“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)
I would like to exhort you to give your utmost diligence to worship the Lord in a way that is worthy of His great name.
Firstly, let all worshippers in Gethsemane show utmost reverence for the Lord during the worship. Worship is a sacred activity. Our mannerism must be express solemnity and reverence for the presence of the Most High God whom we have come to call upon. Scripture exhorts us, “O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:9).
Secondly, let us all get together for the Watchnight Service tomorrow night at 9 pm. Like the psalmist, let us say, “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Psalm 34:3). Worship is grandest when all of His children gather together to praise Him. Like a musician who plays his instrument with passion and precision, in harmony with the rest of the orchestra, every worshipper must happily join with others to exalt the name of the Lord. As it has been said, “God’s praises sound best in concert.” We have an excellent opportunity tomorrow to get together to praise our God during the Watchnight Service. Come well-prepared with short testimonies of praise, so we can rejoice in one another’s thanksgiving to the Lord.
Report by Cornelius Koshy (on behalf of the GYF Committee)
All glory to our Heavenly Father who gave 57 youths and 21 adults a blessed spiritual and physical retreat in UK Farm Resort, Kluang, Malaysia, from 24th to 26th December 2018.
Pastor Koshy preached 5 messages on the doctrine of adoption under the theme, “Children of the Most High”. We were taught on how our adoption as children of God is the highest point of our salvific experience on earth, and that it stands distinct from the regenerative experience of justification, forgiveness, reconciliation in the Ordis Salutis (Latin for “Order of Salvation”). While regeneration deals with our nature before God, adoption deals with our status in relationship with God. Adoption upgrades our status in relationship with God, from “bastards” (cf. Hebrews 12:8) to children of the Most High! With this new identity, we owe nothing to the flesh, fear no pressure from the world, and look forward to the eternal hope of glory with our Father (Romans 8:12-16).
This year, Pastor introduced a new segment, “Bible Reading”, in the retreat programme. In these 5 sessions, Pastor rekindled our love for the Word of God by training us to read with understanding, and to listen with attentiveness to the public reading of Scripture. After establishing the occasion for the public reading of Scripture in both the Old and New Testaments, Pastor gave the youths reading assignments to teach us how to divide Scripture according to its thought-progression, and to read Scripture with sense, so that all who hear may understand.
Apart from the spiritual feeding, the participants were physically nourished with the homemade food provided by the farm. Our afternoons were spent interacting with the farm’s animals (such as goats, sheep, ostriches, deer, rabbits and many more), as well as having a time of sports and games together.
As youths of Gethsemane, we thank God for this annual retreat through which we could grow closer to one another and, crucially, to our Heavenly Father! We also thank God for the many adults who joined us to take care of and support us in our retreat. To God be the glory!
Thank God for a blessed YF camp, where we could learn about the theme, “Children of the Most High”. Truly, what a blessed privilege it was to learn of the love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Now that we are adopted as heirs of the Most High, we are to shine as lights in the world, and be blameless and harmless, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. Thank God for courageous young men of old, like Daniel and Joseph, who proved to us that we are never a fool to lose the whole world to keep our souls with God. Thank God that we can pattern ourselves after them, and to purpose in our hearts, that we might not defile ourselves with the world, but go onward, forward and upward till Jesus comes again.
Thank God for the opportunity to come for this camp. It was difficult for me initially to apply for three days of leave due to my NS commitments. But I thank God that He has made a way for me.
Thank God for the Word faithfully and powerfully preached. Through these few days, one thing that has touched my heart the most was this sentence said by Pastor: “Adoption is God’s gracious and merciful act which bestows unworthy sinners the admission and rights into the family of God.”
Oh, the magnitude of His love, grace and mercy! If left alone, we would just be helpless and pathetic creatures seeking for a little comfort and so-called acknowledgment from people of this world (who are in the same miserable state as we were). But, by God’s infinite decree, we are called sons of God who now receive the ultimate acknowledgment, approval and acceptance of the eternal most High God through Christ. This is the greatest honour one can ever receive. May this truth stick in my heart, that it may continue to guide every word and deed I do.
In conclusion, I pray “that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ;” (Ephesians 4:14-15). All praise to God!
The title “The Prince of Peace” is the last in the list of five titles of Christ in Isaiah 9:6. What peace it must have brought to God’s people who had been violated and devastated by godless princes that reigned over them, when Isaiah prophesied to them the coming of the Prince of Peace! It was not only to them, but even to the people of our time who have been marred by the tyranny of Satan and sin that this title of Christ brings great consolation.
Christ alone is worthy of the title “The Prince of Peace”! Because…
At His birth, the angels announced, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). Christ is the only One who can ultimately bring lasting peace on earth. While Christ was ministering to His disciples, He said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). Observe His absolute claim about peace: “My peace”! Notice also His claim that He is the giver of peace. True peace belongs to Him. He is the source of peace.
To all those who come to Christ in repentance and faith, and subject themselves in obedience to Him as their King, He will give peace. But, there is no peace to the wicked and rebellious ones (Isaiah 48:22; cf. Isaiah 57:21). Only those who follow Christ with yielded hearts and minds shall have the joyous experience of His peace.
Jesus’ readiness to dispense His peace to those who trust Him had been seen several times.
Jesus promised peace to a sinful woman who demonstrated faith and devotion to Him – “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke 7:50). After healing a woman who suffered from an issue of blood for 12 years, Jesus said to her, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace” (Luke 8:48; cf. Mark 5:34). He assured His disciples, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace” (John 16:33). After His resurrection, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of His disciples and said unto them, “Peace be unto you” (Luke 24:36; cf. John 20:19, 21, 26).
In fact, throughout the New Testament, Christ is declared as the dispenser of divine peace. In Acts 10:36, Peter says, “The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all).” 2 Thessalonians 3:16 – “Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.”
Christ came to this world that by His death He might reconcile to God those who come to Him by faith. Man’s sins have alienated him from God. In Colossians 1:20-22, Paul wrote: “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.”
Romans 5:1 tells us: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” When we genuinely believe on Christ, we are declared righteous by God. All rebellion, upheaval and war cease, and our sins are forgiven. Thus we have peace with God. Romans 5:10 also tells us: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Though once estranged from God, we are now brought by Christ to be at peace with God.
