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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Pattern Religion

Victor M. Eskew

God has given us a pattern for obedience, a pattern for the church, a pattern for worship, and a pattern for work. Strict compliance with that pattern produces Christians only, Scriptural worship only and Scriptural work only. The real legitimacy of Christianity rests in strict adherence to the pattern.

“Either God’s Word is that pattern or there is no pattern… If God’s Word is intended to be a pattern it is a perfect pattern, for God cannot be charged with imperfection, and following it is important — yes, absolutely essential. If God’s Word is not intended to be a pattern, then it doesn’t matter what we are or what we do, in religion, nor does it matter whether we are anything, or do anything.”

When the above words were written, most members of the church agreed with this teaching. Since then, however, many have departed from the above thinking. They would ridicule the idea of “pattern” religion.

GOD ALWAYS HAD A PATTERN. God’s giving man a pattern to follow is not a new concept. In the days of Noah, God gave this righteous man a pattern to follow whereby he and his house could be saved. “Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it without with pitch. And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: the length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it” (Gen 6:14-16). Here God gave Noah a specific plan to follow. Noah did not rebel against God. He did not speak evil of God’s pattern. Rather, he yielded himself completely to God’s instructions. “Thus did Noah according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen 6:22).

God also gave a pattern to Moses by which the tabernacle was to be built. In the book of Exodus, we read of God’s command to Moses to make the tabernacle according to the pattern he had been given. And the Lord spake unto Moses saying…let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the

Pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it: (Exo 25: 1-9) Moses, like Noah, complied with the Lord’s pattern without murmuring and complaining. In Exodus 40, the tabernacle was erected. Verse 33 closes with these words: “So Moses finished the work.”

A PATTERN TODAY. God has not left man without a pattern today. That pattern is found in the Scriptures. “All scriptures is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2Tim 3:16-17).

God has given man a pattern to follow so that he can be saved from his sins. That pattern includes hearing the Word of God, believing that Jesus is God’s Son, repenting of sins, confessing the name of Christ, and being baptized for the remission of sins. He has given a pattern for worship, church organization, Christian living, and the home. The list is endless.

CONCLUSION. God did not intend for man to grope about in darkness with no pattern to follow. He did not intend for each man to make his own pattern. Therefore, He gave man the pattern He wanted men to follow. Man’s responsibility involves his doing all things according to that pattern. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt 7:21)

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A Hero of Faith, Simon Peter

How do we define a hero? A person who appears at the right time to do an extraordinary thing, like the ones who appeared in fairy tales? Must heroes be brave people who save others in times of trouble? To me, Simon Peter of the Bible is a hero but he is always seen as a very rash person.

We can see from John 18:10 that he was very angry with the servant of the high priest for arresting Jesus, so he cut off his ear with a sword. He would always try to defend Jesus, always first to answer any question and first to rebuke others. He was also one who made several mistakes in life as an apostle.

In Mat 14:25-31, Jesus was walking on the sea one night. The disciples saw Him and thought that they had seen a spirit. But Jesus assured them that it was Him whom they saw. Peter, as usual being a rash person, was the first to suggest to Jesus that he would like to walk on the water toward Jesus. He stepped out of the boat and started walking. He was doing fine at the beginning. But later, when he saw the storm and waves of the sea, he was frightened and he started to sink so he cried out for help. He failed. He did not finish his walk on the sea. He was so confident that he could walk on the sea initially. But after meeting with the dangers around him, he fell. But did he give up after that? I suppose he didn’t because we can continue reading from the Bible about Peter’s walk with Jesus.

In Matthew 26:34-35, Jesus told Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. But Peter confidently said that he would never do such a thing as to deny Jesus. He was very sure of himself and so enthusiastic in answering back. But he failed again. Indeed, he denied Jesus three times. In Mat 26:75, Peter realized that what Jesus said was true. He was very sad when he realized his own mistake after the rooster crowed for the third time. Did he give up his faith because of that? Did he think he was imperfect because he let Jesus down and therefore no longer fit to serve Him and had to leave Jesus?

No indeed!

On the day of Pentecost, Peter taught the crowd boldly about Jesus whom the people crucified. He led the people the way to the kingdom of God which door he opened as promised by Christ (Matt 16:19). On that day, three thousand souls were baptized for the remission of sins. Peter did not give up. He pulled himself together and did great things for God.

We as Christian do meet with failures too. Just like Peter who was challenged by the waves of the sea, we can be challenged by the failures in life. We sometimes set out to do something for God, but we failed. We tried to do righteous things but sometimes we are defeated by Satan. Are we to give up doing what God wants us to do because we fail and we are too ashamed to continue? Below are some of the things that may dampen our spirits, as Christians, and cause us to give up doing what is right.

Rejection by members

We want to treat everyone as nicely as possible. But sometimes, the same is not reciprocated to us. We wonder why it is that while we are friendly to all yet people have to treat us in a nasty way in return. We do not understand and we start to doubt whether what we are doing is right. Yes, people may reject us, but God does not. He is always there for us. He has promised the crown of life to those who are faithful and those who do His will (Rev 2:10). As long as we carry out His will, we can be assured that we are doing the right things even though the results may not be what we expected.

