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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Growing Together in the Lord

Growth is a major part of life. All parents are happy to have a part in their children’s growth. Stunted growth is unhealthy. It is so in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of a person. Each of us ought to strive to grow healthily in every aspect.

The principle of growth is true also of the spiritual realm. The Lord wants His church to grow. A growing church is a healthy church. There are three areas in church life, broadly speaking: spreading the gospel, helping the needy and building up the family of God. All three are important to our growth as a church.

Committees are formed in a local church to plan and carry out activities. These activities are not planned for the sake of keeping us occupied; rather, they are efforts to help the church grow together in these three indispensable areas of our church life.

Most of us can quote the Great Commission texts of Matthew 28:19-20 and Mark 16:15-16. Well and good. The local church has plans and activities to help the members to carry out the Great Commission. From training on how to discuss the Bible with others to door-knocking and tract distribution amongst others, we can all participate in the work of reaching out to the lost.

Helping the needy and downtrodden is a work our Lord wants His church to be active in. The saints care for one another, yes, and we care for others too. In our community and among our circle of friends and acquaintances, we learn every now and then of those who need relief from various burdens.

“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10).

Again, the local church will have plans and activities lined up for her members to get their hands on. The church is placed in a unique position to provide help for those who genuinely need it. We can provide counseling for the troubled, care and visitation for the sick, encouragement for the discouraged, a listening ear for the frustrated, etc.

Why do we do that? Because we are children of our heavenly Father. And He wants us to shine. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Mat 5:16).

We want people to know that the church is a community of like-minded folks who are not self-absorbed but caring. We do not live isolated on the mountain top of our spirituality but come down to the valley to serve as Jesus served.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Jas 1:27).

While we tell others of Jesus and His Kingdom and serve the needy among us, we also take care of our spiritual needs. The members of God’s family help each other to grow.

“Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church” (1Co 14:12). For all the spiritual gifts they might have by the laying on of Paul’s hands, the Corinthian Christians were told that the purpose of these gifts is the edifying of the church.

When the Lord’s church assembles, let us remember this important point: “Let all things be done unto edifying” (1Co 14:26). What we do when we gather for fellowship, for study and even for worship is to build up one another in the Lord. No one is an island. To grow, I need my brethren to support me just as I must be ready to support them.

In the family of God, we have a wide assortment of personalities. Each comes with his and her own strengths and weaknesses. Friction occasionally happens as a result. What then? The Bible says: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification” (Rom 15:1-2).

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1Co 15:58).

It is the will of our Lord that His church grows in strength and remains steadfastly unmovable. A strong church abounds in the work of the Lord. The great motivation for us to strive in growth is in knowing that our God sees us and our efforts in His name. Our labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Like the saying, “Solid as the Rock of Gibraltar” is used to describe a person who cannot be overcome by adverse circumstances; a strong church by standing fast in the faith cannot be moved by false doctrines and worldly allurements.

We can only be as strong as we desire to be. And we must be willing to pay our dues to be strong.

The church must grow. The individual members must grow. To grow, we need to support and encourage one another. To grow, we need to be actively involved in the study of the Word and the work of the church. No one grows by proxy. I cannot do it for you and you cannot do it for me.

Let the church grow together in the Lord.

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Growing in Grace and Knowledge

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2Pe 1:5-7).

Peter urged Christian growth and perseverance in a time where false teachers abound. He desired to establish the believers in the faith and in godly living; he was concerned for Christians to grow in and exhibit godliness. This commandment has now passed down to our generation.

Giving All Diligence

We are to ‘give all diligence’ in the development of Christian graces. The Bible gives us the reason for doing so:

“For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2Pe 1:8, 10).

Add to Your Faith

Obeying the gospel is the beginning of our journey of faith. Faith is absolutely indispensable. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6).

But faith alone is not enough. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas 2:24). Faith comes by hearing the word of God (cf. Rom.10:17) but hearing is not enough; one also has to obey – that’s true faith. “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jas 1:22).

Virtue and Knowledge

Virtue (arete) means ‘manliness’ and ‘excellence’. Christians are to pursue excellence in our moral conduct. How could mediocrity be pleasing to God? “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2Pe 3:14).

‘Gnosis’ is translated ‘knowledge’; it also means ‘science’ – knowledge gained from a systematic study of a subject. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2Ti 2:15).

Temperance and Patience

Temperance is self-control. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:14). Self-control will save us from many griefs of an unbridled, sinful life. It is a part of the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:23).

Patience is hopeful endurance. “…knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” (Heb 10:34). Patience is needed in service and enduring hardships and for receiving the promise.

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Heb 10:36).

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (Jas 1:2-3).

Godliness and Brotherly Kindness

Christians are to be holy as God is holy (cf. 1 Pet.1:16). Holiness is family likeness with our heavenly Father. We hope to see Him one day so this is the counsel of the Hebrews writer: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

Why ought we to exhibit brotherly kindness? Because we are the children of God. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35).

Charity

God has shown us His love (cf. John 3:16) and now Christians are commanded to love. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1Jn 3:16).

