Walking with God

January 29, 2007 at 10:03 am (Sunday Sermon)

Genesis 5:24 tells us that “Enoch walked with God.” Many Christians today find it footsteps-for-web.gifso difficult to walk consistently with God, even for a single day. But Enoch walked with God for 300 years! A Biblical study of the term “walk” tells us that it is expressive of something more intimate than just taking a walk with God. 

Firstly, walking with God suggests that there is no enmity between God and Enoch.

Enemies do not walk together. Amos 3:3 asks, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The Scriptures in many places assert that the mind of the unconverted is carnal, sinful, and therefore at enmity with God. Romans 8:7 says, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Thus, walking with God implies that the converted man who walks with God is no longer an enemy of God, but has been reconciled to God through the all-sufficient righteousness and atonement of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus Christ is our peace as well as peacemaker. Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Colossians 1:20 says, “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”  If you have believed on Him, you are justified and you are reconciled to God; and consequently you can walk with God.  Jesus Christ brings us to God and helps us to walk with Him. 

Secondly, walking with God implies an abiding communion or fellowship with God. 

1 John 1:6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” So walking with God or in His light would mean having fellowship with God. Such a person would not allow anything to distract him from his communion with God. He keeps his life in tune with God all the time.  We all know that when friends walk together, they would engage in close and interesting conversation. They derive strength and encouragement from their close communication. And this idea is clearly intended in the figure of speech “walk with God”. Every child of God must keep on communing with God. A Christian must draw his pleasure and comforts not from his worldly friends but from his God. He must have constant fellowship with God. The child of God must have fellowship with God in prayer. He must view the daily seasons of prayer as sweet and wonderful. So the man who walks with God speaks with God – telling Him all his doubts and fears, struggles and sufferings, all his desires and needs. The prayerful Christian will receive God’s kind exhortations and comforting answers in return. 

I remember a story told by Charles Spurgeon about a sickly Christian in Scotland who was on his  death bed, and visited by a friend who felt very distressed for him. This Christian told his friend, “Could these curtains, or could these walls speak, they would tell you what sweet communion I have had with my God here.”

O prayer! Prayer! It brings and keeps God and man together. It raises man up to God, and brings God down to man. If you have been there, you would like to be there again. O  believers, keep up your walk with God; pray, and pray without ceasing. 

Believers must also maintain their walk with God by reading His Holy Word. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). We meet our Saviour in this Holy Book, the Bible. There we hear His voice, gentle and sure, guiding and strengthening, comforting and emboldening us for each day’s task.  How can we maintain a Christian walk without having God to speak to us? SoGod preserved His inspired Word for His people. It shall not pass away for the sake of His people’s blessing. And the royal Psalmist tells us, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). Walking in the light of God’s Word is to walk in His presence. 

Thirdly, walking with God is a description of the renewed life of a believer.  

The word “walk” is  descriptive of the manner in which God’s people ought to walk. Romans 6:4 says, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” A man who is united with Christ should not walk like a worldly person. Anyone who desires to walk with God cannot walk with those who have no fellowship with God.  Ephesians 2:2 tells us, “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 4:17 – “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind.” Those who walk with the Lord will be characterised by godliness. Consider what the Scripture says about the manner in which Christians ought to walk:

(1) Walk by faith: 2 Corinthians 5:7, “(For we walk by faith, not by sight).” 

(2) Walk according to the Holy Spirit and not according to carnal feelings: Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:4, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Galatians 5:16 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” 

(3) Walk honestly, without hypocrisy: Romans 13:13, “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” 2 Corinthians 4:2, “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” Ephesians 5:8, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.”  

(4) Walk in Christ’s love: Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”  

(5) Walk circumspectly: In Ephesians 5:15, believers are exhorted to “walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.”  A believer who walks with God will be wise to always please Him. One ought to walk with God in the same direction and to the same destination. The man who walks with God must conform to God’s moral character and will. His feelings and aspirations ought to be in accordance with the holy law. He ought to love righteousness and hate iniquity.  The New Testament names Enoch as a man of faith, and comments on his life as one that pleased  God. Hebrews 11:5 says, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Enoch was certainly a remarkable man of faith. When the time came for this extraordinary man of piety to leave the world, God took him suddenly and supernaturally. He was the first of two in the Old Testament who did not see death. 

Fourthly, walking with God implies that one is advancing or making progress in his spiritual life.  

Walking, in the very first idea of the word, seems to suppose a progressive action or motion. A person who walks, moves and goes forward. So it is with those who walk with God. They will go on “from strength to strength” (Psalm 84:7); they are “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even asby the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18). In the epistle of Jude, we are told that Enoch prophesied about the last days: Jude 14, 15 – “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  

What a blessing Enoch received from God to be given a glimpse of the glorious return of Christ with His saints in the end-times! It certainly pays to walk with God. And only those who walk with Him below will walk with Him above. The Lord took Enoch into His presence without letting him see death. That is a very great honour indeed! 

