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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Why Study The Old Testament

We live in the New Testament age; so why do we still study the Old Testament? It is important that firstly we remember that the Old Testament is as much the inspired word of God as the New Testament. Secondly, we need to be able to discern what we can learn from the Old Testament.

We can readily find reasons for studying the Old Testament. We shall look at them briefly.

Firstly, the Old Testament was written for our learning. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope (Romans 15:4).”

The lives of the Old Testament characters are examples and warnings to us. “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1Corinthians 10:11-12).”

There are important lessons to learn from the history of the Bible. The ancients experienced many of the struggles we do today, albeit in different forms. They struggled with sins, doubt and disobedience. They experienced the triumph of faith. Which of these do Christians across the world not experience today?

The following reasons are gleaned from 2Timothy 3:15-17. Some dubbed it, ‘The Seven-fold Work of the Word.’ “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture 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, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

The Scriptures that Paul affirmed as inspired, and which Timothy had known from young, is what we call today, the Old Testament.

It is able to make one wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple (Psa 19:7).”

It is not the Law of Moses that saves but the Messiah and His gospel the Law was pointing to. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5:39-40).”

“The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed; and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed”, so the ancient saying goes. Studying the Old Testament helps us to better understand and appreciate God’s great plan of salvation.

It is profitable for doctrine. We can learn much about who God is, what He has done for us and what He requires of us to do in the Old Testament. God does not change. He required faith coupled with obedience in the past as He does so now.

It is profitable for reproof. How often have we read of the ancient people of God losing sight of the covenant they shared with God, and He reproofed them for it? Today, as we journey to our heavenly home, we encounter similar pitfalls and temptations. The word of God continues to chastise us when we have erred.

It is profitable for correction. When the people of God strayed, He did not leave them in the lurch. He corrected them as a loving Father does His erring children. He showed them the way of repentance. Thank God that His loving kindness never ceases!

It is profitable for Instruction. The Scriptures teach us the way of holiness, without which no one can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). The psalmist declares, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1).”

It trains us to be perfect, i.e., spiritually mature. As we submit to God to obey His will, we gradually grow into family likeness with Him. In the Old Testament, God set apart Israel to be “a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation (Exodus 19:6).” Today, we who are in Christ are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people”, that we “should shew forth the praises of him who hath called (us) out of darkness into his marvellous light (1Peter 2:9).”

It thoroughly furnished us unto all good works. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God (Micah 6:8)?” God still requires His people today to do good. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).”

Yes, we should still study the Old Testament for its richness and benefits. There is so much we can learn from the Word of God. Let us not neglect it.

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The Good News of God

The first chapter of Romans clearly explains the tragedy of man in turning away from his Creator to the worship of creatures, and his subsequent degradation in sins most vile and abhorrent. The wrath of God was revealed from heaven, judgment is pronounced. “For the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23)…”

Many have argued and many more will argue, What about those who live good lives, those who do not indulge in the catalogue of sins listed by Paul? Is it just of God to punish them? This is a common argument. To search for an answer, let us consider sin for a moment. What is sin? Many will give the answer straight from 1John 3:4, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”

Throughout the Scriptures we see very clearly that man is created for the glory of God. The psalms are full of praise for and exaltation of God, for His mighty works in creation and His super-abounding love and mercy. Paul remarks in 1Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Consider, then, the attitude of transgressing the law in the light of God’s glory. Every act of sin is holding God Himself in contempt. It is failure to give Him the praise and glory that only He rightly deserves. You see, therefore, there is no categorizing sins as major’ or ‘minor’ sins. All acts of sin are hateful because they miss the mark, which is God’s glory.

Coming back to our initial question: What about those who live good lives? We may ask, To whom are they living good unto?

Unto themselves, or unto God? What is the end of their good lives? The glory of self or the glory of God? It is sad but nonetheless true that even the best, most morally upright person we know fall short of the greatest commandment to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength (Mark 12:30)…”

Yes, we commend and love these good folks for living good lives, and we pray that God takes notice of their good works, as He did with Cornelius (cf. Acts 10:1-4). But when we live not to the glory of God but to something or someone else, we miss the mark. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 10:23).”

It all sounds rather bleak but God has good news! The good news is “the gospel of God…concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:1, 3, 4).”

God is not vindictive, looking out for every opportunity to cast souls into hell, where they will burn in fire and brimstone for an eternity. That is the lie of the devil. He is going there himself and wants to drag as many with him as he can. Rather, God is love (1John 4:8).

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2Peter 3:9).”

God took it upon Himself to save mankind from sin and destruction. What is the extent of His love for man created in His image? “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 (John 3:16).”

Cornelius was a good man. But his goodness could not save him. God graciously took notice of his goodness and instructed him to invite Peter, “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved (Acts 11:14).” What are those words? It is the Gospel of Christ, the good news, “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth (Romans 1:16).”

Brethren, “this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you (1Peter 1:25).” You are “born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever (1Peter 1:23).”

What is the greatest ‘good news’ you have ever received? What comes first to your mind? Is it when he popped the question? Is it when she said yes? Is it that time when you found out a child is on the way? Or perhaps the promotion and career advancement? Or knowing you can finally afford the type of housing you desire?

The greatest good news is the Gospel of God! If the Gospel is not the greatest good news to you, I urge you to search your heart and find out why. Can there be anything more glorious than the Gospel? Without the Good News of God, all the other good news in our lives ultimately come to nothing. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (Mark 8:36)?”

