Jurong Outreach

"whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ."

Leave a comment

Lost But Not Abandoned

The saddest day in the history of mankind is the day when our first parents, Adam and Eve, ate of the forbidden fruit. On that day the floodgates were thrown wide open and sin entered in with its destructive consequences.

For the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and no accountable man and woman is spared the death sentence; for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).

Man is desperately lost in sin. Looking back across the sands of time, what do we see but the ravages sin has caused in the lives of men? What men are doing to each other in mindless, selfish pursuit of power and material gain are the evidence of the grasp sin has taken hold of man.

Man is aware that there is a problem. Philosophers since ancient times have tried to understand and explain what is wrong. They have tried to offer solutions to the problem, at least to alleviate it if not to cure it altogether.

He has a sense that the answer has to do with the virtues of kindness and mercy toward his fellow-men, of checking his own inordinate desires and exercising self-control.

Man understands the concept of law. He observes nature and declares confidently that this natural world operates on laws of nature. What he must recognise is that the Author of these natural laws has also decreed laws whereby man must live.

Part of the tragedy is that man is looking in the wrong direction for the source of these virtues. He looks within himself. What a sad irony! And so he cannot explain why in spite of his best efforts, he can never end wrong-doing in this world or even overcome his own shortcomings.

Man is desperately lost in sin. But man cannot effectively deal with the problem unless and until he humbles himself under the authority of the revelation in the word of God. Continuing down the vain path he is on is like a dog chasing its own tail.

“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1Jn 3:4). Sin is the result of breaking the law of God. If man will not acknowledge this revealed truth then he cannot progress in his search for a cure.

Man is desperately lost in sin. But man is not abandoned. The God whose laws are repeatedly broken with impunity still cares for His stubborn creatures. He will not leave them without trying to pull them out of the pit they have dug themselves into.

So He set in motion the great plan of rescue. For thousands of years He prepared the ground for the most momentous event in history. “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal 4:4).

To what end? “To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal 4:5).

Jesus says, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

There are two kinds of person who cannot be saved. The first kind thinks he doesn’t need to be saved, and the second kind thinks he can save himself. Both remain in a lost condition. Thankfully, not all hope is lost.

He must become aware of his desperate situation. He has to realise that he has broken the law of God and has sinned against His divine majesty. He cannot save himself by his own devices.

Such a soul may be lost in sin but he is by no means abandoned. For the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes (Rom 1:16). He must come before God, just as he is, and determine to obey the demands of the gospel.

The terms of the gospel are non-negotiable. Many have turned away like the rich young ruler did (Mat 19:22), not because the terms are impossible to meet but because they were unwilling to obey.

The gospel demands that we must believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the Son of God (cf. John 8:24; Mat 16:16). It demands that we repent and bear fruits worthy of repentance (cf. Luke 13:3; Mat 3:8; Acts 17:30).

The gospel demands that we must confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus (cf. Rom 10:9-10; Acts 8:37). It demands that we must be immersed in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). It demands that we live a life of faithfulness and steadfastness (Rev 2:10; 1Co 15:58).

God has not abandoned man to his own sins. But He does demand that man lay down his rebellion and surrender on His terms. Are you willing to do that?

Leave a comment

Are We Using Our Minds or Losing It?

“I was just taking instructions.” Sound familiar? This seems to be a common reason/excuse to relieve oneself of responsibility whenever called upon to answer for something that has not gone wrong.

Over 40 years ago on March 16, 1968, Charlie Company of the US Army Infantry was sent to a small group of villages in South Vietnam to investigate possible enemy hideouts. They met villagers who were mostly old men, women and children.

What happened has become one of the darkest episodes in US military history, known as the Mỹ Lai Massacre. Figures between 347 to 504 unarmed villagers were killed that day. Many were lined up and gunned down or blown up with grenades in huts. Some of the women were brutally gang-raped by soldiers.

The few soldiers who didn’t participate stood by and did nothing, either out of fear or apathy, except for three who tried to stop their comrades.

Twenty-two servicemen were charged for the crime but only one, 2LT William Calley, was convicted. According to an eyewitness’ testimony, Calley reportedly said that he was “just following orders”.

Blindly following orders is not a sign of loyalty. It is, in fact, a sign of not using our heads. Worse, it might even be that we have switched off our minds.

A Christian who doesn’t think is doing himself a great disservice. If anything, Christians ought to be careful thinkers. We are to love the Lord with all our mind (cf. Mark 12:30). We can spare ourselves much unnecessary unhappiness with more careful thinking.

We are concerned of brethren losing their faith and leaving the church. Some of them used to be fervent in service. It bewilders us why and how these former saints-on-fire would turn cold and fall by the wayside.

Some are still around, showing their faces on Sundays but have apparently become lukewarm toward the Lord and His church.

A possible reason out of many is because they have not carefully thought through the demands of the gospel before they submitted themselves to be baptised.

I spoke briefly to a young man a few short years ago just before his baptism. I asked him what made him finally decide to follow the Lord Jesus. He looked at me in a sheepish way, shrugged his shoulders and said, “My parents think it’s time for me to be baptised.”

“Just following orders”? If you must know, the young man is no longer present at worship services.

This mindset of not thinking is dangerous. It does not affect only those who want to please their parents or friends by being baptised. It may also, for example, lead us to accept blindly the mass of subjective information in the mass media.

