Friday, June 15, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 14 – The Weakness of A Godly Man

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 3rd June 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 12:7-20

Scriptures record not only the beauty or glory of men, but the weaknesses of men as a mirror for us to know ourselves. No great man is perfect. When facing difficulties and threat of life especially, men are vulnerable and normally expose their weaknesses.

We need to build in our mind the consciousness that the world will pass away so that we will not be trapped here. The wife of Francis Schaeffer, the great reformed apologist in 20th century, wrote that all the beauty in this world is only leftover beauty of heaven.

After God’s calling, sometimes things become unclear. We might become confused where to go, as though we are left alone after we are called. But the journey of faith involves facing such uncertainties in life. No matter how weak and how much Abram fail, he always kept two things intact in his life, that is the fear of God and the supremacy of God in his life. Hence God always preserved his life. Wherever he went, whenever he stopped, the first thing he did was to build an altar to worship God. He put God first.

Abram saw eternity. The book of Hebrews says that these giants of faith did not see what they were promised come to pass until they die because God’s promise is eternal while their life on earth is temporal (Heb.11:8,13). So they continued to hope in God’s eternal promise and made light of temporary things.

But a lot of people prioritize money instead wherever they go. If we prioritieze money everywhere, we will perish together with our money. Sometimes we give excuses for not serving or worshipping because there are no good churches or fellowships in the place we stay. If there is no fellowship, start one. If there is no church, build one. If there is no pastor, be one. If not now, when? If not here, where? If not me, who? This is the reformed spirit. If we understand this principle, we will become very daring.

Abram only stayed in a place temporarily so the altar he built was also only used for a while. His life on earth is not permanent but God’s work is eternal. We will know how to operate and judge the value of our works if we see this principle clearly. Sometimes we question the rationale of taking the trouble to work on something which we personally could not use or enjoy for long term. So our mindset is that if we cannot enjoy the fruit later, we do not want to do it. We only want to do what we can enjoy later. This is a wrong spirit. The right spirit is in recognising that our life on earth is not permanent, we will die soon, but what we do will outlast our life. We need to change our mindset and learn to judge values. A philosopher once said that once a great thought is proclaimed, it will never be abolished from history. So it is a very small issue if we cannot get to enjoy what we have built and others enjoy the fruit of our labor.

Abram went to Egypt due to famine in Canaan. Sometimes, after we have been called by God and loved God, we go through a period of time where God’s guidance becomes unclear and seems like a history already. We feel that we are walking around on our own. This is our human weakness. And when we are pressured in such a situation, we begin to compromise and go where God never asks us to go.

Did God ask Abram to go to Egypt? The Scripture left this blank. But we know that God never promised Egypt to Abram, but Canaan, which was a difficult place. Due to economic difficulty, the man of God compromised and went to Egypt. Egypt was a place of lust where men wanted to possess beautiful women. Abram already knew what the place was like before he went there. In trying to save his life, he taught Sarah to tell half-truth about their relationship, that they were brother and sister, and hid the fact that they were also husband and wife.

Later on Pharaoh rebuked Abram for not telling the truth that they were married. Do we have to wait for the unbelievers to rebuke us before we know that we are wrong? Even unbelievers have their value system due to common grace. Christ says we are the light of the world, the city on a hill that cannot be hidden. So do not think that unbelievers have no idea what kind of mess is happening inside the church. When Christians sin, the whole world take notice.

Why is it that we dare to sin but we do not dare to admit it? So daring in doing wrong, but we do not dare to receive rebuke or have our acts publicized? We are not consistent and this is our sinful psychology. It shows that we still have conscience.

But we thank God that many times when we almost fall, God intervenes. We need to appreciate especially warning and rebukes from servants of God. In this case, God did not allow Sarah to be defiled by Pharaoh and sent punishment to Egypt to awaken Pharaoh’s conscience.

We see that the man who trusted and obeyed God to leave his homeland faltered when his life was in trouble. He came into the situation where Pharaoh had to rebuke him and sent him away. Why must Christians be chased away by non Christians? We need to learn not to compromise in difficulties.


At 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is it that we dare to sin but we do not dare to admit it? So daring in doing wrong, but we do not dare to receive rebuke or have our acts publicized? We are not consistent and this is our sinful psychology. It shows that we still have conscience.

The last sentence didn't seem to belong there.
I think it should be: 'sinful nature' instead of 'conscience'

=> It shows that we still have our sinful nature.

Consequently, it's our duty to mortify our sins every day.

At 3:58 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

He meant that conscience made us feel ashamed of our wrongdoing.

At 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, maybe there were parts missing then. As when I read the first 3 sentences in that paragraph, it reflect the behavior of a hypocrite. But a hypocrite wouldn't realize his situation by his own conscience. Or else he wouldn't act like that.

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous joan said...

thanks for faithfully writing about what you learnt in his sermons!

At 1:11 AM, Blogger discovery said...

Just want to thank you for the effort in translation.. just came to know about Stephen Tong ..only heard him once .... New insights and enjoying reading the past messages ..



At 12:16 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Hi Charissa, welcome to my transcript blog. Glad that the materials are a blessing to you. =)


Post a Comment

<< Home