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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Are You Sure You Found the True Church?

When it comes to choosing a place to worship, the most common advice we receive is to find a place where you feel comfortable at, a place convenient, a place where you feel welcomed and where the folks are warm and caring and wear a sunshine smile every week, etc.

In a previous article (Sep 4 2016), we noted that there are over 30 000 denominations in the world. The idea behind the word ‘denomination’ is division, separation or designation into various classes of things. The fact is that denominations are separated by differences in beliefs, teachings and practices. Let’s examine this fact from a Biblical perspective.

When Jesus was here on earth, He promised to build the church.

“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat 16:16-18).

Jesus said “[T]he gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” ‘It’ is a singular term. This is significant. Why are there 30 000 denominations in the world if Jesus promised only one? And since there is only one church that Jesus built, why should there be all these differences in beliefs, teachings and practices that cause divisions?

The simple answer is that there shouldn’t be any difference. Also, these differences cannot be explained away by focusing on the similarities among these denominations and conveniently ignoring the differences or relegating them as ‘less important’.

The church, which Jesus promised to build, is His body. And He is the Head of the body. God the Father “…hath put all things under his (Jesus) feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph 1:22-23).

Furthermore, Eph 4:4 says that there is only one body. How could one head has 30 000 bodies? This contradiction cannot be explained away too by saying that as long as these denominations are sincere and honest, it doesn’t matter all that much. Yes, it does matter. Our redemption, freedom from condemnation and salvation depends on it.

Previously (Sep 18 2016) we visited the truth that redemption, freedom from condemnation and salvation are ‘in Christ’ (cf. Rom 3:24; 8:1; 2Ti 2:10), and the only entry point ‘into Christ’ is baptism (cf. Rom 6:3-5; Gal 3:26-27). Now, since the church that Jesus built is the body of Christ, it only makes sense that we must be in that church.

How then do we determine out of so many, which is the true church? Or does the true church lie buried beneath centuries of traditions and distortions? We can discover the true church that Jesus built by turning to the New Testament and examining the pattern given there for the church. It reveals the beliefs, teachings, organisation and practices of the church.

Every organisation has a beginning, founder and charter. The charter of the church is the New Testament, not creeds drafted by men even though said creeds might be purportedly based on the New Testament. Since we have the New Testament given us by the inspiration of God (cf. 2Ti 3:16-17), why is there any need for the creeds of men?

The founder and builder of the church is Jesus Christ (Mat.16:16-19; Acts 20:28; Psa.127:1). He is the foundation of the church (1Co 3:11). As such, what the church believes, teaches and practices must have the authority of His word behind it.

The creeds, ideas and traditions from men might be persuasive and well-intentioned. But when it comes to the church that Jesus built – His church, none other – He tolerates no other ‘authority’. He has said, “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth” (Mat 28:18).

What did He say about men’s teachings and traditions?

“And the Pharisees and the scribes ask him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with defiled hands? And he said unto them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men. Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men. And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition” (Mark 7:5-9).

Are you sure you found the true church? This is of utmost importance to our souls. We would like to serve you in your search for the church that Jesus built. Come, talk to us and let’s study the Bible together.

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Are You Sure You Are In Christ?

In the New Testament epistles, the term “in Christ” is used so widely that if the reader wasn’t careful, he might browse over it without giving it another thought. Paul in his epistles used the term 75 times and Peter used it twice. This must be a term of some significance for the apostles to use it so often.

Depending on the context in which this term is found, it can hold different meanings. Here I’d like to consider an especially significant way this term is used.

The first time Paul used it was in Romans 3:24. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Let’s observe what is said here. Paul said that redemption is ‘in Christ Jesus’.

The second time this term appears is in Romans 8:1. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Those who are ‘in Christ’ are free from condemnation.

This is apparently referring to a state or condition a person is in. Paul implied that once upon a time he was not ‘in Christ’ when he mentioned some individuals “who also were in Christ before me” (Rom 16:7).

Furthermore, he said, “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). Salvation is ‘in Christ’, just as redemption and freedom from condemnation are.

What does it mean? It means that for a person to be redeemed, free from condemnation and saved, he must be ‘in Christ’. “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1Co 15:22). It is ‘in Christ’ that we are made alive.

