Sharing The Main Facts Of The Gospel

On the day of Pentecost, St Peter shared the gospel and 3000 Jews believed.  Only a short message comprising of 23 verses from Acts 2:14 to 2:36 and the listeners were cut to the heart. This first sermon of Peter clearly demonstrated the power of God in the gospel for salvation to everyone who believes.  What are the essential facts in this gospel sermon ?  Four major facts could be gleaned from it.

  1. That Jesus Is Both God And Man.

In Acts 2:22,  Peter attested to the fact that the Jewish listeners had seen or known all the miracles, wonders and signs of Jesus, whom God worked through Him, when He came as a man among them.  And in Acts 2:34-36, fully aware that the Jews were familiar with OT Scripture, Peter mentioned that King David proclaimed the Messiah to be equal to God by quoting from Psalms.  And he ended the sermon by declaring that Jesus is both Lord and Messiah.

  1. That Jesus Died On The Cross According To God’s Sovereign Plan.

In Acts 2:23, Peter said that Jesus was handed over by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge and was put to death by nailing Him to the cross with the help of wicked men.

  1. That God Raised Jesus On The Third Day.

From Acts 2:24 to 33, Peter quoted Psalms 16 and explained that King David was speaking of the Resurrection of the Messiah whose body would not see corruption beyond 3 days.  And he and the other apostles were witnesses of His Resurrection and Ascension.

  1. That Jesus Is Now In Heaven And The Holy Spirit Had Come As Promised.

In Acts 2:33,  Peter said this,”…exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.”  The Jews would know of the prophecy of Joel, mentioned in Acts 2:16-21, after the Messiah had come.

The Coming Millennium

Why does Christ our Lord want to reign on earth for one thousand years and not simply usher in the new heaven and new earth straightaway when He returns ?  It is to reveal that even with a perfect government of peace, justice and prosperity under His reign in person, fallen men may not necessarily choose to put their faith in Him. Most still revolt with the devil against Him when the devil is released after being bound for the entire period of the Millennium.

Many do not want to read or hear from the book of Revelation for two reasons despite God’s blessing for doing so : the devil does not want all to know his demise, and also most do not want to hear adverse news of God’s judgments judging humanity after all.

During the Millennium, there will be no more budget spending on defense. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Isaiah 2:4. And all the economic decisions for the nations will yield prosperity for all then.

Yet we learn that all such desires of prosperity and peace are not really what most men want ultimately when they still revolt at the end of the Millennium. What they really want is still freedom from the reign of God in their lives ! So believing in Christ and salvation can only mean one thing – that we really want to be in the kingdom of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, and His rule in His kingdom over us. We cannot have it both ways – that we want to be saved but not His Lordship in our lives.

Another main reason why there will be a millennium reign of our Lord is His promise to reward His disciples. They will be rewarded for faithful service during their lifetime. Matt16:27; Matt 25:34; Rev 22:12. Sadly today, many believers still desire to gain the whole world and may end up forfeiting their souls at worst or losing all rewards at best.  Our Lord will appoint the faithful servants to govern all nations during the Millennium. And imagine how gladly surprised we are to see the most humble servants of our Lord, brothers in our midst today, become the greatest government officials on that day. Matt 18:4; Matt 23:11-12.

Imagine living then in our glorified bodies with no illness. There will be perfect justice, no war and no death for us. The sea is still around that we can have the opportunity to explore the depths, and the travel around the world that we always want to do. We will be able to keep the tiger, the lion and the panda as pets.

Rev ‪20:11-15‬
I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Everyone, who had ever lived, will be standing before God’s throne in our resurrected bodies and be judged. John 5:27-29. Imagine seeing all the great people like the Chinese emperors, Julius Caesar and all our country past leaders and the small insignificant people as well. I will be seeing all my forefathers.
God is not going to weigh our good deeds with the bad deeds. He is only looking at the bad deeds of breaking the law – every secret, every thought and every action throughout our lives. God will be very fair and He will only judge based on evil thoughts and action that we knowingly commit. Our conscience will either accuse or excuse us. Rom 2:12-16. The redeemed will have all their sins blotted out. Heb 10:14-18.

