“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)
Recently, I came across a Latin phrase—non sum qualis eram—which means “I am not as I was” or “I am not what I used to be.”
In reality, every Christian should be able to say, non sum qualis eram. When an individual is regenerated by the power of the Word and the Spirit (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:23), “he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Then he is expected to “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24), and “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4c).
Everyone who is in Christ becomes “a new creature” (cf. Galatians 6:15). The word “new” (Greek: kainos) means new in quality, not just in sequence. Hence, a Christian has a qualitatively different life from his past. A transformation of life does occur when one is regenerated as a child of God. His “old man is crucified with him (Christ), that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin” (Romans 6:6). A Christian would, from then onwards, “put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:22-23; cf. Colossians 3:9-10).
The transformation wrought by the new birth is not only an instantaneous spiritual miracle, but also entails a lifelong process of sanctification. In the life a Christian, extensive changes will happen – old beliefs, ideas, values, plans, loves, desires, etc. will be replaced by the new spiritual realities that accompany salvation. God plants new perspectives, desires, loves, inclinations and truths in His redeemed child. Though he lives in the same body with all its sinful propensities, a new aspiration and pursuit (which are after the righteousness of God) begin to thrust him forward (cf. Galatians 6:14). He will also be daily nourished and established by the truths and providential working of God through the Spirit, so that he may live a life that constantly separates him from sin and ungodliness while conforming him to the image of Jesus Christ. His ignorant, darkened, carnal, defiled, materialistic and hardened pre-conversion life is now enlightened, sanctified and loving. Though he once pursued wickedness and sin, he now follows after righteousness and holiness. Hence, constantly being changed, he can say, “I am not what I used to be.”
Every Christian will be changed daily because he desires to be more and more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Perfection in this life will always be a goal, never an achievement. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). A Christian knows that he is far from being perfect. So, he eagerly pursues perfection with all his might. The Christian life is a lifelong process of spiritual growth. Hence the commandment to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
As Paul testifies, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14). Christ-likeness is the prize that every Christian must pursue. He looks forward to tomorrow with the desire and assurance that with God’s help, he shall be more like his Master.
Let us therefore press on, knowing that everyday we shall be gradually molded to become more Christ-like, till we see Him face to face. Paul affirms so: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). The apostle John also agrees: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Blessed New Year to you!
By God’s grace, we are pressing on in the work of the ministry in this brand new year.
Yesterday (6th Jan), we had our 2nd-semester opening of GBI. The Lord has encouraged us by sending new students to study. There’s one from Cavite City (near Manila) who arrived early morning of last Sunday. He was referred to us by Dr Jose Lagapa. He is from a Bible-Baptist church, but is willing to study Reformed Theology and Calvinism.
Then another brother, also from a Bible-Baptist Church here in Cebu, enrolled for a few subjects. For some time, he has been attending our prayer meeting and worship service with his wife. And to my surprise, he came yesterday for the Prayer and Registration, and enrolled for a few subjects. Add to it, the missionary/preacher of True Life BPC in Trinidad, Bohol also enrolled, taking a few subjects. Our two brothers from Bukidnon (Johnnyrey and Warly) had arrived safely yesterday morning, just in time for the opening. Praise God!
All in, we have 17 students being enrolled this semester, 4 of whom are full-time.
Pastor, as I think about it, it’s no doubt the Lord’s way of encouraging us to press on with the ministry of GBI. I could see that Eld. Eliezer Ortega, Pr. Edsel and Dn Samuel were also encouraged to see this development. Praise God!
I am sending you a photo taken after the registration. On Eld. Eli’s side is our brother Kenneth Guillas from Cavite City, and next to him is Greluz Damos (both Bible-Baptists). Next to Pr. Edsel is Pr Rodolfo Gayon (True Life BPC Missionary in Trinidad, Bohol). Except for Sis. Juvy, the sisters are studying part-time. Please do continue to include us in prayer.
Lastly, thank you very much for the support and blessings received. Kindly extend our greetings and thanks to all our brethren for their prayers and support.
All glory to God!
In Ephesians 5:15, Paul exhorted believers, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise”. What does the Bible mean by the word “fool”? Why is the idea of “fools” such a grave matter that we are told not to be or behave like fools?
Jesus warned against calling a brother “fool” (mōros). He said, “Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matthew 5:22). Using it as a derogatory term on a believer is forbidden because it is to accuse and condemn a person as a “godless” individual, which is an indictment of the highest guilt.
However, Christ and the Scriptures repetitively referred to certain people as “fools”. Consider the following words of Christ to the Pharisees – “Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?… Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?” (Matthew 23:17, 19). “Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?” (Luke 11:40). “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken” (Luke 24:25). Likewise, the apostle Paul rebuked the erring Galatians, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” (Galatians 3:1; cf. 3:3).
According to the Scriptures, the greatest fool is the person who denies the doctrine of God and lives apart from God. Psalm 14:1 describes such a fool – “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (cf. Psalm 53:1). The fool lives as a theological or practical atheist, or as both, denying God by his actions as well as his words.
Romans 1:21-22 sheds further light on those whom God regards as fools, who “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools”. Scripture further reveals that fools, in their natural, unregenerate state, would discount, disregard and discard spiritual matters—”But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). No matter what the level of his intellect, education, wealth or reputation may be, the fool will not esteem divine truths and counsels.
By his words and his actions, the fool will show his disregard for God and His perfect counsels. The
His foolish speech: Denial of God (Psalm 14:1; 53:1); blasphemy and reproach of God (Psalm 74:18b, 22b); making a mock at sin (Proverbs 14:9a); lying and slandering (Proverbs 10:18), utter foolish talking (Proverbs 15:2).
The fool always sets himself up as his own god. He thinks highly of himself, and considers his thoughts and feelings to be superior to all others, even that of God’s. Proverbs 12:15 states, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.” Whatever he finds acceptable and pleasant to his corrupt reasoning and carnal sense, he would pursue, even though it is forbidden by God! His self-righteous mindset justifies all his ungodly conduct and rejects godly counsels. To him, even open profaneness becomes acceptable.
Such a foolish living, according to the Scriptures, will meet with tragic repercussions. Honour is unbecoming to him (Proverbs 26:1, 8); his own words shall ensnare his soul (Proverbs 18:7); afflictions resulting from transgressions shall plague him (Psalm 107:17); retribution and punishment will be upon him (Proverbs 19:29); divine condemnation will ultimately catch up with him (Proverbs 26:10; Matthew 23:17, 19).
Those who live foolishly within the church are they who are “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Those who are guilty of the foolish walk must repent at once and seek the Lord for forgiveness and restoration, lest they “die for want of wisdom” (Proverbs 10:21). For this reason, Paul cautions all who claim to be Christians that “ye walk … not as fools”.
As we have already seen, even clever, determined, self-assured people can be trapped in foolishness that brings divine retribution upon them. Only the knowledge from God can grant a foolish individual deliverance from his folly and all its painful results. Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (cf. Proverbs 1:7), and continues by acknowledging His truth and ways. Only “the holy scriptures… are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15b).
Some believers also “play the fool” when they regard the things of this world above God and His Word. To drive home the peril of such attitude, Paul told Timothy that “they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9). Hence the apostle exhorted Timothy to live different from those who walk foolishly– “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:11-12).
Let us heed the counsel of the apostle Paul: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).
At His first coming, our Saviour and King, the Lord Jesus Christ, declared, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
When Christ announced, concerning the kingdom of God, that “the time is fulfilled”, He was announcing that His first coming was a pivotal point in God’s sovereign, regal plan of salvation for those who would come to Him with the burden, guilt and misery of their sins. Christ was the anointed King (the Messiah) whom God the Father has sent to open the door of salvation that leads to His eternal kingdom. The King has arrived and the Gospel He proclaimed is His royal pronouncement for all those who desire full and glorious redemption of their souls!
