“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)
David cried out in prayer for help, “Help, LORD”! But what was the cause of David’s plea for help? Why was he feeling helpless and deeply distressed? We don’t have to search long to find the answer, for he immediately stated the reason for his plea – “for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.”
The calamitous problem that David was facing was the lack of godly and faithful men. Even the one who was thought to be godly, had ceased to be godly and faithful. David lamented their failures in the rest of that psalm. They became untruthful, dubious, unreliable, malicious, prideful, boastful, and ended up treating good as bad and exalting men who are sinful.
It is calamitous, indeed, that those who are expected to be godly and faithful fail. We experience awful problems even today, when people in responsible roles of the church fail to maintain a godly and faithful spirit. Their perverse ways often afflict the hearts of those who trusted them to carry out their responsibilities in a God-honouring way. Ungodliness and unfaithfulness in His work is tantamount to betrayal!
In the LORD’s work, it is non-negotiable that preachers and workers be people of virtue and sincerity. In the church ministry, people of all sorts of habits and problems would come to seek help and counsel. It is a place of great spiritual and moral battles. Only those who are truly faithful to the LORD’s call can be effective and fruitful in the ministry of the church. It is not a place for carnal men or women who, with a lying spirit, pretend to be godly servants of God.
The words of Proverbs 20:6 best describe the predicament that Christianity faces today – “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” Though many are keen to put themselves forward as men ready for the Lord’s work, they are unprepared to abide with the LORD with clean hands and pure hearts (cf. Psalm 24:3-4).
Dearly beloved, let us cry out to the Head of the Church to deliver our church from unholy and unrepentant people filling the church’s ministerial and leadership positions. Let us humbly pray that God will also preserve a godly and faithful spirit within everyone who serves in any ministerial and leadership role of our church. As I conclude, I would also like to exhort all who serve as preachers, Session members, staff workers, and committee members of various fellowships and ministries, that we examine ourselves and see that we are serving the LORD with sincerity and faithfulness.
Rev Ephrem Chiracho
Praise and thanks be to God Almighty for making a way for our Ethiopian team to be part of the 4th Missionary Conference of Gethsemane B-P Church. It was a truly enriching and renewing spiritual event. The theme, “Primacy of God’s Word in the Ministry of the Church,” was most timely and needful.
All the theme messages delivered by various men of God have greatly enlightened, revived, strengthened and challenged my life. May their impact on my life and service for Christ be abiding. I was strengthened to press on to fight the good fight of faith, to run the race and fulfil my highest calling faithfully. Indeed, it all boils down to this: “Take the world and give me Jesus.”!
The morning sessions, where the church leaders, full-time ministers and missionaries congregated to pray and meditate on God’s Word (led by Pastor Koshy), were thought-provoking and heart-searching. They were meant not only to inculcate a spiritual mindset and biblical view of our ministries, but also to strengthen and revitalize our spiritual unity and bond of brotherly love – all for the knowledge of Jesus Christ and for the maturing of the saints. Words fail me to fully express the blessings I have received through these sessions. All glory to God!
I am especially thankful to God for the kindred minds and brotherly fellowship that I experienced during the conference. I was also greatly encouraged by the ministration of God’s people in my ill health. The whole body of Christ has joyfully ministered to my needs for which I am grateful to God. May the Lord bless you all for the good works and labour of love that you have done for the sake of Christ’s name (cf. Hebrews 6:10).
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” (Romans 11:36). Please, uphold me, my family and the whole Church in prayers that we may stand firm and work the hardest for our soon coming Lord and King!
Rev Paul Cheng
Greetings in the name of our Lord! Once again, thank you so much for the organising of the Missionary Conference and extending the invitation to me. I truly had a blessed time of fellowship with the missionaries at the Conference, the Gethsemaneans and the Care brethren. May the Lord continue to strengthen your hands as you labour in His ministry. Till we meet again, take care and God bless.
Rev Biak Lawm Thang and Pr Lal Lian Uk
I just want to drop you a short note of thanks. I, with my friend Pr Lian Uk, would like to thank you and Gethsemane BPC for kindly allowing us to attend your 4th Missionary Conference. It was a very blessed time of learning from God’s Word. We have learned much from the faithful preaching and the mission reports of missionaries, and we did enjoy the sweet fellowship with like-minded brethren. We pray that the Lord will be pleased to continue to strengthen and bless Gethsemane BPC for His glory.
Pr Donald dela Cruz
I thank the Lord for a great time of fellowship during the Missionary Conference. I am very glad that the Lord enabled me to be part of this blessed occasion and be part of the global missionary work which the Lord has laid on Gethsemane B-P Church, Singapore.
I thank the Lord also for His journey-mercies; my wife and I returned to the mission church past midnight on June 29th. Thank God for keeping the mission station while we were away.
After having a “glimpse” of the great work which needed to be done, we all the more consecrated our lives to labour for the Lord and His work here in Pangasinan. God willing, we are planning for a children’s outreach in August. We are also currently browsing through books which we have bought from Singapore, in order to make them available for worshippers to borrow. We pray that God’s people will read spiritually edifying books in their free time at home.
Rev Joseph Kendagor
Thank you so much for the opportunity extended to me to come to the 4th Missionary Conference of Gethsemane B-P Church. Truly, my wife and I don’t know how we can express our appreciation to you, your family and your entire church. Please pray for us that we may serve God faithfully in the days to come.
As I’ve shared during the Missionary Conference’s morning meetings, we hope to start a Gethsemane Fellowship. I trust that before the end of the year, you or someone from Singapore could come and visit us, and see our work here.
Eld Richard Tiu
Greetings in Christ’s most blessed name! We rejoice and give thanks to the Lord for enabling us to attend the 4th Missionary Conference. Indeed, “ The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad” (Psa 126:3).
We praise and thank God for the blessed time of studying God’s Word and the very warm fellowship we’ve had throughout that week. We greatly appreciate your hospitality towards us. All of us here were much encouraged and further strengthened to continue to serve the Lord. What showers of blessings we’ve received indeed! We will continue to pray for your family and your ministry.
Biblical Roles of Christian Men and Women: that is the topic of a seminar organised by Gethsemane Men’s Fellowship that will be held on 12th of July.
It is a topic that we cannot afford to ignore or neglect any more. Children and youths of this perverse generation are facing a very confused time about gender matters. The social media network, Facebook, now provides the users approximately 50 new custom options for “gender”. Our society is facing what some call “a gender identity disorder”.
The gender issues of our time, in the biblical analysis, are the culmination of society’s disregard for God’s design for manhood and womanhood. Even in churches and Christian families, for many years, there existed a dangerous disregard for the biblical teachings of the roles of man and woman, undermining their God-ordained duties in the home, church, and society. The present explosion of the so-called ‘gender confusion’ or ‘sexual identity crisis’, affecting even fundamental and reformed churches, has been in the making for a long time. The churches’ and Christians’ unguarded fascination with the worldly ideologies concerning the roles of man and woman for the past many years, has now resulted in the sudden gender and sexual perversions that we see today.
