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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Sexuality in Scripture and Nature

God reveals His truth in us in two great books—the Holy Book and the Book of Nature. The former is His special revelation and the latter, His general revelation.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2Ti 3:16-17).

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day utterethspeech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge” (Psa 19:1-2).

We can learn much from observing this material universe in which we exist; we can see beyond all reasonable doubt some of the attributes of the Creator. But as Christians, the Word of God is our sole authority and the basis for our understanding of reality.

Turning to the Bible, we find that nature and revelation, instead of contradicting each other as some skeptics claim, actually harmonise beautifully. Take the creation account in the book of Genesis, for instance. Scientific observations and philosophical thinking have only backed the prima facie case for God’s special revelation.

On the matter of human sexuality, both the Word of God and the creation of God reiterate His design and original order. The dignity of human sexuality is very well defined for us in both the Holy Book and the Book of Nature.

Among the lessons we learn from the creation account in Genesis is that God created human beings as social creatures. We are individuals, yes; but we are not meant to exist in isolation. We are meant to exist in societies, and the most basic of societies is the family.

Genesis reveals that heterosexual marriage is the foundation and basic nature of family relationships.This is a fact we observe from nature as well since the beginning of human history.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen 1:27).

“And Adam said, Thisis now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:23-24).

The Lord Jesus affirms this divine pattern.

“And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mat 19:4-6).

Heterosexual union is also the natural means by which new life is formed. God told the man and the woman to ‘Be fruitful, and multiply” (Gen 1:28).This fact is undeniable. For anyone who rejects the Holy Book, the Book of Nature proves this beyond all contention.

Two males can never produce offspring, just as two females cannot. It is so with every species of animals. Human beings too are created male and female for the purpose of procreation. This is a simple, scientifically observable biological fact.

Sex is created by God not only for procreation but also for pleasure.Song of Solomon 4-5 reveals that sexual pleasure is part of God’s design for marriage. But sexual activity is not a free-for-all;it is conditional. Sex, as God designs it, is allowable only in a monogamous, heterosexual marriage.

Christians need not be priggish about the pleasure of sex. It is a gift of God for a man and woman married to each other to enjoy. We either teach our children God’s design for sexuality from the Bible, or they will learn from the lies generated by Hollywood and the mass media.

The creation account provides important truths for sexuality and sexual behaviour because it reveals nature’s original order before sin entered the picture. “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it wasvery good” (Gen 1:31).

But beyond the physical aspect, marriage is symbolic of something more significant. In the Old Testament, God used unfaithfulness in marriage as an analogy to describe Israel. “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD” (Jer 3:20).

In the New Testament, the husband-wife relationship is again used to illustrate the relationship between Christ and His church.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body…Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Eph 5:22-23, 25, 31-33).

Both the Holy Book and the Book of Nature define what human sexuality is—its nature, purposes and confines. Man cannot break God’s law as revealed in Scripture and nature. Man will only break ourselves if we attempt to do so.

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Jesus Christ the Son of God

“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mark 1:1-3).

Mark begins his gospel account by declaring to his readers whose good news this is. This is the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Who is this Jesus Christ that we should know about Him? What is so remarkable about this Man?

Mark quotes from two an ancient prophecies with regards to his subject matter.

“The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa 40:3).

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts” (Mal 3:1).

Mark makes doubly sure his readers are left in no doubt who this JesusChrist, the Son of God, is. The prophet Isaiah said, “Prepare ye the way of the LORD.” The word, LORD, stands for Yahweh, the name of God.

In quoting this prophecy as fulfilled in the one he is writing about, Mark is declaring to his readers that this Jesus Christ is Yahweh Himself!

The prophecy of Malachi reads, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me.” The messenger whom God would send was to prepare the way for none other than God Himself.

It is Jesus Christ who is the fulfillment of these prophecies.

Critics of the Bible claim that the gospel writers never meant to assert that Jesus is deity. Jehovah’s Witnesses, too, deny the deity of Jesus. Mark wants his readers to know that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God, not merely in the metaphorical sense of being a holy man, but as God Himself, sharing the divine essence as the Father.

This is an astounding truth. God, who is a Spirit (John 4:24), has become flesh and blood. “No man hath seen God at any time” (1Jo 4:12) but Jesus says, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Paul also affirms the divine identity of Jesus Christ.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Php 2:5-7).

In addressing Jesus Christ as the Son of God, Mark is using a term every Jew will understand to have a deep, profound meaning.

“Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18).

When we turn to the pages of the gospel accounts—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—let us do so with reverence, for what we do read in them is not the story of a mythical figure or a great man of history.

We are reading about the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He is the One of whom it is written: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).

He is the One who says of His work: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).He is the One who says of Himself: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

The deity of Christ is the very foundation truth of the Christian faith. If He were any less than God, then “we are of all men most miserable” (1Co 15:19). Why? Because by His resurrection His divine nature is once for all declared in all creation.

“Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom 1:3-4).

Who is it we read of in the pages of scriptures? It is the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ! It is He of whom the scriptures testify (cf. John 5:39). It is He before whom all creation must bow and pay homage.

