16 Oct 2016
God's 2-fold Formula for Christ-likeness Pastor Paul Choo 16 October 2016 Present-day Christians have more access to God's Written Word than any previous generation, yet today's Christians are probably not more Christlike than their predecessors! Why? One possible reason is that we are so focused on the reading, studying, analyzing and memorising the Written Word that we have neglected to pattern our lives after the Living Word who is described in the Written Word. A balanced study of the Written Word accompanied by the desire to imitate the Living Word will result in more Christlike Christians - who will glorify God in these Last Days.
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Today I want to speak on something very, very close to my heart. It is called, “God’s two-fold formula for Christ-likeness”. Now, when we have received Jesus as our Savior, right, when we believe Jesus died for our sins, past sins, present sins, future sins, that He paid the full penalty for it. He died for those sins and He rose from the dead; we received Him as our Savior. Something very amazing happens at a very same moment. The Bible tells us that in Romans 8:9 that the Holy Spirit then comes into our heart and lives in us. Right, the Bible describes this amazing phenomena with a very strange term that we got used to and we think is normal but for many people, it is a very strange term - it's called being ‘born again’. Now, sometimes I wonder why God uses such a strange phrase to describe this wonderful thing that happened in us. You know, nothing in nature is born again. Everything is born once, right? When you say ‘born again’, it throws you off completely because what is born again? Everything has one birth! But when we understand why Jesus or God uses this term ‘born again’, it tells us something very important that happens at that time. When we were born the first time, we receive our DNA from our parents. When we were born the second time, “born again”, we receive our DNA from our Heavenly Father. Alright, I that's I think that’s the reason for using this term, ‘born again’. We were born the first time and we have the DNA of our parents. We are born as a kind of generic babies; we don't really carry a lot of the traits of our parents as a little baby. You can't really tell whose baby it is if you work in a maternity hospital. All babies sort of look alike. But as the kid grows up, the DNA in that kid shows more and more of his parents, right? And the same happens with our spiritual birth, our ‘born again’ by the Spirit of God. What happens is we then have the potential to become more and more like God - Christ-like, right? So that's why I think God used that term, because it's not just the Holy Spirit coming to us. Okay. So what happens? That moment, you're born again, you have now DNA - new DNA that will result as you grow in grace to be more and more Christ-like. Right, the Bible tells us that's actually God's goal for all of us.
If you ask me, “what's God's goal for us?” It is stated in this verse in Romans 8:29, that we will be “conformed to the image of his Son”, that “he might be the firstborn among many brothers”. He will be the big brother and then there will be a lot of little brothers and sisters, all having the same character as the big brother. Alright, I think that's what all parents want to see. When they have children, they hope that the children receive the good genes from them - at least the good ones and hopefully they don't get the bad ones. And then we watch our children grow up and become, hopefully, like us in good ways. That's exactly what God wants to see in all of us.
So what's God's goal for you and me? Just go to heaven? Get a passport and we can go to heaven? No! He wants us first and foremost, to have the character of His Son, and His Son, Jesus Christ, will then be the firstborn, the big brother among thousands and millions of others who bear the same likeness as Christ. That's the goal, alright? Now, of course, when we bear that likeness of Christ, the Bible tells us in Matthew 3:17, it is well pleasing to God. What will please God the most? That we bear the image of His Son because that is well pleasing to God. So you ask me “what's the goal for my life?”. To please my father! How to please my Father? Next question. Be Christ-like! Alright, so what's your goal for your life? What's your goal as a Christian? Know the Bible? Come to church faithfully? Serve God? Well, those are good goals but the ultimate goal is Christ-likeness - that will please God and that will also glorify God. As we become Christ-like, the world sees a Christ-like life - it glorifies God. Alright so I hope we see that our main goal is not just attending church, studying the Bible, serving God. It's not what you do but what you are. God is concerned with what you are; your being, not your doing, alright? And your being should be Christ-like - in that way you will glorify Him. At the same time, as you glorify Him, you attract people. You see the life of Christ. Christ, when He was on this earth, He was never without a crowd around him. Somehow He attracted people. People were drawn to Him. You know, we go to Punggol, we think of all these programmes; we do this program; what program will we choose to draw in the people of Punggol to come to know God; what's the best programme of all? It's not a programme; it's people, you and me. Christ-like lives will attract people in a very amazing way. Alright, so as we go to Punggol, ask ourselves this question, “What's our goal? What does God want for us?” He wants us to be clones of Jesus, that He will be the firstborn among many brethren.