When men are reconciled to God, all sorts of divisions which have existed among them also cease, and they come together in peace to worship God. Thus, Christ becomes our peace. This wonderful truth is taught in Ephesians 2:13-17 – “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.”
Before coming to Christ, they were alienated and separated from one another because of their diverse social and religious backgrounds. They worshipped different gods, practised different religious rites and held different views and feelings. The Jews regarded the Gentiles with hatred, and the Gentiles the Jews with scorn. But now in Christ, they are at peace with each other. They have the same Saviour. They are both guided by His Spirit. They have the same hope. They belong to the same redeemed family. Reconciliation has taken place not only with God, but also with each other. In Christ, there is peace with God and peace among men.
Prince of Peace (sar-shalom) is a Hebrew expression which denotes that Christ is a peaceful prince. Christ is truly the King of Peace, as His pre-figure Melchisedec symbolized (Hebrews 7:2). He possesses true, imperishable, indestructible and enduring peace. Nothing can sabotage His peace. While the disciples were frightened by the violent storm and waves, He was seen sleeping in the hinder part of the boat. Amidst the great storm, He was in perfect peace! Behold, the Prince of Peace! He rides the great storm! Then He hushed the tempest with His royal decree: “Peace, be still” (Mark 4:39).
His royalty as the Prince of Peace was on full display when He was surrounded by heartless traitors, cruel mockers, and murderous religious and political leaders. While they taunted Him relentlessly, He exuded a glorious calmness and peace that could not be disturbed. His peace confounded His enemies. The Roman governor, Pilate, was greatly annoyed that Christ was undaunted by all the threatenings and aggressiveness of His accusers and prosecutors. It was just as Isaiah had foretold about the Prince of Peace: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
What blessed quietness! What peace! It is that perfect peace which Christ so wondrously manifested in His life and death that He offers to all who trust Him – “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). The peace that Christ, the Prince of Peace, bequeaths is perfect peace. It is the same peace that He Himself enjoys, that kept His soul tranquil in the midst of all His sorrows, and into which He has now entered in His Father’s kingdom above.
The world’s offer of peace is far inferior to that of the Prince of Peace. While the world’s peace is superficial, Christ gives us His peace that is supreme and sublime. The world gives partially while Christ gives perfectly. The world gives temporarily but Christ gives eternally. The Scriptures assure us in Isaiah 26:3 – “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Likewise, Philippians 4:7 affirms: “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
he everlasting Father” in Isaiah 9:6 portrays the distinguishing divine nature of Jesus Christ the Messiah who would be the real comfort and tranquillity of the people of Israel. Jesus Christ is called “The everlasting Father” despite the fact that it has just been said about Him in the same verse: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”. How could Jesus Christ the Son of God be referred to as “The everlasting Father”? As far as the Godhead is concerned, Jesus Christ is not the Father but the Son. It is important that we note that Isaiah 9:6 is not about the position of Jesus Christ in the Trinity but His relationship with His people who have come to trust Him.
The historical context of this passage in Isaiah was set in the time when Ahaz was the king of Judah. He was not a good king, unlike his father Jotham and grandfather Uzziah (Isaiah 1:1). He had no fear for God. During his reign, when Israel was facing serious threats from the Assyrian Empire (Isaiah 8:1-22), the people were full of sadness and filled with fear. Furthermore, because of the irreparable damage caused by King Ahaz, the future of Judah seemed doomed and uncertain. It was at that very moment of great national despair, that the prophet Isaiah prophesied the coming Messiah’s birth, which rekindled hope for the people.
So when Isaiah the prophet called Jesus “The everlasting Father”, it gave God’s people a great hope and help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1-2). The portrayal of Jesus Christ as the everlasting Father could refer to: first, He being the Eternal King will come to lead and care for His people; second, He being the father of eternity knows all things from eternity past to eternity future; and third, He being the father of the great work of redemption saves sinners.
In His relationship with His people, Christ is like a father who is tender and caring towards His children. He not only provides them with eternal life but also constantly nurtures them. Isaiah speaks of Christ as a father of His people in Isaiah 53:10 when he said, “He shall see his seed.” They need not ever fear that they will be without His care. His people will never be anywhere without His presence, provision and protection. He is an everlasting father to His people.
This truth about Christ the Messiah would have been a very consoling message to His people who had suffered under the ungodly and cruel kingship of Ahaz. Earthly kings may fail in their responsibilities to their people, but Christ, the King shall always be a faithful father unto His people. He will never fail to redeem them and tend to them in accordance to all His covenantal promises.
According to the Old Testament Scriptures, one who provided tender care for those who were poor and needy was referred to as “father”. Job spoke of himself, “I was a father to the poor” (Job 29:16). God is called “the father of the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5). Hence, it is not farfetched at all to say that Christ, being God, cares for all His people and is unto them “The everlasting Father”.
Another important fact about the Lord Jesus Christ is that He is the Father of eternity. It reflects the very nature of God, that He is immortal, invisible, eternal, God Almighty, the Creator of all things and source of all life. He has all the attributes of God the Father, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9). He has the very nature of God (Philippians 2:6). As He has said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30) and “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9). This reveals the eternality of the Lord Jesus Christ. The angel of the Lord declared to Mary concerning the Holy Child she was about to conceive, “And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:33).
Jesus Christ knows all things from eternity past to eternity future, for He is the Creator of the universe. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). He was with God the Father from eternity (Genesis 1:1, 26; John 1:1-3) and yet the same God humbled Himself, leaving heaven’s glory to take the form of man and to live among sinful men like us, that we might be called His people (Philippians 2:5-9). It was because of His love for His people that He came to be their eternal Saviour (John 3:16).
In Revelation 1:8, He is also called Alpha and Omega (cf. Revelation 4:8; Isaiah 41:4), revealing His nature as the unchanging God for ever and ever. Although people and everything keep on changing, the everlasting Father, not being confined by time and space, is unchangeable. He is in control of everything in the world, for He “laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands” (Hebrews 1:10).
Jesus Christ was sent to be our everlasting Father to care for us, despite our spiritual destitution and unworthiness. He who is the eternal God, who is always with the Father, who is from everlasting to everlasting, and the author of everlasting life, came to be with men to bring eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ is not a dead but an eternally living Saviour (Revelation 1:18). Being the possessor of eternity, Jesus Christ is totally trustworthy, though the whole world may be against us. The everlasting father is the same yesterday and today and for ever (Hebrews 13:8).