“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Php 2:10-11).

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Cleansing the Temple

“And the Jews’passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up (John 2:13-17).”

Jesus’ action has been criticised as overreaction to activities that were at least harmless and at most expedient.

Money-changers provided an important service for worshipers who came from abroad. Those who sold animals made it so much more convenient; worshipers did not have to bring along animals during a time when transportation was nowhere near as efficient and comfortable as today.

So was the Lord being narrow-minded and overly harsh? The text provides us with the answer. The Lord said, “Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.”

The money-changers and merchants were mostly motivated by profit. They saw there was a need for such services and exploited the situation to make a quick buck. It mattered not to them that the temple was holy ground; that reverence for God must be top priority.

The chief priests who allowed such travesty were even guiltier than the merchants, for they of all people were responsible for keeping the sanctity of the temple. It was quite possible that they lined their pockets either from rent or kickbacks from the merchants.

Such contempt for the holiness and glory of God provoked the Lord into a display of fierce anger. His behaviour would be constituted today as vandalism and hooliganism, and chances are He would be arrested for disturbance of publicpeace.

On no other occasion do the gospel accounts record such violent behaviour from Jesus. The general impression of Jesus (no doubt furthered by images of a long-haired, effeminate, smiling Jesus) is that of a gentle and meek person, a lover of children, helper of the poor and weak but hardly more.

Yes, our Lord Jesus is gentle and meek. He is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep. But we ought not to forget that He is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5). The Lord made a whip of cords and drove out the merchants and their animals. He overturned the money changers’ tables and scattered their money.

This wouldn’t be the first time He had observed such activities going on in the temple. Every year since He was twelve he would have followed Joseph to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. He would have witnessed such goings-on for years but remained silent until now.

Why? Quite likely it was because His time was not yet come. Now that He had begun His public ministry, the time was ripe for Him to declare His arrival and defend the honour of His Father.

The temple of the Lord must be kept holy, free from pollution. Love of money had corrupted the chief priests, merchants and money-changers. Now, the question we ought to ask ourselves is this: how are we keeping our body, the temple of the Holy Spirit?

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1Co 6:19-20).

Consider our motives when we assemble on the Lord’s Day. David wrote: “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD” (Psa 122:1). Do we assemble with gladness to worship the Father, or are we chained to all the worries and affairs of this life, unable and unwilling to let them go?

Do we summon our bodies to the place of assembly but leave our hearts and minds far off, wherever they may wander? One simple thought experiment may reveal more about us than we care to admit.

How do you like it if a loved one keeps getting interrupted by phone calls and text messages during the time you are together? He pays more attention to his phone than to you. His mind is elsewhere but present with you. It seems he prefers to be someplace else, with someone else. He cannot wait for the time with you to be over so he can attend to whatever else he has in mind.

You might be forgiven for thinking that such a person is unworthy of your time and friendship. But then, are you treating your heavenly Father in the same contemptuous way?

Do we carry in our hearts any secret, unrepentant, unconfessed sin? Is there resentment we harbour against someone, or perhaps we have sinned against another but have yet to make restitution? The Lord says:

“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Mat 5:23-24).

The Lord Jesus is fiercely jealous of His Father’s honour. So should we be, who are called the children of God. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26).

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Opposing The Usurper

Self is the great usurper of God’s place within our hearts. When the self becomes an idol, it becomes an obstacle between God and us.

The Lord is clear in His demands that all who would be His followers—no exception—must deny self, take up the cross daily, and follow Him (cf. Luke 9:23-26). There can be no misunderstanding; we are meant to put to death all selfishness.

Opposing the self from once again usurping God’s place is a work we must engage in for the remainder of our lives here on this plane of existence. Self will not die quite so easily; it refuses to roll over and play dead. It will persistently fight to be our god.

Humanism is the philosophy that puts Man at the center. Self-worship is the final objective of this ungodly philosophy. It denies God His rightful place as sovereign and the sole authority.

Of course, humanism employs respectable and harmless sounding jargon. It promises much but delivers little. Creeping its way into the church, it coaxes Christians to talk about their ‘achievements’ for God; to talk about what makes us proud that we have done in His name.

Talking about ‘achievements for God’ in humble tones is no less boasting in light of what the Lord says.

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty'” (Luke 17:7-10 ESV).

With self at the centre, not only does our relationship with God suffers as a result but our relationships with our fellow-man suffer as well. Selfishness is more than a vice; it is a manifestation of the sin of usurping the Lord’s place.

Think about a marriage. When both spouses are selfish and cares only about his/her own interests, will the marriage be happy? It is hard to imagine that it will be blissful and fulfilling.

The Bible speaks of the opposing attitude to selfishness. Paul says: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Php 2:3-4).

Jesus our Lord demonstrates to us the very spirit of selflessness.

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Php 2:5-8).

When we are added to the Lord’s body, we have in fact declared that all idols—the greatest of which is the self—are now dead to us and no longer own us. We are the Lord’s, and to His sovereignty only do we bow in submission.