Now, the question is, “how do you become Christ-like?” I think God has two main ways. Two main ways: the written word and the living word. Both are important, alright? Now, we are in a Bible Church. We are a Bible Church - some of you wonder what kind of church is this. Are you Baptist? Are you Presbyterian? Are you whatever, whatever brethren. I think if you have to describe us, we would be called a Bible Church. In fact, I dare say the majority of you are here because the Bible is preached here. It's not stories, dreams or some visions we had, but the Bible is preached. That's the reason why you're here! Because this is a Bible Church. And people in a Bible church tend to have a very huge emphasis on the Bible. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that's wrong. Alright? We tend to have a very huge emphasis on the Bible. We read it, we study it, we analyze it, we memorize it, we dissect it. You know, we do all these things very religiously. We do it, whether in church, whether in CG, whatever. This is the, I would say, main activity of a Bible Church. But what happens if this is all that we do? The truth is that there is a lot of information but little transformation. A lot of knowing, but little growing. That's the truth. My main ministry is working with pastors - young pastors. When I work with them, I always ask them, “what's your problem in your church? What's your problem?” And I work basically with conservative churches, Bible churches, and always, almost always the number one or two problem is, “I have a lot of people in this church. I preach to them. I teach them. They study, they learn but their lives never move. They will come for bible study, they will learn and they will memorize. But then when you ask them about their lives, whether it is changing their lives, you don't see much change.” That is a dilemma. Huge information but little transformation. That is a dilemma now. Do you think this is a dilemma before? You think when Jesus came, what was the dilemma? When Jesus came 2000 years ago, the Bible had already been written, at least parts of it for 1500 years before Jesus came. Before Jesus came, the scripture was revered by the Jews. They revered it. It's like, “wow, this is God's sacred word” and that's good. And there were people among the Jews who spent their entire life learning the scriptures, memorizing the scriptures, debating the scriptures. And you know, what was the final product when Jesus came after 1500 years? Pharisees! Pharisees. Wow. I mean, God's word is amazing. All scripture is given by the inspiration of God. Why did they end up that way? Maybe one of the major reason is that there was no Holy Spirit. That's, of course, the major reason. But still, after studying the scriptures, we see the end result of the Jews was a bunch of Pharisees who persecuted Jesus. In fact, if you see Paul before his conversion, as Saul, he was pretty much an ISIS terrorist. Pretty much. Someone didn't agree with him? Arrest the fellow, interrogate him, and if he still refuses to change? Stone the guy to death. Of course, it is less gory but it's pretty gory. I mean, that is the result. Paul was a Pharisee of the Pharisees - top student! Student of Gamaliel. He memorized chunks of the Bible and that was the result. Kind of scary! So, what does God do?
1. Written Word
The Bible tells us, God gave us the written word. Please don't get me wrong. It's important to know the written word. Because we all as Bible-believing Christians know God is invisible, right? If God is invisible, then how do we know God? Through the Bible! That's the only way you can know God. God is an invisible God. The Bible describes God. We know it's good, alright? We also know that the Bible is our guide. Your word is a lamp to feet, a light to our path (citing Psalm 119:105). It guides us. As Bible-believing Christians, we believe the final authority for what we should do and don't do is ultimately the Bible. It's a lamp to our feet and light to our path. By the end of it all, we see Paul (the ISIS terrorist) stoning someone. What happened? He read the Bible, he reads the Bible, and he ends up like that. Of course, the main reason as I say, is the lack of the Holy Spirit. But God did something. This dilemma, right? It's beautifully balanced when God sends something else called the living word.
