Last Sunday we were privileged to have Rev Dr Stuart Brooking ministering to us on our second mission Sunday of the year. He challenged us to rethink missions.
The traditional approach was that we in the western world have got it and they do not have it, thus we take it to them. However, in the last 200 years missions have changed and Rev Dr Stuart Brooking shared three principles.
First, there are now churches in all countries, and some of the non-western world churches are very vibrant and strong; Christ is our Lord and also theirs. Christ has already disarmed powers and authorities (Colossians 2:15). The issues are (i) do we train, trust and empower the next generation, (ii) when we take the message of Christ to others, do we take our ethnicity/culture or do we take Christ, and what aspects of our ethnicity/culture needs to be conformed to Christ?
Secondly, the Holy Spirit is in our church and theirs (Romans 1:7; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1). When we go to a foreign country, are we convinced that the Spirit is there in their churches or are we suspicious? The question is are we there with a critical understanding or a critical spirit? We should not use our experience as the norm but go with love and understanding.
Thirdly, God is our generous father and theirs (2 Corinthians 8:13-15). There are now more Christians outside the west than in the west. God uses one part of the church in one era and another in a different time. For example, we need a strong African church now for Europe. As we do mission, we need to remember the above three principles which will help us to pray, make disciples, give, and appreciate God more. Hallelujah and God bless!
Pastor Boo Teong
John’s vision in Revelation 17-18 depicts the other woman – Babylon the Great, mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth. This is in contrast with Revelation 12-13 where John sees the woman that is faithful to God the mother of Jesus and those who hold to the testimony of Jesus. In 17-18 the woman is allied to the Beast whereas in 12-13 the woman is fleeing from the Beast. And no matter how dire the circumstances seem, or how great an evil may loom – John is reminded time and time again that God is victorious and as such God’s people are and will be victorious.
John pays careful attention to describe in detail the picture of the immoral woman and the beast. This is deliberate symbolism to show the reality of the world which is hell bent against God. Babylon is symbolic for those who are against the people of God. John is not trying to make a geographical or an ethnic and cultural comment here but rather is drawing on Israel’s history and her invasion and destruction at the hands of Babylon in the 6th century BC. And Babylon’s encroachment on Israel is as real as Rome’s encroachment on the Christians in the 1st century AD as it is for Christians under persecution today - worldwide.
Likewise the Beast is described in such a way to make clear and to prepare John’s readers that things are only going to go from bad to worse. The beast is symbolic of the powers and authorities that will rage against God and God’s people on earth and in fury will even rage and destroy the immoral woman. The heads, the hills, the horns, and the numerology involved all add to the picture of an even more terrifying and devastating force against Christians - one which the world has never seen before. And yet, this beast will come to nothing and will be triumphed over by the Lamb, who is Jesus, because Jesus is the Lord of lords and the King of Kings.
There are only 2 ways to live. In the world with God or in the world against God. With the Lamb or with the Beast. With the faithful woman or with the immoral woman. With salvation or with judgment. With victory or with defeat.
God is calling you to join him by trusting in His good plans and promises. So turn away from Babylon, leave that life of sin and be spared from the plagues that are to come – and take with you as many as you can!
How are you living today? How will you live forever?
Last Sunday we continued with Revelation 14-15 which is a great comfort in light of Revelation 12-13.
Revelation 12-13 ended with the dragon standing on the sea shore and out of the sea came the first beast followed by the beast out of the earth. They caused the inhabitants of the earth (non-Christians) to worship them and receive the mark of the beast. Revelation 14 opens with a vision of the Lamb (last seen opening the scroll in God’s throne room in Revelation 5:6-13; 6:1-12; 8:1) who is an antidote to the two beasts. The fact that the Lamb is standing undisturbed shows that all the evil the beasts have been allowed to do is powerless against the Lamb and his followers. The Lamb is on Mount Zion and this is significant as Mount Zion in the Old Testament is the place of God’s presence and salvation not only in the past but also at the end of history.
Other than Revelation, the other New Testament passage that speaks about Mount Zion is Hebrews 12:22-24 which is telling us that Christians on earth already have access to and are in some sense present at Mount Zion (heavenly Jerusalem) when the church is gathered for worship (Hebrews 10:19-22). Thus the vision of the Lamb on Mount Zion is telling of intimacy with Christ especially when in worship, and of life of heaven to which believers united in Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit have access to while still on earth.
The number 144,000 is symbolic of all God’s faithful people and they sang a new song which is a reference to God’s new acts of salvation. This was followed by the proclamations of three angel heralds. It symbolizes the testimony of the church up to the time when history reaches its climax.
