Sunday, April 29, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 9 - God's Judgment: The Flood (2)

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 15th April 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 8:1-14

Note that for this particular sermon, I was not present to listen to it personally. This transcript is my translation of selected part of the Indonesian transcript handed out to the congregation each week, which contains the transcript of previous week's sermon.

God caused flood through rain to float the ark and the destroy the wicked people. This is the greatest manifestation of God’s anger since the creation of Man, where the entire world was destroyed, except one famly, that is, Noah and his wife, his three sons and daughters-in-law. God preserved 8 people in the ark.

The ark was not made by God Himself, but by Noah and he had to bear all the costs and work needed to build the ark for 120 years. This is God’s way in disciplining; this is the principle of the Scriptures. If a person is given everything he asks for, he will take many things for granted. But one who pays the price will behave very differently. Many preachers are spoilt because they are pampered by the church and many pastors do not understand the basic principles of living as a human being. God never commanded the angels to build the ark and then asked Noah to enter it. Instead, He gave 120 years for men to repent. At the same time, Noah had to work very hard to build such a huge ark.

After Noah prepared everything, he had to stay with all the animals and their dung for hundreds of days. Rain continued for 40 days and 40 nights. The command “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near,” is not a bonus that is given without accountability. It means that the power of God will come before us and He would also come with His judgment. Every command of God contains His promise. And His promise constains His commandment. Hence the grace of God demands responsibility, His commands are filled with promises, and with His promises He also gives His command.

For instance, the Word of God says, “Honor your father and mother, and you will enjoy long life on earth.” This is the first command in the Scriptures that contains a promise. In the 10 commandments, the first 4 relates our relationship with God and the lst 6 relate to our relationship with one another. The first commandment that deals with human relationship is to honor our father and mother. If people honor and respect their parents, it is unlikely that the descendants will become very decadent. Because if your children are able to see you as good examples, the value of good tradition will be passed down and the blessings of God will be given.

God also commanded us to go into all the world and to preach the good news to all nations, and the promise is “and I will be with you to the end of age.” Here we also see that when God gives a command, He also gives His promise.

Noah is the most faithful preacher with the greatest patience and perseverance. He preached for 120 years without a soul repenting. On dry land and sunny days, he built a gigantic ark which seemed very insensical, so he was ridiculed and he bore that for more than a hundred years. Yet he did not complain but continued to do God’s command despite the paradoxical situation. He knew that true faith is demonstrated in obedience.

Noah did not know what future held for him after he entered the ark and water flooded the earth. The Word of God is imperative and its demand is absolute. It is the commandment we should obey. Here lies the difficulty where Noah had to apply his faith in obedience towards God. Noah was said to walk with God. Following God and doing His will is not easy. Walking with God through the desert and valley of death is not easy. But this is the true faith that submits and obeys God.

God shut the door of the ark by His own hand, which means that the opportunities are given to us for repentance, and His judgment would come some day. When God comes in His judgment, men cannot run away. When His deadline has come, there will be no more extension of His grace. Nobody can run away from the consequence of disobedience against Him.

God also set the time when Noah could come out of the ark. When Noah came out of the ark, the first thing he did was to build an altar and killed clean animals (there were 7 pairs of each clean animal in the ark) to be offered to God as a sacrifice of thanksgiving that His anger had subsided and new life had begun. All 8 of them began a new phase of human life. The story of Noah divided the world history into two phases before and after the Flood. God chose Noah to begin a new era of history.

After Noah offered the sacrifice of thanksgiving, God made a covenant with Noah and all creation. He promised never to destroy the world by flood anymore and used the rainbow as the sign of the covenant. But do not forget that on the Last Day God would destroy the world with fire.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 8 - God's Judgment: The Flood

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 25th 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 6:8-22

Note that I did not include some of the content of this week's sermons because it overlaps with the previous week's transcript.

God is merciful and God is righteous. These two attributes of God are parallel and never clash eternally. They are harmonious in a paradoxical way. There is mercy in the midst of judgement and there is judgement in the midst of mercy. If we understand this, we will enjoy God’s mercy carefully in fear of Him.

In one generation, only one man, Noah, pleased God. The Scriptures said that Noah walked with God. What does it mean to walk with God. Micah 6:9 says to act justly, to love mercy, to be humble and to walk with God.

A person who walks with God must walk at His pace, not to rush ahead or to be late behind. With the same lifetime, the same resource, there are those who just walk around in empty dreams and there are those who work hard and partake in God’s eternal plan.

Noah worked on the ark for 120 years. He preached for 120 years without any soul repenting. God had given him a very tough work to do. In order to do God’s will, we need to have a sacrificial heart. We need to learn the attitude of giving all to God when He wants it.

The annual spending for military use worldwide is enough for mission work for 250 years. Men use up so much resource to kill and wage war. The money used for cosmetic in a year is far more than the money used for evangelism. If we say we love the Lord, that is nonsense. We can use a lot of our resources for ourselves but we are very stingy when it comes to God’s work. But Noah has a right heart. He gathered all the necessary resources to do God’s will and persevered to the end. Not only did he need to bring all the animals in, but he had to provide the food needed as well. How long would they be in the ark? He was not told. The Scriptures later showed that they remained in the ark for 1 year and 10 days. Imagine the hard work Noah had to put in. Doing God’s will is not easy.

The Scriptures say it was God who closed the door of the ark. Opportunities will not always be there. While we still have opportunities, we need to make full use of them. All our time, talents, youth, etc. should be surrendered to God. Once God’s mercy has been withdrawn, man has no more power to create another chance or another beautiful day. Opportunity is the grace of God.

The ark represents salvation. In the midst of the sinking world, there is a place where people will not perish. That is the salvation of God in Jesus Christ in this sinful world. The Church is God’s redeemed people who escape damnation through salvation in Christ and led by the Holy Spirit to fulfil God’s eternal will.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Good Friday Rally (in Indonesian)

Here is the detail for Good Friday service in Indonesian:
6 April 2007
4.30pm Singapore
EXPO Conference Halls A - F, Foyer Level 1 and 2

Do invite your friends/relatives to come!