2. Living Word
We in a Bible Church put a huge emphasis on the written word. That's not wrong. But we don't put equal emphasis on the living word of God. What is the living word? In John chapter one, verse 1-4, it describes Jesus with a very strange term. Some terms are kind of weird - we get used to it but it's kind of weird, alright? Just like ‘born again’, we got used to it but it seemed very weird. What about this one? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Imagine someone calling you ‘the word’. Hey, I am a person, you know? Why do you call me the Word? Why is Jesus called ‘the word’? Because words describe things; words explain things. Jesus was the Word - the perfect explanation of who God was. He was not an explanation of God. He was the explanation of God; the perfect revelation of God. Alright, so we see here, Jesus is called ‘the word’. So when we talk about the word, the word, the word, don't forget! It is ‘written word’ and ‘living word’, okay? Thy word is a lamp to my feet - what does that mean? What does ‘the light to my path’ mean? “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Thy word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path. What word are we talking about? Just the written word? The word was the light of men! Don't forget when you talk about words, we're not just thinking letters in this. In these letters was also described a life and that life was the perfect expression and revelation of God, alright? The Bible goes on to say in verse 14, “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth”. The Word, Jesus Christ, dwelt among men. For what purpose? To reveal God in His fullness - full of God's grace and truth. Jesus goes on to say in John 14:9 that if “you've seen me, you've seen the Father”. Alright, so today, I want to just speak a little bit more on the living word. As opposed to us as Bible-believing Christians, every time we say the word, the word, the word, the word; we think, it is just a book, a Bible. It is! But in the Bible, it describes a life and that life was the light of men, that life is the role model for men, that life is what we should know and be our guide - a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, alright? So don't think that when you think of the word ‘word’, it is just a little thing you hold in your hand. What you hold in hand also describes a life - the life of Jesus.
Let me just say a few things about the limits of the written word. If it's just the written word, we tend to pick and choose verses we like and ignore verses we don't like. That’s standard, right? In a Bible Church, this is a favorite one: study to show thyself approved unto God; study to show thyself approved. I have heard this so many times since I was a young Christian. If you go into the concordance and you click on the word ‘study’, you find the word study appears only twice in the entire New Testament. Once, it refers, the translation, it doesn't mean study - it means, ‘try hard to do this’. The second time, study means actually tak ceh (Hokkien), study. But you, as Bible-believing Christians, you know, study to show thyself approved, study to show thyself approved. Well, you know what? It only appears once in the entire Bible but we make it such that Christianity becomes a study subject for scholars. We feel very bad, you know, when you go to a CG and you're not so smart like the rest. And a lot of you feel that way. Wow, this guy knows so many verses! Wow, he can quote this and I don't know any of those verses. We feel so intimidated. No, the truth is, only a handful of people are scholars. The vast majority of people are not scholars. But you know, we choose verses. You know, when it's a written word, you can choose some and ignore other verses. Another thing about just the written word: it's very hard sometimes to get the principle from the facts. I give you an example alright? The story of David and Goliath - everybody knows right? A little fellow slings and uses some pebbles that hit the giant and the giant drops in. Did you ask yourself this question? How many of you are going to face a giant one day? I haven't seen a real giant in my life. I don't think I will. The only one we have is Yao Ming. Why would I kill the guy? I mean, what's this story going to do with me? I don't have brooks to go and look for five pebbles. I don't even know how to use a sling. But you know, we know this story so well but what's the principle behind it? You know the trouble with the word is that you must apply the word in life. And many people can’t apply it. Actually, the story is not about a little fellow slaying a giant. It's about you and me facing challenges bigger than ourselves. The principle is, everyday we face challenges bigger than us. That's true. In your office, in your school, in your home, you face challenges! You don't have the