No one needs to wonder any more: “How shall I be saved?” The Jews were waiting in eagerness for the One whom God has promised through the Old Testament prophets. The apostle Peter wrote about the anticipation of the believing Jews of the Old Testament – “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). This earnest anticipation of the ancient believers of Israel was truly fulfilled when Jesus came to die for sinners. One of such men who was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” was the old saint Simeon. He said, taking the baby Jesus in his hands, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). As Simeon so powerfully and eloquently articulated, Jesus, the Holy Child, has come to bring salvation to not only Israel, but also the Gentiles.
Jesus’ entrance into this world was a great epoch ushered in by the sovereign God. It was perfectly according to God’s timetable that Jesus, the Lord, came to this world. Concerning Christ’s coming to this earth, the apostle Paul wrote: “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). The hour for which the world had long been waiting had come – and it was the most significant moment in earth’s history.
The Messiah – the Anointed One of God – has come with the royal pardon. The King has opened the door of His eternal kingdom, proclaiming, “the kingdom of God is at hand”. All things needful for our entrance and enjoyment of His kingdom have been abundantly provided by that great Redeemer-King. God’s Old Testament promises that He would send the Messiah and His kingdom of salvation had arrived. He had come to pay in full the penalty for sin and thus to provide salvation for all the elect – from the beginning of history to the end.
Those who recognised Him, as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, shouted with joy, “Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9b). The gospel-writer John, in reporting this event, wrote that they “took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord” (John 12:13). “Hosanna” is an exclamatory Hebrew word, which means “Save now!”
Jesus the King came to deliver His people from the tyranny of Satan and sin, and then to usher them into His kingdom. The message was unmistakable: the kingdom of God is at hand. Essentially, Jesus was saying, “I am the King, and wherever I am, My kingdom is present.”
The kingdom that Jesus proclaimed has three major dimensions: (i) a spiritual kingdom, (ii) a millennial kingdom, and (iii) an eternal kingdom. In His first coming, Christ the King preached the good news of salvation so that He may establish His spiritual kingdom in the hearts of all who believe (cf. Luke 17:21). Today, His reign is invisible and spiritual in the hearts of all who yield to Him in faith. Christ’s kingdom is being advanced even now, as sinners come to saving faith in Him and are transferred out of the domain of darkness into the realm ruled by the Son of God (cf. Colossians 1:13). To follow Christ the King is to seek His kingdom and His righteousness (cf. Matthew 6:33). Such is the spiritual and invisible nature of His present kingdom.
In the present, the kingdom consists of all who embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. The King rules over and is resident in the hearts of those who belong to Him. His kingdom advances itself through every soul that yields to Him in repentance and faith. It will continue until He returns to establish His earthly reign, followed by His eternal reign.
But soon one day, His kingdom will be manifest as a physical kingdom when the Lord Jesus shall return to this earth to reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-6). At His second coming, the Lord Jesus shall reign visibly as King of kings and Lord of Lords on the earth. Jesus Christ will reign over the entire world as the Supreme King. During that millennial reign of Christ, all the Old Testament predictions concerning His earthly reign will be fulfilled. After the millennial kingdom, Christ will bring forth the new heaven and the new earth, His final eternal kingdom (cf. Revelation 22:1-5).
Christ, the Redeemer-King, also proclaimed how one could enter His kingdom. He proclaims that all who repent and believe in the Gospel can enter and enjoy His kingdom. The word “repent” (Greek – metanoeō) means to turn away from sin and walk towards the righteous King. Having turned from their sins, sinners must believe in the Gospel. In other words, they must turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in Him and His finished work of redemption on the cross for deliverance from the tyranny of sin and its curse. As Paul explained in Romans 10:9, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Those who enter His kingdom shall walk daily in absolute faith. Their faith makes them genuine worshippers and followers of Christ the King. Their desire and prayer will always be: “Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth.” That kind of belief is not a pretentious faith, but a wholehearted commitment to the Person and purposes of Jesus Christ.
Dear reader, have you entered the kingdom of Christ? If you have not, don’t delay any further. Right now, it is near you for Christ the King commands that you repent and believe on Him. If you don’t repent but live self-righteously like the Pharisees and priests who rejected Him, Jesus says, “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31b). Jesus’ point was clear: claims to religion do not qualify a person to enter the kingdom, but repentence – indeed, even gross sin, when repented of, will not keep a person out of His kingdom! So, repent at once and believe on Christ, and you will have full access to His kingdom blessings.
“Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven” (Psalm 148:12-13).
As we draw nigh unto the end of the year 2019, let us be a thanksgiving people – not just thankful, but thanksgiving people. The LORD, who has loaded us with innumerable blessings throughout this passing year, is worthy of our wholehearted praise!
Let us come together this Tuesday (8.00 – 10.30pm) for a time of worship and a time of thanksgiving testimonies. I would like to exhort all of you to come together with prepared testimonies to be offered to the praise of our God before His congregation. As Scripture teaches us, let us come with hearts that say: “I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people” (Psalm 35:18).
Our major programmes for this year ended with a combined retreat of the youths and the young adults of our church. A good number of (about 100) participants gathered in Pulai Spring Resort, Johor for this three-day retreat. The Lord’s blessing has been upon the GYAF committee that took leadership in organising this retreat. Praise God for all who had laboured to make this event a joyful gathering of our youths and young adults. Following are the testimonies of some of the youths who participated in the retreat.
I praise God for the recent GYF-GYAF Retreat. I have learnt much from the messages preached. I was reminded not to worry about tomorrow as God will take care of the basic necessities of everyone who is wholly surrendered to Him. For a child of God, the most important matter is that he will be obedient to God’s will, because only those who do God’s will can enter into the Kingdom of Heaven – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).
I also learned much about how to read the Bible with understanding during the Bible-reading sessions. Praise God for such sessions in the retreat. I want to thank God for Pastor and Bro. Cornelius, especially for giving grace to Pastor who preached five messages and led in the Bible-reading. May God help me to delight in His Word, and grow in the faith. All glory be to God.
Matthew 6:33 – “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
I praise the Lord for the opportunity to attend this year’s combined GYF-GYAF Retreat. This retreat has truly been a blessing to me, whether it be the Morning Devotions, Theme Messages, or the Bible-reading sessions. I am thankful also for the fellowship I had amongst my roommates and the other youths! As Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Truly, how blessed it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
I thank God for Pastor who taught us through five messages on the theme, “Understanding the Scriptures and Knowing God’s Will”, and for Bro. Cornelius who preached during the Morning Devotions. I have gained much Bible knowledge through Pastor’s messages, especially on knowing God’s will for us. May the Lord help me not only be a hearer of God’s Word, but also render my life to be a living testimony of His Word.
Worrying about our future will neither solve our problems nor lead us to God’s will. We ought to obey the Word of God, be patient and wait upon the Lord in prayer, also not forgetting to walk in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit who dwells in us will continually guide us, and the Lord will show us His will for our lives. Surely, He will fulfil His will for us in due time! Psalm 37:4 states, “Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” I pray that I will have the commitment of reading the Bible all the days of my life and trusting Him to lead my life according to His perfect will. “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5). May all praise and glory be unto the most High!
I thank God for enabling my sister and me to join this year’s YF-YAF retreat. It was a fruitful experience for me learning from the theme, “Understanding the Scriptures & Knowing God’s Will”, and fellowshipping with fellow youths, especially my roommates. I thank God for God’s grace in enabling Pastor to preach the five theme messages, despite being troubled by his physical infirmities. One important lesson gleaned from the theme messages, which caused me to fear the consequences of sinning gravely against the LORD, is captured in 1 Corinthians 3:17 – “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” God will not hesitate to chastise His children if they wilfully sin and do not repent of their sins.
