“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)
Every married man, if he is sincere, would confess that loving his wife is a lot more difficult than he had imagined. Why is it so? One of the most common responses of husbands is that the wife is not easy to relate to or that she is a very difficult person to communicate with. Though it is true that some women do exhibit a bitter and defiant spirit towards their husbands, it is undeniable that husbands do fail to love their wives as expected by the Lord.
The biblical imperative is that husbands ought to love their wives as Christ has loved the church – “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). No husband has ever fully loved his wife to that degree or extent which is expected of him by the Lord. So, every Christian husband must make it his duty to love his wife likewise.
In the relationship between Christ and the church, Christ’s love is antecedent to the church’s love for Him. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Christ’s loving redemption did not come to the church because she was perfect in her ways and pleased Him always. Instead, Scripture says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). So, husbands’ love for their wives cannot be merely a reciprocal affection. Husbands should love their wives, even though they feel disrespected or hurt by them.
It is because of divine love that Christ has chosen a people to be redeemed and be His church. He said, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you … Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…” (John 15:9a, 16a). Indeed, “Christ… loved the church” (Ephesians 5:25) – He chose to love the church.
Husbands must be committed to love their wives even when they are taken for granted or disrespected by their wives. It must be emphasised that the biblical command given to the Christian husband to love his wife is not contingent upon how well she conducts or fulfils her role. The desire to love his wife must always be kept burning within the heart, even when it seems very difficult.
Christ’s love for the church is sacrificial; He made the ultimate sacrifice by dying for her redemption. “Christ …loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25).
Every husband must be willing to make sacrifices for his wife. This does not just mean that you are prepared to make that one ultimate sacrifice by dying for her, if need be. More than that, it means that you will live daily for her by painstakingly seeing to it that she be cared for and nourished up in Christ. Husbands ought to live sacrificially for his wife. He must be willing to set aside his personal interests to help her to be a happy and fruitful Christian woman.
Christ said that He came to serve the church – “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). He knew the physical and spiritual needs of His disciples, and ministered earnestly to them without delay.
Husbands must be concerned about and be ready to care for their wives’ needs. Husbands who are too occupied with themselves are often ignorant and indifferent to their wives’ problems and needs. Husbands are exhorted to “love their wives as their own bodies” (Eph. 5:28), and to “love his wife even as himself” (Eph. 5:33). Normally, no man would harm his own body, but would cherish and nourish his body. Likewise, every husband must love, care and nourish his wife. Though they abstain from adultery, husbands would still fail miserably in loving their wives as Christ loved the church, if they only think of being served by their wives and not serving their wives to cherish and nourish them. Husbands who show little interest in caring for their wives’ emotional, physical and spiritual well-being, must repent and strive to be servant-leaders, as Jesus is to the church.
Christ loves the church with the intention of presenting her sanctified – “That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:26, 27).
Husbands who love their wives as Christ loves the church must also desire their spiritual purity, that they may be set apart for God’s glory and honour. Christian husbands must do everything needful – rebuke, instruct, encourage and lead – in order that their wives may pursue their sanctification. They should at all costs avoid provoking or guiding her to sin. There should be no vulgarity, dirty jokes or ungodly activities, such as watching ungodly movies and following a materialistic lifestyle. Husbands must admonish their wives if they have unbiblical thinking, bad habits or sinful conduct. Wives must also be instructed to dress modestly, to avoid appearing “under-dressed” (with hemlines above their knees, revealing clothes, etc.) – that they may not be sensual in their appearance and become a temptation to other men. Husbands must not approve of any worldly lifestyle adopted by their wives (1 Jn 2:15) if they were to love their wives as Christ loves the church.
Husbands’ highest duty of love to their wives is to help them grow in purity and holiness before God. Husbands must encourage their wives to be set apart for God and to increase in the service of the Lord. Husbands must always be mindful that their wives are given to them not merely for their pleasure and comfort, but to guide them according to the Scriptures for the Lord’s honour and glory. Through biblical instruction and example, husbands must help their wives to put sin to death so that they can come alive to righteousness. It is also the task of the husbands to help their wives flourish in the exercising of their spiritual gifts to serve and glorify God. Their wives must be encouraged to bring glory to God by doing good to others. Husbands ought to love their wives with a sanctifying love.