However, we believe in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is able to save even the most confused and hardened sinner. The New Testament records for us how the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has delivered many from such moral and spiritual decadence which existed in the ancient Roman and Corinthian societies (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
If we follow the doctrines of the Bible concerning every aspect of faith and practice, we can be a powerful and profitable community of Christians in these perilous days of moral decadence to bring many unto the saving, transforming power of the Gospel. We praise God that the Lord has blessed our church to declare the truth of God’s Word concerning all matters of life, that many may be delivered out of their wicked ways of life and serve God today in holiness. As Paul said in Romans 6:17-18, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”
I trust that you will not disregard the upcoming seminar on this very important topic of “Biblical Roles of Christian Men and Women”. Please pray for me as I prepare to speak on the topic. Let us prepare to participate with much prayer. Don’t forget to invite your Christian friends to the seminar.
Ho Kee How
As a young Christian in the 1980’s, I used to look forward to attending missions rallies and conventions organised by the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (which had since gone ecumenical) and other missions-minded churches. My heart was stirred whenever I heard reports of the gospel work in the mission fields, and the oft-repeated refrain that “the harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few” (Lk 10:2). But I did not hear God’s call then.
In the course of time, I became preoccupied with pursuing a career as a schoolteacher and did not expect God to call me into full-time ministry. I have always believed that God, in the normal course of affairs, would call His servants while they are young and still at their prime. In the meantime, God providentially led me to Life B-P Church in 1990, where my faltering faith was strengthened by Rev Tow’s faithful and scholarly preaching. (My faith was “faltering” because I had just come over from my previous baptist church which was noncommittal against the inroads made by the Charismatic Movement and liberal theology.) Some years later, my wife and I met Pastor Koshy through Newton NBS, where we were further nourished by his indefatigable and impassioned teaching of God’s Word. Over time, we were made aware of the needs of the small church at Gethsemane, and felt led to contribute there with our humble gifts and service. Hence our move in 1999, with Rev Tow’s blessings. We were asked to serve in the Gethsemane Adults’ Fellowship committee, and were happy serving the Lord in a small way, giving wholehearted support to our God-honouring church leaders and full-time workers.
Over the years, however, there was an increasing sense of emptiness as I did not find much fulfilment in my work. I felt as if I was engrossed in things that do not matter to God’s kingdom. This heaviness and unease came to a head when I was confronted by God’s Word in Isa 55:2: “Wherefore do ye spend … your labour for that which satisfieth not?” There came a point when I told my wife that I find no more joy in preparing classroom lessons; I’d rather prepare Bible lessons! With Pastor’s encouragement, I enrolled in FEBC in 2010 for theological studies.
I thank God for the undreamt-of privilege to have studied theology in a sound Bible College, learning at the feet of eminent students of its late founding principal, Rev Tow. The strong conviction of these “faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim 2:2) that the Bible is none other than God’s Word to mankind, has not only strengthened my belief that the Bible is inerrant in whatever subject matter it touches on – it has also instilled in me a confidence that if one searches Scripture deep enough, one could refute almost any unsound man-made notion, however scientific or academically acclaimed it may be.
And now there is this growing awareness that many long-held biblical truths are being systematically distorted and misrepresented by a proliferation of modern English versions, as well as liberal and ecumenical material flooding the Christian market through the media out there. God’s tender and vulnerable flock, in order to be protected and nurtured, must have constant access to sound biblical reading (and even study) material. In this age of “information explosion”, having good Christian literature is simply not an option but an indispensable channel for biblical teachings to be disseminated. And waiting to be tapped is a ready pool of rich material – in the form of Pastor Koshy’s “collections” of sermons, book studies, FEBC night lectures and even retreat messages over the years. Thus, the need for our church’s literature ministry has never been greater.
Now, “the gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mk 13:10) before the end comes. One ubiquitous and effective way is through the printed page, for “the pen is mightier than the sword” indeed. Truly, while I never expected God to call me at such a “late” age, I realise that God, in His mysterious outworkings, has somehow set me apart to “labour” in the (written) word, which entails essentially the ministry of writing and publications. Yet, who can be sufficient for all these? Ever mindful that “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Ps 127:1a), my prayer is that the Lord may “establish … the work of our hands upon us” (Ps 90:17), for His glory and for the edification of His saints.
I was very excited about my first day at DVBS. During the three days there, I have learnt a lot about “speaking a word for Jesus”. I learnt that I must talk to other people about the Gospel of God. I thank God for Uncle Kenneth who taught me to be a witness for Christ. I also thank God for Auntie Luan Kheng who taught me art and craft.
This is the first time I have attended our church’s DVBS. Even though I have only been there for two days, I have learnt a lot about Jesus. I know that I must speak a word for Jesus from now onwards. I will constantly share this verse: 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.” I thank God for Uncle Andrew who taught us Bible lessons, for Auntie Sarah who helped us in the art and craft session, for the refreshment team who served us refreshments, and others who helped out in one way or another. I would love to come for DVBS again!
Sharing and communicating of spiritual and material gifts: The sincerity and strength of the fellowship in the early church were demonstrated by the sacrificial giving to the needy among them. “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need” (Acts 2:44-45; cf. Acts 4:34-37). The early church in Jerusalem, which was a paragon of Christian fellowship, was driven by mutual love, care and self-abasement.
Likewise, the church in Philippi manifested their bond of fellowship through their gifts for Paul. “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only” (Philippians 4:15). The word “communicated” here is translated from the same Greek word for “fellowship”. This verse outlines the giving and receiving of support between the apostle Paul and the Philippian brethren. They had been mutual in supplying one another’s needs. Believers need to share their resources for the promotion of the Gospel work, as well as to help needy brethren. The writer of Hebrews issues the same exhortation while pointing out its proper motivation: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13:16).
Paul likewise exhorted the Galatian brethren to practise such generosity, especially to those that minister the Word. “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Galatians 6:6). When men, who are endued with the gift of teaching, bless us with spiritual wisdom and guidance, we must provide for them with the material blessings which God has bestowed upon us.
These are wonderful and important expressions of Christian fellowship that the church should manifest for the glory of God. As can be seen, Christian fellowship is more than just an expression of companionship. It fosters the idea of one’s partnership in the work of the Gospel and the practice of responsible stewardship in advancing it.
23–27 June 2014 @ The Chevrons, Singapore
Dear brethren of GBPC,
Our family would like to take this opportunity to thank the Lord for this wonderful channel of blessings made available to us via this Missionary Conference, as well as through the Web Radio. Thank God for the live broadcast which enabled us to hear the sermons when we could not be there physically.
May God continue to use GBPC in various ways to spur all unto faith and good works in the Lord, in order to shine in this dark world. May God continue to unite your church and prosper your ministries, for His glory.
In His love,
The Lord has done great things for us. This is specially for Gethsemane BPC as Pastor Koshy looks for a place for the ministry at Gethsemane BPC. May the Lord use this $2,000 for His glory.
Truth B-P Church
Christian fellowship is one of the greatest blessings that will emerge from knowing Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of our life. There is nothing like it on earth as far as close and affectionate relationships are concerned. We all enter into relationships whether by affinity or consanguinity, but when such relationships are not based on Jesus Christ and His truth, they tend to have great problems. Only the fellowship that comes out of the gospel of salvation carries a very special blessing.
Christian fellowship is filled with the splendour of heavenly realities and experiences. In a sense, it is really an “out-of-the-earth” experience reserved by God only for His children. It is a God-given and God-sustained fellowship designed to prepare believers for the fuller heavenly joys that await them beyond this life on earth.