Jesus Christ came in fulfilment of what God the Father had promised when our first father Adam failed to obey perfectly the given commandments. Adam was the physical father of the human race. Jesus Christ as the second Adam was a representative of the human race in His obedience to the law in order to merit eternal life for sinners. This was declared by Paul in his writing, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under law, to redeem them that were under the law…” (Galatians 4:4-5). This is the great work of redemption that Christ had done on the cross in order to obtain the righteousness of God in Him, that His righteousness might be imputed to those who believe in Him. Paul further explained, “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:3-4; cf. 10:3-4). Jesus had perfectly obeyed God, which the first Adam failed to do.
God did not choose an angel to execute what He required of man but appointed His own Son to be the Redeemer of the world by becoming man (Philippians 2:5-9) and living among men (John 1:11, 14). His coming was so determined that the eternal love of God for the human race might be manifested. Christ’s work of redemption has merited the eternal salvation of those who gladly receive and believe in Him. He is our everlasting Redeemer who had willingly and sacrificially offered Himself to be crucified on the cross, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). What a Redeemer we have! He took the curse on Himself in order to save sinful and wretched men like us.
Now we have the hope and anticipation of the return of the great Saviour – “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). What a wonderful and blessed joy we will have when we see the return of “The everlasting Father” of the great work of our redemption. Amen.
God revealed to Isaiah the hope of the nation of Israel, their Saviour, who would ultimately free the nation from her oppressors. He would be the mighty God in their midst; the great light which would shine in darkness (Isaiah 9:2).
Isaiah 9:6 lists the titles of the coming Messiah, which depict His roles. They are the most accurate description of who Christ is. The title “The mighty God” declares that Christ is mighty and Christ is God. In this article, we shall consider how these truths are demonstrated in Him.
1. Mighty to save
Isaiah prophesied in chapter 53 that Christ in His first coming would be “brought as a lamb to the slaughter” (v. 7). He would take upon Himself the sins of His people as God’s sacrificial lamb and suffer for their transgressions and iniquities. By His suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus Christ would earn the forgiveness of the sins of His people. So Christ is mighty to save.
Now we know that His sufferings had appeased the wrath of God, and God is pleased to grant forgiveness and salvation to every sinner who puts his faith in the redemptive work of Christ on the cross (Romans 5:9-10). So every sinner who comes to Christ for salvation can be assured that his salvation is fully guaranteed.
Hebrews 7:25 declares the power of Christ to save sinners: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him…” Jesus is mighty to save wholly all who will come to Him. He is able to change a rebellious heart into a submissive one by the power of His salvation that works in a genuine believer.
2. Mighty to defeat the enemy
Jesus has defeated Satan, sin and death! Jesus Christ confronted Satan, man’s greatest adversary, who tried to tempt Him in the Judean wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). In this confrontation, Jesus overcame all the temptations and rebuked Satan sharply by quoting the Scriptures, and thus prevailed over His adversary. Despite Satan’s attempts to tempt Him, Jesus did not sin at all (Hebrews 4:15)! Hence, we can look to Jesus Christ as the example of how to overcome sin. Above all, He is the only worthy Person who can lead us triumphantly in the spiritual fight against Satan and sin!
Moreover, the cross of Jesus destroyed Satan! Hebrews 2:14 says, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” Jesus Christ became a man, so that by dying He might deliver us who had been ensnared by the devil through fear of death. So Christ died and arose that He might crush Satan and the power of death. Satan can no longer tyrannize over those who are redeemed by Christ’s death. Neither can he terrorise them ever again with death, for by His resurrection, Jesus demonstrated to us that He has completely rendered powerless the tyranny of Satan, sin and death. As Paul has said in 1 Corinthians 15:56-57, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Death has been an invincible enemy of man. It is no respecter of person whether rich or poor, young or old. The Bible says that it is appointed unto men once to die (Hebrews 9:27), and that death is a reality to all men (Psalm 89:48). No ordinary man is able to defeat death and whoever can accomplish such a feat would be mightier than death. Jesus defeated death which has haunted man since the beginning. Death could only contain Jesus as long as He allowed. Jesus allowed Himself to undergo death because it is the only way to break the shackles of sin. Therefore, when He resurrected on the third day, He removed the sting of death which is sin. So Paul tauntingly asked, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). Soon, Christ the mighty God will cast Satan permanently into the lake of fire where he will be tormented day and night forever (Revelation 20:10).
Isaiah affirmed that Jesus Christ is God. The prophet addressed Him as Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14) which means “God with us”. The same title was used again in Isaiah 8:8. Isaiah pronounced Jesus Christ as God once more in Isaiah 40:3 when he declared that there would be a voice in the wilderness who would prepare “the way of the LORD”, even “a highway for our God”. In the New Testament, Matthew pointed out that the voice in the wilderness is John the baptizer (Matthew 3:3), who himself also confirmed his God-given role as the herald of the LORD (John 1:23). John the baptizer declared Jesus as the Lamb of God while he prepared the way for Him (John 1:29-30). This Christ who would come to the world is the LORD our God as was declared by the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel.
1. Christ has always been God
Jesus Christ is our eternal God and He has always been together with God the Father even before time began. He has existed before the creation of the world. He was involved in the creation of the foundation of the world and all that is therein, because all things were made by Him (John 1:3). His eternal nature proves His deity.
Likewise, Jesus Christ has existed before His incarnation. In Isaiah 6:1-5, the prophet in a vision saw the mighty Lord in His full splendour and glory. He was sitting on His throne and seraphims were flying above Him. The seraphims addressed Him as the thrice holy LORD of hosts. In the New Testament, John identified Jesus Christ as the King whom Isaiah saw (John 12:41).
2. Christ, as God, forgives sins
All sins are committed against God. Sin is rebellion against God’s authority (Isaiah 30:9). God is the judge of all who sin and rebel against Him (Isaiah 26:21). Thus, only God, being the offended One and the judge, can forgive a sinner. God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, saying, “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
Jesus Christ, while He was on earth, declared the forgiveness of sins to certain men. When He was in Capernaum, He declared the pardon of the sins of the paralyzed man (Mark 2:1-12). The scribes accused Christ of blasphemy because to them, He was acting as God by forgiving sins. They reasoned in their hearts, “Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7). They were correct to affirm that only God can forgive sins. In fact, the authority that Jesus Christ exercised to forgive sins confirms His deity.