Hosanna in the highest !

Following The Footsteps Of Saint Paul

The turning point of my life occurred on the eleventh of September, 2001 when God gave me an encounter which I often related it as a “Damascus” encounter.  Though it was not similar as the direct encounter St Paul had with our Lord Jesus,  it was the direct intervention of our Lord in our lives which I found so similar  – an intervention which otherwise we could never leave our old worldly way of life.  I recounted this encounter in my book, The Coming Economic Flood, and my faith journey from 2003 till recent years.  In these 16 years since 2003 through God’s divine guidance, I planted or nurtured a few small churches, spent an inordinate amount of time strengthening the disciples in several countries, wrote and shared widely against false teaching and galvanizing the churches in the region to prepare for the coming hard times to be self sustaining as well as being able to help the poor in the churches.

When God first called me, I had no idea of the training and missions He would give and lead me.  In hindsight and with pleasant surprise, I found much similarity with the ministry of St Paul :

  • Evangelizing and planting churches (Acts 14:21)
  • Strengthening the disciples (Acts 14:22; 15:41; 18:22-23)
  • Overseeing the churches against false teachers (Acts 20:30-31)
  • Helping the poor in the churches (Gal 2:9-10, 1 Cor 16:1-3, 2 Cor 8:13-14; 9:12-14)

During these past 16 years and 10 years prior, I learned to live in lack and in plenty just like St Paul as well. Similarly seeking no financial assistance from churches like St Paul, my own hands supply my needs. Acts 20:34.  Saint Paul did not go right away into ministry after his encounter with the Lord.  He spent some time in Arabia.  Gal 1:17-18.  Many scholars believe he was having a personal retreat to understand the significance of His encounter and calling.  Likewise from 2003 to 2007, I spent day and night reading up the Bible and books on essential doctrines before I went on my first missionary trip to China. Though I encountered much danger in the missions, weaknesses, insults, and even calamities,  God delivered me without much suffering, unlike St Paul who was given 39 lashes 5 times, encountered shipwreck 3 times, and faced hunger, thirst, cold, exposure, and sleepless nights.

Hope in the coming Millennium and beyond is so real to me, by the grace of God, that I am so eager to invest in the treasure above while I count everything here as rubbish to the surpassing worth of knowing our Lord.  On that glorious day, we will be vindicated for turning our back to the world in this life and always looking forward to the city built by God.

St Paul was right to say that if there is no coming Resurrection,  then our faith is in vain and we should just eat, drink and merry.  But if Hope is real and coming, our Lord’s exhortation to be the wise virgin, the faithful servant of investing for the gain of the Kingdom of God, or the sheep in caring for God’s people cannot be taken lightly but should be resolutely obeyed.

The Church That Our Lord Desires

Reading the commendation and rebuke of the 7 churches in Rev 2 and 3,  I come away with these observations that these are the seven characteristics of a church that our Lord desires.

  1. A loving church (Ephesus). A church that continues to love the Lord and loving one another.  Rev 2:4-5
  2. A suffering church (Smyrna). A church that is prepared to suffer ostracism, tribulation and poverty.   Rev 2:9.
  3. An externally-uncompromising church (Pergamum). A church that will not yield and compromise with the excesses of the outside world.  Rev 2:14-16.
  4. An internally-uncompromising church (Thyatira). A church that will not tolerate false teaching within.  Rev 2:20-21.
  5. An unpretentious church (Sardis). A church that will actually complete her works instead of putting up enough just for her image.  Rev 3:1-2.
  6. A faithful church (Philadelphia). A church that stays the course despite having little power.   Rev 3:8.
  7. A humble church (Laodicea). A church that is not proud and living in prosperous and care-less ease.  Rev 3:17-18.