It cannot be denied that some may have had encountered unpleasant experiences in pursuit of Christian fellowship. Nevertheless, a blessed Christian fellowship is something possible and workable, which Christians should desire and exercise. Thus believers should know it, experience it, and never be a cause for its hindrance.
Since Christian fellowship is a relationship that God has begun with us, how then is it to be expressed in the believers’ relationships with one another? Biblically, Christian fellowship is characterized by three important expressions. Several passages from the New Testament offer us invaluable insights.
Togetherness, unity and cooperation: Those who are knit together in the bond of the Spirit as members of one body, under one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, must express these qualities. “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Philippians 2:1-2). Here, believers are encouraged by the apostle Paul to express their togetherness in fellowship through “likemindedness”, “love”, “one accord” and “one mind”.
If fellowship is to flourish, there must be unity and harmony among believers. So the apostle wrote about the secrets of unity and harmony in Christian fellowship, namely self-renunciation, humility and mutual respect. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
A wonderful personal testimony of the beauty and blessing of unity and co-operation in Christian fellowship is narrated by Paul in Galatians 2:9, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.” As soon as the early apostles recognized the grace of God that converted the apostle Paul, they immediately extended their hands of fellowship to him and Barnabas, that they may be united in Christ and for the cause of the Gospel. Thus, Christian fellowship is characterized here by a welcoming spirit of togetherness and cooperation. So, by the maintenance of brotherly esteem and love, and by provoking fellow brethren to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), Christian fellowship is best demonstrated.
Participation in doctrine, prayer and sacraments: Christian fellowship was maintained in the early church in Jerusalem by the saints gathering together often for instruction, prayer and sacraments. “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
The early Christians, having heard the Gospel through the preaching of the apostle Peter, received the word, were baptized, and immediately participated in the doctrine of the apostles. They did not dispute or criticise the apostles’ teachings, but accepted and learned from them. Together, they observed the sacraments and joined their hearts in prayer. With joy and gladness, they declared these doctrines to others.
These are the biblical prescriptions for Christian fellowship: the coming together for worship, partaking of the Lord’s Supper, prayer, Bible study and visitations. When it comes to these activities of the church, let us take heed to the exhortation in Hebrews 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
…to be continued next week
I thank God that I could come for this year’s DVBS. I have learnt a lot concerning “speaking a word for Jesus”. I would like to praise God for good weather and safety throughout this DVBS and a blessed time together. Thank God also for the many mothers who came, the youth helpers, the guitarists and especially the 4 teachers: Uncle Andrew, Aunty Carolyn, Uncle Kenneth and Aunty Lynn. Thank God for Uncle Andrew who taught us many meaningful Bible lessons. I would like to share a few things which I have learnt during these 3 days.
Firstly, I learnt about how Paul and Silas were imprisoned because Paul had healed a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination. Even though Paul and Silas were in prison, they prayed and sang songs and the other prisoners heard them (Acts 16:16-32). This account teaches me that Christians must always “speak a Word for Jesus” joyfully, even in difficult situations. Secondly, I also learnt about Peter and John healing a man who was lame from birth. God used Peter to heal the lame man and to share the Gospel to him (Acts 3:1-10). Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.” This story impresses upon me that I must know Jesus first before I can share with others about Him. Thirdly, I learnt that I must pray for a “door of utterance” (Colossians 4:3). Christians must pray for opportunities to speak a word for Jesus.
May we all be able to apply these lessons in our life, even after the DVBS. To God be the glory!
I am in Primary 5, and I have been coming for DVBS since I was in Primary 1. I have learned about who Jesus is and how to be an effective witness for Him. I thank God that I have believed in Jesus Christ.
However, my parents are still not believers yet. I hope that I will bear a good testimony for Christ, so that my parents will believe that Jesus Christ is the only living and true God.
I thank God for all the aunties and uncles who have prepared refreshments, designed art and craft materials, and organised games for us.
I came for DVBS through Auntie Annie’s invitation. During the three days of DVBS, Uncle Andrew taught us the need to believe in Jesus Christ. Besides that, I have learnt many Bible stories and was taught to do different art and craft work. I am a new believer but my parents are not. I pray that through my good testimony, I can become an effective witness for Christ.
We live in a society that renounces meekness as weakness and pronounces might as right. This society is very likely to laugh at Jesus who said, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). There is an old joke to revise the saying, “The meek will inherit the earth – if that’s okay with the rest of you.” This joke came about as a result of the general belief that meekness is weakness and the weak will always be dispossessed by the strong.
We should not doubt the veracity of the Lord’s saying because it is belittled by the world. We must believe and practise the sayings of our Lord to be truly blessed. As Christians, we should not allow ourselves to be shaped by what everyone else thinks in this world. We are to be moulded by the truth that Jesus teaches us. He wants us to understand the true strengths and blessedness of life. So let us consider the words of Christ: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.”
What does it mean to be meek? Meekness has been defined as “a humble and gentle attitude towards God and man”. Knowing that we, as Christians, are poor in spirit, we humble ourselves to trust the Lord for the divine redemption and resources to live the Christian life. Christians mourn over their sins and the sins of others. So they should not be self-assuming and proud, but self-denying and meek.
Meekness is a virtue that humbly admits the shortcomings and sins in one’s life, believing that God will deliver him from them all. When he is wrong and is corrected, he will not become defensive and aggressive. Admitting one’s sins meekly is a spiritual blessedness, for it opens the way to truth and righteousness. “The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” (Psalm 25:9).
Becoming defensive and critical of the person who corrects our sins is never a meek behaviour. To say to the one who corrects us, “Well, you’re neither perfect, so what’s the big deal?” – is pure arrogance and rudeness.
Meekness will not permit us to be bitter and vengeful to others, even when we are chided for our mistakes. The meek will humbly receive reproof without getting defensive. The meek person is able to say, “You’re right. That’s an aspect of my life where I need to change. Would you help me improve in this area?” Covering up our sins is not meekness, but pride.
Meekness is a virtue that humbly devotes itself to God always. Meekness moves a person to be totally preoccupied with serving God. However the world may perceive his commitment to God, the meek person remains resolved to fulfil the good will of the Lord.
Moses is a fine example of this aspect of meekness. Miriam and Aaron, his elder siblings, began to challenge his leadership ostensibly because he had married a Ethiopian woman. They were envious that the Lord has been speaking through him to the people of Israel. Yet Moses was not troubled, neither was he vengeful. The Word of God records, “Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). The Lord then intervened and rebuked the dissenting Aaron and Miriam. He also told them, “My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house” (Numbers 12:7). The meekness of Moses was truly a reflection of his faithfulness to God’s calling.
Zephaniah the prophet proclaimed: “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness” (Zephaniah 2:3). Seeking the Lord’s righteousness is the chief business of all who are truly meek. For this, we must humbly receive the Word of God – “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).
