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 Destructive Sin of Envy

A child of God needs to be vigilant against envy. We read in Rom 13:13 that as saints we must “walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying (Rom 13:13).”

Envy is a sign of a worldly mind-set. “For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men (1Co 3:3)?”

Envy can potentially lead to terrible consequences. It is the opposite of a sound heart, and likened to rottenness. “A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones (Pro 14:30).”

Envy Ends in Tragedy

Cain was envious of Abel, whose sacrifice was accepted whereas his own was rejected. Cain allowed his envy to fester and it became bloodlust, even against his own brother. It eventually led to murder (cf. Gen 4:4-8).

The priests and Pharisees were envious of Jesus. They were more concerned about their own security than the truth, more fearful of the Romans than of God (cf. John 11:47-48). It did not escape Pilate that it was out of envy that the priests had Jesus falsely accused with the intent of murdering him (cf. Mat 27:17-18).

Envy led to evil scheming and premeditated, cold-blooded murder. Worse than that, it led to the rejection of the Messiah.

The Jews were envious of Paul and Barnabas when they saw the multitude gathered to hear the missionaries. They spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming (cf. Act 13:45). Not only that, but “moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar… (Act 17:5).”

Envy Ends in Judgment

Envy not only leads to tragedies, it leads to judgment from God. Envy is one of the sins listed by Paul in Rom 1:29-32 that bring the wrath of God upon this sinful world. Furthermore in Gal 5:19-21, Paul expressly states envy as a sin which bars men from inheriting the kingdom of God.

Guarding Against Envy

Envy and humility are incompatible. A humble spirit helps to guard us against envy. Paul exhorted the Philippian saints:

“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 (Php 2:3-4).”

Paul went on and gave them the greatest example of humility – the Lord Jesus.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Php 2:5-8).”

The second guard against envy is contentment. “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee (Heb 13:5).”

Paul learned through his many sufferings how to be content.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me (Php 4:11-13).”

The apostle wrote to his protégé, Timothy, to encourage him. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1Ti 6:6-8).”

Envy is a terrible thing! It can disqualify us from entering heaven and cost us our souls. But thank God we can stand firm against this sin. He has made it possible for us to do so. Let us continue to cultivate humility and contentment in the likeness of Christ.

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Blessed is the Man who Endures

Baptism is not the end but the beginning of the journey of faith. There have been people who left the faith because they weren’t aware that the journey of faith demands endurance.

Some have the idea that after they become Christians, things will magically become easier because now God is obligated to bless them. Others mistakenly think that they can continue in the same lifestyle and mentality from the time before they were Christians. When the reality of the journey of faith hits, they were unprepared to endure.

Temptation

James says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (Jas 1:12).”

Everyone faces temptations. Being tempted, of course, is not sin. Christians seem to experience temptations more acutely because now we are aware that things are different.

We are no longer of this world but citizens of heaven (cf. Php 3:20). We now understand that sin is breaking God’s law and an offense against Him first and foremost (cf. 1Joh 3:4). We must therefore endure temptations. James goes on to say:

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (Jas 1:13-14).”

When we endure and overcome temptations, there is something more we can do. The temptations we face reveal areas in life we need to work on. ‘Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust.’

If a civil servant does not harbour greed, he will not be tempted with bribery. If I am usually tempted to use angry words at anyone who disagrees with me, it tells me something about me. I need to work and improve on these areas. Temptations along these lines will reduce as I continue to grow in godliness.

Persecution

Persecution may be something we think we do not experience very much here. However, persecution can come in many forms in different degrees. Paul says “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2Ti 3:12).”

We might not be driven from our homes and communities but we might be looked upon as odd. Perhaps no one will stone us but some might mock and insult us. These may not sound like much but over time they may have a wear-and-tear effect on a Christian, like the constant dripping of water wearing out a stone. It becomes wearisome to endure even these ‘little’ persecutions. We must learn to endure persecution, whatever its shape and form. The Lord says,

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you (Mat 5:11-12).”

Sound Doctrine

We may not think much of this but Christians ought to endure sound doctrine. In John 6 Jesus was teaching the Jews about the bread which came down from heaven. In v. 60 we read, “Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?”

The sad result of the Jews attitude is in v. 66. “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” Timothy was told:

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2Ti 4:2-4).”

Chastening

Our parents disciplined us for our own good because they love us. Our heavenly Father does the same. Hebrews explains it best:

“And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Heb 12:5-11).”

The journey of faith is an active one. A Christian must learn to endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2Ti 2:3). As we endure temptation and persecution, humble ourselves and learn sound doctrine and receive chastening, we continue to grow in maturity.


