Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."

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The Crying Preacher Part 2

Paul cried when he thought of his enemies
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:18). Who were these enemies? They were either Judaizers who denied the value of the cross (Galatians 5:11; Galatians 6:12, 14) or Epicurean antinomians whose loose living denied the effectiveness of the cross (1 John 2:4).

Paul derived no joy from finding hypocrites in the church. It only brought him sadness. He was sad because:
       •  They were destroying their own souls.
       •  They were disappointing God.
       •  They were injuring Christ’s cause, and giving occasion to the “enemies of
           the Lord to speak reproachfully.”

Paul wept because there were many who opposed the message of the cross. It was bad enough to have had one working against the church, but it was much worse to have a team of enemies. This reminds us that we should not base our convictions on a census or popularity poll. “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). Christ has a “little flock” (Luke 12:32), and the narrow way has “few” (Matthew 7:14). 

Paul did not keep his sorrow and concerns to himself. He told them often of the enemies of the cross. Matthew Henry observes that “we so little heed the warnings given us that we have need to have them repeated.” When it comes to warnings, there is safety in numbers: “To write the same things . . . is safe” (Philippians 3:1).

Paul cried when the gospel was hindered
“Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews” (Acts 20:19). The opposition of the Jews caused him to weep, although not out of fear of personal danger. He wept because the Jews were impeding his progress in winning souls to Christ.

Paul cried when he thought of his friends’ trials
Paul cared for those he had converted and those in the churches he had established. He said to Timothy, “Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy” (2 Timothy 1:4). It is hard to imagine Paul’s thinking of Timothy’s tears without tearing up himself. Paul is the one who wrote that Christians should “weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).

Jesus pronounced a blessing on the merciful (Matthew 5:7). Barclay says the word mercy there means the ability to “get right inside the other person until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind and feel things with his feelings.” It is similar to our word sympathy.Sympathy is derived from two Greek words, syn which means “together with” and pascheinwhich means “to experience or to suffer.” Sympathy means “experiencing things together with the other person”—literally going through what he is going through.

Many people are so concerned with their own feelings that they are not much concerned with the feelings of anyone else. When they are sorry for someone, it is, as it were, from the outside; they do not make the deliberate effort to get inside the other person’s mind and heart, to see and feel things as he sees and feels them (Philippians 2:4-5).

In Jesus Christ, in the most literal sense, God got inside man’s eyes, felt things with man’s feelings, and thought things with man’s mind. God knows what life is like because God came right inside life (John 1:14; Philippians 2:6-7). The Latin word for mercy is very expressive:misericordia, composed of two words miseria, “misery,” and cor, “heart;” meaning a “pain in the heart.” It refers to a heart touched and pained at the misery of another; a tender heart. Mercy counts another’s misery as his own, and is sad at another’s grief, as if it were his own. The Sioux Indians prayed: “Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked two weeks in his moccasins.”

After listing a number of physical persecutions he had endured, Paul said, “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28). He mentions this last, as if to say that this lay heaviest upon him, and as if he could better bear all the persecutions of his enemies than the scandals that were to be found in the churches he loved.

This continual press of business—the cases to be heard and solved, relative to the doctrine, discipline, persecution, and supply of all the churches—was taxing. On a more personal level, many of them were young Christians; others were older but had not matured. Several churches were composed of both Jews and Gentiles, with conflicting prejudices, habits, and preferences. Besides this, they were persecuted, and in their sufferings Paul felt deep sympathy.

What kept Paul going under such circumstances? He believed that all these things would lead to something good (Romans 8:28). He kept fondly dreaming of heaven and the reward he would receive there. Awaiting him there was:
       •  A crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8; cf. 1 Corinthians 9:25; 
           James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10).
       •  Eternal life (1 Timothy 6:12; Titus 1:2).
       •  The acceptance of Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:9).

What burdens Paul carried, and how gladly he carried them! He said, “I will gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more I love, the less I be loved” (2 Corinthians 12:15). He was always giving himself eagerly, gladly. His life was a daily dying (1 Corinthians 15:31).

Being so burdened with all these concerns, was Paul not miserable? No, it is strange to say; his song rang in the prison cells (Acts 16:25; 2 Corinthians 7:4). He wrote, “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation . . . For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).

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The Crying Preacher Part 1

When we read the New Testament closely, we cannot help but be impressed with the frequency of Paul’s tears. With the possible exception of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, Paul shed more tears than any other Bible character. By his own admission he cried “day and night” (Acts 20:31) and had continual sorrow in his heart (Romans 9:2).

While Paul knew the inside of numerous Roman prisons (Philippians 1:13), and while there was scarcely a square inch of his body that did not bear a scar (Galatians 6:17), it was not personal hardship and self-pity that caused him to weep. It was love and concern for others and the welfare of the church. At the same time, even with all his strength of mind and his courage in the face of danger, Paul was not ashamed to weep.