The NAR False Christology Doctrine

RC Sproul mentioned that the early church had to contend against 2 heresies concerning the doctrine of our Lord Jesus.  One is docetism and the other is monophysite heresy.  Here is what he said,

“The great ecumenical council of Chalcedon in AD 451 affirmed that Jesus is truly man and truly God and that the 2 natures are so united as to be without mixture, confusion, separation, or division, each nature retaining its own attributes.  The true humanity of Jesus has been assaulted in 2 ways. The early church had to combat the heresy of docetism, which taught that Jesus did not have a real physical body or a true human nature…The other major heresy the church rejected was the Monophysite heresy. The heresy argued that Jesus did not have 2 natures but one. This single nature was neither truly divine or truly human but a mixture of the two. It was called a “theanthropic” nature. The Monophysite heresy involves either a deified human nature or a humanized divine nature…We must distinguish between the 2 natures without separating them.”

Today we have the NAR leaders proliferating another similar heresy known as kenotic Christology in that Jesus gave up His deity during His earthly sojourn and then gained it back when He resurrected. (The biblical truth that Christ fully possessed both natures is called the hypostatic union.)

If believing in docetism is having the spirit of the Antichrist (1 John 4:2-3), is it not worse to believe in this current kenotic Christology heresy ?  Both will change His Personhood and His work. But the latter is more deplorable than the former.

I believe it is worse because of 2 reasons:

1. It undermines the monotheistic distinctive of the Christian faith.

The only way to limit the use of attributes of one Person without limiting the attributes of all three members of the Godhead is to divide God into three divine Beings for each of the three Persons. Jesus could then suspend His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc., while the Father and Holy Spirit would continue to exercise sovereign dominion over the universe. This view of the Trinity, however, is polytheistic, not Christian. The Christian faith is monotheistic. We believe there is only one God. “Hear O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:29). The Creed of Athanasius affirms this truth: “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but there are not three gods, but one God…The Father is omnipotent, the Son is omnipotent and the Holy Spirit is omnipotent, but there are not three omnipotent Beings, but one omnipotent Being …We distinguish among the Persons, but we do not divide the Substance.   (This reason is copied from an article on internet with link not found now.)

2. It will undermine the perfect sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ as presented by God.

Jesus said no one is good except God. If Jesus is not God even for a moment, then He is not good. If He is not good, then He is not perfect. If He is not perfect, He cannot atone for our sins.

The NAR leaders based their error on Phil 2:5-8.   I would interpret Phil 2:5-8 as referring to the humility of Christ that He humbled Himself in giving up His heavenly glory and independent authority in submission to the will of God the Father, but not divine characteristics.  Because in the context of this Scriptural passage, St Paul was exhorting believers to have the same humble mindset of our Lord Jesus.

Given the current absurd shamanistic practices taught by these NAR leaders and now this heresy concerning the doctrine of our Lord Jesus, I am inclined to believe they have a different spirit.  Because if they do really have the Holy Spirit, they will not err on this very important doctrine.

Matt 16:15-17
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

I believe this is the sinister motive to want to believe that Jesus our Lord did His miracles as a mere man without having His divine powers  –  for that will justify mere men like the NAR leaders can also perform miracles with the power given by the Holy Spirit.  Matt 24:24 warned us that false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, the elect, in the end times.  So will the Holy Spirit cause even more confusion in this last period of the last days in enabling believers in great numbers to perform signs and wonders ?

The Purpose Of God’s Warning About The End Times

According to David Pawson,  27% of the verses of the Bible contained a prediction about future events.  737 different future events were predicted in detail of which 80% have been fulfilled.   The balance 20% concerned events still in the future yet to be fulfilled.

We cannot come away after reading the Bible without seeing that God knew and planned the future events.  He alone decides the destiny of the world and the nations.  He decides the rise and fall of nations.

What is the purpose of God telling us what is about to happen ?   God wants to help us to meet the future and He aims to strengthen His people.