Jesus’ love is an enduring, steadfast love, for “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (Jn. 13:1). It is with a lasting, faithful love that Christ loves the church. As the apostle Paul said, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39).
Husbands must be utterly faithful and committed to their wives in the same way that Christ loves the church. Christian husbands must provide their wives the security of steadfast and faithful love, in which she can blossom emotionally and spiritually. A husband must be committed to his wife to the exclusion of all others – “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh” (Eph. 5:31; cf. Gen. 2:24).
A husband, who ill-treats his wife and puts her down, dishonours Christ. Such a husband projects a false picture of Christ, a “Christ” that could possibly abuse and put down His bride, the church. Husbands who desert their wives – either through infidelity or indifference – in effect portray a heresy, which gives the impression of a false Christ who could abandon His church. So, let every Christian husband bear a good witness in this ungodly world concerning his Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ, by loving his wife as Christ loves the church.
Two days ago, the CNN reported: “As the coronavirus outbreak continues spreading across Asia and the rest of the world, grief and anger are cutting through the noise, after the death of Chinese whistleblower-doctor Li Wenliang.” In Singapore, as of Friday (7th February 2020), about 33 people have been reported as having contracted this deadly virus. Channel News Asia reported on Friday, “Coronavirus outbreak: Singapore raises DORSCON level to orange; schools to suspend inter-school, external activities.” The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now declared the virus outbreak a global emergency.
As the fear of pestilence grips the people of our city-nation, we must be prepared to face whatever come our way. Yes, we must observe good hygiene practices as a precautionary measure. But even more importantly, let us also be spiritually ready as we face this time of emergency.
What does the Bible say about “pestilence” or “plague”? The Hebrew and Greek words for “pestilences” (Heb. deḇer and Gk loimós) in the Bible refer to contagious epidemic disease. Pestilence is often associated with other calamities (e.g. Exod. 9:3–15; Leviticus 26:25; Habakkuk 3:5; Luke 21:11). It is recorded as a judgment or punishment sent by God, rather than a naturally occurring phenomenon.
In the Bible, pestilence (Heb. deḇer, māweṯ; Gk. thánatos) usually refers to divine intervention in human history in the form of human sickness to punish the rebellious conduct of people. God had pronounced that pestilence will be brought upon Israel for her neglect of her covenant obligations to God. In the case of His covenant people Israel, it served as a scourge to bring about repentance and obedient behaviour.
The Lord destroyed 70,000 Israelites after David’s census, which was out of prideful confidence in the number of their people (2 Samuel 24:13–15).
Certain prophets of Israel, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who proclaimed divine sentence on the rebellious Jews, almost always predicted pestilence as part of a list of scourges that would befall them: “the sword, the famine, and the pestilence” (Jeremiah 24:10, cf. 14:12, 27:8, etc.). The enemies of Israel could also be the objects of this form of judgment (Psalm 78:50; Ezekiel 28:23; 38:22).
As for ancient Israel, when pestilence was sent as a punishment for sin, it was not applied indiscriminately upon all. The one who remains faithful was promised divine protection from its effects.
Jesus mentioned “pestilences” as part of the signs of His coming. They will, according to the Book of Revelation, reach unprecedented proportions, causing great pain and distress upon the earth during the seven-year Tribulation prior to Jesus’ return to this earth.
In recent history, Singapore had encountered pandemics, such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003, swine flu (H1N1) in 2009. According to the National Library Board’s Infopedia, an estimated 415,000 people were infected with H1N1 influenza in Singapore, and there were at least 18 fatalities. Now, we are facing another crisis.
How shall we prepare ourselves to face such an outbreak of diseases in our present times?
Firstly, let us pray for God’s mercy to protect us and heal those who are infected by this disease. Let us remember in our prayers doctors, nurses and all medical professionals who work hard to attend to the sick and also to prevent the spreading of the disease. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Let us act responsibly by taking all necessary precautions to avoid being infected and also to prevent the spreading of the disease. Please pay attention to put into practice the advice given by the government’s medical authorities as precautionary steps.
