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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Four Spiritual Cancers

We are already nearing the end of the first month of 2017. The year may still be relatively young but it is never too early to ready ourselves for the spiritual challenges we can be sure to encounter.

The details of the challenges vary from individual to individual. The Bible reveals that we are tempted according to our desires (cf. James 1:14). This year we may also encounter challenges to our faith the likes of which we have never encountered previously.

Whatever challenges or temptations we may face, there are four spiritual cancers we need to be especially wary of. Failure to do so will see them begin to fester in our souls, destroying us from within as they did the Hebrews in the wilderness.

The Bible warns us: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God (Hebrews 3:12).” In the passage leading up to this dire warning, we learned:

“Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) (Heb 3:8-11)”

These four spiritual cancers are deadly. They have been the cause of many who have fallen by the wayside. Let us be doubly careful of them.

Complacency

The first cancer to sneak in unawares is complacency. Dictionary.com defines being complacent as “Pleased, especially with oneself or one’s merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied.”

A complacent person thinks he is safe when in fact he is surrounded by danger. Perhaps he thinks because he has been a Christian a certain number of years, or he only needs to do the barest minimum at his convenience to make it to heaven. Peter warns: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1Pe 5:8).”

Carelessness

Complacency leads to the next spiritual cancer, carelessness. The complacent Christian becomes careless about the state of his soul and maintaining his relationship with God. Of course he knows he must study the Bible and pray everyday. He knows he must be fervent in evangelism both personal and corporate. He knows all the text-book answers to what we must do to be pleasing to God.

But the question is: is he abiding by them? Is he doing them? ‘Occasionally, sparingly, sometimes, once-in-a-while, without zeal.’ These are just some different descriptions of the same answer from a careless Christian – if he dares to be honest with God and his own soul.

Callousness

It leads on to callousness: hardening of the heart and conscience toward the things of God. He is becoming increasing insensitive and indifferent to the Scriptures and his relationship with God. Yes, he might be aware that he does not search the Scriptures daily but he does not feel bad and is not embarrassed by it. He misses the assembly of the saints but he dismisses the fact with a wave and an excuse.

He is now languishing in the danger zone. Sadly, his complacency and callousness have blinded him to the point where he either fails to recognise his condition or goes into denial. This leads on to the next cancer.

Condemnation

 This person will fall back into a state of condemnation if the three previous cancers were not dealt with scripturally through repentance and bearing the fruits thereof. Like the Hebrews in the wilderness who rebelled against God, they have committed the sin of unbelief.

What can we do? First let each Christian examine his/her heart. “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates (2Co 13:5)?”

Next, keep a lookout for brethren who might be in danger of these cancers and help save them. “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And on some have mercy, who are in doubt; and some save, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 21-23).”

“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (Jas 5:19-20).”

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Keeping the End in Mind (II)

Christians are more aware than most in the world about the ultimate end. The end is a reality. This world was not made to last; time is not meant to run endlessly. There will be a day of reckoning when all this comes to a final stop.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2Co 5:10).”

What about it, then? For all who are caught outside of Christ, who rejected His gospel, the end will be a dreadful thing.

“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power (2Th 1:7-9).”

It is their own choice and volition to reject God’s offer of grace and salvation. Let no one accuse God of the terrible decree of unconditional election. The Lord Jesus is the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29).” Let no one accuse Him of limited atonement.

But happy and blessed are those who are in Christ! To them it is promised an eternal home in glory with the Lord. Saints of old have received the promise and looked forward in joyful anticipation.

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb 11:8-10).”

Abraham was not the only one who kept the end in mind. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews goes on to tell us of many others who took God at His word and set their sights at the ultimate end. They wisely recognised this world as only a temporal abode.

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city (Heb 11:13-16).”

The psalmist says, “The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever (Psa 37:18).” This is the inheritance we have been promised and look forward to.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1Pe 1:3-5).”

We are “those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with” the apostles “by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (cf. 2Pe 1:1 ESV). We are given “exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (2Pe 1:4).”

As with many of the promises of God, this promise of an eternal home with God is conditional upon faithful obedience and perseverance. Only those who keep the end firmly in mind and run the race will win the prize.

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (1Co 9:24-27).”

Remember the words of the Lord when the going gets tough.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:1-3, 6).”


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Keeping the End in Mind

The year may have only just begun a week ago but it is good for the people of the Lord to look ahead towards the end. Not the end of 2017 but rather the END.

