Saturday, March 31, 2007

Easter Rally 2007

The Good Friday and Easter Sunday is coming again. Because He died and lives forevermore, Jesus Christ remains the sole Hope of all mankind.

Here is the announcement for Easter Rally 2007 from STEMI. Do come and invite your friends and family to hear the good news of the gospel.

Date : Sunday ( 8th April )
Time : 7.30pm
Location : Newton Life Church

200 Keng Lee Road
S308410 ( 4th Floor-Hall 402)

Speaker : Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong
Interpreter : Elder Yong Teck Meng (Mandarin with English Translation)

Come and be part of this exciting rally.

Kindly help us publicize this event, and do invite your friends to attend.

Please contact us if you need more information.

In Christ
Agnes Chong
STEMI (Singapore)
Tel : +65 63330511 / +65 92266064 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Fax : +65 63330522
Email :
Website :

Monday, March 19, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 7 - God's Regret: Judgment and Mercy

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 11th March 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 6:5-14

What does it mean when the Scripture said “God regretted” (v.6-7)? How should we interpret this difficult passage?

God has made man to have 3 main functions, i.e., king, priest and prophet. As a king, man is to rule over the world as the representative of God. As a priest, man stands between God and nature. As a prophet, man interprets the truth and communicates meaning. In the Genesis 2, man named all the animals. So hermeneutics is the task that has been given to mankind from the start.

After the Fall, our interpretation is influenced by our fallen subjectivity that no longer follows the Word of God. Hence the same thing can have different and even contradictory interpretations for different people. We have failed in our prophetic function.

The term ‘regret’ when used on human beings suggests that a decision has been made out of miscalculation and nothing can be done to revert it. In human sense, regret contains the element of inability.
Hence, it is wise if we learn hard to minimize wrong decisions. A person who tends to make decisions too fast – out of self-confidence and lack of experience – easily regrets. Hence he often feels sad.

However, such human regret cannot be applied to God. We cannot use our created logic to impose it upon God who create logic and surpasses logic. The revealed things are given to us and the secret things belong to God. And in what He has revealed, we need to study very hard to understand well.

God cannot be overly self-confident because He is the Truth. God know everything from start to end so He cannot be wrong. When the Scriptures says God regrets, this term ‘regret’ is a borrowed term to help us understand the depth of the grief of God. God is the God of judgment as well as the God of mercy. God’s regret can be seen as the convolution of these two attributes. It is like two parallel train tracks that run in the same direction but never mixed. These two attributes are always there. But we face God’s judgment or God’s mercy due to our attitutes. When we persist in rebellion, we face His judgment. When we repent, we face His mercy. Hence man is what he reacts before God and our response to God determines our eternal destiny.

When wickedness increases on the earth, God wipe out sinners in His judgment but leaves a remnant who survives the judgment. And there are people whom He has chosed to save eternally, called the elect. The concept of remnant and elect runs through the Scriptures. This has been God’s way of working throughout history to bring out His redemptive purpose.

In the midst of a degenerate world, one man named Noah pleased God. God shared with Noah His will. Vision is God’s sharing of His own eternal plan to a special person (or some special persons) from among His chosen ones by His sovereign pleasure. Then there will be synchronization between man’s heart to God’s heart. Not all will receive God’s vision, only one or a few. But one who receives will later share God’s vision with the rest of God’s people. This is the way God has worked through history to bring His people to be partakers of His eternal plan.

God revealed His plan to Noah and gave him all the detail. Here we learn that we cannot do things according to our own design and need to learn to be patient in following God. Many people are impatient and move out of self-confidence because they are talented and and feel that they are too smart to serve in church. They need to learn to wait on God’s timing and leading.

Receiving God’s calling is not an easy thing but a heavy thing. One has to work very hard and there are a lot of sacrifices to make. Noah had to work hard for 120 years upon receiving God’s calling. God did not give him all the resources automatically but Noah had to work on them. In order to do the will of God, we need to deny ourselves, carry our cross and follow Him.

After 120 years, God destroyed the earth. Romans 2:4 reminds us that God’s tolerance is meant to lead us to repentance. The only reason why we still have time on earth is that we are still given the opportunity to repent. (Personal note: We need to treasure the opportunity before the time is up.)

Friday, March 09, 2007

STEMI Preaching Schedule March-June 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 6 - The Degenerating Ancient World

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 4th March 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 5 and Genesis 6:1-6

Man still retains God’s image after the Fall and after he was chased out from Eden. This explains why our world is the way it is. It tells why there is a huge difference between ideal and reality. We know that within ourselves there are a lot of wishes and dreams. But when we try to accomplish them, it is very different from what we imagine. Through God’s revelation, we understand why human culture is so powerless.

