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 Universal Problem of Mankind

Danny Leong

The Word of God provides mankind with the explanation concerning the problem that is affecting the entire human race. The author of the book of First John tells us that “all unrighteousness is sin” (1 John 5:17). Moreover, the same author also tells us in 1 John 3:4 that sin is the transgression of God’s law. As we take the time to ponder on these passages of Scriptures we can understand that God has put in place moral laws that govern the lives of mankind, and mankind sins against God when they purposefully choose to act or behave in an unrighteous manner that causes them to break the commandments of God.

The first occurrence of the biblical concept of sin took place since the beginning of creation at the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve wilfully disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:6). As a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve against God, sin entered into the world and marred God’s wonderful and beautiful creation. The problem of sin is universal in nature because it affects the entire human race. The apostle Paul tells us plainly that all of mankind have sinned and fallen short of God’s commandments (Romans 3:23).

Bearing in mind the extensive nature of the problem of sin, we can read of so many biblical accounts found both in the Old and New Testament of how mankind during various periods of bible history has to suffer the consequences of their own unrighteous actions and behaviours because they have transgressed the commandments of God. In this regard, the Scriptures tell us plainly and clearly that sin will cause mankind to be eternally separated from God. Consider what the prophet Isaiah has written in Isaiah 59:2, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

It is a fearful thing to know that God will take action against mankind when they purposefully defy and break His law. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18). Moreover, the apostle Paul also warns mankind in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death”. The severe penalty for disobeying God is to suffer eternal damnation in hell fire (Luke 12:5; Revelations 20:14-15).

Surely, hell is a real place and there is no more hope when an unrepentant sinner passes away without having a right relationship with God. Brethren, our Almighty God is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and all of us will have to give Him an account of how we live our lives on this earth. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Indeed, all of mankind shall be judged by the law of God and no one will be able to escape God’s judgment (John 12:48; Matthew 25:46). Therefore, let us strive to live a righteous life before the sight of God so that we can have the assurance of eternal salvation in our heavenly home when our earthly lives are over (Philippians 2:12).

Having examined the problem of sin and the judgment of God, we can also understand from studying the Bible that the gospel of Christ is the only antidote which will enable mankind to be redeemed from their sins. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” The gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is about His death, burial and resurrection, and it is through the gospel of Christ that God defeated the condemnation of sin (Romans 5:8-11).

As we examine the Word of God, we can learn of the pattern of how God wants mankind to respond to His saving gospel message. First, having heard the preaching of the Bible, God desires us to respond by having genuine faith in Him (John 8:24). Second, there is a need to demonstrate true repentance by turning away from a life of sin and having a right relationship with God (Acts 17:30; Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19; 2 Peter 3:9). God desires mankind to approach Him with a contrite heart of repentance. Third, we need to respond to the gospel message by verbally confessing Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10). Fourth, mankind is to be fully immersed in water for the remission of their sins. It is through contact with the blood of Christ through water baptism that an individual’s sins will be cleansed and be reconciled with God.


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Having the Light of Life

Jesus declared: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).”

This is one of a number of statements that set Jesus apart from other religious teachers. No mere mortal could make a statement like this of himself unless he was a liar, lunatic or he was actually speaking the truth.

The apostle John in his first letter wrote:

“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth (1Jn 1:5-6).”

Jesus promises the light of life to His followers. This is the life every Christian has in Christ—a life not of the darkness of sin but of the light of God. This is an absolute contrast between the life we have in Christ and worldliness. Light stands for all that is good and holy; darkness for everything vile and wicked.

Life in Christ is impossible if we do not ‘walk the talk’, that is, if our conduct does not align with our profession of faith. Walking in the light is a figure of speech for obedience. Negatively it means we do not continue to indulge in any sinful habit.

Those who do not live by the word of God are called liars. It was revealed to John on the Isle of Patmos that among the wicked are “all liars (who) shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death (Rev 21:8).”

The logic is amply clear to all who would listen to Jesus and His apostles. He is the Life-giver—something which could only be said of God—and to have the light of life one must faithfully follow Him.

The opposite of that is to walk in darkness—to be among “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars (Rev 21:8).”

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God (1Co 6:9-10).”

Acceptance of the truth demands a life that is in harmony with the truth. God expects no more, He demands no less. Obedience to His word is the test whether we are true disciples of Jesus in fellowship with Him and the Father.

Jesus says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:32).”

What is truth? Pilate asked that question without waiting for an answer (cf. John 18:38). Jesus has given us the answer in His prayer in the garden the night He was betrayed. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth (John 17:17).”

Obedience is only such when there are commands to obey. Faithful living must be based on sound doctrine for it to be acceptable to God.

One doesn’t have to believe in God to live according to conscience or high morality. As humans created in the image of God we have an innate sense of right and wrong. We cannot judge a person as right with God because he lives a good life while disregarding the doctrines he holds to.

This sentiment is dangerous and a chief reason why some are misled into thinking that doctrines don’t really matter. If doctrines don’t matter or if morality is more important than doctrine, it follows that salvation is by the works of one’s own merit.

