Saturday, July 21, 2007

Humanity in Sin Part 19 - Perfection Before God

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 8th July 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 17

After Hagar was pregnant, Abram could not do anything about the situation. He could only listen and accept the reality. He waited another 14 years. When Abram was 99 years old, God began to speak to him again. Hence the 13 years of silence must be very long and hard to go through. God left the one He loved on his own for 13 years after he sinned. But when God is silent, it does not mean He is not there. We need to learn to fear God even more when He is silent.

When God keeps silent, it is a serious and significant time to introspect ourselves.
We should be more afraid when God stops speaking. When God still speaks and moves our heart, it is His grace. It is in His sovereignty that we can hear His Word. For 400 years God did not speak to Israel until John the Baptist cried out, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near.” When God was silent for 400 years, what could men do? They could not rush God. We ought to be thankful to God if we are still given the opportunities to listen to good preaching and to have our sins rebuked by our pastor. This is God’s grace.

In 13 years of silence, God did not abandon Abram. Sometimes it appears to us as though God has abandoned us, we no longer sense His presence as we used to and we wonder why. We cannot choose how God would deal with us. But we ought to understand that God does not stop loving us. When Abram was 99 years old, God appeared to Him and revealed Himself as the Almighty God, the El-Shaddai. This term “El-Shaddai” in Hebrew means fertility and abundance. God revealed Himself as the Provider for all his needs.

Do we realize that God is Almighty and can fulfil all our needs? If we do, why do we live with so much unbelief? God does not bestow His abundance upon those without the right faith. God told Abram, “I am the Almighty God, walk before me as a perfect man.”

How could a human being be perfect before God? It is impossible to be perfect before men, much less before God. But why did God demand perfection? What kind of perfection is He looking for, since all men fall short of His glory?

Perfection can be seen from different levels. The first one is the perfection of creation, that is, the perfection of man before the Fall. The second one is the perfection in the salvation of Jesus Christ. And there is another perfection, which is perfection in eternity.

Reformed theology believes that it is impossible for human beings to reach perfection in this life. Apart from Christ, no human being can live blameless before God. The Scripture exposed the sin of many men of faith like David, Paul, Peter, Job, Elijah, etc. What then is the meaning of God’s command to Abram to be perfect before Him?

Apostle Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Phil.3:12). In reformed theology, the perfection meant is not perfection of achievement, but perfection of motivation. It is to make perfection as our highest goal and the end of our struggle.

One who is moving towards perfection and has the motivation to fight and achieve perfection, is called a perfect man. It is impossible to achieve perfection quantitatively in this life. But the quality of perfection has been given to us. Just like an egg that has full potential to become a chicken, we can grow into quantitative perfection because the qualitative perfection (potential for perfection) has been given to us. There are people who have been Christian for 50 years but never progress. There are others who just believe, study hard and a few years later become very good preachers. This is because one does not want to progress while the other wants to.

Quantity is the result of growth, and before growth, the quality needs to be there first. God gives the quality as the seed, and through this seed we grow quantitatively in the right way. We should not be too hasty to grow quantitatively, but should be very careful to instill the right quality. God’s command to Abram is to demand that he has the motivation to become a perfect man. Although we cannot achieve it, at least with a perfect fear of the Lord, we will grow in steps according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We can grow in this way if we believe that God is the Almighty God who will supply all our needs and empower us to do His will.

We ought to pray that God will preserve our motivation, our fear of the Lord, and all our life not to run away from the true guidance of God.


At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mejlina,
Wow, 2 posting in 2 days? Do you try to finishing up before going for a vacation? :)

Thought I would comment on 'fear of the Lord'. It should not be taken as 'be scared, be very scared' or else God will punish you.

But if we see it a bit different, if we assess our fear we would know what's the most important thing in our lives. What we loved most?

What do we fear most? Is it THE LOST OF: spouse(?), health(?), wealth(?), job/career(?), intelligent(?), beauty(?), family(?), friends(?) or being forsaken by God?

One preacher said that when Jesus cried out 'My Lord, my Lord, why do you forsaken me?' Jesus was tasting the Hell.
(Hell is the place where there is no present of God)


At 1:36 PM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Nope, a little bit behind time, so trying to catch up when I could. =)

Yeah, always a big gap between theory and practice.

At 2:50 AM, Blogger YingKs said...

I'm new to your blog, but am so grateful that you take the effort to put up these good sermons. Thank you!

Abel, I read what you said about fearing 'the lost of'. Such an enlightenment!

At 12:54 AM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Hi YingKS, welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting!


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