As Christians, we need to pursue the right understanding of our world through God’s Word. There is high tension between our goals and reality. 6000 years of human history proves one verse in the Bible, that the wages of sin is death (Rom.6:23). We seek after a great society but we alays fail. We need to think things through from God’s throne. It is not just limited to our personal problems but we learn to understand world phenomena that are so perplexing and complex, like why there are wars.

Cain was jealous of Abel so he killed him. This is how war began. When God asked Cain, “Where is your brother?” his response was that he did not know and he did not care. This is our fallen human culture that seeks only after personal profit and has no care for other things.

We will never harmonize horizontal relationship (human to human relationship) before setting right the vertical relationship (human to God relationship). Only when we are reconciled with God can we have true love and justice towards all mankind.

Cain’s descendants were full of talents and very advanced. They made bronze and iron and were skilled in music. But Cain had been driven out of God’s presence. Without God’s presence, the development of talents had no direction. It was towards building the kingdom of self.

Hence we ought not to boast of our talents and wealth. Mankind has been cast out from God’s presence in Eden. If we are cut off from God’s grace, in overall and ultimate sense our life is a sad one although we are talented. Happy is the man who lives in God’s presence. One who lives in God’s presence, enjoy heaven even in sufferings, like Abel.

Western world is shaped by two cultures, the Hebrew culture and the Hellenistic culture. The former inherit the Word of God while the latter inherit Greek philosophy. These two opposites live and grew in the same community. Hence we can find the most pious and the most rebellious in western nations. Which stream of culture do we belong to?

Gen.5:4 says that Adam had many sons and daughters after Seth. Cain feared that he would be killed by these people. But why did God prevent Cain from being killed by others, and pronounced curse on anyone who dare to kill him? This is a mystery of God’s wisdom. It is absolute necessity for evil to exist in the world because mankind must go through trials.

But when the world becomes exceedingly sinful, what was God’s response? Genesis 6:1-6 told of an account prior to the Flood, which is one of the most confusing passages in the Bible. The passage causes many questions to arise.

Who are the “sons of God”? Why the mention of the “beautiful daughters of men”? What about the “giants”? And God regretted creating men?

This passage seems to suggest the development of free sex in ancient world, where there was no ethics, only lust.

In the Old Testament, the “sons of God” never refer to human beings but always refer to angels. But do we have to apply it in this particular passage? Did fallen angels have sex with human ladies, so the children that were born become giants?

Angels are spirit so they cannot have sex. In Jesus’ own words, in the final resurrection we will all become like angels in heaven who neither marry nor are given in marriage. From this passage, we have reservation to interpret the “sons of God” as angels.

But if they refer to men, why then are they called the “sons of God”? In the New Testament, the sons of God refer to believers, those who are redeemed by Christ.

There is, though, a passage in the Bible that might allow the interpretation that the “sons of God” here refer to the fallen angels. Jude v.6-7 speak of the adultery of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were said to follow the evil of the fallen angels. Where did the seed of adultery come from then? It was given by fallen angels. Since angels were the tempter, were they not guilty of the same sin? Or because they are spirit, they can commit all kinds of sin except adultery which can be committed only by those who have flesh? However, Jesus Himself said that adultery was committed in the heart. So adultery could be committed in thought.

Moreover, what Jesus said regarding angels not marrying or given in marriage, refer to the elect angels in heaven, not the fallen angels who did not keep their position. This interpertation is indeed of a high theological value, but there is weakness to it.

The issue is, why did God get so mad with the world over free sex to the point of wiping off all mankind except Noah and his family? Compared to our world today, isn’t free sex also very rampant, perhaps more rampant, and has God become more linient?

There is explanation offered, if we still follow the previous interpretation. If angels have sex with humans, the descendants will be half-human and half-angel, neither human nor angel. This will disrupt God’s plan to save mankind. For God save only men, not angels (Heb.2:16). So could this be the reason why God had to destroy all inhabitants of the world who are of this cursed lineage?

This interpretation was generally accepted until the second century. Later the church no longer accept that interpretation. The next interpretation is that there are two streams of descendants, that of Cain and that of Seth. The sons of God refer to the godly men from the lineage of Seth while the beautiful daughters of men refer to the sinful people from the lineage of Cain.

The descendants of those rejected by God could still be very great and talented in the world. But common grace is different from saving grace.