The meek, having boldness and humility, are willing to take on any opposition for the sake of God, while at the same time being equally willing to put up with any insult or indignity aimed at themselves. Meekness is a quiet and calm disposition that results from absolute trust in and submission to God’s will and power. Even when we are persecuted and rejected, the meek, trusting in God’s sovereignty, will boldly stand for Him. When intimidating and threatening words and actions are directed to meek persons, they will quietly rest in God’s providence, instead of being stirred up to behave violently. Our previous example of Moses in Numbers 12 proved this case. The reason they are able to do so is because they have committed their cause to God. This is the real secret of being meek. They are not agitated by what others think or say about them. They are only concerned about what God has to say about them.
The life of the Lord Jesus was an epitome of meekness. Isaiah’s prophecy affirms this. “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). Christ our Master was as meek as a lamb. It would be tragic for His followers to be seen as fierce wild beasts, avenging or retaliating those who have hurt them.
The blessing of the meek, according to Jesus, is that the meek will inherit the earth. This saying of Jesus resembles the words of Psalm 37:11 – “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.”
God is not looking for superstars or celebrities to preach the Gospel all over the earth. The true soldiers of the cross whom He sent to win His elect from every part of the world are the meek. With meekness, they preach the meek and lowly Christ who promised rest to those who would come to Him (cf. Matthew 11:28-30).
The Lord has been pleased to guide us to establish a fifth mission church in the Philippines. Its inauguration service is held today in Dagupan City of Pangasinan Province, the Philippines. A team of thirty brethren from Gethsemane, Singapore, is here to rejoice and worship the Lord on this blessed occasion. I am glad that Rev Reggor Galarpe (Pastor of Gethsemane BPC, Cebu, the Philippines) is joining me here for the inauguration service. (As you know, Preacher Donald and Sis Se Jin were married yesterday in the mountain resort city of Baguio, which is about 3 hours’ drive from Dagupan. Rev Galarpe solemnised the wedding, and I preached the Word during the wedding.)
Preacher Donald dela Cruz has begun the preliminary mission work in Dagupan in February 2014. An average of 15 people have been regularly attending the Sunday worship service for the past four months. We praise God that a double-storey house was available for rental, and it will be used as the centre for all the present mission activities in this area. The missionary couple will stay in this house and reach out to people in the city and nearby towns and villages. Next to the house is a private maritime college, known as PIMSAT Colleges, which has about a thousand students. Preacher Donald has been making efforts to reach out to students of this college with the Gospel.
In 2002, a couple of ladies from Pangasinan, who were working in Singapore, were invited to our Gethsemane Filipino Fellowship by Bro Reggor Galarpe and his team of brethren doing street evangelism. One of them, Sis Cecille Batrina, became an ardent follower of Jesus Christ and continues to worship and serves the Lord in our midst till this day. Cecille, being blessed by the preaching and fellowship in Gethsemane, has been ardently praying for the Lord to open a door for Gethsemane to start a Gospel work in her hometown. In January 2008, the first mission trip was made by Preacher Dennis Kabingue and Bro Donald dela Cruz. Since then, Preacher Kabingue and the Filipino brethren had made seven mission trips to that place. Those who were saved through their evangelistic attempts were directed to attend the Sunday worship services in the Cornerstone Baptist Mission, Villasis, led by Pastor Louie D Hitosis.
In 2008, the Lord started working in the heart of Bro Donald dela Cruz, and gave him a deep conviction and burden to enter the preaching ministry. He enrolled in FEBC for theological studies in 2010, and graduated in May 2013, with a Master of Divinity. Thereafter, he remained with me for pastoral training for about six months, before being sent to Pangasinan as the preacher of the Word, according to the Lord’s leading in his life.
Let us praise the Lord for strengthening us to start another mission work. Let us also pray for the outpouring of God’s grace upon us, as we continue to support all these works. In the Philippines, apart from the five mission churches, the Lord also helped us to begin Gethsemane Bible Institute for the training of preachers and leaders for the churches everywhere, and The Gethsemane Care Ministry for reaching out to those who are lost in drug addiction and other social vices. May God help us increasingly to give ourselves unto prayer and generous support of all our Gospel missions. May the Lord also be pleased to raise more preachers from our midst to go and establish churches in more places around the world through the preaching of the Gospel. O sons and daughters of Gethsemane, who will now go to preach the Gospel to the lost sinners in farflung lands?
I am thankful for the opportunity to testify of the Lord’s goodness in my life.
My family was introduced to Gethsemane B-P Church by Uncle Chip Hung and Aunty Siew Lian. Over the years, we have been blessed by the Lord tremendously.
However, in the earlier years during my secondary school days, I was not close to God. To me, coming to church was just a routine, just sitting down and listening to sermons. I did not treat God’s Word seriously. Despite being in Gethsemane now for almost 14 years, I only got saved recently (at the age of 17). Some of you would have noticed that in the earlier days, I attended the Youth Fellowship only occasionally. I was always giving excuses, like “too tired”, “having headache or tummy ache” and so on. I was a playful boy, who liked to hang out with some close secondary school friends after school; I was also a prideful boy, who disliked people looking down on me.
However, things started to change after I got my N-level results. Though I felt relieved that I had passed, I was confused and uncertain about what to do next. Shall I move on to Sec 5 to do my ‘O’ levels, or venture into ITE? In the end, I followed my form teacher’s advice and decided to go to ITE.
There were many unexpected, distressing experiences that affected me deeply after I entered ITE. To begin with, my secondary school friends stopped talking to me when they heard that I was going to ITE. When they ignored me, I became very sad. I even have a friend who asked me, “Don’t you feel embarrassed wearing that uniform?” I could still remember my first day of going to ITE. While I was on the bus to ITE, I felt several people staring at me with raised eyebrows. It seemed that people had preconceived ideas about ITE students. These people might be thinking in their minds: “Oh, an ITE student must be a guy who doesn’t study at all”; “He is a guy who doesn’t care about his future.” My heart sank even further when these thoughts rushed into my mind.
It is true that ITE has a very bad reputation. When I went to the toilets of the school, I saw students with tattoos all over their hands and legs, and some were even smoking. I was disgusted. To be honest, I was actually very sad and dared not tell my YF friends what I was going through. I did not tell anyone about my terrible feelings, not even my parents. Sometimes when I was at home, I would cry, “Why am I in this situation? What have I done to deserve this?”
In the deepest, saddest moments of my life, my mind turned towards God. I began to tell myself, “Maybe this is God’s way of rebuking me. Maybe God knows my pride and has put me in this situation to teach me humility.” So I prayed earnestly for God’s help. I began to feel a sense of relief in my heart. The sadness that I felt disappeared, and I felt much better after praying. From that day onwards, I began doing my devotions, reading the Bible and praying more regularly. All of a sudden, going to school wasn’t a problem for me! Eyes that once stared at me did not bother me anymore! People’s thoughts about me did not affect me anymore!
Soon, I started looking forward to coming to church, whether it be Sunday Service, Tuesday Prayer Meeting, Saturday Youth Fellowship or some other church gatherings! By God’s grace, 2 years in ITE have since passed, and the Lord has also given me good results which enabled me to get into Singapore Polytechnic.
The LORD has truly blessed my life. I was once prideful and did not care about God’s Word. It was through God’s “chastening” that I was able to understand my wrong attitudes, and that I am nothing before God. Looking back, being in ITE was just a small trial which God has put in my life. I’m sure there are many more trials to come in the future. But I have this peace and assurance that the Lord is gracious to help me if I trust and follow Him. He will surely watch over me – “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
A dozen preachers of God’s Word, who are linked to our church, will be here in Singapore to participate in our 4th Missionary Conference. It will be an excellent opportunity for all of us to show the love that we have for the servants of God. May we take this opportunity to encourage and edify them in love.