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A Serious Error of Preachers: Not Exposing Error

January 27, 2007 at 1:25 pm (Uncategorized)

We have no shortage of “evangelical” pastors and preachers who preach biblical and helpful messages. But, in modern days, one erroneous trend is increasingly found among such preachers. The error is not that they outrightly teach false doctrines, but they do not preach truth explicitly so as to uncover the widespread sinful and worldly habits in their congregations or the apostasy and compromise in the modern Christian world.

A great number of preachers of our times prefer to leave the errors and evils among their flocks untouched in their preaching. Though they preach that repentance is a necessity, they will not rebuke immodesty, carnality and materialism in their congregations. They are only concerned about giving cosmetic beauty to their preaching. Their preaching seldom goes beyond surface; it hardly touches the raw nerve of the people’s conscience.

Why don’t preachers expose error?

Popularity
Whenever a preacher stands up and preaches, he does so with the hope that his voice will be heard and that his message will be received in full by the congregants. Herein lies the danger. When people’s opinion becomes predominant in the mind of the preacher, he seeks to cater to their pleasure rather than preach the will of God in its entirety, which is expected of him. The ultimate duty of every preacher is not to please the crowd but God. The preacher who is a man-pleaser is an entertainer, not a servant of the Lord, neither a faithful minister of His Word.

Another problem of a preacher who is preoccupied with the acceptance of the people is that he will be constantly under an irresistible pressure not to apply the truth of God’s Word in a
way that would unsettle the “comfort” of the errant ones. A popularity conscious preacher will be silent even when he is aware of unrestrained sinful ways of his congregants. Such a man will rather cherish the comfortable relationship that he enjoys with the congregants than the holiness and glory of God. He feels more at ease with the abominable ways of men and
women of his congregation than with uneasiness resulting from bold rebuke of their immodest, carnal, materialistic ways. So he develops a style of preaching which appears to be biblical and yet without full, appropriate and necessary application of God’s Word into the lives of his hearers.

Pragmatism
Pragmatism is the mindset and principle which engages those who pursue fame and recognition. It is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences.
Where pragmatism reigns, only visibly productive ideas and practices are pursued. All else, even biblical principles, are considered secondary. Pragmatism pushes aside holiness, faithfulness and the fear of God from its primacy in preaching and replaces it with bigger crowds, human appeasement, more money, more glamour, etc.

In so far as preachers, and their preaching, ministry and life are concerned, the present pragmatism of modern Christianity is at odds with Scripture. It is leading preachers away from being admonishers of sin and false doctrines to being their accommodators. The pragmatism’s road to popularity is too often paved with deception and lined with vagueness. The sign posts on such a highway to acceptance are always indistinct. Pragmatic pastors are leading their flocks into puddles of sin and devil’s pastures. This has become an acceptable way of life for those on the way to the top of the ladder of success in the business of entertainment. The world thinks little of using improper manoeuvres to gain its goals. A vast number of people have obviously determined that morality is no longer a needed asset in the social, political and spiritual fields. Immodesty and immoral lives are quietly overlooked.

Smooth-sounding professionalism of pastoral preaching largely turns a blind eye to apostasy and compromise. More and more preachers and churches are toning down and paring down their messages. Once in a while, this will be hinted at, but it will not be dealt with in a plain manner.

None of these should surprise us. The Spirit of God already cautioned us in His Word: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:2-4).

Personal Pleasure and Gain
To offend listeners means loss of income and influence. So pragmatic ideology of modern preachers has filled many church pulpits with “dumb dogs”, who refuse to bark and alert men of the spiritual calamities that encircle them. Pragmatism has produced a breed of “greedy dogs” who rather remain silent for their own gain, even at the expense of the souls placed under their guard.

This reality of modern preachers reminds us of Paul’s words, “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself” (1 Timothy 6:3-5).

The Lord also spoke of such pastors in Isaiah 56, “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink; and to morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant” (vv. 10-12).

As Isaiah said, one of the reasons for the silence of many pastors in the face of increasing sinfulness in their congregation is their own love for sinful pleasures, such as wine drinking, immorality and worldliness.

Exposing Error: Is It Worthwhile?

Exposing error is a very unpopular work. Objection is often raised even by some who are sound in the faith – regarding the exposure of error as being entirely negative and of no real edification. But from every Scriptural standpoint, it is most worthwhile. Proverbs 24:25, affirms, “But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.” A wise pastor will rebuke the sins of his congregation, and a wise congregation will gladly receive it with submission and obedience for its own blessing.