So now the important question that surfaces is: how does one get to be ‘in Christ’? The Bible explains:

“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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection” (Rom 6:3-5).

Paul reminded his readers that they ‘were baptized into Jesus Christ.’ So here is the entry point: it is by being baptised that we are ‘in Christ’. Through baptism, we are identified with His death and burial. As He was raised the third day, so we also come out of the water of baptism to walk in newness of life.

Baptism is, in effect, a re-enactment of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Paul further explains: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Co 5:17). When is a person a new creature, raised to walk in newness of life? When he is ‘in Christ’. How does it happen? By baptism. When does it happen? At baptism.

A common objection runs along this line: “But I believe in Christ! That’s how I am ‘in Christ’!” Please note that to be ‘in Christ’ is a state or condition that one is either in or not. As such, one has to get into that state. Nowhere in the New Testament is it ever stated that a person gets ‘into’ Christ by the act of believing.

The only way to enter ‘into’ Christ is through baptism. Besides Romans 6:3-5, we read also in Galatians. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal 3:26-27).

Again, it says ‘baptized into Christ’. Question: When do we put on Christ and are thus children of God? Answer: When we have been baptized into Christ. True faith in Christ includes being baptised into Christ.

Since redemption, freedom from condemnation and salvation are to be found ‘in Christ’, and that the entry point into Christ is baptism, it follows then that we must be baptised in order to be redeemed, free from condemnation and saved.

All must be baptised into Christ, yes, but are all ready to be baptised? Well, no. There are requirements, or conditions, in the New Testament that must first be fulfilled. If not, all that happens to a person at baptism is getting him wet.

One must believe (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30; 2Pe 3:9), and confess Jesus as Son of God (Acts 8:36-38; Rom 10:9-10) before he is ready to be baptised.

Are you sure you are ‘in Christ’? Have you done what the Bible has set out for every man and woman to do in order to be redeemed, free from condemnation and saved? If not, why not? What is hindering you from obeying the gospel?

Come, talk to us and let’s study the Bible together.

 


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Are You Sure Faith Alone Saved You?

Previously we asked the question, “Are you sure you are a Christian?” Today let us zoom in further on the matter of believing, or faith. For centuries the teaching that one is saved by faith alone has been widespread. It certainly merits a closer look.

The stake is high. If true, then every man and woman on earth is obligated to obey it. If untrue, then the vast numbers of people who live by it are badly mistaken and their souls remain in jeopardy.

What does this statement, “Justified by faith only” or “Saved by faith alone” means? Take a look at the word “only” or “alone”. It means just that – only, alone, with nothing else. If such were the case, then a person ought to be saved or justified at the very moment he believed without any further action, either mental or physical. To do anything else will unavoidably contradict ‘alone’ or ‘only’.

It will not do to refer only to texts that mention faith or believing and nothing else (cf. John 3:16; 5:24; 8:24) and attempt to build a case in favour of ‘faith only’. Let’s begin by looking at a text that mentions more than believing.

“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” (Rom 10:9-10).

There are two things mentioned here: firstly, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness”; and secondly, “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. This is hardly ‘only’ or ‘alone’. These are two very distinct acts that cannot be conveniently lumped together as one action. Believing is a mental activity; confessing is a physical one.

Proponents of ‘faith only’ will not argue that repentance is optional for salvation. That makes three we have counted so far, doesn’t it? Again, how is that ‘only’ or ‘alone’? Of course, they would argue that if one truly believes, he will repent and confess. Let’s consider this a little further.

If salvation or justification is by faith only and for consistency’s sake that must mean a person is saved at the very moment he believed, then that would mean repentance and confession happen after a person is saved. The order is: Believe—saved—repent—confess.

But this is hardly consistent. If repentance was necessary for salvation, how could it happen after a person is saved? If with the mouth confession is made unto salvation, how could it be made after a person is saved? The sequence is unreasonable.

The teaching, “Justified by faith only”, is unscriptural. In fact, even the statement is unscriptural, for James 2:24 clearly states: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” The Bible says “Justified not by faith only”, not “Justified by faith only”. These two statements are mutually exclusive. Choose one you must, but not both.