Whenever the Apostle Paul sent a servant of God to the early churches, he would tell the saints to take good care of those co-labourers of God’s kingdom. For instance, he exhorted the Philippian church concerning Epaphroditus, whom he had sent unto them, saying “Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation” (Philippians 2:29).
Paul wanted the Philippians to receive Epaphroditus joyfully and with proper honour. He told them, “Receive him therefore in the Lord.” In other words, Paul’s advice to the Philippians was that they must receive Epaphroditus as the servant of the Lord. Paul also commanded the Philippian church to “hold such in reputation”. This was an exhortation regarding the proper treatment of those who laboured for the Lord in His field.
It is our Christian duty to honour those who ought to be honoured, to respect the virtuous and the pious, and especially to honour those who evince fidelity in the work of the Lord.
The following are some suggestions as to how to show respect and love for God’s servants who will be with us:
May the Lord use all of us to refresh His servants who will soon be with us. Let us pray earnestly that the Lord will prepare us to be a blessing to all who come from far to be with us in the 4th Missionary Conference. In love, let us serve the servants of the Lord that they may return to their churches with renewed hearts to serve Him. True Christian hospitality seeks not self-praise or self-promotion, but the praise of our Father in heaven and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ who bless us with His Spirit and all good things to minister to others.
Greetings to you all in the name of the Lord Jesus. My name is Jia Wi. I have been a Christian for 10 years. I was only five years old when I put my trust in Jesus. I was baptized on Easter day, 2005, and have been in Gethsemane Bible Presbyterian Church for nine years. Today, I stand here by God’s grace to share with you all my testimony of how the Lord has drawn me to Him, guided me and taken care of me.
When my father, who suffered from leukaemia, passed away on November the 12th, 2004, he left behind my mother, two older brothers and myself. At that age, all I could understand was that my father will never be back home to play with me. And that’s all I could understand about his death.
Later that year, my mother brought my two brothers and me to Gethsemane B-P Church. With my mother’s help and guidance, I learned more and more about Jesus Christ and His wisdom from the Bible. At first, I was very bitter about the loss of my father. I realized that many things are different after his passing away. I was angry that God took my father away. I was angry that my dad left my family alone. I started to be angry with everything. But my mum prayed and taught me from the Bible. I understood that God has a plan, and we need to submit to it. Through my dad’s sickness, we started to seek God. My father trusted in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of sins and died as a Christian. So I cannot grumble. Now I am very grateful the Lord has taken my father to be with Him in heaven, and no more in this world of sin and misery.
I thank the Lord for leading me to this church and for people who care, love and pray for me. I enjoy the Christian fellowship in the church. It is because of the Lord’s goodness that I am standing here to testify to you of my faith in Him. Though I had a lot of struggles in my studies, somehow, by God’s grace alone, I managed to pass my exams each year and be promoted to the next class. I am greatly thankful for that.
2010 is the year in which I received much blessings from the Lord. The Lord made me realise that I cannot do anything without Him. When I become downhearted, He encouraged me through His Word and hymns. One wonderful song was “The Steps of a Good Man”, which spurred me on to trust in God and stand up again. There is a line that says, “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down. For the Lord upholdeth him with His hands.”
Also in that year, the Lord helped me to improve in my music skills. Although I was already learning piano and was in my primary school’s brass band, I have always been average in my musical pursuits. However, in 2010 the Lord granted me a greater interest to learn music. God also strengthened me with His promises of help in the Bible. God willing, I hope that I can pursue a path in music that can bring praise to God.
In the year 2012, I attended the basic Bible knowledge class in our church, known as catechism class, and affirmed my faith on Christmas Day that year. It was a joyous occasion for me that I could publicly confess Jesus Christ as my Saviour and Lord. Today, I am happy to have yet another opportunity to testify of God’s grace to all of you. I thank God for His Word, the Bible, which has often corrected me and guided me in the way I should walk.
Recently, when I invited a friend to church, he asked, “Aren’t you afraid that your God is fake?” My answer is “No!” I have seen God’s goodness working in my life. He has forgiven my sins and given me peace. He gives me wisdom and understanding through the learning of the Bible. As one of our hymns says, “How can I fear, Jesus is near? He ever watches over me. Worries all cease, He gives me peace, how can I fear, with Jesus?”
So I would like to thank the Lord for keeping me in His peace and helping me every day in my life. Without the Lord Jesus in my life, I am sure I would have gone the wrong way. Indeed, He is the Father of the fatherless. He is the Prince of Peace. He loved me and gave His life to save me from my sins. So I love Him; and now I thank Him again for allowing me to stand here and praise His name. All glory be to God!
Chin Jia Wi
“Sovereign” is not a word that resonates well with modern people, especially in democratically governed nations. Its meaning, “a supreme ruler”, “a monarch” or “a person ruling over the world as the pre-eminent one or as the one with supreme and independent power”, is an intolerable idea to most people of our time. In fact, there is a strong aversion towards the idea of sovereignty in the minds of people. The modern philosophy is that there are no absolutes, even in the spiritual and moral realms; and because of this, monotheistic thinking is highly unpopular everywhere. Nonetheless, we are taught in the Bible that God is sovereign.
In fact, none else is sovereign, in its absolute sense, but God. In the words of Charles Hodge, “Sovereignty is not a property of the divine nature, but a prerogative arising out of the perfections of the Supreme Being.” According to Arthur W. Pink, God’s sovereignty is “the supremacy of God, the kingship of God, the godhood of God. To say that God is sovereign is to declare that God is God.” To say that God is sovereign is to declare that He is the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15).
He reigns supreme, not only in heaven, but also on earth. “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine” (1 Chronicles 29:11a). He is also sovereign above all His creatures. Not even a tiny atom is allowed to spin out of His design and control. “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). These portions of Scripture and many more show us that the sovereignty of God is universal. It extends over all His creatures from the highest to the lowest.
His sovereignty is also absolute. None can limit His authority. “Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11b). He doeth His pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. He “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). If God is not sovereign over all things, He is not God at all.
Another important aspect of God’s sovereignty is that it is unchangeable or immutable. None can challenge His sovereignty and forfeit it. It is truly unassailable and unstoppable. “Our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3). The sovereignty of God is limited by nothing outside God. “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?” (Daniel 4:35).
Sovereignty characterizes the whole being of God. The concept of sovereignty encompasses the entire plan of God in all of its intricate details of design and outworking. Although He often allows things to take their natural course according to laws which He designed, it is the sovereign God who is working all things according to His wise plan. His sovereignty also encompasses all His attributes. In other words, He is sovereign in all His attributes. He is sovereign in the exercise of His power, His mercy, His love, His justice, etc.
The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is not a mere abstract, theoretical dogma which is devoid of practical value. It produces a powerful effect upon the Christian’s character and actions.
This absolute, perfect sovereignty of God instils within us an awe-inspiring reverence for Him. It teaches us to fear God. It deepens our veneration of God. It calls us to worship Him in the beauty of holiness and with full preoccupation of His glory. Thus it also prevents our worship of Him from degenerating into a man-pleasing endeavour. Every service we engage in is but a “dead work” unless it be done for the glory of God.