When a godly pastor or elder or a brother or a sister points out your errors, you ought to be thankful rather than resentful. Psalm 141:5 says, “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.” You should not go against the loving act of the one who rebukes you. Neither should you smear his or her good intention with false accusations and with your own false self-exaltation. The Scripture says such angry responses belong to the scornful and the foolish ones. “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee” (Proverbs 9:8).

God’s Word says, “Open rebuke is better than secret love” (Proverbs 27:5). And the next verse reiterates, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” It is the duty of every loving pastor to rebuke and correct his flock, even if it would cause some form of emotional hurt to the offender. If rebuke is necessitated by sin or a doctrinal error, then godly love demands the intense rebuke of it. Unfortunately, today, rebuke is much rather the neglected duty of love. (I do not advocate harsh treatment of an errant brother – cf. Galatians 6:1- 2; though I fully agree that a church should take biblical disciplinary actions against unrepentant men and women in its congregation – cf. Matthew 18:15-20.)

At this juncture, I would like to bring to my readers’ attention the words of a famous godly preacher of yesteryears, A. H. Ironside (1876–1951), “Error is like leaven of which we read, ‘A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.’ Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.”

I end this article with the advice of the Apostle Paul to all preachers, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2). He advised Titus concerning some malicious men, who infiltrated the church, “whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, The Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:11-13).

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God Cares for His Children

January 10, 2007 at 11:31 am (Testimony)

From time to time, the Lord has comforted and strengthened me with the promises of His Word. Whether it be times of dire needs, sickness, sadness, opposition, or disappointments, the Lord always has a word of promise to cheer me. My heart is full of thanksgiving for the voice of His assurances in the Scripture. O how I love to meditate His Word in all my struggles, for it gives me courage, strength, and direction when I need them most.In recent years, one of the disturbing problems I had to endure was the receding gums. It has caused many of my healthy looking teeth to be removed as they came very loose, causing swelling and pain in my gum. When I sought treatment in National Dental Centre, I was firstly told that I have a very serious periodontal disease. After a couple of sessions of initial examinations and dental care, I was briefed on the surgical procedures that I need to undergo to correct the bone degeneration in my gum and the eventual implanting of new teeth. When the doctor told me about the cost involved, I knew that I will not able to continue with the recommended procedure. I walked away from NDC, feeling very disappointed.

The Doctor’s advice was – Since there is not enough bone in the jaw to support the teeth, a bone graft is required, or the stimulation of natural or synthetic bone growth. This is urgently needed in the upper jaw, underneath the sinus cavities. Further time is needed to the whole dental implant surgery process. 

(You can have a fairly good idea of the treatment for severe periodontal diesase (gum disease) and implant of teeth and the cost of it from the following website: http://pennsylvania-cosmetic-dentist.com/)

I knew that I am faced with a real difficult situation of loosing more teeth. With very little bones left in the gum, I would not be even able to wear dentures. I felt helpless, but chose not to let this issue affect my heart. So I prayed to the Lord and left the matter with Him, and focused on the work He has given me to do.My parents and dear wife were very concerned about my situation. They kept praying about it. Though my wife tried to save up little by little, when there were very urgent needs in the ministry that the Lord has committed to us, we were moved by the Lord to give that sum to meet the needs in the Lord’s work. The Lord soon moved to provide for my treatment. He takes care of His servants. Praise the Lord!

One of the 200 over people who faithfully attended my Thursday night lectures on “Principle and Practice of Prayer” in Far Eastern Bible College was a dental surgeon. I had no knowledge that he was a dental surgeon. It was someone who knew my periodontal problem related it to the doctor and his wife. (I think the informant is a good friend of mine in the Lord). They approached me and invited me to their clinic for an evaluation of my situation. I came home and shared with my wife of the amazing way in which the Lord has brought to me the treatment for my periodontal problem. We prayed with thanksgiving. Yesterday, I have undergone the first stage of my treatment – removal of my front teeth and the synthetic born graft in the front part of my upper jaw.

Though I suffered a bit of pain after the operation, the Lord has granted me much relief. Today I feel almost no pain. There is swelling on the upper lip. But according to the doctors it will go away in about 5 to 6 days.

The Lord has once again proved Himself faithful, loving and caring to my family and I. Yes, He cares for His servants, “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20).

As I thank the Lord for His goodness, I also thank the doctors and all the dear brethren in the Lord who have been praying for me, and those who have shown much love toward me. Thank you all for your comforting emails, sms messages, telephone calls, prayers, etc.

I prayerfully wait for the Lord to completely heal me that I may quickly return to the work He has given me in FEBC, Gethsemane B-P church, and in other places.

God cares for all His children! Amen.

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