The truth that Christ is “The mighty God” is demonstrated in His deliverance of men from their invincible enemies – sin, death and the devil. However, they are all utterly defeated and rendered powerless by Christ, the mighty God. Man has no capability to triumph over them, but through Christ they can overcome and be more than conquerors. Because of the works of Christ, our mighty God, we can prevail over Satan, sin and death.
In proclaiming the coming birth of the Messiah, Isaiah the prophet announced several distinctive names whereby He will be known, the first two of which are “Wonderful” and “Counsellor”. Should these two words (without the comma in between) be taken as one name (with the former descriptive of the latter), thereby giving rise to “Wonderful Counsellor”? Or should we regard these as two separate names (retaining the comma) as in the KJV rendering? Even Bible commentators are divided over this matter.
The Puritan preacher Matthew Henry, as with many other commentators, takes the KJV rendering of two separate names, and rightly so, for Christ indeed is wonderful as He is, apart from any characteristic or office that may be attributed to Him. Yet as Matthew Henry also highlighted: “Some join these (names) together: He is the wonderful counsellor, a wonder or miracle of a counsellor; in this, as in other things, he has the pre-eminence; none teaches like him.”
In carrying the name “Wonderful” upon His person, would this not then be descriptive of His function? For indeed, who can be a Counsellor as wondrous as Christ? One can take a hint from the same prophet who announced these names. “This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, which is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working” (Isaiah 28:29).
And so unto us a Son is given, who will be the Counsellor so wondrous because of a host of reasons:
The counsel of the great and wonderful Counsellor is all these and more! Christ is the sum total of all knowledge, all wisdom, all guidance, all direction, all truth, all discernment and insight. He knows everything about all things and He is never wrong. All knowledge of the past, present and future belongs to Him. He even knows what is inside our hearts and minds. Indeed, the Lord, our Wonderful Counsellor, is beyond compare!
On that very first Christmas night, Christ was born in Bethlehem in a manger as God’s gift to us. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” This brings us right to the heart of the Gospel in John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” We only need to believe everything about Jesus and receive Him into our lives as our Lord and personal Saviour.
As we believe in His every word which is recorded for us in the Scriptures, we will have the whole counsel of God to guide us till we see Christ in glory. “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Psalm 73:24). Then let us echo that sweet melody of the psalmist, “I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons” (Psalm 16:7). Indeed, as the hymn writer William H. Clark puts it:
His name shall be the Counsellor,
the mighty Prince of peace,
of all earth’s kingdoms conqueror,
whose reign shall never cease.
Truly, “Blessed be the name of the Lord!”
f the titles of Christ mentioned in Isaiah 9:6, let us consider the very first – “Wonderful”. The word “wonderful” is often used as an expression to describe something that is beyond the common or the ordinary. It speaks of something that is altogether unlike anything else. It describes something or someone too marvellous even to comprehend, and is synonymous with words like magnificent, amazing, fantastic and astonishing. Indeed, everything about Him is wonderful! Let us briefly consider a few wonderful truths about Him:
1. Wonderful in His person – The truth about Christ’s nature being 100% God and 100% Man is a thing beyond comprehension. It is simply amazing that He that is to be born a “child” and to be given as a “son”, is also “The mighty God” and “The everlasting Father”. In His being “a child” and “a son”, Christ’s perfect humanity is portrayed; and in His being “The mighty God” and “The everlasting Father, His absolute deity, complete with His omnipotence and eternity, is manifested.
Another aspect of His person to take note of is the wonderful truth about His birth, which is His virgin birth. Isaiah 7:14 declares: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (cf. Matthew 1:23). Even Mary herself, when she was told by the angel Gabriel, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS”, could only say, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:30-31, 34). Simply, His birth is too wonderful and beyond comprehension!
2. Wonderful in His prophesied coming – Shortly after the fall, we are given a glimpse of the Messiah’s coming when God said to the serpent in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” The woman and her seed were further revealed in Isaiah 7:14, where the woman was identified as “a virgin” and her seed “a son” whose name shall be called Immanuel (whom we would know more about as revealed in Isaiah 9:6!).
These, as with all other Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s coming, were plainly proclaimed in the following New Testament passages: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matthew 1:21-23); “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11); “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4). All the wonderful prophecies of the coming Messiah were fulfilled in this “child”!
3. Wonderful in His preaching and teaching – During His earthly ministry, we often find the Lord Jesus engaged in the ministry of teaching and preaching that always left His listeners in awe. We read in Mark 6:1-2 – “And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?” (cf. Matthew 7:28-29; Luke 4:31-32).
Even when He was young, at the age of twelve, Jesus was found in the temple having a discussion with the experts of the Law as recorded in Luke 2:46-47 – “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” In John’s Gospel, we read of the chief priests and Pharisees sending officers to arrest Jesus. Instead of taking Him captive, they were captivated by His words as they paused to listen to His preaching (John 7:32-44)! When the officers were asked why they had not brought Jesus with them, they replied, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). All His listeners were held in awe, being astonished at His teaching and amazed by His preaching.
4. Wonderful in His power – While He was on earth, Jesus performed many miracles, signs and wonders that would authenticate His Messiahship and, in a way, affirm His omnipotence. In the gospels, we read of His power to heal sickness and diseases, even bringing the dead to life again; His power over nature (walking on water, calming the winds and the waves, etc.); and His power over unclean and evil spirits. We read in Matthew 4:23-24 – “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them” (cf. Matthew 12:22; Mark 1:25-27, 32-34; Luke 4:40). John the beloved apostle, attesting to the great and mighty works of His Master, wrote in John 21:25 – “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Above all, Jesus has the power to forgive sins! In one account, we read of one paralytic brought to Jesus by his four friends: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee” (Mark 2:5; cf. Matthew 9:2; Luke 5:20).