Faith alone does not save anyone. One must not only believe but also obey. The purpose of believing is unto salvation. “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24; cf. John 3:16; Rom 10:9-10).

The purpose of repentance is the same as for believing. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). We have already seen that confession with the mouth is unto salvation (cf. Rom 10:9-10)

The New Testament tells us that we must also be baptised. What, then, is the purpose of baptism? Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). To be baptised serves the same purpose as believing – it is for salvation.

“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). Here is the same truth, albeit expressed differently. Here baptism serves the same purpose as repentance: for the remission of sins.

“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Act 22:16). Baptism is for the washing away of sins, which is essentially the same as remission or forgiveness of sins. Common sense demands that a person is saved after his sins are forgiven and not before.

Now, we can understand that believing in Jesus is necessary in order for us to be saved. By the same rationale and common sense, we can understand too that repentance, confession and baptism are equally necessary for they serve the same purpose.

Salvation is not by faith alone. It is by obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you haven’t done so, why wait? What is holding you back? Come, talk to us and let’s study the Bible together.


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Are You Sure You Are a Christian?

 

In this world we live in where political correctness is the name of the game, it is not surprising to hear statements like “All religions lead to God”; “It doesn’t matter what you believe, just be sincere”; and “As long as you are a good person, you can believe anything you want.”

The truth is that it doesn’t matter what one believes if the belief is wrong.

Let us narrow our sights to just one religion in particular – Christianity. There are over 2 billion people in the world who profess to be “Christians”, spreading across over 30 000 denominations. These are huge figures.

Political correctness advocates would advise us to regard everyone who claims to be a Christian to be, well, a Christian. What does that even mean? It means that the only qualification to be a Christian is to simply claim to be one. That’s easy, isn’t it? But of course there are more to it than this.

At the very least, these claimants must believe in the existence of God, someone called Jesus Christ and have at least some idea of a book called the Bible. It helps too to have attended or to occasionally attend a place of worship called the “church”.

We can safely assume that many claimants’ knowledge of Christianity far exceeds the superficial description above. They are religious, honest and sincere. They are sure their denominational dogmas are just what the Bible says. They are also active in good works.

But please let me say this again: it doesn’t matter what one believes if the belief is wrong.

One may believe in the existence of God and be religious, etc. but it doesn’t make one a Christian. There are religious people all over the world and across all cultures. Take the Jews, for example. “Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). And the Greeks. “And Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus, and said, Ye men of Athens, in all things, I perceive that ye are very religious” (Acts 17:22).

We do not argue with good works but would like to remind everyone that being a good person doesn’t make one a Christian either. The Bible says we are saved “not by works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy he saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5).

Cornelius was certainly a good man. He was devout, reverenced God, gave much to charity, well-spoken of by the Jews and was very religious. But he was not a Christian until he had done according to divine instructions. (Cf. Acts 10).

Well, what about believing in what the Bible says about Jesus? Surely if anyone is a Christian, he or she must believe in Jesus! There was a man who did believe but wasn’t a Christian. King Agrippa at best was an “almost Christian”. (Cf. Acts 26:27-28). We know that an “almost Christian” is not a Christian.

Let’s suppose I realised that I have done some very bad things in my life and now feel terribly sorry for it. I am resolved not to repeat my mistakes. Am I now a Christian? Hardly. Being sorry for the wrongs I have committed – repentance – doesn’t make me a Christian any more than Agrippa was.

How about regular attendance at a place of worship? Or owning a Bible and reading it every day? These won’t do as well. You see, to quote the title of a book by Thomas B. Warren, “The Bible only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians.” What it means is simply that one doesn’t become a Christian by modifying what the Bible says or by following one’s own direction.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man; But the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro 14:12).

One becomes a Christian by obeying what the Bible says, doing it according to the pattern (or blueprint, if you prefer the analogy) given us by God. A stern warning by Jesus says as much.

“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 who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mat 7:21-23).

Are you sure you are a Christian? Even if you think you are a Christian, can you prove it from the Bible that you have faithfully done what God requires of us to become Christians? We owe it at least to ourselves to make sure.

Come, let’s study the Bible together and find out.