 


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Let Us Pray

“Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1Th 5:17-18). ‘Pray without ceasing’ points us to the need for consistency of prayer and a ready attitude to pray. Prayer is something in the Christian’s life the Bible is very much concerned about.

Paul repeats the same rule to the Colossians. “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Col 4:2). To the Ephesians he says,

“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph 6:18).

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour” (1Ti 2:1-3).

These are just a few examples of what Paul has written about prayer. Prayer is the unique privilege of all Christians, a spiritual blessing we enjoy in Christ. We are well aware of the importance of prayer and the part it must play in our lives. The question then is: why aren’t we praying as we ought?

We can easily list five common excuses: a) we think we are not good at it; b) we do not prioritize prayer; c) we do not plan time to pray; d) we doubt God, and e) we treat prayer as a backup system when all else fails.

Godly men in the Bible made time to pray. From Daniel and David in the Old Testament (cf. Dan 6:10; Psa 55:17) to Peter in the New Testament (Acts 10:9), we see examples of men who took prayer seriously. The best example is our Lord, whose prayer life put ours to shame.

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (Mark 1:35).

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).

As busy as He was, and as physically exhausted as He was after a day’s hard work, He always made it a point to talk to His Father. Nothing could rob Him of this blessing of close fellowship with His Father. He prayed all night before the appointment of the apostles.

Our prayer life is crowded out by our busy schedule. This is nothing like Jesus’ prayer life. We need to schedule time to pray, all the more so when we are busy. God will not have our leftover time!

It is a good practice to have a place where we can pray free from distractions. Jesus used the mountains and the garden of Gethsemane. Praying ‘anywhere’ can easily become praying ‘nowhere’.

“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Mat 6:6).

How shall we pray? What shall our approach and attitude be? We ought to approach with boldness. Christ has made it possible for us to approach the Father’s throne without fear and hesitation because He understands what we are going through.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:15-16).

There is a reason why Christians cannot afford to neglect prayer. What did it cost for us to have the privilege of prayer? It cost the blood of the Son of God for us to approach the Throne of grace in boldness!

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:19-22).

We ought to approach prayer with faith as well. James says:

“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord” (Jas 1:6-7).

And also very important is a heart of gratitude when we come before the Father in the name of His Son.

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Php 4:6).

Prayer is one of the greatest blessings of a Christian life. We can enjoy this blessing every day, as often as we want. The blessing is ours to lose by neglect. We must make preparations for prayer – aimless praying is vain praying. And so, brethren, let us pray.


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We can be Mature

The writer of the Hebrews epistle issued a wake-up call to his readers. He was writing to them of Melchisedec, “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing (Heb 5:11).” He was almost frustrated that he couldn’t go on to tell them more because of their inability to receive.

“For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb 5:12-14).”

Wouldn’t it be sad if the same rebuke fell on us? When we last checked (if we do so at all), are we still at the level of babes, feeding on the fundamental teachings and unable to receive more?

The Hebrews writer went on to encourage his readers to move beyond the fundamentals and o to maturity.

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment (Heb 6:1-2).”

We ought to take to heart the same admonishment here. Our Christian life must not be allowed to stagnate. We are living a new life in Christ, and we ought to grow in maturity. The Word of God is the means to help us become mature – ‘perfect’. (cf. 2Ti 3:16-17).

As we grow in knowledge and grace, we can measure our progress by how well we are able to do certain things. They can give us an indication of our maturity. Even if at present we might not do some of these too well, we can take heart that with patience and consistency, we can grow. We shall mention only two in this article.

We begin with what the Hebrews writer mentioned: the ability to teach or instruct. Paul said to Timothy, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2Ti 2:2).”

Christianity is a ‘taught’ religion (cf. John 6:45; Mat 28:19-20). Of course, we certainly cannot teach what we do not know, can we? The way to do it is to be good students of the Bible, to learn how to rightly handle the word of truth (cf. 2Ti 2:15).

As we continue to learn, we continue to teach. This is how the word of God is propagated. We do not need to know everything in the Bible before we can begin to teach. Begin where we are. If it is the plan of salvation, wonderful! Let’s begin there. Let us learn faithfully of the word of God and teach it faithfully to others.

Let us consider next the very important ability to stand against challenges to our faith. Paul explained the reason why we need to arm ourselves with the armour of God.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (Eph 6:11, 13).”

We have watched newsreels of trees standing firm during powerful storms. They are bent over from the force of the storm but remained rooted. Why? Because of their strong roots. The purpose of putting on the armour of God is so that we can be firm and steadfast when temptations and difficulties come.

Peter reminded us of our enemy the devil and his untiring effort to destroy souls. Nothing pleases him more than to see a child of God fall and lose his/her faith.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1Pe 5:8).”

When the devil attacks us, we must be able to stand. We have the example of the Lord (cf. Mat 4:1-11). The Lord was able to stand against the wiles of the devil because He is grounded firm and deep in the Word of God.

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1Pe 2:21).”

Maturity in the faith takes time and consistent effort, with patience thrown in for good measure. We are all traveling on this road, growing in Christ-likeness. Let us encourage and help each other along the way, that we may be able to shine for His glory.