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God Has Good News for Us

We love to share and receive good news. Sharing and receiving good news with friends and loved ones, at times even with strangers, is an uplifting experience. I recall a friend some years ago showing off his newborn baby girl all around the hospital ward. The joy was infectious; smiles spread across the faces of everyone who saw the proud daddy and his beautiful little princess. And yes, I was moved by the sight!

Good news comes in all sizes. It might be life altering or just a beam of sunshine in an otherwise dreary day. But all of us can appreciate the moment of positivity and sometimes even hope it brings.

What is the greatest good news you have received? What is the greatest good news you have shared? I’m sure it must be significant, one not soon to forget.

God has good news to share with all mankind. The Bible calls it ‘gospel’, which essentially means ‘good news’. I’d like to share with you the significance of this good news God has for all of us. It has direct bearing upon you and me so please take a moment and think about it.

“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. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (Rom 1:16-17).”

The first significance we notice is that the power behind the good news of Christ is the power of God. Not of governments, not of the rich and famous; not of the socially influential. It is the power of God. “…for it is the power of God…”

We cannot get any higher than God, can we? No power on earth can match the power of God. If we are ready to believe in the authority and ability of men to get things done, it is only logical for us to believe in God, the power behind the good news He is offering to us.

The good news of Christ is backed up by the power of God. This is the first significance. What is the second significance of this good news? It is its purpose. The purpose of the good news of Christ is to save. “…for it is the power of God unto salvation…”

All of us, if we would be honest, recognise an innate sense of right and wrong. Some may call it the conscience. Others call it the moral code, or moral compass. And again, if we would be honest, we know we have done things we ought not to have done. We hold attitudes and thoughts we are not exactly proud of. This innate moral compass is undeniable. To deny it will reduce man to the level of beasts.

The Bible tells us that we have all broken the law of God (Rom 3:23; 1Joh 3:4). Sin has come between God and us as a barrier (Is 59:2). There is a dreadful penalty for us – death (Rom 6:23). This is why we need saving. The good news backed up by the power of God is that God has provided the salvation we all need.

The third significance of the good news is that it is for all of us. It is not offered to those of certain classes but to everyone. “…for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth…”

As stated, all of us need saving. Why? Because we are not able to save ourselves. Men have not stopped trying to do so, from denying we need saving to formulating philosophies to deal with the problems and pains of life. Where have all that led us? In a great circle back to exactly where we are – helpless to save ourselves.

All of us need to humble ourselves and accept the fact that we are not able to save ourselves. We need an outside force greater than us and greater than our sins to save us. Good news, everyone! God has provided the salvation we all need by the gospel.

The fourth significance of the good news is the product. The product of the gospel of Christ is righteousness. “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed…”

What is righteousness and why should it matter? It is the condition acceptable to God. It is to stand before Him with all our sins and guilt removed. It is live with integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking, feeling, and acting. (See Thayer).

Putting it all together, the gospel of Christ is the greatest good news ever. All the good news we have received, no matter how excellent and wonderful, is inferior to the magnitude and significance of the gospel. The gospel is the good news from God to us, to save us and put us back where we ought to belong in a right relationship with Him.

If you have not received this good news from God, do not delay. Come today and see for yourself the greatness of His promise.

 


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Unworthy of Eternal Life

“And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles (Act 13:44-46).”

Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch in Pisidia. At the synagogue on a Sabbath, they were invited to address the congregation. Paul used the opportunity to preach Jesus and His resurrection. Many in the audience were interested to hear more about the gospel (cf. Acts 13:43-44).

But the Jews stirred up trouble out of envy. Paul and Barnabas were not intimidated. They told the Jews that by their behaviour they had judged themselves unworthy of everlasting life. It was not the missionaries who judged them unworthy but the Jews themselves. Everyone is personally responsible for receiving or rejecting the gospel.

Dishonest Hearts

How did the Jews judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life? Probably the first reason is because they were dishonest hearers. Their dishonesty lies in their unwillingness to consider Paul’s argument.

This is still a common attitude today. Many people are still rejecting the gospel because of an unwillingness to carefully consider the gospel message without bias. Too often we find people believing in doctrines not because they have carefully searched the scriptures but because of the presumed safety of comfort zones.

Perhaps they were taught by people they respect and trust. Perhaps their beliefs give them a sense of comfort. Perhaps they define their self-identity by their beliefs. Whatever the reason for the beliefs, it becomes an obstacle to honest hearing and consideration of the gospel.

Unable to Understand the Scriptures

Because of the bias in their hearts, the Jews at Antioch of Pisidia were unable to understand the scriptures. They failed to understand Paul’s explanation of the Messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus. Paul describes this inability in 2 Corinthians.