The first message is the message of the eternal gospel, which is, “fear God and give him glory.” This means we are to repent, worship God and be joined to God’s people (Revelation 15:4; 16:9; 19:5-7) for God is the maker of the heavens and the earth. The second message about Babylon which signifies that all proud ambition and independence from God will fall. The last message is that all worship the beast will suffer the wrath of God, be consigned to the lake of fire (hell), and this punishment is eternal. The grain harvest signifies the gathering of the just (God’s people) and the grape harvest signifies judgment on the unjust (non-believers).
Revelation 15 tells us that believers, overcomers and the faithful will sing a new song, the Song of Moses and the Lamb in heaven. Hallelujah and God bless!
Pastor Boo Teong
Revelation 12-13 paints a very sobering and yet hopeful message of the Christian life. Sobering because it tells us that we are still at war and fighting a battle. But hopeful because it tells us that the decisive battle has been won by God through the life and ascension of Jesus and that it is only a matter of time before ultimate victory will be declared and enjoyed.
God has already won and it was never in doubt. The fight has never been a fair fight between God and Satan or the forces of good and evil. No! God is supreme and sovereign and as such even Satan is under the rule of God. Satan never even had a chance. But this doesn’t mean that Satan doesn’t give it his best shot. Indeed, as Satan realises he has lost he becomes even more desperate trying to destroy whatever that is left. Like a sore loser who throws a tantrum, Satan having been defeated and cast out of heaven seeks to wreak havoc on earth. Satan then enlists the help of 2 Beasts to snatch away the victory won by God – an unholy trinity of sorts.
Satan (the Red Dragon) having lost his place in heaven now seeks to have God’s people (the offspring of the Woman) lose their place in heaven as well. For Satan there is much more at stake here than just whether God’s people physically live or die. It’s a matter of eternal life or eternal death! That is to say: it is ultimately a matter of worship! And John is shown Satan’s strategy. In Revelation 13 this will take place in 2 ways. Non-God (Satanic) Worship will be through the 1st Beast of Power or through the 2nd Beast of Deception. God’s people will be threatened with their lives by the power of the 1st beast or deceived to compromise based on compelling false truths – did God really say that? On all fronts, Satan will challenge you to renounce God, renounce eternal life and ultimately renounce the victory that has already been won.
But my dear brothers and sisters, do not be shaken! Do not be overcome by the enemy but be victorious through patient endurance and faithfulness. Revelation 12:11 says that Christians triumph over Satan by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. So, you too may triumph over Satan by trusting in the once for all, sacrificial death of Jesus! It is finished!
Deuteronomy 6:5-9; Proverbs 22:6
Jesus said in Mark 9:37 “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.”
Last Sunday we had child dedication service and two children were dedicated. Before the dedication, we looked at Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and Proverbs 22:6 on bringing up children. In God’s church, parents and “significant others” (church members) are entrusted to bring up children in the way of the Lord. Children are God’s gift to parents (Genesis 33:5; Psalm 127:3).
When faced with the spiritual upbringing of our children, we sometimes are tempted to take the position that crèche and Sunday School teachers are specially trained and thus we leave this to them. However it is good to take heart from Deuteronomy 6:5-9 that we as parents have the primary responsibility to teach our children to love God and obey his commandments. This is reaffirmed in the greatest commandment in the New Testament in Matthew 22:37-39. Matthew 22:37-39 teaches the crucial first principles of parenting. We are to teach our children to (a) love God, (b) love others, and (c) love oneself.
Deuteronomy 6:7 asks us to “impress them” on our children. Konrad Lorenz, an Austrian ethologist, demonstrated the principle of imprinting, that is, the first three years of a child’s life are the most important; the younger a child is, the more impressionable they are and things taught to them when they are young will serve them into adulthood. The bible already taught us this in Proverbs 22: 6 “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it”. Thus we train our children from young to love God, love others, and love themselves. Galatians 6: 2, 5 asks us to train our children to carry their own load (things that they can do for themselves) and we carry their burdens (things they cannot do for themselves).
We also train our children in teamwork. We also ask God to show us the way to develop our children’s unattractive traits into useful qualities (eg from reckless and foolhardy, to being brave and courageous; from being a daydreamer and dawdler into being creative). Train our children too in good manners, chivalry and to serve (both at home and in church).
The training of children is by the parents and supported by “significant others” (church members) in church. We are also part of God’s church universal; thus we are also “significant others” to children in other parts of the world, especially to those who are in need or are orphans. God bless.
Pastor Boo Teong