore.
Our hearts are filled with great thanksgiving to the Lord when we think of the salvation of many souls and the extended ministries of the church through Gethsemane Chinese Service. The apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:3-6 are most apt to express our sentiments this day before the LORD God Almighty: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
We salute all our brethren in the Chinese congregation as they join us today for the Combined Thanksgiving Worship Service. May the Lord be gracious to bless your soul-winning efforts and your gatherings on Sundays and Tuesdays for worship, Bible study and prayer. Be faithful and fervent in your Christian walk.
The Greater Spiritual Advantage of Public Worship
Public worship of God is never to be disregarded or abandoned by preferring private worship. Both public and private worship of God have their own significant places in Christians’ lives, and they both should be appreciated and cherished. Though both are necessary and ought to be highly prized, a careful consideration of the Scriptural facts will show public worship as more advantageous to the Christian in his spiritual life. In this article, the greater value and usefulness of public worship is briefly explained.
In fact, when God appointed a place for the gathering of His people for worship, He wanted them to know that their gathering to that place for worship was of utmost importance. He spoke of His great love for His communion with His covenant people who gathered at the appointed place for worship. The following portions of the Scriptures highlight this truth.
- Exodus 25:22 – “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
- Deuteronomy 12:5 – “But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come.”
- Psalm 87:2 – “The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.”
In the New Testament, though God has not given one fixed place of worship such as that under the Mosaic dispensation, the assembling of the redeemed for worship in local churches is highly esteemed and enjoined. In Hebrews 10:25, we are told – “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The early New Testament churches in various cities and towns had meeting places where they gathered for their worship and fellowship meetings. These gatherings were seen as their coming together before God, in the presence of angels and God’s people, namely the saints, as corroborated by Hebrews 12:22-24: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”
Here are some of the advantages that public worship has over the private worship:
- In public worship, God Himself communes with the worshippers as His people. Hence, it is a time of covenant-making and covenant-renewal by God with His people.
- In public worship, we can rejoice together in the Lord’s blessings towards all His people and have more reasons to glorify God. Moreover, God is more glorified as His people publicly acknowledge His greatness and goodness.
- In the public gathering of His people for worship, Christ exercises His Headship over the church. In the book of Revelation, Christ is depicted as being in the midst of the golden candlesticks, which represents His supervision of the local churches. He is also seen as having the stars in His hand, which represents His supervision and keeping of the pastors of the churches (Revelation 1:13, 20).
- In public worship, through the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s table, which are the means of grace, we have more avenues of spiritual renewal and strengthening than in private worship.
- In public worship, we have opportunity to be instructed in the Word by God’s appointed pastors, who are equipped to rightly divide the Word of God. Through their warning, rebuke, correction and instruction, we are more edified than in the private worship of God.
- In public worship, we will have greater opportunities to glorify the Lord by serving His people.
- In public worship, we are given a foretaste of the heavenly gathering of all the redeemed.