David Pawson gave us 6 reasons in his commentary on the book of Daniel and I took the liberty to para-phrase them with my own observation :

  1. God’s people will stand firm.   When the world is shaking, God’s people will stand firm.  Such times will differentiate the wheat from the tares, and the sheep from the goats.  The Christians will expect the Return of our Lord eagerly and they also know that hard times will precede His Return.
  2. God’s people will do exploits. God graciously allows His people to be His co-workers.  His people will want to do something to hasten His Return rather than be passive.  They will be up and running to obey God’s exhortation to care for His people as exhorted in the 4 parables in Matt 24 and 25.  They will be the wise servants who expect their Lord to return soon and invest in the talents given, the wise virgins who carry enough oil, and the sheep who care for the least of the brothers.
  3. God’s people will bring understanding. They will have a great ministry of teaching when the disturbances come. When the disturbances come, we can teach people who is in charge, why these events are happening, and where all these events are heading.  (Personally I am surprised how God has called me to galvanize the churches in the region to prepare to care for God’s people when the hard times hit, given the fact that I was not part of any ministry in any church from the start, and I have no seminary or church network to call upon.)
  4. God’s people will endure suffering. In the Book of Daniel, God mentioned about the coming persecution of the Jewish people and the desecration of the Temple by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Seleucid monarch, before Judas Maccabee liberated them.
  5. God’s people will be refined. Suffering always bring the peaceful fruit of righteousness.  It will smelt and sift.  Dross will be smelted away and the true will be sifted from the false.  God’s people will be purged and purified.  Though one may find the church congregation halved,  take heart that those who are left will be the strong and faithful.
  6. God’s people will find rest. Knowing that redemption draws near,  God’s people know that their days of suffering will be over soon.  But sadly for those who do not believe or have fallen, their days of suffering will actually begin for all eternity, after all these tribulations have come to an end.

The Last Four Empires In The End Times

The traditional interpretation of Daniel chapter 2 and 7 is that they are dealing with the same empires.  In Chapter 2, we know that the empires were that of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome.

But here are the reasons why the four beasts mentioned in Daniel chapter 7 cannot be referring to these same ancient empires :

  1. Daniel 7:12 mentioned that the first 3 empires will survive the destruction of the empire of the Antichrist. Babylon and Medo-Persia no longer existed.
  2. When Daniel received the interpretation of the vision, Daniel 7:17 clearly stated that these 4 beasts are empires which will arise in the future.  So Babylon could not be the first beast as Daniel was already living under the Babylonian empire at her height of glory.
  3. Daniel chapter 8 mentioned that the ram represented the kings of Media and Persia and the goat represented the kingdom of Greece. So the Bible will be terribly mixed up if the bear and leopard are used to represent these 2 same ancient empires.
  4. All these 4 beasts are apparently mentioned in Rev 13 and it is a single vision starting from Rev 12 to 14.   The vision starts from the birth of the Messiah to His defeat of the last beast.  When the Messiah came,  3 of the ancient empires of Babylon, Persia and Greece had already come and gone.

What are the four empires in the end times ?    Were some already here and have lost dominion ?  Do we have enough evidence to make conjecture about the existence of these empires now ?

I have read of some conjectures made by several ministers and theologians.  But this is the conjecture I believe in :

  1. The first beast, lion, was the British Empire.  The modern day symbol of the British Empire is a lion.   It ruled some 23% of the world’s population or 412 million at its height.  It was the largest empire in history.  The eagles’ wings were plucked off the lion and America gained her independence from Great Britain in 1776.  The symbol of America is an eagle.
  2. The second beast, bear, was the former Soviet Union.   The socialist empire, consisting of 15 republics,  existed from 1922 to 1991.  It was governed centrally by one single Communist Party from Moscow, the capital of the largest republic, Russia.    The modern day symbol of Russia is the bear.  The bear has 3 ribs in its mouth which may signify that Russia may try to retake 3 other republics again.   It has ambition to retake Ukraine and possibly another 2 states.
  3. The third beast, leopard, may be Germany. Germany had always tried to unite Europe.   The reign of Hitler from 1923 to 1945 was referred to as the Third Reich.  Hitler imagined his dictatorial regime was the successor to two great German empires.  The First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire ruled by Charlemagne.  And the Second Reich was the German Empire under Otto Van Bismark who ruled from 1870 to 1919.  Though the symbol of Germany is not the leopard but during World War 2,  she fought ferociously like a leopard.  Their most formidable weapon was the leopard tank.   Presently Germany is already dominating the European Union.  Is this the Fourth Reich ?   Or will a political union of 4 European nations arise with Germany as the leading state in the very near future as signified by this leopard beast with 4 heads and wings of a bird ?  The unofficial symbol of France is a rooster.