Thank God also for enabling Bro. Cornelius to preach in the Morning Devotions. One of the points in his message from Isaiah 55:1-3, is about the need for diligent procurement of God’s blessings. God’s blessings are given to us freely, which are ours to keep though we are undeserving. I am thankful to God for this short retreat; my prayer is that God will continue to bless the GYF and GYAF ministries, and keep everyone in faith and obedience to the LORD.
“And all the people gathered themselves together as one man into the street that was before the water gate; and they spake unto Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had commanded to Israel” (Nehemiah 8:1).
Firstly, I would like to thank God for the opportunity to attend the combined YF-YAF Retreat. During the retreat, I learnt much from God’s Word on the theme, “Understanding the Scriptures & Knowing God’s Will”. Thank God also for the fellowship with other brethren, particularly my roommates, and for the good weather.
Allow me to share 3 key points gleaned from the theme messages and morning devotions (by Pastor and Bro. Cornelius respectively): Firstly, I learn that the true people of God are consumed by a passion to do God’s will. Secondly, I realise that even though God’s Word is freely offered to us, its blessings must be sought after and diligently acquired. Finally, I am reminded that God’s Word must be the only standard for our living. All glory be to God!
I thank God for the opportunity to attend this year’s combined GYF-GYAF Retreat. Praise God for the five theme messages and two morning devotions by Pastor Koshy and Bro. Cornelius respectively. There are 4 main points which I have learnt during this retreat. Firstly, I learnt that I should not go to God in prayer only when I need something from Him. Secondly, I should be worry-free, seeking the kingdom of God first, according to Matthew 6:31-33. Thirdly, I should wait in prayer and thanksgiving to know God’s will (Philippians 4:6). Lastly, I have learnt not to keep asking for God’s will concerning my life and then refuse to submit to it!
Through the various Bible-reading sessions led by Pastor, I learnt how to read the Bible with more focus on its truths. The Bible-reading session from Galatians 5 taught me that “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh” (v. 17).
In conclusion, I am grateful for all the spiritual lessons learnt and for the fellowship with my roommates throughout the 3 days. All glory to God!
I would like to praise and thank God for the opportunity to attend my second youth retreat. I thank God for the camp committee who had laboured hard to ensure a smooth retreat for everyone. Praise God for enabling Bro. Cornelius to teach us the two morning devotions from Isaiah 55:1-3 and Isaiah 55:6-11, as well as for enabling Pastor Koshy to preach to us five theme messages on “Understanding the Scriptures and Knowing God’s Will”, even though he was slightly sick.
Thank God for the various lessons I have learnt from the five theme messages. One of the key lessons is that we have no need for worry, as God will provide for us if we “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (cf. Matthew 6:31-33). Thank God even for the Bible-reading sessions conducted by Pastor which allowed us to have a more in-depth look at various passages of the Bible.
Thank God for a good time of fellowship with the many youths and young adults during the retreat. Truly, it is by God’s good grace that we were all preserved and kept from harm and injury during our sports sessions in the afternoons, and even as we travelled back to Singapore in the rain. Thank God especially for my roommate, Jordy, who took care of me during the retreat, and for the fellowship that we had (in the room) sharing about our personal morning devotions and other matters. To conclude, I would like to share a verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which tells us: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” All glory to God.
There are five things that I’m thankful to God for:
Firstly, I am grateful that He has been so gracious, loving and forgiving me despite my past wickedness and iniquities. I thank God for the salvation He has so freely given. A worthless sinner I am, yet He has always been gracious – in chastising me, quickening me, and delivering me from the bottomless pit. Truly, it is of His mercies that I am not consumed, because His compassions fail not, being new every morning (cf. Lamentations 3:22-23)!
Secondly, I thank God for preserving me and keeping me in His fold. I know people have strayed far from God, exploring all the attractions of this world. And even for me who had once clung to a lifestyle which had failed me, and left me with nothing substantial but just more pain, sorrows and disappointments, I know I cannot move forward on my own. I thank God for the stirring of the Holy Spirit within me to seek Him and to desire the sincere milk of His Word, bringing me into a deeper personal relationship with Him, that I may be guided by Him through every daily affair of my life.
Thirdly, I thank God for giving us faithful servants in preaching and teaching God’s Word, without perverse doctrines and corrupt humanistic ideologies. Thanks to the Holy Spirit’s unction on the preachers, I am fed and nourished spiritually, that I may fight a good fight of faith against the devil’s wiles.
Fourthly, I give all glory to God for giving me the grace to complete my education. Although I needed to fulfil my responsibilities, I thank God that I wasn’t blinded, burdened and confused by the material things and necessities of this life. With the constant guidance from my parents, I kept in mind that I have a heavenly Father who cares for all aspects of my life. Now I don’t want to be anxious about anything, knowing that He is the source of my strength and supply. Indeed, He is a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)!
Lastly, I thank God for the YF-YAF Retreat that has further expanded my understanding of the Scriptures and my knowing of God’s will for me. The Bible-reading sessions had helped me greatly to improve my quiet time, because they taught me how I ought to meditate upon the Word of God properly. Bro. Cornelius’ morning devotions encouraged me a great deal, having seen his zeal in serving the Lord. I am also thankful for the fellowship among godly brethren, which has enabled me to pray more for others.
In conclusion, I request your prayers for me that I will wait upon the Lord in every aspect of my life, and that I will not rush or depend on my own ability and strength. May the Lord help me to “hold the fort”. No matter what He will give, or what path He may open for me, may the Lord help me to be fixated on the Lord always. Praise the Lord for His assurance that “all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). May our Saviour Jesus Christ be praised!
Kelvin Lim, on behalf of the GCM Committee
2019 has been an exciting year for our church, and especially so for Gethsemane Children’s Ministry (GCM)! There were so many “firsts” for GCM in this year’s Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS). For the first time, we did not have to search for a venue to hold our DVBS – we held it in Gethsemane Media Centre (GMC). The event was video-recorded by Bible Witness Media Ministry (BWMM) too. We added an outing to the programme as well!
Initially, we had 50 registered children and about 20 volunteers. But quite a number of children fell sick on the first day, with several pulling out of the event. Nonetheless, we still thank and praise God for everyone who could join us for a time of praising God, and learning His blessed and perfect Word (whether for a day only or throughout the 3 days)!
The theme for this year’s DVBS was “Rooted and Built Up in Christ”, taken from Colossians 2:7. The children were divided in two classes: the younger group (kindergarten and below) and the older group (primary one to six). Both groups of children were taught a total of 5 lessons, namely “Rooted in Christ”, “Built Up in Christ”, “Stablished in the Faith”, “Taught by the Word”, and “Abounding with Thanksgiving”. The lessons for the older children were conducted in the Studio on level 3. This was deliberately done to facilitate the video-recording of the lessons which, God willing, will be aired on web television in future. As for the younger children, their lessons were conducted in Seminar Room on level 2, which was also used for the combined activities, such as singspiration, craft and games. There was also recording of the children doing action songs with the song leader and youth helpers.
In the afternoons, there were two sessions of craft. The children were divided into various age groups, and volunteers assisted and helped them complete them accordingly. They made two ‘hanging’ craft items – one on the theme verse (to remind themselves of the lessons learnt), and the other about the birth of Christ, the Saviour. After which, it was time for games! During the first day, it was relay activities, whereby the children were divided into 4 teams and competed against one another. One of the games required each team to build a tower comprising 10 cups. This required speed, motor skills and teamwork. It was truly encouraging to see the bond within the teams, as demonstrated by how the team leaders (selected older children) helped the younger ones in their respective teams to complete the tower! It was equally heart-warming to hear the joy of laughter throughout the seminar room. God is good!