5. Wonderful in His purpose – We can think of many verses that tell us of the purpose of Jesus’ coming but these two verses would suffice: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21); “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). His name speaks well of the purpose of His coming, for Jesus Christ means the “Anointed Saviour”.And speaking of His name, Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” One may ask, “How did Jesus accomplish His purpose?” Jesus accomplished salvation for us by His perfect obedience as seen in His willingness to offer Himself as a sacrifice without blemish and without spot to be the propitiation for our sins (Romans 3:24-25; 1 John 2:2, 4:10; 1 Peter 3:18). Jesus sacrificed Himself for sinners like us as He is our Wonderful Saviour!
There is no other person who is willing to do it as much as there is no one else who is able to accomplish such a great purpose. Romans 5:6-8 – “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Just as He is wonderful in His person, prophecies, preaching and power, Christ is also wonderful in His purpose – for He is our Wonderful Saviour! The thought of Jesus as the Wonderful Saviour has been the favourite theme of many hymn-writers. Oh how we love to sing them! So wonderful is Jesus that the apostle Paul can only say, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)! Truly, everything about Jesus is wonderful, just as the prophet Isaiah has declared, “…his name shall be called Wonderful.”
Dear brethren, we have much to praise God for He has shown such wonderful mercy to call us to do His will as part of Gethsemane B-P Church. It is His goodness that has added more souls and ministries to our church. It is He who has opened the doors of the Gospel before us year after year. It is the Lord who has provided us with all the necessary resources, and permits from the authorities to purchase 33 Ubi Crescent to house our Gospel work.
We must exalt the Lord with much thanksgiving of heart in the coming weeks and months, as we embark on the renovation works of the new premises. During our Tuesday night prayer meeting, we must get together to exalt Him for answering our petitions before Him. We had sought the Lord for His help with fasting and prayer; He has enabled us to meet all the needs and to overcome all the challenges over the past 5 years in the accomplishment of this task. Please write down your thanksgiving to the Lord and come prepared to share them with the brethren. We will start the testimony session (of thanksgiving for the new premises) this Tuesday night onwards.
To help us prepare for the thanksgiving sessions, I hereby publish the following devotions based on Isaiah 25:1 – “O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee. I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.”
The prophet Isaiah gives himself wholly to the worship of the LORD. He appears to be totally consumed by the desire to glorify the LORD. Nothing is more important to Isaiah than exalting his God. Every child of God must be gripped and driven with this singular passion to exalt the LORD.
Like Isaiah, Moses said in Exodus 15:2, “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Similarly, David said in Psalm 34:3, “O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together”. In Psalm 99, the psalmist twice exhorted, “Exalt ye the LORD our God” (vv. 5, 9).
What place has the worship of God in your life? Have you consecrated yourself wholly to praise and magnify the LORD? Do you promptly join the church to worship the LORD? Do you joyfully participate in the service of God? Are you mindful to exalt the LORD as your God through daily private and family worship? Have you been mindful to speak of the LORD’s goodness before your family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbours? Oh, how greatly it would please the LORD, if you would dedicate yourself to glorify Him! Jesus exhorted us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Isaiah’s consecration to exalt the LORD proceeded from his love for the LORD. With great delight, he said, “O LORD, thou art my God”. He unreservedly acknowledged the LORD as his God. There was no hesitation on Isaiah’s part to declare his allegiance to the LORD. It was his absolute joy, honour and privilege to have the LORD as his God.
Like the prophet Isaiah’s testimony, the testimony of God’s people should be heard and seen everywhere. Every believer must be ready always to testify that the LORD is his God. Let our attachment to our God be known to all, both friends and foes. None of His people should be reluctant in affirming his relationship with the LORD. Our heart’s love for the LORD must be openly confessed. He takes note of our open avowal of love and adoration for Him, and shall speak of it even in eternity. Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32; cf. Luke 12:8).
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 to praise God’s name, just as Isaiah said, “I will praise thy name”. Here the prophet was determined to praise God. Isaiah was about to proclaim the great wonders which will occur upon the establishment of the LORD’s kingdom on earth. 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 in 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!
We thank God that the purchase of 33 Ubi Crescent by Gethsemane Bible Witness Limited (GBWL) has been completed on 15th November 2018. The Board of Directors (our church elders) will now proceed with the tender, with the help of the team of church brethren whom the Session has appointed to work on the renovation matters. Please pray for all the renovation works to be completed in good time and for the operation of GBWL to begin at the soonest viable date.
Our church’s Filipino connection started at the turn of this millennium when the Lord led some Filipino brethren to our church. Among them were Rev. Reggor Galarpe, Pr Dennis Kabingue, Bro. Brian Bono and Bro. Kent Limosnero. With these brethren coming together for fellowship, Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship (GFF) was inaugurated on 28th October 2001. Since then, the Lord has prospered our ministry among the Filipinos in Singapore, and even in the Philippines. Today, we thank God for not only about thirty brethren who regularly attend GFF, but also for the five mission churches, as well as GBI-Cebu and TGCM-Cebu, in the Philippines.
We pray that the Lord will continue to use GFF to reach more Filipinos with the truth of God’s Word. In Singapore, there are many Filipinos who have come here to work. Our church can continue in reaching them through evangelistic efforts and by providing good Bible studies and fellowship. Through those who become part of our ministry, if the Lord permits, we can continue to reach many cities, towns and villages of the Philippines with the Gospel. There are also those who leave Singapore to immigrate to other parts of the world, such as the US, Canada, UK and Australia. We pray that the Lord will use them to be faithful witnesses wherever His providence leads them.
Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship has been a far-reaching Gospel work. So, let us pray for its continuity and growth.
My prayer for you, dear Filipino brethren who have been part of Gethsemane, is that you will continue to grow in the truth of His Word so that you become joyful and glorious witnesses of Christ here in Singapore, and back in the Philippines, or wherever the Lord leads you. May yours be a testimony like that of the Thessalonians – “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing” (1 Thessalonians 1:8).
To our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ (our “Kababayan”) in Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship,
“But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:13).
On this happy occasion of your 17th Anniversary, we join you in remembering the Lord’s goodness, and rejoicing and praising His Name for yet another year of fruitful service for Him.
We rejoice in hearing of the recent additions among you. I had the opportunity to meet some of them when they attended the fellowship meeting for the first time in
September, and I’m glad to hear that there have been more who followed thereafter. It is the Lord’s doing – all praise and glory be unto Him!