Peter is a hero to me. Although he did not do something great and mighty like the heroes we read from fairy tales, but he was one who did not bow to failures. Failures made him stronger and want to do more. He failed and he stood up again. He was rash but he wasn’t discouraged. Should we also learn from this hero that we are imperfect people and we need to strengthen ourselves in all aspects?

Unaccomplished tasks

Sometimes we plan to do something good. We help in certain committees because we want to serve God. But we could not complete the task given to us due to various reasons. Or it could be that we did not do it as well as we expected. So we are discouraged by the fact that we have not done our best for God.

Criticisms from people

Sometimes, we try to do our best to help, but we get scolded or criticized by people. We feel like as though we are maligned for doing something wrong. The solution is that if we are truly affected by the criticism, clarify with the person who made those remarks and think about whether the criticisms are true. If they are true, then we can think about how we can improve ourselves so that next time, we can serve the Lord better. Whether the criticism is brought forward to us in a tactful way or not, is not really that important (Pro 9:8-9).

Of course, there are many other factors that will deceive us into thinking that we are failures. But the point that I want to point out is that failures can serve as stepping stones to success. Even an apostle like Peter made mistakes. Most importantly, the danger is not about making mistakes, but rather the great danger is when we cannot come to terms with failures and we fall away because of that.

Peter is a hero to me. Although he did not do something great and mighty like the heroes we read from fairy tales, but he was one who did not bow to failures. Failures made him stronger and want to do more. He failed and he stood up again. He was rash but he wasn’t discouraged. Should we also learn from this hero that we are imperfect people and we need to strengthen ourselves in all aspects?

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Don’t Leave God Out

The wise king Solomon in his book, Ecclesiastes, clearly stated there is a time for everything in our life. If we look at our life, we know this to be true. There is a time to grow physically, time to study, time to get a job, time to settle down and have children, there is also time to grow old and finally a time to die (Ecc 3:1-8). In between all these times in our lives, there will be many times of joy and our share of the times of pain, anguish and disappointments.

Indeed today, we are caught up in a rat race to excel in almost everything we do. Previously it was good enough to pass our examinations but now, it is the age of scoring distinctions, learning to play the piano, organ etc. Previously when we got ourselves a house, it became our home, our abode of happiness but now, it is a question of the size of the house, is it a 4-room, 5-room, executive, etc. Getting a job has also become a sophisticated search fro higher wages, benefits, promotions, etc. Today, we are brought up in the computer age and much new advancement that indirectly place more emphases on human excellence. Recently, there was extensive coverage on the emerging problem of stress-related illnesses in our mass media. Asia magazine devoted almost its entire coverage on stress in Asia.

This quest for excellence and to be No. 1 has sadly led to the decline of the family as the basic unit of society. Today, we have many broken homes, neglected children, alcoholism, bankrupts, etc. More importantly, in the quest for survival, people by and large have neglected God.

The present state of affairs tends to imply that man feels that he only needs himself to survive, that he alone is the master of his own destiny, thus a breeding ground for humanism. God is thought of as a faraway, distant concept that has no effect on man. The younger people who join the job market today have no time for the Supreme One, trusting only self. It does seem that people only turn to God when they are completely helpless, stricken by illness, failures in their personal life, etc.

The Bible clearly, and without doubt, teaches that there is life after death and that the life we now lead will determine what is in store for us.

People who live their own life without God or with a superficial relationship with God live it to their destruction. There will be no second chance. Some people leave it to the twilight years of their life before turning to God when they see death’s dark shadow approaching. What is the use of giving God aged service and late reverence when God really demands strength and vigour of our younger days?

There are many who think that their life is secure up to 50, 60, 70 or more years. The inspired book of James talks of life as a vapour that today is and tomorrow will be no more (Jas 4:14). Who is to say that anyone will be alive the next day? Does accident, cancer, heart attacks seem foreign to anyone?

In conclusion, I say, obey God now and live forever. Death is not the end at all; it is only the beginning of another chapter with God or eternal punishment without God. Let us not take living for granted. Let us find the time for everything. There is a time for God. It is not only on Sundays but everyday, a daily living with God and His living word, the Bible.

The 1993 Story Continues

It’s now Jan 2003. I was asked to write a follow-up to my article of May 1993. 10 years had sailed away. As I took stock from 93 to 03 and looked again at the article, I am not surprised that many things have indeed not changed! By and large people are still leaving GOD out of their plans, their decisions, their lifestyle and their daily living. GOD is still being looked upon as just another item, sought only when we get into difficulties; an insurance policy at best.

I’m sure if a survey was done island wide in S’pore we will find more yearnings for GOD. Why? Because of the economic crisis, job insecurities, anxieties and stress. In 1993 the situation was almost the same as it is now. Conclusion – people don’t really change, do they?