On Friday, the plan was to go for an outing. As it had been raining consistently over the previous few days, some concerned parents were hesitant about bringing the children outdoors, but we managed to assure them that rain would not affect the plan as the venue was “sheltered”. Praise God, we went ahead to charter two buses, and went to Gardens by the Bay (East), where we held our activities under the Benjamin Sheares Bridge. The Lord was very good to us, for He held back the rain for us to proceed there and conduct our activities. When we were about to have our group photo-taking, the Lord stopped the light drizzle, and gave us sunshine. The rain only poured down when we were concluding our last activity. We quickly boarded the buses and went back to GMC, bringing the 3 days of DVBS to an eventful close.
We thank the Lord for His enabling grace in organising another DVBS for the children, and for the safety He had given us during the outing. Our prayer is that the Lord would be gracious to save some of the young souls who had heard the Word, and strengthen the faith of those who belong to Him. All glory be unto the Lord our God!
The Gospel of John emphatically speaks of Jesus Christ, who is called “the Word”, as the Maker of the world (John 1:3, 10). It categorically declares that He was in the world, though the world refused to acknowledge Him as such. John wrote in John 1:10, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.” He immediately reiterated Jesus’ coming to earth in the next verse – “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).
The greatest wonder that this world has ever experienced is that “He was in the world”. Christ, the Word, the Creator, was in the world (cf. John 1:1-3)! But wasn’t He here on earth before? Did He not visit and commune with certain individuals and people since the time of Creation? Yes, He did. Such appearance of the Lord is known as “Christophany” (i.e. a visible appearance of Christ in the Old Testament period). However, they were mere manifestations of Christ. Now, what John speaks to us is His incarnation – “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Christ, the Son of God, took on a human body and a human nature. Thus, forever He will be God-man (Theanthropos) – truly and fully God, truly and fully man! In the Person of Christ, since His virgin birth, both divine and human natures co-exist without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation.
Is it not most amazing that He who made all things (cf. John 1:3, 10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:2, 10) would become a Man? He who was with God in the beginning, and was God, and has created all things, was in the world as a man living among people! It is so great a mystery that we are moved to ask of the birth of Christ in wonder: “How can these things be?” It is a great and wondrous mystery that God “was made flesh and dwelt among us”. Indeed, “without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Timothy 3:16). So wonderful is this revealed truth that Christ’s incarnation has engaged the interest and attention of good men of all ages, and even of angels (cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12)!
He came to this earth as the true revelation (“the Word”) of God to man, and that He might fulfil the divine plan for the salvation of sinners. He came to the earth as the Divine Saviour. His glory as the Son of God was evident in His miraculous virgin birth, His life, His ministry, His preaching and His miracles. His death and resurrection also unmistakably pointed to His divinity. The divine attributes that He exhibited testified of His deity. As John testified about Him in John 1:14, “(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” What a privilege it had been for those who were around Jesus, that they could experience the physical presence of the great Creator among them!
But thousands and thousands of Jews, who had the privilege to see, hear and even interact with the incarnated Son of God, rejected Him. John, who had communed with Christ and recognised Him as the Divine Saviour, tells us of the tragic rejection of Him by the Jews: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). This was the kind of situation that was described in the Old Testament Scriptures – “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3). Sadly, the very people to whom He had revealed (through His prophets) concerning His incarnation and redemptive sufferings, death and resurrection, rejected Him! The Old Testament prophecies concerning His first coming provided plenty of evidence that He, who was born in Bethlehem as the son of the virgin Mary, was the Son of God. Yet, thousands and thousands of men, who met Him just as we meet with each other, refused to acknowledge His divinity.
Will you also turn your back on Him? Or will you in repentance and faith come to Him as your Divine Saviour? If you sincerely trust Him, then adore and worship Him, and yield in obedient service to His praise.
Let the words of the great hymn, “All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ Name!”, ring in our hearts as we approach the Christmas season:
All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ Name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all!
Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,
Ye ransomed from the fall,
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all;
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him Lord of all!
Let every kindred, every tribe,
On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all;
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him Lord of all!
O that with yonder sacred throng
We at His feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all;
We’ll join the everlasting song,
And crown Him Lord of all!
– Edward Perronet (1726–1792)
[adapted by John Rippon (1751–1836)]
The Lord has given the church a Gospel mandate to send preachers to all around the world – “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). It is our blessed privilege to play a part in fulfilling our Saviour’s commission with total fervour and readiness.
As Paul challenged the church in Rome, “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 10:14-15). May we too be summoned to carry out the Gospel work!
I praise the Lord for the opportunity given to me to minister to pastors and church leaders who gathered for a special conference arranged by Dr Jose Lagapa, a preacher of True Life B-P Church, in the Philippines. This ministry is organised under True Life B-P Church, especially for pastors and church leaders from the Mindanao Island. It was held in Central Mindanao University, Musuan, Bukidnon.
The Lord has been gracious to bless Dr Jose’s efforts to equip men in the work of the Lord and to encourage them to fight a good fight of faith in these days of apostasy and compromise. There were about 100 participants. Two people who rendered much help in the holding of this conference in CMU, Bukidnon were Dr Einstine Opiso and Prof. Patria Solidum.
I was asked to preach 6 messages on the main theme: “The Supremacy of God’s Word” (cf. Hebrews 4:12). The messages were: (i) God’s Word in Personal Lives, (ii) God’s Word in Worship, (iii) God’s Word in Prayer, (iv) God’s Word in Missions, (v) God’s Word in Church Discipline, (iv) God’s Word in the Defence of the Faith.
I was accompanied by my wife, Carolyn, and our son Cornelius. They were also tasked to speak to ladies and youths. Carolyn ministered to the ladies in their group meetings on: (i) God’s Word in teaching children, (ii) God’s Word in counselling ladies and children, (iii) God’s Word in disciplining children, and (iv) God’s Word in children outreaches. Cornelius preached to the Christian students of the university who regularly meet to study the Word.
Rev. Reggor Galarpe (Gethsemane BPC, Cebu), Pr Edsel Locot (Gethsemane BPC, Bohol), Eld & Mrs Eliezer Ortega (Gethsemane BPC, Bogo) were also present in the conference. They too ministered to the participants. While Rev Galarpe ministered the Word in the group meetings, the preachers led the meetings of the conference.
Let us continually pray for the work in Mindanao and in other places of the Philippines. Last Sunday, True Life B-P Church has begun a new work in Bohol island – Trinidad B-P Church. God be praised!
“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 34:8).
I am truly grateful to God for His goodness and faithfulness in sustaining me for the past semesters in GBI. Thank God for the many lessons I have learned. I am thankful also for God’s faithfulness in providing for all my needs through GBPC-Singapore, and through love gifts from brethren. Thank God also for Pastor Reggor for giving me many opportunities to serve here in Cebu, particularly in Junior Worship.
Thank God also for the “school of God’s providence”, which put me through trials, difficulties, challenges and oppositions. Through all those experiences, I have learned many precious lessons that cannot be learned from theological classes alone. I believe that they are part of my training from the Lord in equipping me for the work that God has prepared for me.
God, in His mysterious and wonderful way, has led my path to Preacher Edsel’s life; God willing, after my last semester in GBI (January-April) next year, we will be joined in holy matrimony on the 18th of July 2020.
Please do continue to pray for me as I prepare myself for the future ministry that God has prepared for me, together with Pr Edsel, in Bohol. Please do pray also for the church and GBI in Cebu.
(Pastor’s note: Sis. Juvy Lynn Anaviso is a student of GBI, Cebu, in her last semester of biblical studies. She had heard the Lord’s call into full-time service, while she was working in Singapore and worshipping with us. We thank God for her good testimony amongst us during the years she lived in Singapore. She joined GBI, Cebu in June 2017 and is expected to complete her studies by May 2020. Please pray for Sis. Juvy as she looks forward to all that the Lord has planned for her in His vineyard.)
Sis. Peggy Lee
“The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Psalm 126:3).
With much joy and gladness, I witnessed how the Lord our God has multiplied what Gethsemane BPC, Singapore, gave to the Gospel-work that is being accomplished in her mission stations in Ethiopia.