To our dearly beloved brethren at the Filipino Fellowship and to our dear brother, Preacher Dennis Kabingue, may you be encouraged to press on in the work of the ministry. Look back and remember when the Lord called you and for what purpose He has called you. Then resolve in your hearts to serve the Lord to the very end!
I would like to take this opportunity to greet our beloved Pastor for all his labours and love for the Lord’s work and His people. Pastor, thank you so much for “your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name…” (Hebrews 6:10). Please know that we are praying for the Lord to sustain you in all your labours and struggles along the way.
Also, I want to greet the Church Session and all Gethsemaneans, thankful for all your prayers and support for the Filipino Fellowship in all these 17 years.
To our Kababayan, may the Lord richly bless you and continue to prosper your labours and enable you to do even greater things for His glory.
Blessed 17th Anniversary to you all!
Yours in Christ,
Reggor B. Galarpe
Gethsemane B-P Church (Cebu)
Cebu City, Philippines
Dear Rev. Koshy and the Session of Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church, Singapore,
Heartfelt greetings in the blessed name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
Praise God that you are all well and that the work of the Lord in your midst is prospering. The mission church here in Ethiopia is also progressing well. Below is a brief update on the progress of the work of the Lord here in GBI-Ethiopia.
We praise God for the continued support we have been receiving from Gethsemane BPC to provide for the various works of the ministry in Ethiopia. May the Almighty God bless Gethsemane for the work of love she has been doing for the sake of Christ’s name. It is our prayer that your sacrificial giving and prayer support will bear enduring fruits that will bring glory to our blessed Lord and Saviour.
Here are some updates and prayer requests:
Please convey our regards to all Gethsemaneans and friends.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. Ephrem Chiracho
(on behalf of Gethsemane BPC and GBI, Ethiopia)
22 October 2018
(In commemoration of the Reformation of the 16th century, we continue to publish portions of Pastor Koshy’s message, “Defence of the Word by the Church”, based on Jeremiah 23:16-22. It was preached in the 4th Missionary Conference of Gethsemane B-P Church [June 23-27, 2014]. May His Word be faithfully preached in our church.)
In verse 18, the Lord probed the Israelites with these searching questions: “For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?” What an incriminating interrogation! The Lord was challenging the Israelites to prove to Him if they had firmly followed His counsel. But they had exhibited nothing whatsoever to show their unwavering commitment to His counsels.
Those questions will not go down well with churchgoers of our time. They would retort, “Wait a minute! Do we not boldly confess that the Word of God is inspired, inerrant and infallible? Haven’t we affirmed that God has preserved His Word? If we haven’t, then who have stood in the counsel of the LORD? Why question us then? We stand for the Bible, and have perceived that it is His Word. We affirm that not even a jot or tittle shall pass away. Why ask us, ’who hath marked his word, and heard it?’ Take a look at our Bibles – we have underlined His commandments and promises.
We have taken down notes. Why mock us, even though we love His Word?” Similarly, one who is a preacher might say, “I have been trained in a biblical, reformed, fundamental Bible college. I am known as a preacher of God’s Word. I take pains to expound the Bible according to the historical, grammatical contexts of its passages.” Nevertheless, the LORD’s question needs to be answered – “who hath stood in His counsel”? Having heard and known God’s counsel, have you remained true to it?
To be honest, many of us in this congregation ought to mourn over our transgressions of His counsels – “O LORD, we heard your voice and yet we didn’t stand in Thy counsel. We have so often veered from Thy ways. You told us to watch and pray, but we had not obeyed, and had fallen into temptations. Against Thy instructions, we held on tightly to our possessions and refused to give in support of Thy work. You told us to go and evangelise, but we ignored Thy commission. You told us to be a pattern of godliness to Christians around us, but we stubbornly walked in the ways of the world. You asked us to separate from ungodly relationships, but we still continued in them.”
Have you stood in the counsel of the LORD? Have you marked His Word? God is not asking if you have underlined certain verses in your Bible, but rather if you have kept and not forgotten His Word to you. If you were all required to stand up and declare truthfully whether you have kept your pledges made upon your joining the church, what would you say? I daresay hardly anyone among us would be able to say, “I have marked all His words and kept them all.” We have not marked or obeyed all His words. We have not kept our pledges made in accordance to His will concerning us. We have previously said, perhaps with great fervour, in response to His Word: ’LORD, this will we do.’ So today, God searches our hearts with His piercing questions, “Did you stand in My counsel? Did you mark My Word? Will you defend My Word with your life?”
In the next 2 verses, we note how intensely God expressed His anger to the unfaithful prophets and people: “Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly” (vv. 19-20). Indeed, who could withstand such fury of the LORD? Before such consuming wrath, we can only plead, “O Lord, have mercy, hide Thy face against our sins.” The LORD again reiterated His strong displeasure of the prophets of Israel in verse 21, “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” The LORD was upset with the prophets for taking the office without being called and appointed by Him, hence His damning denunciation: “I have not sent these prophets”!
A similar phenomenon of an increasing number of false teachers and pastors is seen in Christendom today. Is there a preacher or missionary in this conference who is not sent by God? Is there a preacher who has come by his own will? Is there one sent by the devil? Is there a man here who is considering the office of the church without having a clear calling from the LORD? You might think me to be uncharitable, ill-natured and hurtful in raising these questions. But recall how Jeremiah had to proclaim the LORD’s scathing pronouncement that “I have not sent these prophets”. It was Jeremiah versus the entire association of prophets! It is imperative for all of us to understand that a divine call is indispensable to be a preacher of God’s Word. God must first beckon him, equip him with the necessary gifts and qualities, and then train him in His Word to be a preacher. No one should try to become a preacher, without the LORD’s clear appointment. No one can say, “Trust me, I am confident that I will make it.”
One who is called by the LORD will not only have an inner conviction of God’s call, but also the external evidence of spiritual qualities (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:7-9) and the necessary spiritual gifts (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). Bible colleges cannot make one a preacher. Rather, Bible colleges can only aid those who are called to gain knowledge through godly and faithful teachers. In this respect, pastors are to be careful not to lay hands upon a man who has not proven his calling. “Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22), so wrote Paul to Timothy. I dread the possibility of unwittingly ordaining a person whom God didn’t ordain. Beware of men who rush to become pastors, men who quickly want to put on the “clergy cloak”, even though there is little to prove that they are called. None should pretend that he is called.