It moulds the affections of the heart and gives a right direction to conduct. It teaches us to adore Him as our Lord at all times, and keep the world and the devil away from our lives. Because we think of Him as our sovereign God, we pray earnestly, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen” (Matthew 6:13).
It lays the foundation for His people’s peace and confidence. They are assured that the Lord God omnipotent reigns supreme; and that neither necessity, nor chance, nor the folly of man, nor the malice of Satan can thwart God’s good pleasure concerning them. It also helps them to have stability in thought and behaviour as they face times of troubles. While it produces gratitude in prosperity and patience in adversity, it affords comfort for the present and a sense of security concerning the unknown future (cf. Psalm 91).
Dearly beloved in Christ Jesus
Greetings to you all in the blessed name of our Lord!
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints” (Colossians 1:3-4).
This prayer of Paul to the believers in the Church of Colossae is so meaningful to us when we think of Gethsemane B-P Church. We thank God for a most blessed month whereby I, together with my wife Molly and our two grandchildren, Aquilas and Andrew, could spend in Singapore. We praise God for the opportunity to see and experience your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and your love for the saints. We lack words to express our heartfelt thanks to you all for the love you have shown towards us through words and deeds. You have showered us with your deeds of love by treating us to delicious meals, and giving us many love gifts. Truly, you have been very kind and exemplary. Above all, we were greatly heartened by the thriving of various ministries of Gethsemane B-P Church, and we praise God at every remembrance of you. May the name of our God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ be exalted.
Having known you more closely, we can now pray for you more effectually and with better understanding. We will continue to remember you and will regularly pray for the growth of GBPC and all its ministries.
We request your prayers for us to ever remain true to the LORD and to His Holy Word.
With lots of love and prayers,
Yours in the bond of Christ’s love,
Bishop Dr M. K. Koshy
We should be ever ready to tell others of the goodness of our LORD. It will not only glorify the LORD, but also help those who are fumbling about in life, not knowing what to do. Our testimonies can spur another to seek the LORD and be saved. The recounting of the LORD’s mercies, truth, righteousness and power before others is a wonderful way of encouraging people to return to Him and trust Him for His care. The LORD had done great things for us; and let us not hesitate to declare what He has done for us.
I want to share with you David’s testimony which has given thousands of thousands of people a glimmer of hope in the midst of their horrible troubles. “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings” (Psalm 40:1-2).
He was in a very distressing situation. He described his situation in verse 2 as “an horrible pit of miry clay”. It was a picture of helplessness and despondence that David painted with those words. He was sunk in deep and dark depression. No one, certainly not himself, could deliver him.
But he knew that there is help with the LORD. So he cast himself and his situation completely upon the Lord as the only possible way out. He cried out to Him in prayer. It is all that he could do, and he did it with utmost earnestness and eagerness.
When David “waited patiently for the LORD”, he was not passively sitting down and muttering fatalistically, ”O, the LORD has deserted me. There is no one to deliver me.” Instead, he waited patiently for the LORD. His waiting consisted of crying to the LORD. Prayer is the channel that God has ordained for His afflicted people to receive His deliverance and help in times of most distressing situations.
David had always been a man of action, especially in the midst of adversities. He was not one who feared adversity. In his youthful days, he bravely acted to deliver the lambs from the mouth of a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:34-36). Who does not know of David’s exploits such as his victory over Goliath who had struck paralysing fear on the army of Israel? (1 Samuel 17:39-51). However, in this particular situation, he, who had overcome many an adversity, found himself inextricably weighed down by seemingly insurmountable problems.
Still, David believed that the LORD would deliver Him. So he prayed unto the LORD, as he waited patiently for His deliverance. He waited on the LORD patiently, because He had confidence in the LORD. Great heroes of faith are men who wait amidst their troubles with unwavering faith and hope in the LORD. They wait on the LORD, even when there is no man to help. They never quit their faith nor duty in trouble, but remain steadfast in faith.
The first part of Psalm 40, where the verse for today’s meditation is found, is about giving thanks to God for the deliverance and stability which the Lord has graciously provided for His servant. Gratefully, the psalmist says, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” Are you mindful to remember and praise God for the deliverance He has given to you in your life? What has the LORD done for you? Recount some recent deliverances that God has granted you in answer to your prayers. Mention them before the Lord and praise Him for those answered prayers.
When one makes it a habit to recollect the goodness of the LORD that he has received, his deep affection for the LORD will also grow. On the contrary, when the LORD’s goodness is disregarded, his devotion and spiritual enthusiasm will also be adversely affected. This is especially so when one is going through sore distress.
In our text, God’s delivering grace is gratefully reminisced in the most apt and beautiful symbolic language. The psalmist says that the Lord has lifted him up out of a horrible pit into which he has fallen, and set him upon a rock! What a vivid and moving depiction of God’s deliverance! How would you describe God’s deliverance in your life?
The psalmist’s description here sets forth the phenomenal change that the Lord has granted him in response to his penitent prayers. He had been weighed down by his sins and their consequences. This, he explained later in verse 12, “For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.” So he cried to God, saying, “Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me” (v. 13). Also, in the midst of this psalm, with eyes of faith, he spoke prophetically concerning Christ as the Saviour (vv. 7-10). The New Testament cited these words as a predictive reference to Christ’s obedience to the Father in becoming a sacrifice for our sin (cf. Hebrews 10:5- 10). The repentant sinner is thus made to stand firmly on the Rock of Ages, even our Lord Jesus! If you are sinking in your sin, cry out to Christ at once with absolute faith; He will surely deliver and sanctify you by His blood which He has once for all shed at the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
Christians need to arm themselves with “the whole armour of God” for their “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Our enemies are more than flesh and blood. In Ephesians 6:12, Paul says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The devil has set against Christians a great many demonic forces, worldly and fleshly lusts, unbelieving people, etc. All these are constantly trying to bring down Christians through Satanic devices.
This being a spiritual warfare, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” (2 Cor. 10:4a). Christians are provided with the “armour of God”, which is “mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (2 Cor. 10:4b). The Christian soldier’s armour is wholly spiritual. The spiritual armaments provided by God are best suited for defeating the device of Satan. No better armoury can a man find for spiritual victory than that which God has provided for him.
Christians must always be ready with the whole armour of God (Eph. 6:14–17) – that is an absolute necessity to fight the good fight. It is very foolish for a soldier to enter the battlefield without his armour, yet many Christians do this every day; being utterly defenceless, they become easy prey. We are recommended to put on the divine armour.
Christians are also called to stand firm in the evil day – when is “the evil day”? Though every day can be said to be an “evil day”, it is a reference to a day when the relentless forces of the devil pounce on a believer. It is the day of test! It can be today or tomorrow. Hence, having done all things in preparation for the battle, we must stand our ground. Christians must not become indolent or lazy. Neither should they become fearful. Even when they have gained victory over a certain satanic assault, they must brace themselves for the next battle. Fight for Christ to the end of your life!