In Alem Gena, the mission compound consists of: (i) a church building (with a seating capacity of about 300), (ii) a college building which houses a library, 4 classrooms, a storeroom and an administrative office (for both the church and Gethsemane Bible Institute [GBI]), (iii) a fellowship hall (with a kitchen attached), and (iv) a block that provides accommodation for GBI students and the 2 missionary families, as well as classroom for Gethsemane Children’s Ministry (GCM) usage. All these are situated on a land of about 11,900 sq metres (not sq feet)!
Likewise, in Addis Ababa, a 3-storey rented building caters for church gatherings (of about 30 people), a small administrative office, and a place of residence for the preacher and his family.
Despite many trials, GBI is a thriving ministry. 30 full-time students come daily for theological training. Furthermore, GCM provides free pre-school education and imparts biblical knowledge to about 80 young children. Thank God that members of the mission team had many opportunities to visit the homes of the children and witness to their parents.
By God’s grace, Pastor Koshy taught the GBI students on “Anthropology” (despite his suffering from high-altitude sickness), while Bro Cornelius and the sisters (namely Dorothy, Carolyn and Peggy) ministered to the GCM children over a period of 6 days. Of note also was the joy of being able to see a section of the fence around the perimeter of the Alem Gena mission compound being further strengthened (with the help of a gift from one of our sisters in the mission team) for security purposes.
I am most grateful to God that my desire to visit the missionaries in Ethiopia had become a reality, and all the more so, for allowing me to serve with them. His provision had granted us much sweet fellowship and mutual encouragement. Thank God also for our safe return flight, and smooth clearance through the Ethiopian immigration and custom checks. All glory be to God!
Pastor Prabhudas Koshy
It has been almost 3 years since I last visited our Gospel mission stations in Ethiopia. How excited I was to see how the Lord has sustained and blessed the work of our dear Ethiopian preachers! Even though regular ministry updates came from them, I eagerly looked forward to be with our brethren in their field of labour to know their affairs, their struggles and their joys.
Our three missionaries (Rev. Ephrem, Pr Engida and Pr Imane) and their families are in good spirits as they press on in the work of the Lord. The areas where these men labour for the Lord have many difficulties, opposition and resistance. They encounter hostility not only from the non-Christian people around them, but also from those who are “Christians”, but unbiblical in their doctrines. The Ethiopian Coptic Christians and Charismatic Christians often spread rumours that our Reformed, Presbyterian teachings are heresies. Such unabated attacks from these so-called “Christian” communities often unsettle people who come to worship with us.
Nonetheless, we rejoiced to see that our brethren find much grace and strength, through constant prayer to the Lord, to stand firm and boldly proclaim the truths of God’s Word. Their steadfastness amidst open hostility and insidious rumours from unsound “Christian” teachers is indeed commendable. Let us praise God for our brethren for embracing the truth in 2 Corinthians 3:5 – “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God”.
The congregation in the city of Addis Ababa (capital city of Ethiopia), ministered to by Pr Engida Tefera, has been the most troubled by the deception of Charismatic teachings. It is indeed an uphill battle. The Christian community in this city is overwhelmingly affected by Charismatic preachers. They seduce the people with their offers of “prophecies” (a kind of divination) and “signs and wonders”. They even compel and coerce those who come to Gethsemane BPC, Addis Ababa, to leave us and go to their churches! Not a few have been affected by their persuasions, causing them to leave the church. But the remnant find cheer and strength in the truths of God’s Word, and in the faithfulness of God who has called them to unwavering commitment in declaring the wholesome words of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pr Engida, his wife Mulu and their daughter Yohana, together with another dozen brethren, continue to serve the Lord.
The church in Alem Gena, situated amidst a large Muslim community, faces hostility to their Gospel efforts. Besides, there have been several violent communal clashes between the tribal communities. While we were there, we heard that two Christian pastors were murdered in a nearby place. Such circumstances obstruct the outreaches of the church and also prevent brethren from coming to the church regularly. However, the Lord continues to bless our brethren’s efforts to spread the Gospel.
Gethsemane Children’s ministry in Alem Gena provides free pre-school (kindergarten level) activities for children in that community. Many children from poor homes come. About 80 children are attended to by two recent graduates of Gethsemane Bible Institute (Bro. Bayera and Bro. Bedada), and three sisters (Mrs Gete Ephrem, Sis Alemitu and Sis Kamise). The two brothers reach out to the children and their parents with the Gospel.
Gethsemane Bible Institute (GBI) continues to receive men who seek theological training for the work of the Gospel. The work of GBI, Ethiopia, has increased in recent years. Presently, 30 students are undergoing theological training. On November 24th, 6 part-time students graduated, having completed their course. If the students remain faithful to the Lord, through them the message of the Gospel will reach hundreds – and even thousands more – in that country, resulting in the establishment of more churches and the building up of believers in the most holy faith.
Let us praise the Lord for enabling our Ethiopian missionaries to make steady progress in the midst of many adversities and dangers. May our prayers ascend to our God for them, that He will prosper the work of their hands. Let it also be our constant prayer that more will hear the call of God and be well-equipped to serve in that vast harvest field.
Psalm 128—”Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.”
A godly man (“one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways”) has the promise of a happy and holy home-life. “The fear of the LORD” is that reverent and loving regard for the LORD, which will make a man shrink from transgression (cf. Job 28:28). This fear of the LORD is the essential foundation of the truly happy home. A man’s true piety guarantees his family’s blessedness which all the wealth and fame in the world cannot secure. Godliness is the best assurance of a blessed family life. It will make his home the scene of purest joy, strongest comfort, and highest domestic happiness and family welfare.
When a man’s heart is full of love for God and the Holy Scriptures, all his motives and aims will be sublime and pure. Such a man will walk in the ways of God. In his house, he becomes an unhindered channel of supreme moral and spiritual sentiments and emotions. Truth, honesty, purity and holy love will be his pursuit. True piety is not dormant but vibrant. A pious soul will bloom and scatter the sweet aroma of divine virtues and purposes through his leadership in the home.
A man who fears the LORD will seek after divine pleasure. He endlessly pursues the joy that is in the LORD. His house will have an abundance of wholesome laughter and lyrical expressions of Christian joy. As highlighted by the famous hymn of Ackley, “Jesus is the Joy of Living, He’s the King of Life to me; Unto Him my all I’m giving, His forevermore to be. I will do what He commands me, Anywhere He leads I’ll go; Jesus is the Joy of Living, He’s the dearest Friend I know.”
A man who fears and loves the LORD is like a happy, singing bird on the hedge. He makes all else sing along with him. He guides his wife, instructs his children and assures them of divine blessings. Home-life is not always easy. Like the bird on the hedge that is wary of thorns and briers around it, the pious man with divine grace in his heart leads his family safely through many temptations and trials of life.
As the saying goes, “It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest”, so is an ungodly man who makes his own home wretched. Our homes must be full of love, holiness, prayer, joy and mutual care. True conjugal affection is a source of lasting and uplifting gladness in the home. Husband and wife ought to maintain throughout life the sweetness and excellency of their relationship through mutual courtesy, self-sacrifice, concession, tender ministry in health and in sickness, and united effort on behalf of others. If at any time they fail to show mutual love and respect, they should quickly repent of their errors and make every effort to live together in godly affection towards each other.
Together they must provide children with a biblical, godly, loving environment to grow up. A wise mixture of love and firmness should go into nurturing the children. Godly nurture of children demands respect and obedience towards parents; indeed, children should rejoice to love and respect their parents.
None of our homes should be like that of Eli the priest, who spoiled his children. The wisdom of God’s Word says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17). Not to chasten our children betimes is disastrous, and it would result in ourselves being chastened for our neglect of duty! However, this does not mean that we fill our home with “fire and fury” all day long. Parents who hurt their children in rage at their slightest mistakes, will surely bring about greater trouble to themselves. The principle of biblical discipline is concisely stated in Proverbs 3:12, “For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Love, not rage, ought to be the motivation for the parental discipline of children.