Both sound doctrines and morality are important; we cannot do without either.

Like a bird which cannot take flight with only one wing, holding onto sound doctrine without obedience and practicing morality without strict regard to sound doctrine are alike self-deceiving and dishonouring God.

When we obey the words of the Lord, He gives us the light of life; we are living a life in Christ, a life summarised beautifully by the apostle Paul.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20).”

This life we have in Christ leads to the production and cultivation of the fruit of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:22-25).”

Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount that His disciples are not to be idle but rather exert godly influence in this world.

“Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mat 5:13-16).”

Do you have the light of life in you? Come to Jesus, learn of Him the Good News from His word, and obey with a willing and humble heart. This promise of life is to one and all who seek the Lord with all their hearts.

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart (Jer 29:13).”

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Reflection and Meditation

“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)?”

Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian church, which was struggling with issues of sectarianism, sexual immorality and denying the apostleship of Paul.

The apostle wrote to rebuke them, chastise them and exhort them. As their ‘father’ in the gospel, he was concerned about their spiritual health and well-being; he was concerned about whether they remain in a right relationship with God.

In these words the apostle wrote, we can infer that the Corinthian Christians had been neglecting the important spiritual exercise of examining themselves, to see if they remained in the faith or have departed to apostasy.

This remains an important exercise to keep our spiritual well-being in check.

It is easy to watch our conduct when we are among other people. We are usually mindful of proper social etiquette so as to at least not make fools of ourselves and to keep up a good impression.

It is when we are alone that we let our hair down. But even when we are in the company of others, we are often ‘alone’ in our thoughts. People may observe our external behaviour but no one can see accurately into our minds except God.

It is in the solitude of our minds that we need to be more vigilant and mindful. The wise man counsels, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Pro 4:23).”

When we make a habit of this spiritual exercise of self-examination, we may be able to discover areas in our lives where we fall short of the gospel standard. The apostle says in Philippians 1:27, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.”

Self-reflection helps us to discover our sins and shortcomings. It not only uncovers any hidden sin but also helps us to recognise areas where we can improve. Self-reflection is a means for us to live worthy of the gospel.

Self-reflection is the first step. We may become aware, through this spiritual exercise, of any sin and shortcoming but awareness is only the beginning. If there was sin in our lives, we still need to repent and resolve to live righteously.

If our self-reflection leads us to take positive actions in repentance and improvement, then it could be truly said to have been worth it.

We feed on the scriptures daily for our spiritual nourishment, to help our inner being to be strengthened (cf. 2Co 4:16; Eph 3:16). When we reflect upon ourselves using the knowledge we have gained from the scriptures, we can check our manner of life and speech and thus become wiser.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (Psa 1:1-2).”

Another psalmist adds this wise counsel. It applies equally to the young and not-so-young alike.

“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (Psa 119:9-11).”

Making it a daily habit to self-reflect in the light of what we learn from the scriptures, leading to the benefits of spiritual growth, is easier said than done and requires not a little discipline. Any of us who have tried it will understand the demand on self-discipline, but will also readily acknowledge the benefits.

The hectic pace of life with its accompanying stress adds to our increased exhaustion. Many may find it a chore to make time for self-reflection and meditation. It is more tempting to spend any spare time to catch up on our sleep and recreation.

If we think about it, not spending time on self-reflection is only another form of escapism. Our stress will not go away; worse, hidden sins may become further entrenched, adding to our spiritual woes and lack of peace.

If we exercise the discipline to examine ourselves, whether we remain in a right relationship with God, we find that we are mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepared to face another day with all its challenges and stress.

We will experience the peace of mind and strength of spirit to continue our pilgrimage to our home above. Such benefits come about only with discipline and love for God’s word.

“Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments (Psa 119:4-6).”

“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day (Psa 119:97).”

Self-reflection and meditation are not spiritual exercises we can simply pick up at leisure and cast aside whenever we feel like it. It comes with a serious and mature attitude toward our lives and responsibility toward God.

To learn to be a man and woman of God, we ought to learn to take responsibility for our own growth and manner of life. Whatever we do or say, we alone are responsible and shall have to give an account (cf. Rom 14:12; 2Co 5:10).

Through the spiritual exercise of reflection and meditation, we can learn from our mistakes, make necessary corrections and prevent these mistakes from recurring. We can prevent hidden sins from building and thus hurting our relationships with God and fellow man.

This is an important part of our growth as saints on this earth. Again, it is easier said than done, but let us trust in our Lord and set our hearts and minds on growing in holiness

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Fellowship with God and His Saints

“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ (1Jn 1:3).”

Why did the apostles preach the gospel? John said that it was so that we can have fellowship with the Father and the Son. Our life in Christ is fellowship with God and other faithful Christians. John offered no other means of entering into this fellowship except by obedience to the gospel of Christ.

Fellowship with God—just the thought of it fills the finite human mind with wonder. The word fellowship conveys the thought of a close, intimate partnership and sharing. Our fellowship with God is not a partnership between equals, which makes it even more amazing.