The first piece of the armour of God that a Christian is presented with, is the belt of truth. Our chief adversary, the devil, is a liar and master deceiver (cf. Jn. 8:44b; Acts 13:10; 2 Cor. 11:3, 13–15; 2 Thess. 2:9–10; Rev. 20:2–3). He uses his lies as a lethal weapon against God’s people, and because of this, the Apostle Paul expressed his concern to the Corinthians about the real danger of their being beguiled by Satan (cf. 2 Cor. 11:3).
What does Paul mean by “having your loins girt about”? In the apostolic period, the Roman soldiers wore loose robes. These soldiers would not go into a battle with their tunics impeding their movements. It was dangerous to be entangled in their own robes while the enemy closed in on them for the kill. So what they did was to gather up their clothing and tuck it under their belt, as they prepared to fight the battle. This is what Paul referred to as “having your loins girt about”. This act of girding up the loins was a picture of preparedness or readiness. Thus, having one’s “loins girt about with truth” implies wearing the truth as a tight lash to gird up one’s thoughts, desires and actions. Just as a Roman soldier girds his loins to prevent his tunic from obstructing his movements, the Christian must also tuck his life under the belt of God’s truth, even His Word. “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:4).
God has given to Christians for their spiritual battle is “the breastplate of righteousness”. The breastplate protects the soldier’s vital organs like the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys from being pierced by the enemies’ weaponry. For the Christian soldier, the breastplate of righteousness is the vital protection against the deadly pierce of sin. A believer who lives unrepentantly in his sins will become the target of Satan’s attack. He will try to discourage and even prevent such a one from making spiritual advancements. The only defence against the devil’s deadly blow precipitated by our sinfulness, is the imputed righteousness of Christ upon the believer. When we trust Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins, God justifies and sanctifies us as He imputes His righteousness upon us. Being clothed with the righteousness of Christ, believers ought to live in His righteous ways to leave no room at all for harassment from Satan.
The third piece of armour that God has given to Christians for their spiritual battle is very crucial: the shoes of the Gospel of peace.
A Roman soldier would not go to battle wearing ordinary shoes with slick or worn-out soles. If he did, he would not get a firm foothold while marching through various kinds of ground. Roman soldiers were equipped with shoes that would last for long journeys, for they would often march over vast expanses of rugged terrain. Many battles had been lost just because soldiers were not fitted with shoes that were thick and durable enough. A firm footing was necessary for the soldier to charge forward in the battle. It would help him to hold his ground and make quick moves without slipping, sliding or falling.
Herein Paul employs an unusual expression that speaks of having our feet fitted with the “preparation of the gospel of peace”. The word “preparation” signifies “a prepared base” or “a foundation”, which has already been laid. In other words, the firm foundation of the Gospel of peace enables the Christian soldier to stand firm, and not slip and fall.
“The Gospel of peace” is the Gospel of Christ that brings peace to us. The Gospel of Christ reconciles us to God and thus helps us to be at peace with God. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). What great steadfastness of soul characterises one who can say, “Christ is mine! The enmity is gone! I am forgiven.” A Christian needs to have a strong assurance, so that he will not fear though Satan may be hard on his heels in hot pursuit. He who is shod with the Gospel of peace will be able to tread firmly on his feet.
The Christian with feet well shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace will not only be able to stand his ground in the day of evil, he can even go forth to battle under Christ’s banner with a readiness to publish the Gospel of good tidings (cf. Isa. 52:7, Rom. 10:15).
The fourth piece of armour that God has given to Christians for their spiritual battle is “the shield of faith”. The type of shield mentioned here is thureon in Greek. This shield, measuring 4½ feet by 2½ feet, was made of a thick and hard wooden plank, covered with either metal or leather. The metal would deflect the enemies’ arrows, while the leather was treated with some oil to extinguish the fiery pitch on the arrows. This shield was designed for maximum protection and deployed for a specific strategy in a major battle.
Verse 16 opens with the two words, “Above all”, to convey to the readers that over and above the already mentioned armour components in the preceding verses, here is another vital piece that the Christian soldier should also bring with him to battle. It simply means that in addition to the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness and the gospel shoes, the believer must take up the shield of faith.
Every soldier who has already taken up these pieces of armour, as mentioned in verses 14 and 15, will have the shield of faith as an added protection. “Faith” mentioned here is the faith that we place in Christ as we come to Him, knowing that He will give us full salvation. It expresses a strong confidence in the Saviour and His promises to forgive, save and secure forever. Such faith will persevere amidst sufferings, we having been persuaded that our Lord is faithful to keep all His promises (2 Tim. 1:12).
The very same shield of faith protects us from Satan’s fiery darts. The “fiery darts of the wicked” refer to the devil’s fearsome attacks on the believer to destroy his faith. These fiery darts hurled at the believer may vary in frequency and intensity. He often sends fiery trials (1 Pet. 4:12) and fiery temptations of lust (1 Cor. 7:9). But if we stand with the shield of faith, we can overcome the enemy and emerge victorious.
The fifth piece of armour that God has given to Christians for their spiritual battle is “the helmet of salvation”. The helmet protected the head, the most vital and most often targeted part of the soldier’s body. Scarcely would a warrior rush off to battle without taking his helmet with him. Even modern troops today always have their helmets on when they report for duty, which is all the more needful when in the thick of battle.
But what is the helmet of salvation? It means being assured of one’s salvation. In order to grasp the significance of “the helmet of salvation”, one must understand the three aspects of salvation as found in the Scriptures; i.e. those who are justified will be sanctified and ultimately, glorified. When Satan harasses and confronts us with much trials, let us look forward to the day when we shall be with our Lord Jesus forever. The day is coming for believers when sin and Satan can no longer molest us. So let us never quit, no matter how malicious the devil’s threat is. We must fight on as we continue to don this helmet of salvation until the day of glorification.
The sixth piece of armour that God has given to Christians for their spiritual battle is “the sword of the Spirit”. The first five components of God’s armour that Paul has enumerated thus far have been primarily for defensive purposes. This one last piece, however, gives both defensive and offensive might to those who carry it to battle. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit because it is the Holy Spirit who handed this sword over to God’s people for their use. Because the Word of God wields the omnipotent power of the Spirit, it helps us to put our enemy, the devil, to flight. That was what happened to Satan who came to tempt the Lord Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1–11). Jesus merely brandished the Spirit’s sword by saying, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10). Then the devil fled and the battle ended, just like that.
Christians are to be a passionate people. Their passions in life have to be different from those which they cherished prior to their conversion. They have a new passion, which Paul described in Colossians 3:2, when he urged the Christians to “set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth”.
The Greek verb phroneo, translated as “set your affection”, means “direct your mind to something”. Christians’ thoughts should be directed to Christ and the heavenly domain where He now dwells. That is our ultimate destination; and hence it must be our preoccupation while we live on this earth. We are to be heavenly-minded (“on things above”), because as Paul says in Philippians 3:20, “For our conversation (or citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
What are your ardent interests? The great object of our contemplation should be the celestial city that Jesus prepares for us. Readiness for that final home must be our greatest passion on earth.
While we are exhorted to be heavenly-minded, we are also cautioned not to be earthly-minded – “not on things on the earth”. Our affections should not be placed on wealth and health, houses and lands, honour and pleasure, etc. Neither should our passions be worldly fashion and corrupting entertainments of this world. Worldly lusts must be denied. The deeds of the flesh, which are sinful, must be mortified. No provision should be made for the encroachment of worldly allurements.