A home led by a man who fears the LORD shall be a blessing to society. Such a home will be a blessing to those around them through their godly and loving actions, exemplary conduct and many prayers for the people and the society in which they live. Godly fear is the root of domestic and national happiness and peace. Godliness, not worldliness or materialism, is the source of all divine blessings. There should be no greater goal and prayer cherished by a Christian man than his pious living and labouring in the home, church and country to the end of his life.
Pr Sujith Samuel (Vizag)
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
GBI classes for the last semester were over on Friday. Though most students attended the exam, many were not able to do well as they took exam for the first time. We will be conducting supplementary exam for some who didn’t finish the assignments. The new semester starts in the first week of January.
Thank you for giving all the courses, materials, support and guidance needed for the work here. FEBC online-classes were also very helpful for the students. They were really happy to study many subjects offered by GBI and FEBC.
Last week, we started a Telugu service after our English Service. Pastor Thomas, who is one of our students, is helping to organise it. Bro Joshua, who is a local, is very interested in bringing more people to our Telugu Service. He is trying to spread the Word, especially among his relatives and friends.
We thank God for helping the church in Singapore to finish renovation works of the new premises. May the Lord use this new place for the extension of His Kingdom and His glory! May the Lord bless tomorrow’s special Thanksgiving and Dedication Service. May the Lord be with you and the team as you travel to Ethiopia, Philippines etc.
Rev. Reggor Galarpe (Cebu)
Greetings to you in our Lord’s most blessed name!
As you all look forward to the Dedication Service of Gethsemane Media Centre on Saturday, on behalf of our brethren here, I would like to convey our greetings and well wishes to the church on this momentous and joyous occasion.
I am totally in agreement, even with a resounding “Amen”, to what Bro Cornelius wrote in his poem. Indeed, God is faithful! In His own good time, it pleased the Lord to bless Gethsemane BPC-Singapore with a place that does “far exceed our expectations of just a bigger space”. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
We may not be with you physically, but please know that we rejoice together with you in spirit. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!
We have always been concerned about the nurturing of our children in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from the Junior Worship, Catechism Classes and Children’s Choir practice on Sundays, the Gethsemane Children’s Ministry (GCM) conducts regular children’s programmes on Saturdays as well. Our church has always taken the spiritual nurture of our children very seriously. We praise God for the leadership of Pr Kelvin Lim and the hard work of the GCM committee members, and all who sincerely and faithfully labour to teach God’s Word to the children in love.
Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS) is an additional year-end effort of the church to glorify our Great Saviour unto our next generation. Like the ancient saints, may we also be always resolved thus: “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Psalm 78:2-7).
Yearly, we conduct DVBS for children with a two-fold purpose: firstly, for reaching children with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and secondly, for equipping believing children with the truths of God’s Word so that they may live a triumphant Christian life.
The theme for this year’s DVBS is “Rooted and Built Up in Christ”. The lessons will cater to children’s need to grow in faith, love and obedience to Christ. Let us pray that the participating children will grow up as Christ’s genuine followers, who are full of the knowledge of His Word and Christ-likeness.
For teaching purposes, children will be grouped into three levels: (i) Preschool; (ii) Primary 1-3; and (iii) Primary 4-6. The daily programme of the 3-day DVBS (December 11-13, Wednesday-Friday) will include two Bible lessons, Singspiration time, Art and Craft session, games, etc. Children will be provided with refreshments and lunch. On the final day, the programme will culminate in an outdoor activity.
The GCM committee will be taking care of the organisation matters of the DVBS. If you need any information on the DVBS, please see Pr Kelvin Lim or Sis. Choy Luan Kheng. Please pray for the GCM committee members, teachers, helpers, etc., that the Lord may strengthen them by His Spirit to serve together for the praise of our Saviour.
Bible Witness Media Ministry will be making videos of the DVBS activities, in order to make them available on our websites and social media platforms as ‘On-Demand’ videos and Web-TV (still in the planning stage). We would like parents to take note of the video recording, and advise children to be at their best in conduct.
As this is the first time such an effort will be made in the DVBS, we need the patient cooperation of all who are involved in the DVBS – children and also parents. Please let children come in modest and semi-formal attire.
“Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?” (Psalm 34:11-12). This biblical example of urging children to come, hear and be taught of the true religion is the duty of parents and all Christian adults. Ushering children into the fear of the LORD by effectually teaching them the truths of godliness should never be neglected. No child naturally desires to reverence God and live a godly life. Unless they are consistently urged and taught, they would not turn to God. All education that omits consistent spiritual education is most defective. Children who are not taught godliness will be ill-equipped even for this life on earth. Improving intellectual capacities without improving the heart in the fear of the LORD is great folly (E. Cooper).
However, children who learn to fear the LORD will be filled with (i) wisdom to depart from evil (cf. Job 28:28; Proverbs 16:6), (ii) wisdom to choose the paths that please and honour God (cf. Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7), (iii) confidence and courage in the midst of trials of life (cf. Proverbs 14:26); as well as (iv) true “riches, and honour, and life” (Proverbs 22:4). The fear of the LORD in a child’s heart is so valuable that Proverbs 15:16 says, “Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith”. Let none of us foolishly neglect the great necessity for our children to be taught the fear of the LORD.
Let us make every effort to bring children to Christ. Let not this opportunity to invest in the future of our children be missed. Let us strive to obey Jesus’ words when “Jesus called (the children) unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:16).
An elegantly designed pamphlet is available for you to invite children to DVBS so that they may learn the Gospel of Christ and be nourished up in His Word.
Written by Elder Francis Lee
The work of the Lord requires the Spirit of God to guide and help us. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts” (Zech 4:6). Nobody is able to accomplish anything for the Lord by his own power or strength. As Jesus said, “without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Today’s dedication of the Gethsemane Media Centre (GMC) is testament to God’s goodness and faithfulness to His people. This building project, which took 6 years to complete, was accomplished because God has been good and gracious to us, as recounted by this report.
In mid-2013, with increasing ministries and worshippers in our church, it became clear that we would need a larger space for our church’s administrative centre, better studios for our Bible Witness Media Ministry (BWMM) and a more spacious work area for The Gethsemane Care Ministry (TGCM). In addition, finding venues to accommodate our fellowship meetings and seminars became difficult in terms of capacity and affordability. Just as God, by His Spirit, worked on the hearts of “the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites” to rise up and set forth to rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem in the days of Ezra (cf. Ezra 1:5), God likewise acted on the hearts and minds of our church leaders. In Aug 2013, the Church Session unanimously agreed to work towards raising $5 million by 2015 to purchase a larger place to meet our increasing needs.
that point in time, we did not know many things. Can we ever reach this mammoth target of $5 million, as we are not a big or wealthy church? Will this $5 million be enough, considering the very high property prices in Singapore? How to go about buying a place, in view of many restrictions on churches buying property? We did not have all the answers, but we were assured that God is ever faithful to His people and He will help us. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11).
In the beginning, the funds came in at a very slow pace; by end 2014, we only had $548,000. But we continued to trust God. Thank God for Pastor, who led by example and sold his HDB flat to raise money for the Building Fund. In 2015, the church had 4 fasting and prayer sessions (March, June, Sept and Dec) as we sought the Lord’s help and recollected His promises (cf. Phil 4:19). In 2015, while our General Fund was running a deficit of about $41,000, we were also trying to raise about $120,000 to buy a new van for Pastor’s continued ministry use. Thank God we were united in the Lord’s work! We fasted and prayed together, and members gave cheerfully so that we resolved the deficit, bought a new van and continued to contribute to the Building Fund.