God is the Creator and we, His creatures. We are created for the glory and pleasure of God (cf. 1Co 10:31; Rev 4:11). Yet we have alienated ourselves from Him by our willful disobedience.

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Isa 59:2).”

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).”

What is there in us that merits such great favour from Him? Nothing. It is by the sheer grace of God that we can now enjoy fellowship with Him. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men (Tit 2:11).” He gave us His Son to make atonement for our sins.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”

The amazing grace of God doesn’t end with our redemption. God is pleased to do more than that; He has adopted us as His children.

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Eph 1:4-6).”

It must be a heart of stone to not be moved by the love and grace of God! It is possible to harden our hearts against the love of God and refuse His fellowship. The apostle warns against just such a hardening of the heart.

“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, 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 (Heb 3:7-9).”

Never cease to be amazed and arrested by the great and astounding love of God. No language can express perfectly this love. It is perfectly manifested in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who shed His blood for us on the cross.

Our fellowship is not only with God but also with other faithful Christians. No one is meant to go at it alone. The church is the society of the redeemed, the household of God (cf. 1Ti 3:15). In this household, we are the children of God and the brethren of Christ Himself.

“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).”

“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee (Heb 2:11-12).”

The Lord Jesus said:

“Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life (Mark 10:29-30).”

The saints of God have family all over the globe. Where the faithful people of God are, there is our family. In our fellowship with one another in the Lord, we “comfort yourselves together, and edify one another (1Th 5:11).”

We support and help one another in our pilgrimage to heaven. The journey does not need to be lonely. The Lord is with us, and our brothers and sisters in Christ are with us too.

This is the reason why we obey the Great Commission—so that sinful men and women may be reconciled to God and have fellowship with Him.

When the Samaritan woman whom the Lord spoke to at Jacob’s well discovered that He was the Promised One, she ran with excitement to her townsfolks to tell them about Him.

“The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him (John 4:28-30).”

This nameless woman serves as an excellent example of evangelistic zeal. She did not keep the good news to herself; she wanted her friends, neighbours and relatives to share in the amazing discovery.

We ought to also want others to share in this fellowship we have with God and His Son.

Fellowship with God and the Lord Jesus is the greatest honour bestowed upon us. The Lord said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).”

If we maintain this fellowship, the day will come when we shall see Him face to face. Our fellowship with Him shall be in eternal glory, no longer marred by struggles against sins.

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The Wonderful Privilege of Prayer

The Lord had a busy public ministry. His popularity with the common people meant that they pressed in on him whenever they could, seeking to receive healing from him and to hear him preach.

In spite of this, we read in the scriptures: “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).”

Prayer held a vital part in the Lord’s earthly life. He taught His disciples to pray (Matthew 6:5-15). He poured His heart out and agonised in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, sweating great drops of blood, not long before His arrest (Luke 22:44).

His apostles also urge the saints to pray. Paul spoke plainly in these words: “Pray without ceasing (1Th 5:17).” Elsewhere the apostle exhorted the church:

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Php 4:6-7).”

“Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving (Col 4:2).”

Yes, we know that we ought to pray. The Lord has set us the perfect example of an obedient life saturated in prayer. The inspired writers have many times exhorted us to pray.

Let every one of us, then, examine our hearts: do we pray as we ought to? Is prayer an indispensable habit and spiritual discipline, or is it something rushed through or neglected?

A long prayer is not necessarily a good prayer and vice versa, but before we even wonder about the length of our prayers, let’s be sure that we are praying without ceasing, that is, have an attitude and readiness to pray at all times.

The church is blessed to have many talented brothers and sisters serving in so many capacities. We thank our Father for His multiple blessings and gifts. Nonetheless, if we neglect prayer, our fervent service means little or nothing.

One of the greatest spiritual blessings we have in Christ is prayer. Prayer is given to us so that as the children of God we can communicate with our heavenly Father. Think about what it cost for us to have such a blessing.

The Hebrews writer explains:

“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).”

Let’s ponder over this momentous statement. We have confidence to enter the holiest, i.e. the presence of God, by the blood of Jesus. By the blood of Jesus! The only begotten Son of God shed His blood on the cross—this is what it cost for us to have the privilege and blessing of prayer.

Is it then unreasonable to say that we would very much be ungrateful if we neglect prayer? Is it too much to say that we would be holding the blood of the Lord in contempt if we think so little of prayer?

We are given another reason why we ought to pray without ceasing. The Lord is our high priest. As our high priest, He is our mediator before the Father. “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time (1Ti 2:5-6).”

John summarises this astounding doctrine in these wonderful words:

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world (1Jn 2:1-2).”

Jesus Christ gave His life as the ransom for our sins but He does more. He is our advocate with the Father, our mediator before the Father. The marvellous truth of our high priest is that He understands very well our struggles, our fears and our joys.

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 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 4:14-16).”

Here at the feet of our heavenly Father, before His throne, with the Lord Jesus as our high priest and having been washed in His blood, we may be confident that our Father will hear us and supply us with the grace to help in time of need.

Peter says to us: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1Pe 5:6-7).”

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

Our Father wants us to be fervent in prayer. Let us do as the children of God and pray without ceasing.