Most of us are well aware of the maxim, “Begin with the end in mind”. This is a good rule to observe in just about every endeavour we embark upon. But there is an ultimate end we will do well to keep constantly in mind.

The end is a reality. The Lord Jesus made reference to it a number of times. The Lord said in His explanation of the Parable of the Tares:

“The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world (Mat 13:39-40).”

The disciples asked the Lord in Matthew 24:3, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

In His reply to them, the Lord mentioned, “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet (Mat 24:6).”

Before His ascension to the right hand of the Father, the Lord gave the Great Commission to His disciples, to be passed through generations of saints (cf. Matthew 28:18-19).

Preaching the gospel to the lost across the nations is a tremendous task, one fraught with danger, tribulations, persecution and even death. The Lord understood the forces of resistance His disciples would encounter and encouraged them, saying:

“I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20)”.

The apostle Paul made reference to the end when the Son shall deliver the kingdom to the Father.

“Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death (1Co 15:24-26).”

Peter reminded his readers of what will take place at the end.

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (2Pe 3:10).”

The end is an inescapable reality. Many have tried to avoid giving it any serious consideration, preferring to drown the call of the gospel with merrymaking. Others choose the path of ignorance, preferring worldly philosophies rather than the word of God.

Christians will not be so foolish. We of all people understand the reality of the end. We of all people are prepared for the end. The writer of the epistle to the Hebrews has made it amply clear beyond any doubt.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb 9:27).”

The Lord warns of the dreadful consequences of those caught unprepared when the end comes, in a series of parables beginning from the opening verse Matthew 25 to the climax of the judgment scene.

“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 25:31-34, 41).”

Let us begin with the end in mind, and heed the command laid out for us by the apostle Peter:

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat (2Pe 3:11-12)?”


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Remember the Covenant!

Near the end of his life, the great prophet and leader of God’s people, Moses, gave instructions that when Israel had crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land, six tribes shall muster on Mount Gerizim and the other six tribes on Mount Ebal.

“And Moses charged the people the same day, saying, These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali (Deu 27:11-13).”

After Joshua led the armies of Israel across the Jordan, he duly carried out his predecessor’s command.

“And all Israel, and their elders, and officers, and their judges, stood on this side the ark and on that side before the priests the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, as well the stranger, as he that was born among them; half of them over against mount Gerizim, and half of them over against mount Ebal; as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law (Jos 8:33-34).”

Why did Moses, the servant of God, command Israel to do this?

Men are forgetful creatures. Old Testament history attests to this fact. Israel needed constant reminder of the covenant God had made with them so that they may remember to observe the covenant carefully in obedience.

“And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day (Deu 27:9-10).”

Today, as we enter into a new year, it is wise that we also take some time and remember the covenant that Jehovah God has made with us, the covenant of which the Lord Jesus is the mediator (Heb 12:24).

In Moses’ days, the old covenant was sealed with the blood of animals (cf. Heb 9:18-19). This covenant of which we are a part was sealed not by the blood of animals but of the Son of God.

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God (Heb 9:12-14)?”

The blood of the spotless Lamb of God is the price of our salvation. The church of God was purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The church was “not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold…But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (1Pe 1:18-19).”

Could a higher price be paid for anything? This is the measure of the love of God. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8).”

God the Father “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins (Col 1:13-14).”

The church is the covenant people of God. As such, we are bound to Him in allegiance and have pronounced our love and obedience to Him who has saved us from the condemnation we so richly deserved.

This loyalty is not forced or coerced but rather an act of free will. Jesus our Lord never compels anyone to be His disciple. Recall the day when you surrendered your will to Him and made your public confession of Him as the only begotten Son of God.

You were, in a sense, declaring your intent to be loyal to Him. The moment you were immersed in water for the remission of your sins and raised to newness of life in Him (Rom 6:4) was the day you were added into His body, the church (Eph 1:22-23; Col 1:18, 24).

That was the day you entered into this covenant relationship with Him. He is now your Lord and Saviour, the Captain and Lover of your soul. You are now a child of God (Gal 3:26-27). You are now the servant of righteousness (Rom 6:17-18).

Therefore, as the writer to the Hebrew epistle exhorts, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) (Heb 10:23).”

The Lord Jesus says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).” This is the measure of our love and commitment to Him. Is that unreasonable? Surely not. What can we offer in return for His grace? He asks only for our loyalty and obedience. We can do no less.

May we remember this perfect covenant our great God has made with us in Jesus Christ, and live for His glory as His covenant people, the church which bears His name.