“And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart (2Co 3:13-15).”

Selfish Attitude

They displayed a selfish and conceited attitude. They became envious of the missionaries because a large crowd turned up to hear them. In their mind, religion is a popular contest. Whoever draws the biggest crowds, wins.

The Jews’ attitude toward the missionaries was no different from their fellow Jews who demanded that Jesus be put to death (cf. Matthew 27:18). Envy is one of the sins that keep people from the kingdom of God (cf. Galatians 5:21).

We may not be able to keep others from envy but we can watch out for envy in us. It is not right to be envious of a brother or sister who seems to be able to do a work better than you.

Remember we all serve the Lord. It is not a competition. Every one of us do our best not for personal glory but God’s glory. Rejoice with a brother or sister for a job well done, not envy them.

Speaking Against the Truth

The Jews were hostile and spoke out against the truth of the gospel. Not only did they refuse to hear, they refused to let others hear as well. Later they “stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts (v. 50).”

We may not encounter such hostility from unbelievers but it shouldn’t surprise us if we do. Neither should we be intimidated into silence. Paul was bold in facing such hostile behaviour. He spoke out against the hostility of the Jews boldly in verse 46. See also Acts 18:6, where he again displayed his courage.

In spite of the fact that many jeopardise their souls by their resistance toward the gospel and thus judge themselves unworthy of eternal life, we ought to continue to boldly preach the word. Yes, it is hurtful at times to see men and women rejecting the Lord, but as the Lord loves these souls, so must we, and continue to try to persuade as many as we possibly can of the message of salvation.


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Lost without Baptism

Many in the religious world today contend that baptism is not necessary unto salvation. The popular belief that salvation is by faith only is the dominant teaching in many denominations, spanning over many centuries.Yes, they concede that baptism is a commandment in the New Testament but it is merely a ritual, a formality, an ‘outward sign of inward grace.’ One can be admitted for baptism after he/she has been adjudged to have been saved by faith alone.

We plead with proponents of the doctrine of ‘faith alone’ and anyone who truly wants to know what the Bible says about baptism to consider the revelation given us in the Book. We do not doubt anyone’s sincerity to do right. Rather, we ask for everyone’s honesty. We do not doubt anyone’s moral honesty, but plead for your intellectual honesty in considering the truth of the Bible.

There are a number of passages we can begin our inquiry with, and so we shall begin with Acts 22:16. Ananias was sent to Saul of Tarsus who had a traumatic encounter with the risen Lord Jesus. Saul was struck blind and for days he was fasting and praying, his beliefs and everything he stood and worked for shattered in that one experience.

Jesus sent Ananias to Saul. After explaining the Lord’s plans for Saul to be an apostle to the Gentiles, he said to Saul, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Act 22:16).”

Why would Ananias urge Saul to have his sins washed away in baptism if the latter’s sins had already been forgiven? It is not a question of what washes away sins but how and when. It is the blood of Christ that washes away sins (Mat 26:28; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14: Rev 1:5). But it does so through and during baptism.

“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom 6:3-4).”

It is through baptism that we die to sins and are buried with Christ. And with that, likewise as we are now in Christ, we are raised to be new creatures (2Co 5:17) just as the Lord was raised to life on the third day.

But how could anyone benefit from Christ’s death and be raised to walk in newness of life without having been buried with Christ? And how is that done? Through baptism. The Bible is clear on this very important point. Paul presents us to us a reasonable argument.

Following on from his discourse in Romans 6, Paul further explains the benefit we enjoy when we obey sincerely and honestly the gospel teaching and are baptised into Christ. We are free! Free from the bondage of sin and free to serve God!

“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 (Rom 6:17-18).”

“For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal 3:27).” It is beyond doubt here that it is in baptism that we put on, or are covered by, Christ. This perfectly aligns with what we have discussed above. One is baptised into Christ (Rom 6:3).

Why is it so vitally important that we are in Christ? Paul explains: “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2Ti 2:10).”

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit (1Co 12:13).”

Through baptism we enter into one body. What does that mean? Paul says, “And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence (Col 1:18).”

The church is the body of Christ. Through baptism we are placed into His body, the church. This is how we are added into the Lord’s church. We do not choose the means by which we enter; we do not determine the conditions. The Lord has made it clear that one is baptised into Christ, and therefore into His body, which is the church. There is no other way.

Friends, baptism is essential to salvation. One is lost without scriptural baptism, no matter how much one may profess to believe and regardless of how sincere one is. If you have not obeyed the gospel plan of salvation to the fullest, why delay? Let us assist you.