Dear Gethsemane churches, let us not delight in the number of preachers we have, but pray that they are called and equipped by God. I would ask all the preachers and missionaries present, to examine whether they are truly in the ministry in obedience to God’s call. Is it because the Lord has called you that you are a preacher? Is your heart led by the Spirit? Or is it your own carnal and materialistic thoughts that teach you what to do? If your heart is not guided by the Blessed Spirit and Truth, you had better step down from your post. Let us also pray that God will prevent us from ordaining a man who is not called by Him. May our “sweat and blood” not go into supporting a man who is not called by God. Do not rush to ordain men into the ministry. Your heart will be broken, and you will be dragged into places and situations that you should never be in. Pretentious, ungodly men cannot lead you into righteousness and truth. They will corrupt you; you will then cry and weep, and howl in great misery. May God be merciful to protect our churches. Let His Word defend us!
(Starting today, in commemoration of the Reformation of the 16th century, we will be publishing portions of Pastor Koshy’s message, “Defence of the Word by the Church”, preached in the 4th Missionary Conference of Gethsemane B-P Church [June 23-27, 2014]. The message was based on Jeremiah 23:16 -22. May the Lord keep our church faithful in the proclamation of His Word.)
The record of Jeremiah 23 demonstrates to us how those who profess to be God’s people can become miserable custodians of God’s truth and glory. From this account of Israel’s wretched failure to be keepers of God’s Word, we can draw some precious lessons on how we ought to conduct ourselves as “the pillar and ground of the truth”.
Notice how vexed the LORD was when he spoke the words in Jeremiah 23, because the house of Israel and its prophets have failed to remain faithful to God’s word. His prophet Jeremiah said, “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets; all my bones shake; I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome, because of the LORD, and because of the words of his holiness. For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD” (vv. 9-11).
Surely, the disobedient and unfaithful men in the church cannot be defenders of God’s Word. When we do not give ourselves to knowing and obeying His Word, we dishonour the majesty of His Word. Indifferent and disobedient churchgoers are actually troublemakers in God’s house. They become agents of the enemy of God in His house. By their disobedient conduct, they promote disorderliness, unholiness and defiance in the church.
My dear friends, I will not neglect to put you in remembrance of the church’s duty to hold up God’s Word by her faith and obedience; that is how the church ought to defend it. We do not have to do anything extraordinary to defend His Word. Just believe all that His Word says and do all that it commands. When the LORD in His Word says to the preacher to rebuke the people’s sins, he should do just that. When the LORD says, “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us”, you should just obey His Word to you! When His Word commands you to stop loving the world, or beware of loving your parents, spouse, children or siblings more than the LORD, you should readily obey it. If, through His Word, the LORD calls you to give up your life’s career to be a preacher, pastor, missionary or a full-time church worker, you must yield immediately to it. If you have done as the Word of God commands you to, then you have defended God’s Word by your life.
When you hear the LORD’s voice and respond to it as the majestic Word of God, you have allowed His glory to shine through you. Thus, you become a faithful servant of God who gives of himself to do what He requires. On the other hand, if you do not align yourself with God’s Word, you are not a defender. You may teach apologetics or theology, and you may even be a theologian or a polemical writer of Christian articles yourself, but if you are disobedient to His Word, you will never be its defender.
Further note some mind-boggling indictments that the LORD has uttered through Jeremiah. “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you” (Jeremiah 27:16a). Why would God tell the people not to listen to their prophets? Because “they prophesy a lie unto you” (Jeremiah 27:16b). Moreover, according to verse 16, “they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.” Everyone who speaks out of his own heart and disregards the truth God has revealed, is a “corruptor” of God’s Word. He is a deceiver of God’s people, certainly not a defender of God’s truth, for he gives credence to his own thoughts over God’s thoughts.
The pulpit is not a place for anyone to show off how clever he is, how smart he is, or how witty he is. This is God’s platform; this is a sanctified place! Too many preachers often desecrate this hallowed place by their self-asserting, selfpromoting words, which detract from the truths of God’s Word. They are engrossed in showing off their own intellect and self-righteousness, and in asserting their personal authority. They use the LORD’s name, His church and even His Word for their despicable self-aggrandizement. Such men are abusers of holy things, even His Word and the church. They are not defenders, but defilers of God’s Word.
I readily confess my fear that we who are preachers, if not watchful, tend to serve our minds rather than the will of God. When our preaching becomes a showmanship of our intellectual abilities and oratorical skills, we pervert God’s glorious truth. God forbid that we preach to promote ourselves! Our hearts must love God’s truth. We must give all glory, honour and praise to Him. Let every preacher pray that he will not stand in the pride of his intelligence, but utter the words of God accurately in humble obedience, without distorting them. That is the way we defend God’s Word. We must cease from prideful human intelligence if ever we were to be defenders of God’s Word. So let every preacher pray, “O LORD, teach me and make me to know what Thou hast spoken in Thy Word, and let me only declare that which Thou hast revealed in Thy Word.”
In verse 17, we notice that the LORD was angry with the prophets of Judah because they didn’t defend the righteousness and judgment of God’s Word by preaching against the evildoers: “They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you.” They would say to those who were walking wickedly, “God’s peace be with you”! Instead of rebuking them and proclaiming God’s judgment against their sins, they cheered them on by assuring them that no evil would befall them. God detested those pastors of Israel who spoke words of peace to evildoers.
Because of the prophets’ and priests’ tolerance of wickedness among the people, the LORD had earlier severely censured them: “For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the LORD… I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah” (vv. 11, 14). Those religious leaders were men-pleasers rather than God-pleasers. They craved the support of worldly men over God and His righteousness. They permitted and promoted carnal pleasures among men in place of God’s truth, righteousness and judgment. In direct defiance against the Lord’s clear message, they would rather not upset the hearts of the wicked ones among the Israelites!