Paul cried when he thought of the spiritual condition of his nation

Paul grew up as a patriotic Jew. His family in Tarsus was as orthodox as any in Jerusalem. They even went to the hardship of sending him all the way to Jerusalem to go to college in the finest Jewish University in the world where he sat at the feet of Gamaliel. There he was “taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers” (Acts 22:3).

One can imagine, then, his horror at thinking that his own people were rejecting their Savior and God’s plan for saving them. He had “great heaviness and continual sorrow” in his heart (Romans 9:2).

       •  His grief was great. The word used here for “sorrow” could be rendered “pain,”
           even “consuming” pain such as a woman has in childbirth.
       •  His grief was continual. This does not mean that he was literally all the time
           pressed down with this sorrow, but that whenever he thought on this subject,
           he had great grief.
       •  His grief was personal. It was seated in his heart, not just on the surface.

What about us? As we see the widespread sin of our nation and its declining spirituality, do tears fill our eyes? Do we possess the kind of patriotism that runs deeper than just cheering for our national teams in the Olympics and our federal army in wars? Do we sincerely love the people of our land enough to wish them all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)? Like God, are we “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)?

There is power in national penitence, as the people of Nineveh learned (Jonah 3:1-10). Much contemplation of the phrases of 2 Chronicles 7:14 would benefit our land today: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Paul cried when he preached

Most preachers tear up sometimes while preaching. Paul seems to have done so all the time. He reviewed his thirty-six months of preaching among the Christians in Ephesus with this summary statement: “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31). He also warned them that “of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).

What does Paul’s example show about preaching, and especially about exhortation?

       •  Paul was faithful in warning. I ceased not to warn . . . Like a faithful watchman,
           Paul warned them of the danger he saw on the horizon (Ezekiel 33:6-7).
       •  Paul was impartial in warning. He warned “everyone” . . . old and young, new
           converts and elders, publicly and privately, those who believed him and those
           who doubted him. As all received admonition from Paul, Paul encouraged
           other preachers to be just as impartial: “I charge thee before God, and the
           Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without            preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality” (1 Timothy 5:21).
       •  Paul was constant in warning. Daily he spoke to those around him or wrote
           letters of warning. At night, instead of resting, perhaps he prayed for those he
           could not reach. Both “night and day,” he expressed concern for their souls.
       •  Paul was untiring in his warning (Ezekiel 3:18-21). He “ceased not.”

Paul was compassionate in his warning. He warned “with tears . . . .” He put himself in their place, sat where they sat, and saw the world through their eyes. 

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Is the Church Jesus Built on Earth Today?

We are not interested in a church that is like the church Jesus built any more than we are interested in a Savior like the Son of God. He either is or He isn’t; it either is or it isn’t. A cow is like a horse in that it has four legs and a tail, but a cow is not a horse. A monkey is like a man in that they are mammals who walk on two legs, but a man is no monkey. The worship of Cain and Abel was similar (both worshipped same God, at the same time, in response to blessings), but Cain’s was rejected, and Abel’s was accepted (Gen 4:4-5; He 11:4). Tares and wheat were close in appearance, but one was edible and desirable, and the other was poisonous and hated (Mat 13:24-30)1.

We are interested in finding the same church Jesus promised Peter He would build (Mat 16:18). On that occasion, Peter did not say that Jesus was “like” the Son of God. He called Him “the Son of the living God” (Mat 16:16).

Since it is not possible for any church to prove historically it has existed from the time of the New Testament2, is it even possible that the New Testament church still exists today? Yes, because it is not necessary to trace a line of succession back two thousand years. That possibility is easily proved by considering three simple principles. Come, “let us reason together” (Isa 1:18).

Consider the seed principle

If we wanted Alabama tomatoes in Texas, would we need a row of tomatoes stretching across Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and into Texas? No, just take the seeds from Alabama to Texas, plant them, and they will grow. The succession of the plant is in the seed, not in the row. One of God’s eternal laws is that a seed produces “after his kind” (Gen 1:11-12). When we plant beans we reap beans, not watermelons or corn; when we plant a peach seed it can produce only a peach tree, nothing else. Paul used this fact to illustrate a spiritual lesson: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7). All institutions on earth—from Chinese Communism to Dell computers, from pro football to the army—are perpetuated by their “seeds” (doctrines). So are all religious organizations. Each has a body of doctrine which it plants as seed. What is planted (taught) determines what grows.

“The seed is the word of God” (Lu 8:11). When it was planted in the first century it produced Christians (individually) and Christ’s church (collectively). Let’s apply the seed principle to today’s religious situation:

•  Do we have the same seed today as what was planted in New Testament
times? Yes, we have the Bible (1Pe 1:22-25)?
•  Has the seed become inert? No, it is very much alive (He 4:12).
•  Do we have the same soil? Yes, human hearts are still waiting to be
taught (Matthew 13:19-23). When the same seed is planted in sincere
hearts today, it grows the same thing that it did then—Christians (Ac 2:22-47;
Ac 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16). What else could it produce?
•  What church (collection of Christians) will the seed produce? The same one it
produced then, the one Jesus died to purchase, over which He reigns, and
which bears His name (Ac 20:28; Rom 16:16).