If any among us become afflicted, let us be comforted that the Lord is with all those who trust Him. Even in death, the Lord is with His people. So we can assuredly say, like David, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
If a believer dies due to this outbreak, he will certainly be with the Lord. “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). So, let us humbly seek and worship Him. Let us also labour for Him, “knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:24).
Is your mind made up before getting any counsel? Christians who are young in the faith may lack the necessary biblical knowledge to make certain decisions in life. This may be due to their lack of understanding concerning some biblical doctrines. When certain situations arise, they do not know what to do. They would usually ask more spiritually mature Christians for advice, as they genuinely want to know and do God’s will.
However, there are those who ask for counsel for the wrong reasons. Some, being driven by personal lusts, seek God’s help to gratify their desires. When they ask for counsel, they ask with the hope that the counsel they receive will be in line with their intentions. In other words, they have already decided on their course of action even though the counsel they seek might be different!
This all-too-familiar scenario in the church also happened during the time of the prophet Jeremiah. Certain individuals went to Jeremiah to seek counsel concerning God’s will but only to act contrariwise.
Judah was in ruins in the year 586 BC. The “terrible and dreadful” Babylonians (Habakkuk 1:7) destroyed the city of Jerusalem and burned down the Temple and all the houses of Jerusalem. They also carried off many people and the treasures of the Temple, leaving behind the poor ones (2 Kings 25:9-13). In the chaos that ensued, a man named Johanan took some of the Jews and “dwelt in the habitation of Chimham, which is by Bethlehem, to go to enter into Egypt” (Jeremiah 41:17).
He was already on the move to go into Egypt for fear of the Babylonians (Jeremiah 41:18). However, Johanan and the people still asked Jeremiah to show them God’s will concerning them so that they might act accordingly (Jeremiah 42:1-3).
Sadly, even today, there are some who seek counsel only after having taken steps towards a particular direction. Though such an action seems to be irrational, many are found making this mistake. For example, some, having established relationships with unbelievers, approach their preachers or elders to ascertain whether such relationships are okay. Some others proceed to make investments before praying earnestly about those matters. There are others who apply for jobs without considering whether those professions are God-honouring or not. They act before asking for or finding out God’s will. If a Christian is sincere in seeking spiritual counsel, he should not act before getting an answer from God.
Another characteristic of people who have made up their minds before asking for counsel is that their decisions are based on what is most pleasing to themselves. Such people tend to give only lip service to God. Johanan and the people professed that they would do all that the Lord said, whether they liked it or not (Jeremiah 42:5,6). Yet, Johanan and the people had already presumed that which would please them the most would be the best. They claimed that they would obey God so that His favour would be upon them. But in reality, they only wanted God to approve what they had decided beforehand as the best course of action. Being overwhelmed by fear of Nebuchadnezzar, they were only concerned about their own survival and safety, rather than doing God’s will.
When a person has decided on his own what pleases him the most, he will be very hesitant to obey God’s will. Although God’s will may at times not make sense to us, we just have to trust it to be our perfect guide. We just need to do what God requires of us. Our heavenly Father always knows what is best for us. Therefore, it is better to pursue His will than follow what we think to be the best.
Jeremiah gathered Johanan and the people after receiving an answer from God. He then made known to them that God wanted them to stay back in the land that God might build them up. God also encouraged them not to be afraid of King Nebuchadnezzar, as He had promised to be with them. A warning was also issued against Johanan and the people that if they were to flee to Egypt, they would die in Egypt and none of them would escape (Jeremiah 42:7-22).
When they realised that Jeremiah’s counsel was not in line with their plan, they turned against Jeremiah. They accused Jeremiah of lying. They also disputed that Jeremiah was sent by God to give such a message. They even charged Jeremiah for being involved in a conspiracy to deliver them into the hands of the Babylonians. Thereafter, Johanan and the rest of the people acted against “the voice of the LORD”. Their self-pleasing attitude emboldened them to blatantly accuse God’s appointed servant (Jeremiah 43:1-4).
Pastors and preachers are often attacked by self-seeking, disobedient people. Such people have no regard for God’s messengers. Neither they reverence God’s Word. Oh, what tragic errors are found in those who made up their minds even before seeking spiritual counsel!
