Thursday, May 31, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 12 - Obedience to God's Calling

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 20th May 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. Newton Life did not have this message on this date as it was having a Reformed Evangelical Seminar series on Christianity and World Religion by Rev.Stephen Tong on 17th to 20th May 2007.

Passage: Genesis 11:27 – 12:3

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.

Men have all kinds of ambition and imagination to glorify themselves and achieve their plans, although all these are not important. What is important is how to know God’s will and to synchronize our thoughts that are already smeared by sin to be cleansed and take part in His purpose that will never go wrong. If we align ourselves with God, we will discover that whatever God has purposed is much better than what men have purposed. God has always been working out all things according to His eternal will, step by step through history until everything becomes a complete perfection of beauty.

Once when instability in the plane was announced, the passengers became panicky. One of the passengers was a pastor. He calmed down the passengers by reminding them that their lives are in God’s hands. In the midst of the panic, he asked whether anyone would like to try solving his jigsaw puzzles until it formed a complete picture. There were some who tried but failed to do so, because it was the picture of the world map so every piece looked similar. After some time, the pastor said that he could solve it very quickly. But he flipped the jigsaw puzzles and started from the picture at the back rather than the front, because at the back was the picture of a face, which is so much easier to solve. When he was done, they saw that it was the portrait of Christ. So if we know the face of Christ in the puzzle, the messy world map jigsaw puzzle is not messy anymore.

Similarly, if we know the Lord Jesus as the center point, we know the master plan, then all the chaos, puzzle and fragments will be united into one picture. When we are in difficulty, do not fear because God’s plan is in it. When we see the face of the Lord, however complicated the map, it will be completed. The Scripture teaches that God is not the God that does things impulsively or in haphazard manner. He has planned for everything before the world is created. Hence if we know God’s plan, let us pray, “I submit all my life in Your hand. I will align myself with Your plan.” In this way our life will be beautiful and become a blessing to the world. This is what we see from Genesis 12 onwards.

Genesis 1-11 are rejected by liberal theologians as myth because they are not in line with human thoughts, rationality, experiences and probability of history events. To them, history only began from Genesis 12. However, chapter 12 cannot be separated from the first 11 chapters because in these earlier chapters we see how men repeatedly failed and yet God did not give up, He continued to call His chosen people to fulfil His purpose. God’s work throughout history never stops. John Wesley, a preacher used mightily by God, had caused all England to be a nation with more order, morality, faith and good character. When he died many people mourned for him. On his tombstone it was written, “God buried His servant and continues His own work.” If we understand this sentence, we know that we are nothing. God does His work and gives His servants a portion so that they could be His co-workers. Paul himself said he was God’s co-worker, and that God is the Planner of all things, He calls us, He guides us and gives us a what we need so that we can have a part in His great work. We are but a piece on that big puzzle of God’s work which God places in His church at a certain age and place.

After chapter 11 we see a genealogy from Shem till Abraham. There were 10 generations from Shem to Abraham. The Bible records who they were, how long they lived, when they married and have kids, at what age they had kids and what are the name of the kids, and how long more they lived after having kids, and so on. Isn’t it very boring if I preach a sermon like this? If we feel bored just by listening like this, don’t we think that God feel even more bored by our lives? Thousands of years passed and this is all God saw. When reading these genealogies, I think how boring it must be for God to see men living from generation to generation without meaning. We are just one of those boring ones. But we always think we are the most important people and our marriage is the most important thing.

Generation after generation lived without meaning and without leaving a record of even one meaningful sentence. What did they pray? Nothing. What did they do? Nothing. Nothing worth recording, nothing worth remembering and noting in history. When we die, will there be people who remember that we once work faithfully for God? Someday in heaven, what is remembered is not how much money we have accumulated. What is remembered is our footpath in preaching the gospel, how much we share the word of God, how much we deny ourselves and sacrifice ourselves for others, how much we submit ourselves before God’s altar. This is what God will remember forever.

At the 10th generation, a son was born and his name is Abram. After Abram was born, history entered into a new phase. From chapter 12, the life of Abram was recorded. This is because his life is full of meaning. Do we yearn to have our lives remembered by God? How can we differentiate between a meaningful and a meaningless life? When our life is synchronized with the will of God, our life is meaningful. This is the secret. If our life pursuit has nothing to do with God, but is all about ourselves, how to get rich and fulfil our lusts, then we will live a meaninless life that will be forgotten. How much of our life is synchronized with the will of God? This is the important news of today. History only records events that have relevance with eternity. Eternity can be seen from two angles. The first one is that it is not wiped off in the process of time in history. And more than that, the second one is that it is not wiped off by the entire history that will soon be past because God remembers it forever. There are many figures in the world who have meaning and position in the world history, but they have no position in salvation history. All things have no meaning unless they are synchronized with the eternal will of God. Abraham is different because he is a person who is sensitive and truly wants to know God’s will.

When God calls someone to use the person to create a new era and to lead history into a new phase, He will call and demand strictly his complete obedience. Chapter 12 begins by saying, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” Where are you from? You know. Where are you going? You do not need to know. Calling is not fulfilling our own will. Calling is following God’s will. Many Christians say they want to be called by God if… they want to be used by God if … they want to become fulltime ministers if … well, if God listens to them. There are even Christian parents who do not allow their sons to go fulltime, especially the most intelligent one. Some will allow their son to become a fulltime minister, as long as their son becomes like Stephen Tong who preaches around the world and is accepted and respected everywhere. Let me say that instead my father never lives to see who I am today. He died when I was 3 years old. What if God calls your son to be a faithful servant but in remote places of the world, will you be willing? Men can have many excuses but they forget that God feels sorry for us.

The second verse says “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” The third verse says, “I will bless those who bless you and who ever curses you I will curse, and all peoples on earh will be blessed through you.” What we do is not for our own glory. We should ask, how much can we contribute? How many people can I preach to? How much can I sacrifice myself? If we are clear about this, it is impossible that the work of God is neglected. There are many smart people who are willing to be used by God. But the question is, what is it that we are looking for in a calling? Do we emphasize how much we can get out of it or how much we can sacrifice our lives for it? There are servants of God who earn very little but dares to give a big offering for God. But there are also those who do not want to give to God. The Scriptures says that those who love God are known by God. We need to learn to receive our calling, to learn obedience, to learn to prepare our hearts to sacrifice, and not just thinking of receiving more and more for ourselves.


At 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Similarly, if we know the Lord Jesus as the center point, we know the master plan, then all the chaos, puzzle and fragments will be united into one picture. When we are in difficulty, do not fear because God’s plan is in it.

read: Proverbs 8:10-16; 22-31
and John 1

Jesus == Wisdom


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