By end 2015, we had about $1.74 million (still far from our target), but we “staggered not at the promises of God through unbelief” (Rom 4:19), and continued in faith, knowing that God will work out all things for our good in His time (cf. Rom 8:28). The so-called “delay’ in our finite minds turned out to be providential. In addition to funds, God showed us that He had to help us to obtain a number of government approvals before any purchase was possible. Furthermore, when we were ready to purchase a place in 2018, the property prices were not as high as before and it became advantageous for us to buy. Truly, “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” (Prov 3:5-6).
In 2016, the Church Session decided to buy an industrial unit due to the following reasons:
Firstly, buying an industrial unit was the most viable option in terms of the space we needed and the financial outlay required. Secondly, the media work of BWMM and the printing work of TGCM qualified us to use industrial premises zoned B1, which was for light and clean industries. Thirdly, with new URA rules (effective June 12, 2012), there was greater flexibility by the government in allowing for religious use in industrial buildings, limited to 2 days a week and up to 40% of total space.
However, there were statutory regulations to surmount. The church, being a society, is forbidden to buy. God gave the leaders needed wisdom, and an entity known as a CLG (Company Limited by Guarantee) came to our knowledge. The CLG is used by non-profit organisations for charitable purposes. We did not want a private limited company as it would give an impression that the church is involved in business activities for monetary purposes. We needed professional help; by God’s leading, we went to a law firm through a sister from True Life BPC. At our meeting with them on 25th Jan 2016, we were briefed on the steps required to register a CLG. On 21st Feb 2016, we explained to the congregation the concept / purpose of CLG. Thereafter, we took 6 months working on the CLG’s constitution. We named the company, Gethsemane Bible Witness Limited (GBWL), whose constitution we wanted to be closely aligned to that of the church, so as to reflect the purpose for setting up this company. Being for the work of the Gospel, not as a profit-making business, it is to be operated according to Scriptural truths. However, the lawyers kept warning us not to link GBWL too closely to the church as the authorities viewed religious entities more stringently, and our application might fail.
Notwithstanding, we trusted in God and proceeded with what God’s Word has guided us to do. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Joshua 1:8). We had an ECM on 7th Aug 2016 to seek the congregation’s endorsement of the registration of GBWL and the selling of the old Church Resource Centre (CRC), which was duly given. Praise God for the unity of hearts! We submitted for incorporation in Sept 2016 to the government regulatory body known as ACRA (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority). Thereafter, it was a time of waiting patiently upon God. “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry” (Ps 40:1). Having heard nothing from ACRA for almost 4½ months, God finally answered our prayers and we had successful incorporation on 14th Feb 2017. What a relief! Otherwise, we cannot buy an industrial unit even if we had the funds. This successful incorporation of GBWL was an encouragement to our hearts from the Lord and prepared us for further “battles” ahead.
For any property acquisition, we had to seek the approval of MCCY (Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth) as church funds were involved. However, the ministry would process our application only if we have a specific property in mind. We had to sell our old CRC and with the monies in hand, exercise an option to buy a property before applying to MCCY. We had much difficulty in selling the CRC as the property market conditions then were poor. We had few viewers in 2017, and those that came were not interested. God guided us to Knight Frank in Oct 2017 and provided us a buyer through them. The buyer requested that the completion to be within 6 months instead of 3 months. We agreed and sold the CRC on 28 March 2018 for $1.25 million, with completion in 6 months. With this sale, we had about $4 million in our Building Fund, and we set forth to search for a property, during which we discovered that with the softening of the property market, prices had come down significantly since we started this project in 2013. Hence the “delay” in our earlier years of this project was not really a delay, but God’s good timing, for we were then able to consider bigger units.
In 2013, we had thought we would only be able to afford to purchase a 5,000 square feet unit, but now we could even consider units of 11,000 square feet. Then God providentially guided us to 33 Ubi Crescent in April 2018. The premises met our requirements but the seller initially wanted $4.6 million, which was way beyond us. We intended not to consider it, but the agent and owner were eager to do the sale with us; after negotiations, the owner was willing to sell at $4.1 million – a reduction of $0.5 million! We could sense God helping us but even at that price, we were stretched in our finances. Other than the purchase price, we had to factor in renovation costs, legal costs, stamp duty and GST. Furthermore, we were also aware that the sale completion date of the CRC was 28 Sept 2018 while that of this new place would be 15th Aug 2018 (i.e. a month earlier), if government approvals were obtained. This was a concern, for the money from the CRC sale will not come in on time. How will all things work out?
God said in Isa 41:13, “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.” We trusted God to work it all out for us and we paid the initial deposit on 15th May 2018. Some weeks later, we learnt that the (33 Ubi Crescent) owner’s daughter had come to our church to worship, being a new believer in Christ! Ironically, she was initially not aware that we were buying her father’s property. She only learnt of it through our church prayer meeting and from her father’s incidental mention of selling his property to a church during their drive past Ubi Crescent. To the church leaders, this was an amazing situation! Anyhow, the buyer of the CRC subsequently requested for an earlier completion in Aug 2018. Praise the Lord! There was no need for worries. God is in control of all things!
After exercising the option to purchase 33 Ubi Crescent, we had to get approval from 3 government bodies. Firstly, we applied to IRAS for the GST registration of GBWL to get GST refunds on the purchase of the property and subsequent renovations. (The GST on the property purchase was $287,000, a very significant amount!) Approval was obtained on 5th June 2018 and IRAS refunded us the money. Secondly, we had to apply for change of use of the premises for our media ministries. God gave us the grace to write the application to URA which was submitted on 4th July 2018. Praise God, we got the approval on 3rd Sept 2018. Thirdly, we wrote to MCCY on 27 Aug 2018, to seek permission to transfer the Church Building Fund to GBWL for the purchase of the property and subsequent renovations. MCCY set many tasks for us to do before they would consider giving approval. It was a struggle trying to fulfil all these governmental requirements, but God gave us wisdom to complete them and we obtained MCCY’s approval on 31st Oct 2018.
In all our applications, God moved the people in authority to help His people and accomplish His purposes. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” For the record, the purchase of 33 Ubi Crescent by GBWL was completed on 15th Nov 2018!
Even as the Lord was moving the authorities to approve our applications, He was also providing the funds needed for the renovations and other expenses. We had about slightly over $4 million when we bought the property, but it was not enough. God moved His people to strengthen their leaders’ hands with their cheerful giving. Indeed, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Cor 9:7-8). We received over a million dollars in about 6 months, from May 2018 to Oct 2018, and our Building Fund rose to $5.2m. More funds came in during our renovations. This was the Lord’s marvellous work. “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?” (Jer 32:27).
The planning and execution of the GMC renovations was a mammoth task, in which many brethren stepped forward to offer their expertise and time. Praise God for their dedication to the work, and their spirit of cooperation and unity. We were also heartened by the brethren who were knitted with us in this work through their prayers and cheerful giving. Not everyone could be physically doing the work, but God uses them in many other ways. “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Cor 12:4-6).
The planning took a few months, from Nov 2018 to Jan 2019. Tenders and evaluation of quotations were carried out from Feb to March 2019. Work started on the premises on 22 April 2019. We are grateful that God kept all the workers safe during the renovations, with no mishap or serious injuries. Praise God that He sent people who were not from our church to help us with our renovations. Thank God we were able to preach the Gospel to the workers during our Thanksgiving dinner for them on 11 Oct 2019, the day when we also obtained the permit for occupation!
When we began our Church Building Project in Aug 2013, nobody could have foreseen the magnitude of the task and the difficulties in this endeavour. Now, as we look back, we thank God for all that He has done. During these 6 years, our hearts were at times faint and weak, but His goodness and faithfulness towards us never failed. God provided for us, strengthened our hearts, increased our faith and kept us united in heart, so that by His mighty hand, we are led to victory with the accomplishment of this work. As we recollect the Lord’s help and blessings, let us cry out like the psalmist in Ps 103:1-2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”. To God be all the glory, honour and praise!