If the third beast is already here,  then the coming of the final beast, the Antichrist, is very near.  Will the European monetary union break up to cause a global economic collapse, and a new political cum monetary union arise under the Antichrist ?

Fellowship Conference With Church Leaders Of Riau Province Held In Batam

All thanks be to God for the opportunity to fellowship and share a message on the coming economic hard times with the Riau provincial leaders of GBI, a denomination of some 20,000 churches, and pastoral leaders of churches in Batam on 12 April 2019. We were hosted by GBI Tabgha church, Batam.   (GBI Tabgha church is the largest church in Batam with some 20,000 baptized members.)

The night before, I shared with fellow pastors Ramil, Christy, Sirivuth, Sambo, Vibol and Peter Wanyonyi whether an earthquake would happen to give urgency to the message I would give this very morning. As we returned from Batam at about 7 pm and before we took the train back to the hostel, a 6.8 earthquake happened in Sulawesi, Indonesia triggering a tsunami warning at 7.40 pm. Of course I hope and pray for God’s mercy that there will be no casualty, but yet I have to take God’s warning seriously to expect an exponential increase of earthquakes in this beginning of the birth pains.  All glory and praise to our sovereign God that there was little or no casualty.

(I cannot help but to notice the slim odds of such regular occurrence.  When I first shared this message on 10 March 2011 in Batam at Alfa Omega,  the massive 9.0 earthquake triggering the worst tsunami occurred in Japan the next day.  In Nov 2018,  I went to share the same message in General Santos, Philippines and a 6.9 earthquake happened just 120 km from the city two or three weeks later.)

Agricultural Enterprise Ministry Update

By the grace of God, JC’s Manifesto was able to sponsor some egg incubating and roasting oven equipment to scale up the production capability of the farms of her ministry partners and also allow these farms to offer further value added service such as roasted chicken to supply restaurants directly, in case there is market demand.

All thanks be to God for the opportunity to bring the ministry partners together to share of their experiences and to teach each other new productive development.  And also to teach the use of the above equipment.

JC’s Manifesto also took this opportunity to invite potential ministry partners from other regions.  I gave thanks to God for sending Pastor Peter Wanyonyi from Kenya to come for the agricultural enterprise training at Alfa Omega Ministry.   Praying that God will bless his hands when he returns to Kenya, and in turn,  be a blessing to fellow ministers and churches there.

Practising Double Standards

It is sad to note that certain evangelical denominations practise double standards in opposing one issue while approving or condoning another when the reason given in the Scripture for the commands concerning the two issues is the same or is very straightforward and clear.

In this article, I am not arguing for or against the issues per-se but I am saddened by the double standards practised at such respectable evangelical denominations. Such practice of double standards will rubbish their moral authority of upholding truth.  It may also convey the wrong message that their own upheld biblical views on the side of pragmatism take precedence over the obedience of straightforward commands of Scripture.

Here are 2 examples.

1. The reason Scripture gave for opposing homosexuality as sin, and forbidding women to teach or have spiritual authority over men,  is the same –  it is simply God’s designed order.  1 Tim 2:12-14.  Scripture is not implying that one gender or one type of relationship is considered more superior than the other.   All men and women are created equal and all the saved men and women will be like angels in eternity. We have several examples of the excellent ministry of women in Scripture such as how Timothy was brought up in godliness by his godly mother and grandmother.  So we cannot trivialize the excellent and necessary ministry of godly women in the kingdom of God other than teaching and exercising authority over men.  (Scripture gives the qualification of overseer and deacon starting with the criterion of being husband of one wife.  If it applies to both gender,  such qualification ought to be specific knowing the confusion will happen in the future.)  On the other hand regarding homosexuality, I am sure it can be argued that homosexual relationship can also exercise fidelity and faithfulness in the union.  So I see no reason to continue to debate the merit of any held position;  since it is simply God’s designed order which should settle such issues.

2. Some of these churches may judge the sin of non Christians in the world by taking up action such as organizing political protest petition or event, but not judge the sin of believers in the church.   And end up violating God’s direct command in 1 Cor 5:9-13.

1 Cor 5:9-13

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”