Psalm 16:11 — “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”
We thank God for helping Gethsemane Malayalam Fellowship to organise a retreat on Monday, 27th Jan 2020. We are grateful for the good feasting of God’s Word during this year’s Chinese New Year holiday. Including children, 34 Malayalees gathered at Gethsemane Media Centre. Malayalees are from Kerala (a south Indian state), and we speak the Malayalam language. Roughly 30,000 Malayalees live in Singapore. For the past 13 years, we gather together every Sunday in Gethsemane BP Church as Malayalam Fellowship, with our pastor teaching us from various Scriptural books/topics. During this fellowship, we sing spiritual songs, pray, read the Scriptures and study the Word in our mother tongue, and it is a great blessing for our spiritual growth.
During this year’s retreat, Pastor Prabhudas Koshy preached two messages on the topic of “Living in the Awareness of God’s Presence”, and Sister Abigail Skariah taught our children from the same topic. During the first session of the retreat, Pastor explained from the Scriptures that no one can hide from the presence of God (Psalm 139). His presence will be unbearable for those who live in sin, and try to flee from Him. But believers who sinned against God, fearing that God will cast them away from sin, would pray, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11). To all those who repent, the Lord shall not only grant forgiveness, but also His fellowship. 1 John 1: 6-9 declares, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” In the second session, from the life of Moses and Joshua, we learned how to rejoice in the presence of God. It is very important to learn how to live in the presence of God, which is a life of heavenly joy. If we live a moment without the awareness of the presence of God, we may fall into terrible sins. God’s presence will give us real peace in our life.
We thank God for bringing some new contacts to this retreat. We are planning to follow up with those new contacts and invite them for our regular meetings. Please pray for the Holy Spirit’s working in the hearts of all those who came so that they, being convicted of the truth, may join our main worship services and Malayalam fellowship gatherings. If you have friends, neighbours or colleagues who speak the Malayalam language, please invite them to our church and to our Malayalam Fellowship. May our God use all of us to reach people around us, even people of various languages and cultures, with His glorious Gospel. All glory to God!
(Extracts of recently received correspondence from Pr Sujith Samuel)
We thank God for helping Gethsemane B-P Church, Singapore, to finish the renovation works of the new premises in Singapore and begin the work for the further extension of God’s kingdom. May the Lord use this new place for His glory.
The last semester’s classes of Gethsemane Bible Institute (GBI, Vizag, India) ended on 14th November 2019. Most of the students attended the examination. We will be conducting a supplementary examination for those who needed more time to complete their assignments. Many of them were taking theological examinations for the first time, which understandably was a difficult experience for them.
The classes for the new semester (Jan-April, 2020) of GBI have begun. We have 14 students this semester. Thank you very much, Pastor, for making available your video courses, class materials, financial support and guidance needed for the work here. FEBC online classes are also very helpful for the students. The students are very happy to study many subjects offered by GBI and FEBC. We are also planning and getting ready to have live classes with you through Skype. We eagerly look forward to having this facility soon.
Since the second week of November 2019, a Telugu worship service has been conducted after the English Service held on Sunday morning. Pastor Thomas, who is one of our students, is helping to organise it. Bro Joshua, a local man, is very interested in bringing more people to the Telugu service. He is trying to spread the word especially among his relatives and friends.
I have been invited by Pastor David to preach in his church during the Christmas service, and again in the coming week. My Christmas ministry in his church was a blessed experience. The believers gathered in a small room belonging to a member of Pastor David’s church to hear me preaching. That’s where the church meetings are currently held. Because there is insufficient space for their gatherings, they decided to construct a small meeting place on top of the house. The total estimate for the work is around Rs 200,000 (SGD 4,000). They had already finished half of the work by raising funds from church members and friends. It will be good if we can extend some help to them in finishing the work. The pending work includes painting, electrical works, bathroom works, etc.
This semester, the following subjects are offered:
Since more students have joined GBI this semester, we need to purchase some new tables and chairs. Our office computer is also failing. It will be good if we can buy a new PC for the office and GBI.
Thank you for all the prayers and support for the work here. May the Lord guide and help us forward.
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!