Dear brethren, the long-awaited day of Thanksgiving & Dedication Service of the new premises – Gethsemane Media Centre – is now literally within sight. God willing, we shall meet this Saturday in two services (10:30am & 4:30pm respectively) to praise our God. To prepare our hearts to praise Him, I exhort you with the following article, and thereafter a poem written by Bro. Cornelius Koshy.
The prophet Isaiah says, “I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth” (Isaiah 25:1b). Praising God is the outflowing of a thankful heart. When a heart is full of gratitude towards God, it hastens to bless His name. A thankful heart is resolute in praising God’s name, just as Isaiah said, “I will praise thy name”. Here the prophet was determined to praise God.
In chapter 25, Isaiah (speaking in the first person) described the great wonders which will occur when the LORD’s kingdom is established on the earth. His heart, being full of adoration and thanksgiving, was greatly excited to express itself to magnify the LORD. It is those who are so stirred up within themselves to praise God that will stir up others also to do the same. Isaiah thus began with an intensely personal affirmation that the LORD is his God. He had already laid claim that the LORD is his God; he had earlier said, “O LORD, thou art my God”. Such acknowledgment of the LORD as one’s God provides the desire and motivation to exalt Him.
Having in his heart the knowledge of the great wonders of God which will occur when the LORD’s kingdom is established on the earth, the prophet determined to praise God. Here he gave two specific reasons for praising the LORD. The first reason for exalting the LORD is that He “hast done wonderful things”. In fact, Scripture presents our God as “the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things” (Psalm 72:18). Even when the LORD acts to chasten us or try our faith, we must confess that all His works are wondrous. His works are perfect, great (cf. Psalm 92:5), marvellous (cf. Psalm 139:14), powerful (cf. Psalm 111:6), merciful (cf. Psalm 145:9), holy (cf. Psalm 145:17), and in truth (cf. Psalm 33:4).
The second reason for Isaiah’s dedication to the LORD’s praise is that His “counsels of old are faithfulness and truth”. The ancient counsels of God’s Word are perfectly trustworthy. All that God has revealed from the days of old remain steadfast and true even today. Not a word of His revealed counsels shall fail. The fact that His promises and prophecies continue to be fulfilled assures us of the veracity and profitability of all the counsels of the Scriptures. Isaiah later declared that “the LORD of hosts… is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working” (Isaiah 28:29). Praise the LORD!
Excited though we may be,
Patient, and trusting still in Thee.
We look towards the day of dedication,
after five years of prayer and supplication.
Five years – (was it too long?) –
Did you once think that it was wrong
that God who promised to supply
would, seemingly, pass us by?
This journey was a test,
of our Faith when sore distressed
by the regulations, laws and more
when buying a property in Singapore.
Oh! that we were reprimanded
to have the blessing of God demanded.
When we gave as His Word commanded,
He never for a moment left us empty-handed –
God blessed us according to our need
with a place and funds: did they not far exceed
our expectations of just “a bigger space”?
He gave us 4-floors in an ideal place!
Never once we turned to the banks,
so that to God alone we can give thanks,
as we do now with grateful hearts,
and sing with joy in our four parts:
Come, let us raise our voices incessant!
Fill the halls of 33 Ubi Crescent!
Soprano, Alto, Bass and Tenor
sound forth in Gethsemane Media Centre!
The First floor with its ceiling high,
greeted by Care-brothers whose lives testify
of God’s saving grace which transforms –
their hands His Work now perform.
A spacious lecture hall on the Second,
Gethsemane Bible Institute beckons
every believer to hear and hide
His Word and in Christ abide.
Dwelling richly in God’s Word,
Let’s go up to the studio on the Third!
Singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs
with instruments unto Whom praise belongs.
Each labourer of God doing his best –
Our church office works with little rest
on the Fourth floor – where a library of books
sit on shelves for them – Go, have a look!
And when the sun begins to set,
Climb to the roof (children, not the parapet!)
To have fellowship “with a view”
Around his Word, and maybe barbecue!
When God has blessed us manifold,
It is required of us as His household
to be courageous for the Lord and bold
That for His Kingdom we reap a hundredfold.
May our love for God never grow cold,
neither for his Word – more precious than gold.
The Gospel of Jesus must be told
to all the four corners of the world.
The isles of Philippines yearn,
The land of Ethiopia must learn,
The Indians must be taught to discern
And to God the Chinese must turn!
We in Singapore must be careful:
Pride comes if we are not prayerful;
None of these blessings we deserve,
so God’s truth we must preserve!
O Lord, sanctify us with thy Truth!
That in the strength of our youth,
and with clean hands and pure hearts,
we may produce Christian Media and Arts –
To nurture the heart of the young child
and the youth, that they be not defiled;
The adults, too, by the Spirit’s leading,
guide Gethsemane to be God-glorifying!
A report of the Choirs’ Seminar by Bro. Cornelius Koshy
The Gethsemane Church Choir, Youth Choir and Children’s Choir give thanks to God for blessing us in the Gethsemane Choirs’ Seminar held at City Beach Resort on Monday, 28 October 2019. Pastor Koshy instructed 112 adult, youth and older children participants on the biblical understanding of the music ministry of the church. Concurrently, 10 younger children were separately taught on the same topic by Mrs Carolyn Koshy. This report serves as a brief summary of the key lessons learnt from the two sessions of learning, so that the choirs may reaffirm these biblical principles, and others may be reminded of God’s guidelines for music in the church.
More than an accompaniment of God’s Word, music is a carrier of God’s Word! In worship, music should not be for the mere pleasure of the ears, but for the declaration of God’s Truth (cf. Deuteronomy 31:19; Colossians 3:16). Therefore, singing should be prioritised over mere music without lyrics because the lyrics invoke our understanding. “Sing praises to God, … sing ye praises with understanding” (Psalm 47:6-7, cf. 1 Corinthians 14:15). With this as starting point, worshipful singing must fulfil the following three purposes:
Firstly, music must be God-glorifying (Psalm 92:1). Moses declares, “The LORD is my strength and song” (Exodus 15:2), and Isaiah joins in: “the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song” (Isaiah 12:2). Secondly, music must be used for teaching (Colossians 3:16), with lyrics which are rich with the wisdom of the word of Christ. Finally, music must affirm the congregation in God’s Goodness and Righteousness. Music helps the children of God retain the things which He has done for them or which they have learnt, so that “they shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness” (Psalm 145:7).
Anything contrary to these purposes is a perversion of music in the worship of God. So, great caution must be exercised in the choice of music in the worship. While some argue that music by itself is amoral (i.e. ‘not concerned with morality’), the way it is arranged and articulated can represent worldly, heathen backgrounds and associations (cf. Daniel 3:7). Moreover, when music is carelessly expressed, it will promote misconceived spiritual assurance (cf. Amos 5:23; 6:1, 5; Isaiah 5:12).
Having laid down the principles for worshipful music, Pastor went on to delineate the prerequisites for singing in the choir ministry:
Concerning the singer’s attitude in the choir ministry, the singer must:
Indeed, the calling of a singer in the worship of God is a high calling, which requires strict spiritual and choral discipline. It is the sincere prayer of the choir leader and choir members that we will press on to be biblical, beautiful-sounding, and the best singers for our King! Where we have not been up to scratch as singers, we are grateful to God for the gentle correction we received from His Word and the opportunity to sanctify our lives for an acceptable service to Him. May the choirs be obedient to His Word in their personal lives, choir-practices, and presentations of praise unto God!
With regard to administrative matters, the choir leader gives thanks to God for the sacrificial service of many who have rendered help in planning and preparing for the seminar. From the booking of the function room and logistical / transport arrangements to the food contributions and assistance with the children’s programme, God has greatly blessed us with edifying fellowship around His Word and His people. All glory be to God!