Tell others the Good News of God. Tell them this is the greatest news there is ever given to man. Tell them of God’s love and of His Son Jesus Christ, tell them of His kingdom, the church. Tell them. They may reject you. They may mock you. But tell them nevertheless. If you are truly convinced – and every Christian should be – that the Gospel is the greatest news, it will be a joy to share it with others.

 


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The Tragedy of Man

Over the millennia mankind has always had the sense of a higher power, one which is above and beyond, transcendent, and responsible for bringing this amazing universe into existence. When man looks around him, above him and beneath him, he sees majesty, beauty and the awe-inspiring power of nature.

The celestial beings, the mighty waterfalls, the towering mountains, life and death in the seasons, flora and fauna – anyone with a keen eye and honest heart for the wonder of nature cannot help but be stirred within that surely some higher power, someone, must be behind it all.

The plight of man is that he looks upon all these and proceed to the great folly of suppressing the truth revealed in them of the One who made them all. What is the consequence that follows? The great displeasure of God.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (Rom 1:18-20).”

Man suppresses the truth of God by worshipping the things he beholds, rather than seeking God Himself.

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things (Rom 1:21-23).”

Man suppresses the truth of God also by denying His existence. Many today march under the banner of atheism and agnosticism, proudly boasting of their unbelief and contempt for all things ‘religious.’ Their only belief is in Man. Their only end is the glory of Man.

When man rejects God and seeks the lusts of his own heart, he degenerates. Rejecting the holy God who is the standard of all that is good, man runs in the opposite direction toward depravity. It is his choice. He has no excuse to blame anyone but himself. He is the victim of his own stupidity.

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful. Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rom 1:26-32).”

Looking at this world we live in today we see the massive political strides the LGBT movement and abortionists (I prefer to call them what they are, ‘murderers’) have made over the years, in addition to the greed so blatantly flaunted everywhere, and the rising rate of divorce. What difference do we spot between the worlds we and Paul live in, in spite of the two-thousand year gap?

It points to one thing: the world needs the gospel of Christ. People need the Lord. Things have not changed. Sin runs rampant and the only solution is still the one God has given us in His beloved Son – the gospel.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Rom 1:16).”

The power of sin is strong, no doubt. But the blood of Jesus is infinitely powerful. As Man has made the choice to reject and deny God in pursuit of the lusts of his own heart, so now he must choose to receive or reject the grace of salvation God is extending to him through the gospel.

My dear Christian man and woman, do we realise the glory of the mission we are given? Into our hands the gospel is given. Preach it, tell it, spread the word near and far. Can anything be more important than saving the souls of our fellow men and women? They are dying in their sins. The sands of time are running out. Can we bear to watch them inch closer toward eternal doom?


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By What Authority?

Authority. We all need it at every level of our life. Imagine a society without any semblance of authority. What will it look like? It will scarcely be any different from the days of the Judges of Israel. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6).”

It is impossible for anyone to live without some form of authority. For the person who claims liberty from all forms of authority, he is pathetically self-deceiving. He is, in fact, under the authority of his own opinion and feelings!

The value of a soul is above all the riches of this world. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul (Mark 8:36)?” If it is true that the gravity of a matter is directly proportionate to the value of that which is involved, we can appreciate then that in the matter pertaining to the eternal destiny of the soul, the question of authority is paramount.

The chief priests, scribes and elders of the Jews confronted Jesus over the good works He performed and demanded of Him, “By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things (Mark 11:28)?” Even these jealous folks could understand the importance of authority in religion. And so it is right for us to ask: By what authority should we abide if we are to be pleasing to God?

In the postmodern mindset so prevalent today, personal opinions are quite easily accepted as a legitimate standard of authority. After all, who is to say that my opinion matters more than yours? For the sake of political correctness, if our opinions differ, let us agree to disagree. It doesn’t matter as long as we both feel we are right.

Yes, in certain matters, personal opinions are just that. But what of the matter of the human soul? Remember that in the matter pertaining to the eternal destiny of the soul, the question of authority is paramount. God has something to say about personal opinions as authority regarding the way to heaven. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12).”

Alright, now what about feelings? “It can’t be wrong because it feels so right” seems to be a mantra the false god ‘Entertainment’ is drumming into the impressionable minds of the young and not-so-young. And so sexual promiscuity is celebrated with open audacity and shamelessness.

The apostle Paul was a man of passions just like us. There was a time when he burned with raging fury against anything and anyone related to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. In his zeal, he received authority (there is that unavoidable thing again!) from the chief priests to persecute the church (cf. Acts 26:9-11). Was he right? Did his strong and doubtlessly honest passion justify his behaviour and win him the approval of God? I trust none of us think so.

Another common standard of authority is traditions. Do our traditions necessarily make us pleasing to God? The Pharisees certainly thought so. They had a mountain of traditions designed to draw men closer to God. Well, what does the Lord have to say about that?

“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition (Mark 7:6-9).”

“If the line for that food is long, it must be good.” “If that book is on the bestseller list, it must be worth to read.” It is easy to just simply follow the majority. It is actually a form of laziness – the laziness to think carefully. Can we please God by simply following the opinion of the majority, however sincere and honest? Jesus says:

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14).”

Where does the majority lead in this case? To destruction. It doesn’t pay to be lazy and just follow now, does it?

Authority. We all need it at every level of our life. But even more so when it concerns matters of our soul and whether we are pleasing to God. By what authority do you believe and practise what you do? There is but one authority to abide by if we are to be approved by God. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).”

Pilate once asked Jesus without waiting for an answer: what is truth (cf. John 18:38). If he had waited, would the Lord perhaps tell him? But we do have the answer in the Lord’s prayer: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17).”

We do have an authority. It is our sole authority in religion. Now the question is: Do we abide by it?