Liberal ideologies like modern feminism and postmodernist platitudes like “It can’t be wrong if it feels so right” find their voices in the mass media. If Christians do not learn to think carefully about the kind of information we imbibe, the consequences will be dire. A half-truth is, after all, a whole lie.

The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews rebuked his readers for their lack of spiritual growth: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Heb 5:12).

He goes on to explain:

“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb 5:13-14).

As Christians it is important that we develop a Christian mindset and interpret our experiences through a Scriptural paradigm. We must no longer hold to a carnal worldview. Our senses must be exercised to discern both good and evil.

Use it or lose it, as the saying goes. How true. Either we use our minds to love our Lord in service to Him, or we will lose it to the lies of the devil and worldliness.

Nothing pleases the devil more, I imagine, than a church of mindless saints who follow blindly the latest trends and rhetoric espoused by pathetic celebrities and dishonest politicians.

Only a mind immersed and trained in the holy word of God can tell the difference. What sorts of mind do we have?

Leave a comment

Mind Your Own Business

MYOB. This acronym is no stranger to us. For the uninitiated, it means “Mind your own business.” It should go without saying that it is a common courtesy not to poke our noses where they don’t belong, yet from time to time we need a good dose of reminder.

All of us have our own areas of responsibilities and they are enough to keep us busy. Do we ever think we have too much time on our hands and nothing to do? This is almost unthinkable in this society! But the problem of idleness remains pervasive.

It has come to the attention of the apostle Paul that there are some idlers in the church at Thessalonica so he sends them instructions. In his second letter to them, he writes:

“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (2Th 3:6).

What is the tradition which Paul has conveyed to them? How are these folks walking disorderly? Paul continues after he has reminded them of his, Timothy and Silas’ conduct among the Thessalonian saints.

“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread” (2Th 3:10-12).

Paul has previously written to the church “that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1Th 4:11). Obviously not everyone is taking the words of the apostle seriously.

Paul instructs the church to be prudent in helping widows. He gives us criteria we ought to look out for. He also warns us that the church’s resources cannot be wasted on widows who are “idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1Ti 5:13).

Idleness is the highway to becoming a busybody. When we do not plan how to make constructive use of the time God has given us, we may find ourselves meddling in other people’s affairs. This is true in Paul’s days. It can happen even today.

Busybodies do not enjoy the luxury of having too much time on their hands. Rather, they are confused souls who do not know how the Lord wants us to gainfully use the time we have. Or at least, they know but disregard it.

Time is our most precious commodity. Waste it and it is gone forever. Twice the apostle warns the church not to waste time.

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:15-16).

“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time” (Col 4:5).

Busybodies, I suspect, also suffer from the spiritual cancers of complaint, criticism and comparison. They are quick to complain about what they dislike, swift to criticize others on what they do and how they do it, and proud to compare themselves with others and imagine themselves as superior.

Peter says: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters” (1Pe 4:15). If anyone suffers because he is a busybody, it is no more to be expected than evildoers suffering from the consequences of their sins.

The Lord is not impressed with busybodies. Sadly, only they are impressed with themselves. Sadder still, it is all a delusion.

In the church we are to do things orderly (cf. 1Co 14:40), not only in how we worship but also in the work of the church. We encourage one another to participate; there is much we can do to serve. No one who is a member of the Lord’s family is excused from putting in effort.

However, we need only be concerned to do our utmost for the Lord in our respective areas of service. When it isn’t our responsibility to do so, then it is not up to us to tell anyone what the person ought to do and how he or she ought to do it. Let the brethren overseeing the particular areas take care of it.

Remember the exhortation “to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (1Th 4:11).

In other words, take care to MYOB.

Leave a comment

The Gathering of the Saints

We all love a good gathering among friends and family. It is a time of joy and fellowship, basking and sharing in the love and affection of our loved ones.

But not every earthly gathering is one of joy. There may be some regrets – the passing of a loved one, a missed opportunity to bury the hatchet and make up with a friend or relative.

The Bible promises a great gathering of insurmountable joy and no regrets. It promises an end to the sufferings and doubts we endure in this life under the sun. The faith of Jesus Christ is positive. It gives us something beautiful to press toward rather than an endless cycle of pain and no-answers.

What of this gathering of the saints? The Bible tells us quite a number of facts regarding the great occasion. We observe firstly that it shall take place when Christ returns and the manner of His return.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1Th 4:16-17).

“And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:10-11).

I remember as a child I loved birthdays. These are times when it is legitimate to expect gifts! When the Lord returns to gather His saints to Him, He will come with a great gift, a reward for the faithful.

“And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1Pe 5:4).

“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev 2:10).

The manner of the gathering shall be a great and wonderful. All the faithful saints across millennia, from every age, nation, ethnicity and language shall be gathered together with the Lord. We shall see the Lord!

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1Jn 3:2-3).

The gathering of the saints shall worship the Lord together.

“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever” (Rev 5:11-14).

Do you desire to be a part of this gathering? Sin will no longer be an issue in this gathering. The kingdom shall be spotless and without blemish.

“…Christ…loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27).

Under the sun, all our gatherings, no matter how joyous, eventually come to an end. There is sadness at departure and also anticipation for the next gathering. In this great gathering of the saints, however, it will be without parting. Farewells, pain and sorrow will be a thing of the past.

“And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Rev 21:3-4).

Will you be part of this great gathering? There will only be two sides – one on the left and the other on the right.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels “(Mat 25: 31-41).

Make sure you are on the right side!