The perpetuation of the church is in the pattern, not in the history of following it. It is in the seed, not in a perennial crop. It makes no difference how long the gospel seed may have been stored. If there had not been a church upon the earth after the New Testament order for a thousand years, so long as God’s Word still survived, then Christ’s church would sprout up at any time when people read, understood, and obeyed it.

Consider the codebook principle

A game, government, or gadget can be reproduced if its specifications are preserved in a book or computer. If there were no Monopoly board on earth, but a diagram and rules were discovered, it could be recreated in a short time. If the planet’s last television finally ceased to flicker, a talented person could take a description of it and make another one. If communism conquered democracy all over the world, a future “Continental Congress” could take our Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, and a high school government textbook and begin to govern a free people yet unborn.

This is what the Bible is. Paul wrote, “Let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Php 3:16; cf. 2Ti 3:16-17). It is simply the “rules” of Christianity. It is the diagram of what a church is to look like. It is the textbook of the Christian religion. Thus, in any place a Bible is read, understood, believed, and obeyed the church will come into existence. This will happen regardless of whether a church has ever existed there before, is in existence at the time anywhere else, or even if it has been extinct for a century.

Consider the restoration principle

Many people like to restore old automobiles or antebellum homes. They get the original plans and painstakingly restore the car or house as it was in the beginning. Such a restoration is occurring presently on Thomas Jefferson’s summer home in Forest, Virginia. Those involved even test the soil to determine what kind of trees and bushes were originally planted near the house, so they can replant the same plants in the same places.

Isaac began a similar restoration project in the days of the patriarchs. The Bible records, “And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them” (Gen 26:18).

A spiritual restoration project has been done with Christ’s church. Christ set the water of life flowing from the wellspring of His church. Over the centuries, it slowly became stopped up by man’s teachings. Man became thirsty for more than tradition, Protestantism, and cults. He longed for the satisfying water of the original well. Restorers consulted the original blueprint within the pages of the New Testament and began to dig again the original doctrines. One by one they identified first century practices and called them by their original names (1Pe 4:11). Careful workers eventually restored the church just as it was then—the same plan of salvation, organization, officers, order of worship, love and zeal, and moral teachings.

1.  This section is adapted from an undated, unsigned article in the author’s files.
2.  Most do not attempt to, but three claim succession back to the apostles: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox. These cannot prove a claim from objective historical records. The better question is, “To what do they trace themselves?” (cf. Ac 20:28-31; 1Ti 4:1-7; 2The 2:4-12).

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The Bed is Too Short and the Cover is Too Narrow

“Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it” (Isaiah 28:14-20).

Israel had departed from God and was comfortable in her sins. God sent a warning by the prophet Isaiah to warn Israel relative to their sinful condition. They had made a “covenant with death” that the destruction that was coming would not affect them. God, however, had “disannulled” their covenant. Relative to their condition, God said; “For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it” (Isaiah 28:20).

The bed was too short and the cover was too narrow! Have you ever tried to sleep on a bed that was so short you could not stretch yourself upon it? Have you ever tried to cover yourself with covering that was too narrow? Now, have you ever had both of these conditions at the same time? It would be a cramped and cold situation! Judgement was coming upon Israel. Within in few decades of Isaiah’s prophecy, Assyria came against Israel and took them into captivity.

There is another judgement day coming. This is the final judgement in which all the nations will be gathered together before the judgement seat of Christ. “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory” (Matthew 25:31). “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2Corinthians 5:10). Many will realize their bed is too short and their cover is too narrow. Who are some of these?

Atheists do not believe in God and consequently do not believe Christ is God. God had the Psalmist to write; “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (Psalm 14:1).

Many of the Jews, though they believed in God, did not believe in Christ. John wrote; “He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11). In fact, they had Christ crucified. But Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God! Their bed is too short and their cover is too narrow.

Many are the preachers who tell people believe in Christ and accept Him into their hearts and they will be saved. While the Bible does tell us that faith is essential to salvation, it is not the only condition for the remission of sins. Jesus tells us that we must also “repent.” He said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). One must confessChrist, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). And, one must “be baptized” in order to be saved. The Bible records, ”Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”(Acts 2:38). Jesus says; “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Those that have not obeyed what the Lord has said will find that their bed is too short and their cover is too narrow.

“Nominal Christians” are those who are Christians in name only. Such “serve” Christ when it is convenient for them. These have no true convictions or dedication relative to serving God. They attend worship services when they want to instead out of deep devotion to God. They live lives that make them a “good – ole Joe”, but not a faithful child of God. Such people need to be converted. Following Jesus requires surrender: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Every branch in Christ that doesn’t bear fruit will be cut off, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit” (John 15:1-2). Nominal Christians will find that their bed is too short and their cover is too narrow.

Let’s make sure that our bed is made according to God’s specifications. Then, and only then, can we lie down in peace and sleep. “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

~ Billy Bland ~