Jeremiah’s time reminds us of our woeful situation today. Preachers and pastors are increasingly hesitant to rebuke the worldliness and ungodliness in the church. Though many preachers deliver excellent expository sermons with eloquence, scarcely any applies the truth of God’s Word to the lives of the people in order to confront and convict them of their sins. Preachers’ hesitation to rebuke sin has sadly resulted in the worsening moral condition of the churches of our time. As few men on the pulpit today rebuke sin and exhort people to a modest, chaste and holy life, should we be surprised that evil men and seducers wax worse and worse, even in churches? Increasingly, we see churches turning into entertainment centres or academic forums, rather than places of transformation of sinful men unto the LORD’s glory.
It is utterly important that in our churches, we are committed to urge one another unto purity of life through the obedience of God’s Word. If we develop an accepting attitude towards those living wickedly among us, by rationalising thus: “O let us not make a fuss about it. After all, you know, people are prone to err”, we despise and defy the glory of His Word that demands repentance from evil ways and consecration towards godly living. Do not forget, God hated the prophets for despising His truth when they refused to reprimand the wickedness of Israel. By not insisting on Scripture’s demand for personal holiness, they poured contempt on its holy commands. They thus failed to defend the demands of Scripture. The preacher’s hesitation and refusal to denounce sin is a direct challenge to the authority and wisdom of God’s Word.
If we are ever going to be defenders of God’s Word, let every man, who is the head of the family, nurture his family according to God’s Word. Let him also pray, “O LORD, sanctify us by Thy Word. Sanctify me, sanctify my wife, sanctify my daughter and my son.” Let every man, every family and every church wield God’s sword to fight off every sin. Let every preacher, every elder, every man and woman, every youth and every child in the church resolve to fight off sin according to His Word. Nothing glorifies God and His Word more than our willingness to battle against sin and falsehood.
About a week ago, I was conversing with a young man in his mid-twenties who was brought to me by a youth in our church to seek biblical answers to his many questions. As our conversation progressed, I quickly noted that he was a canny and good-mannered young man who wanted biblical answers to his questions. After some discussion, he shared with me his experiences of some “rough rides” that left him distressed at times. I realised that if he had properly understood the good counsels of the Gospel according to the Scriptures, he would have been a well established soul. So, I offered to meet him and explain the Scriptures to him again, that the power of God may order and strengthen his life.
Many harbouring the hope of a happy and stable life pursue a materialistic, worldly life at the expense of the spiritual well-being of their souls. Such a godless pursuit of worldly prosperity and greatness leave them in great confusion and distress. Regrettably, some within the church even erroneously teach their children to give priority to such worldly pursuits.
Beloved, there is nothing that can stabilise our souls like the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Romans 16:25, Paul says of the Almighty God: “… him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ …” These words are from the apostle Paul’s final doxology in his epistle to the Romans. He wished people would know the power of God in the Gospel so that their lives may be steadied in accordance with the glorious will and purposes of God.
When the truth of the Gospel is set forth by faithful preachers like Paul, God works with His mighty power in the hearts of those who receive the message with faith. God will establish those who trust in Him through the truth of His Gospel. The word “stablish” (stērizō) means to make firm and stable. In the context of Romans 16:25, this word refers to one’s mind being settled and firmly rooted in the truth of the Gospel.
The unbelievers and the uninformed have neither conviction nor confidence about their salvation, or God’s purposes in their lives. Only when people’s minds are filled with the knowledge of God’s gracious Gospel, then will they be steadfast in their thoughts and emotions. Through the Gospel, God will establish the minds and hearts of those who would come to Him in obedient faith. No one but a Christian can be certain about his soul’s salvation and be filled with the peace that surpasses all understanding. Only with Christ as the Guide can souls be unperturbed in this world of many evil, sufferings and sorrows.
True followers of Christ can testify, like Paul, “… I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). So dear reader, put your trust in Christ and His Gospel, and take your steps according to His counsels in the Scriptures.
Certainly, God “would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-19). Amen.
To the Pastor and Members of Gethsemane B-P Church, Singapore:
Dearly beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). It is with great joy in the Lord that I write this letter to the brethren in Gethsemane B-P Church to express my gratitude and appreciation for the love and kindness you have shown to the flood-affected people in Kerala.
In August 2018, Kerala experienced torrential rain that resulted in landslides and unprecedented severe flooding not seen in recent history. The situation was made worse when about forty dams in the state had to have their floodgates opened! From south to north, all the rivers of Kerala (about 42 of them) overflowed their banks. Thousands of people had to leave their homes and stay in temporary shelters. While a few hundreds lost their lives, thousands more lost their homes and possessions. Most of the home appliances, furniture, bedding, valuable documents, etc. in the flooded homes were destroyed, either because they were washed away or damaged beyond repair. During this period of flooding, severe disruptions to communication services and to supplies of electricity, drinking water, food, etc. were experienced, leaving people in utter distress and suffering.
As the news of this flood spread all over, helps from different agencies started to come in to Kerala. However, they were mostly controlled by the State Government. We thank God that various churches and Christian individuals also stepped in with supplies of food, water, clothes, blankets, medicines, etc. Yet, they couldn’t meet all the needs of those who have lost much of their life-savings. Even to this day, many people are suffering, and are struggling to rebuild and recover from their losses and damages.
It was at such a needy time that Gethsemane B-P Church’s helping hand was extended to these suffering people through your “Kerala Relief Fund”. Your very generous help through the “Kerala Relief Fund” is distributed to the most deserving among our fellow believers and others. Already the amount has been distributed to about forty needy families, with a few more pending to be helped with this fund. I have been greatly helped in the distribution of funds by Bro Benny Skariah and Bro Lijoy George (members of GBPC, Singapore), who originally belong to Kerala State. They helped to transfer the apportioned gifts directly to the bank accounts of the deserving people, whose names I have passed to them. As suggested by your pastor (Pastor Koshy), I have been co-ordinating this fund distribution from here. Indeed, it was a great joy for me to be of some service to the suffering on your behalf.
The recipients of the gifts have been calling me to express their special thanks to GBPC. Hence, on behalf of all those who have received help, I hereby write to express their heartfelt THANKS AND APPRECIATION to all the members of GBPC and the church leaders. Thank God and may His name be praised.
We do earnestly pray for the pastor and the members of the Gethsemane B-P Church, and for the various ministries that you are doing for the extension of His kingdom and for His glory. May the Lord “make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:21).
Truly in the bond of love in Jesus Christ,
Bishop Dr M. K. Koshy