One thing that bothers me a lot is why seemingly very intelligent people educated with good jobs cannot accept the existence of the GOD of the Bible but they can believe myths and fables of the world religions. There is another group who accepts all the denominational teachings and is unable to rightly divide the word of GOD. They can’t even understand that the authority for today is the NT and that the OT was for our learning only. I was talking to a scholar last week and he was talking about instrumental music and dance of the OT being used today for worship. How sad. They practise “buffet” teachings – take what they like from the OT and leave those things which do not fit in – so instrumental music is in, dance is ok, circumcision no need; all the OT feast and sacrifices no need…”buffet” style indeed. We order the “set meal” laid out by God, we take the main dish from the NT. My own personal take on this is that the majority of those who call themselves Christians don’t really care about such issues as authority, doing things the authorized way etc. They are happy to just listen to their earthly pastors and clergy to lead them.

The teachings and being right in God’s sight is not at all important to them; just love GOD and be sincere. Basic Bible teachings such as believe and be baptized are brushed aside. I urge the Christians at JCOC to be determined to follow the old paths and increase in their wisdom by continuing in their study of god’s word. Be vigilant and defend the faith from false teachings and learn to trust GOD always. We are in this world but we are not of this world, we are Christians during good times and bad times, all our life is a challenge to be loyal to GOD. We should not be envious when our neighbours prosper, when our friends get their promotions, when we are sabotaged, when we feel let down. GOD has his plans for us. We should not compare JCOC with the massive crowds that attend the ‘fun and joy’ churches, where doctrine and the deep teachings are swept aside for entertainment value and the “feel good” factor. An ex-JCOC member whom I met at a wedding recently is attending one of the newly created churches. She said that she is very happy there, because they can come and go as they please, with no real commitments needed.

If it is god’s will, perhaps 10 years from now, I may be called upon to write another follow-up on this article, I guess you already know that things will still be the same 1993, 2003 or 2013…

May the peace of our GOD be upon all our JCOC members.

Written by Ullas Nair
First published on 16th May 1993.

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The Authority Principle

IS GOD FAIR? Out of the multitude of God’s servants of all times, Moses would surely be ranked in the top ten, if not in the top five. He was a great man in many ways. He was a natural leader — a military commander, a nation-builder, a prophet! Moses was a man whom God used mightily — a legend in his own time.

It was Moses who for 40 years led the murmuring, complaining Israelites toward the promised land. Without Moses’ prayerful intercessions, God would have given up on that sinful nation. Any lesser man than Moses could not have accomplished what he did. Israel never had another leader like him (Deu. 34:10).

Yet after almost a century of service, after trials and triumphs, after 40 long years of leading a rebellious multitude through the wilderness, Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land of rest (Deu 34:1-4). How could this happen? Why would God turn His back on a servant like Moses? Numbers 20:1-13 gives the reason.

GOD’S COMMAND: It is the first month of the fortieth year of wandering. The people have almost reached their promised land. Moses’ job is almost finished. The entire Israelite community has arrived at the Desert of Zin; but there was no water.

The people blamed Moses. They murmured; they complained; they quarreled. Moses took the problem to God in prayer. God told Moses what to do: “Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink” (Num 20:8). For the most part, Moses obeyed God explicitly. He took the staff and assembled the people before the particular rock that God had mentioned; but then he departed from God’s specific instruction. Instead of speaking to the rock as God commanded, Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff (Num 20:11).

GOD’S REACTION: Men are tempted to want to excuse Moses for what may seem like such a “little thing”. But the Lord said to Moses, “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Num 20:12). Moses disobeyed God! God authorized speaking to the rock. Moses substituted striking the rock. Moses sinned. God punished.

WHAT LESSON DO WE LEARN? God’s reaction to Moses’ sin should teach us something. Only the things God has authorized are acceptable to Him as worship. God is the authority. Any additions, any subtractions, any substitutions to His word dishonor and displease Him. This AUTHORITY PRINCIPLE is stated in the New Testament. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Col3:17). “In the name of Jesus” simply means by His authority. Only by doing what God has authorized can man please God.

Let’s be specific. Only unleavened bread and fruit of the vine are authorized as elements of the Lord’s supper (Mat 26:17-30). Anything else is excluded. Pizza and Pepsi would be sinful if added to the Lord’s table. Only immersion is authorized for baptism (Rom 6:4). Sprinkling and pouring are not authorized and cannot be substituted. Prayer is to be offered to God the Father (Mat 6:9). Prayers to the Virgin Mary, dead saints, or the apostles of Jesus are not authorized and therefore wrong. Christians are commanded to sing certain kinds of songs with the heart and lips in worship to God (Col 3:16). When a banjo, guitar, or piano is added to God’s command, God must surely be displeased because He has only authorized singing.

Lacking of Biblical authority, then, is what makes Auricular Confession, baptizing of images, baptizing of infants, canonization of saints, celibacy of the clergy, lighting of blessed lamps and vestments, sprinkling for baptism, using musical instruments in worship, and a hundred other things that God has not authorized, wrong. Their authority derives not from God but from men.

GOD IS FAIR: Moses knew what God wanted but he substituted something else. He deserved the punishment he received. Man can know what God wants today. The New Testament is a pattern (Heb 8:5) of what God expects. Any deviations from God’s pattern are sinful and deserve His judgment.