While Christ and heaven draw us upwards, the earth and its charms draw us downwards. Let us not yield to the pull of earthly things, but earnestly pursue heavenly things. Let us not love things that are earthly and perishing, but heavenly and everlasting. Apostle John admonishes us in 1 John 2:15-16, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
Christians must always be conscious and deliberate to prefer and pursue heavenly and eternal matters above earthly and carnal matters. Unless our affections are set on the heavenly matters, we will never seek after them in a proper manner. Let Christ and heavenly things be our greatest concern, passion and pursuit. Let us be desirous of everything that fixes us to heaven and its eternal glory
Thank God for the committee for planning and facilitating this camp, even in the midst of their busy schedule. Thank God also for the provision of a place, so that many others could join us in the retreat. I am especially blessed by the messages that clearly spoke against spiritual hypocrisy. It helps me to understand that the root of spiritual hypocrisy is the low view of God. The consequence of one’s spiritual hypocrisy is not only upon the individual but also others. In order to have a close relationship with God, it is important not to be prideful and find excuses for our sins, but rather to regularly take time to go before God, ask Him to search our hearts and be ever ready to repent.
Lim Hua See
It is with great excitement that the Session and I have been preparing for this upcoming event in our church. Under Elder Mah Chin Kwang’s leadership, a team of our Session members and fellow brethren have been hard at work in putting in place all things necessary for the conference. We thank God for their zeal in organising this conference.
However, it is of utmost importance that everyone in our church now quickly acts to do his part. Only about a month remains for us to firm up our bookings with the conference centre and restaurant. We need all of you to quickly sign up to confirm your attendance. Do not hesitate to join this conference, which will provide you with an “array” of pastors who will come well prepared to preach the Word of God to you. You will also have abundance of opportunities to fellowship with the participating pastors, missionaries and like-minded brethren.
I call on all the prayer groups in Gethsemane to make the matters of this conference one of your major items of prayer until the conference is over. Please pray for the blessings of the Conference in your family and individual prayer time. Pray for the organising committee, for those who lead the various sessions in the conference, for preachers, for musicians, for audio-video personnel, for the participants coming from foreign countries, etc. Pray also that God will stir the hearts of young men and women to give their lives to serve Him in the Gospel vineyard.
Please continue to give to the Missionary Conference Fund. We thank God that the fund is almost reaching the S$30,000 mark. We are now praying that the Lord would provide us with S$40,000 as expenses are expected to rise. Please earnestly pray and generously give that we may meet all the needs of this conference.
Please encourage one another to participate in the conference. Feel free to also welcome your Christian friends to come and attend the conference. I would also like to urge you to show Christian hospitality to our guests from foreign countries. Please think ahead about what you would like to do to encourage our missionaries and brethren who come from foreign lands. May the Lord help us to serve Him in this conference with joy and zeal.
Thank God for the wonderful opportunity to join yet another youth retreat. Thank God for the committee for taking the time to plan this retreat, that the youths may set aside time from their many preoccupations to draw closer to God.
I thank God for Pastor Koshy’s preaching on the topic of ‘Spiritual Hypocrisy’. We were clearly warned of how dangerous hypocrisy could be in our spiritual lives. It destroys our relationship with those around us, and most crucially, our relationship with God. Hypocrisy makes us “defend” ourselves at the expense of others. There is only one remedy for hypocrisy, that is, to confess our sins and draw closer to Him.
Praise God also for the retreat’s lovely location surrounded by beautiful nature, such as flowers, birds, butterflies…, the wonderful creation God made for man. I had a peaceful experience, especially in the cool of the night, when we had our prayer meeting held outside before we retired to sleep.
May Psalm 51:10 be my constant prayer: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” All praise and glory be to God!!
I would like to praise God for a blessed youth retreat. Thank God for Pastor’s messages on the theme of Spiritual Hypocrisy, and for the sobering lessons He has taught us through His Word.
Spiritual hypocrisy exists when one appears to be religious, but has no genuine godliness of heart. Though the sin of spiritual hypocrisy is hidden from other men, God sees it. Nothing is hidden from His view. Therefore, we must constantly strive to have a clean conscience and fight against every false way within us. My heartfelt prayer is that I will not just outwardly appear righteous, but be true and unfeigned in my every conduct, action, thought and motive.
This sin of hypocrisy also comes with many consequences. For example, we will have no peace of heart, and our prayers will not be answered. Furthermore, we may lead other Christians astray. May we always pray for God to purify our hearts and follow God with a good conscience, a conscience holding onto faith in Him.
All praise and glory to God for a blessed time at the youth retreat! Truly, this retreat has been a timely reminder for me to guard against spiritual hypocrisy in my walk with God. Thank God for the preaching of God’s Word on the need for a pure conscience – not only before men, but more so before our all-knowing God, who “searcheth our hearts and knoweth our thoughts”. Do not cease to pray for us youths, that we will flee all “youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace” (2 Timothy 2:22). Thank the Lord for the fellowship with like-minded brothers and sisters in Christ too. I certainly look forward to more such retreats to come!
The recent youth retreat, with the theme “Spiritual Hypocrisy”, has benefited me in my spiritual growth, just as the previous retreats had. Truly, I thank God for giving my siblings and I this opportunity to attend this retreat that has been carefully planned out by the YF committee, and to listen to the messages preached by Pastor. I have learnt precious lessons which I will keep close to my heart.
Before the retreat, I was unaware of how dangerous spiritual hypocrisy was, and how easily it could appear in our daily lives. Whenever I saw my friends who were modern Christians doing ungodly deeds, I had always silently judged them in my mind for being hypocrites, yet I didn’t know that I myself have allowed hypocrisy to exist in my life. The retreat has also reminded me that all things ought to be done for the glory of God, and not merely for the sake of one’s pleasure and benefit. It is frightening to realise how often we are blind to our own pride, and forget God, even when we engage in spiritual things like singing hymns, giving to the church, or praying! I need to be mindful of my thoughts and actions which may unwittingly lead others and myself to hypocrisy. May the Lord help me to guard against spiritual hypocrisy in my heart, and may He also help me to live a life with a clean conscience before Him.
Lastly, thank God also for the fellowship, games, good food, and safety of us all during this retreat.
Praise the Lord for the short but sweet youth retreat. It was not only a timely opportunity to get to know several newer youths in our midst, but more importantly, to be found in the presence of God and to increase in the knowledge of His Word. Praise God for endowing Pastor with strength and ability to prepare the retreat sermons among his other demanding engagements, and for unflinching boldness to deliver God’s rebuke firmly to us.
I was reminded that spiritual pretension manifests itself in many ways, and God sees all of them. All the more I have to be careful to ensure that my conscience is always clear before God, lest I lessen the severity of seemingly “smaller” sins and let them multiply. Some time ago, I was branded as too legalistic in the way I have been applying certain commandments in my life, but thank God for vindicating me through this retreat that strict obedience to His Word is what God expects of us. There is simply no room for duplicity under His watchful eye, and we cannot in any way distort God’s view of sin, certainly not by our foolish justifications. May the Lord empower us to admit our sins readily and abide by His standards.