When we are enjoying ourselves most, we are probably sinning and saddening God most. We need to take a step back to think after God’s thought and understand His heart. We need to learn to synchronize our thoughts, feelings and actions together with God’s Word, so that the presence of God become our greatest enjoyment.

In Gen.6:3 God said that men’s life would be 120 years. This clearly does not refer to the age, for clearly even after Noah’s generation mankind still lived longer than 120, like Abraham. But this 120 years is the time span God gave before He destroyed the world. He decided to tolerate for another 120 years.

What then is the meaning of God’s tolerance? Will more people repent the longer He tolerate? Rather, it is more probable that the longer He holds, more people will be damned. With the population growth, one more day means more will go to hell, because men in their fallenness reject God. God’s tolerance reveals His will and revelation, as Noah’s ark would be a type of Christ’s salvation for His chosen ones.

We need to learn to be responsible in what we decide and do, and not try God’s patience. When God has decided to judge, there is no more appeal we could go to. He is the Creator, and He is the Judge too.

To be continued next week…

Monday, March 05, 2007

Time and Wisdom Part 2

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 25th February 2007 in GRIIS, on Time and Wisdom Part 2. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life has it preached in Mandarin with English translation which combines both Part 1 and Part 2 together.

Moses asked for a heart of wisdom, not for a smart mind. We can acquire intelligence from schools and train ourselves mechanically, but we cannot acquire wisdom in that way. Many people accumulate cognitive understanding but very few truly have a heart of wisdom. Wisdom surpasses cognitive collection of knowledge. Knowledge has nothing to do with good and evil, but wisdom has.

How then do we get a heart of true wisdom? The ‘true’ is mentioned here because the term wisdom is often measured in various ways. But true wisdom has a relation with God and the foundation is in the fear of the Lord.

Socrates said that knowing oneself is the beginning of understanding and one must know himself before knowing others. However, he cannot answer the question of how one can truly know himself. This cannot be done without external help.

Even physically we need a mirror to see ourselves. The Word of God is like a mirror that reflects who we really are. Through God’s Word, we see our weaknesses, our wretchedness and our impurities, and are therefored exhorted to correct ourselves.

Time and wisdom are related. How we use our time will greatly affect our future. And our use of time is dependent on our understanding of the true meaning and significance of time.

Our existence as a human being before God is a great asset. This existence is of a great value. Jesus said that it profits not to gain the whole world and lose one’s soul. This asset is the foundation of all our other assets. Our time and space given to us will influence how far we can explore and how much we can impact.

The space and time that Jesus had while living in the world is so small. He never traveled more than a few miles from his hometown and only lived up to 33.5 years, but He fully maximized His limited time and space.

What we have then should not be measured only with material things. Time is our basic property.

Continuing from last week, we have 3 more points on what time is.

5. Time is the container of history

History is not just an accumulation of events but is a reflection of meaningful events. It is the shadow of the giants. It concerns with things that are that are related to eternal value. And history is contained in time. Since God works out His purposes through history, we ought to ask what our lives have to do with the history of redemption. Historians understand history as the interaction between human and nature but Christians understand history from God’s creation, redemption and consummation.

The will of giants throughout history have great power of influence, like Mao Zedong, Hitler, Napoleon, etc. and all humans also have their own will. Is history then determined by the will of man? History is not determined by the will of man, but by God. There is a red thread in history leading to a determined end. This red thread is a stream that is centered on God’s will and overrule the stream of human will. It shows that the sovereignty of God is higher than the will of man.

God created the world through Christ and would judge the world through Him. Hence Jesus said He is the Alpha and the Omega. History is His Story, the story of God. If we fail to see God’s interference in time, we will never understand history. We only have the dates and memory of human events. But if we look upward and we know the One who sits upon the throne of heaven is interfering with the world, because it is created by Him and would be accounted to Him, hence the appearance of Jesus Christ in history is significant in revealing the direction of history.

6. Time is a tough testifier and strict examiner

Who wants to put their kids in schools where the exams are very easy and require no study? Only stupid parents will do so. Socrates says an unexamined life is not worth living. Under the test of time, many people fall away and compromise. So time is a great and uncompromising judge of all. If we perservere through the test of time that is so tough and cruel, we will eventually be proven to be a faithful Christian who follows the Lord and glorifies Him.

7. Time is a faithful friend

Time will continue to accompany us throughout our life. When everyone has left us, it will still be by our side, comforting us. It will stand as a witness to our good testimony.