resources to handle. You don't have the time to do it. You don't have the wisdom to do it. You don't have the resources or the ability to do it. But yet God says, that's a challenge; you as my child just use what you have, what is available, what you can use; do your best, leave the rest to me; I will guide that stone and hit the guy on the head and overcome the problem of life. That's the principle. But you know, when you read the Bible, you see the facts but you struggle to apply those facts. That's the trouble many times, with people reading the Bible. And even if you could apply the principle of David and Goliath, “okay, Pastor now I understand. It's about me facing challenges. Everyday I face challenges. Everyday I face goliaths; it is no problem. I do my best. I leave the rest. I know the principle now.” But is it doable? Knowable and doable are two different things. “I know, I know, I'm supposed to do that but I don't know how to do it. I have never seen anybody do it. I have no role model. You mean it is really doable, Pastor?” You see, when you have the written word, number one: you struggle to apply it; number two: even when you understand how to apply it, you take a step to do it when you've never seen anybody else do it. Sometimes the written word goes this way, “Thou shalt not”, “thou shalt not”, “thou shalt not”. Okay, as I become a Christian, I don't curse anymore. Before, I swear every time I speak - I swear, I swear, I swear. Now, I don't swear. Stopping; you know when you have a command to stop something, it is not that difficult. But now as a Christian, I am supposed to greet people, smile at people, smile at my enemy. That one is a bit hard. Stopping something? Can do. Starting something? I need role models. I need examples. I need encouragement. ‘Stopping’ the word of God can stop me: ‘thou shalt not’. Okay. So in the end, we have a lot of Christians like this - like the monkey, ‘See No Evil. Hear No Evil. Speak no evil.’ “Pastor, I'm a good Christian. I never harm anybody. I never harm anyone. Because the Bible said, “Don't do this.”, “Don't do this.”, I don't do! You see, Christianity is not about “don't do”, “don't harm people”. Christianity is more than that. It's about “do good” to others. But how to do good to others when you have no role models, when you have no examples? We struggle! So when you have the living word and we just see the Bible as a rule, a book of commandments, a book of rules, as words, words, words, without realizing the Bible, the written word also describes a life, the life of Jesus. And until you understand when we say, ‘word’, it means more than “thou shalt not”, “thou shalt”, “thou shalt not”, “thou shalt”. The word also describes a life.
Why is the living word a life so important for us? Because by nature, we are imitators. When we see something, we tend to be like that. That's what Proverbs tells us - the companion of good men become good; the companion of rotten people become rotten. By nature, we are imitators! By nature, we're not scholars. To be a scholar is a discipline. Some of you have it and you're proud of it, and it's good. But not all can be scholars! But all are imitators from the day we are born. We don't need the discipline of imitating; it's inherent in us. When you see a life, you don't say, “Ah, I must imitate that life.” No, no, no, no, no. Just by being with that life, you automatically begin imitating it, good or bad. See, that is why the living word is so important because it's so inherent in us to imitate a role model.
Furthermore, we are hero worshipers. The day we were born we needed a hero. Little kids have a hero - the bigger brother, the bigger guy. As teenagers, we also need heroes - Manchester United or whatever. When we are a bit older than that, we have heroes - Nathan Hartono or whatever. You gotta have a hero somewhere! You cannot live live without a hero! It is the way we are wired. But Jesus said to you and me, “You need a hero? I want to be your hero.”. There are five verses here, where Jesus says, “follow me”, “follow me”. Jesus never said study the Word. Jesus never said go home, read your scripture, memorize it and analyze it. He said, “Follow me”. Never once, I repeat, never once did he say, “go home and be a scholar”. Some of you say, “Pastor, are you sure? I remember this verse, Matthew 4:4 - “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that” Jesus said - Jesus said this, Jesus said this. Did Jesus say, “Man shall live or study every word?” Live the words out! Did He say, “Man shall study every word that proceeds from the mouth of God and digest it?”
I hope you see my angle and where I'm coming from. Please don't think I'm anti-Bible or anti-Bible reading. I read ten chapters of the Bible everyday, alright? That's my average and this is for 30 years. I'm not against the Word of God. That's the basis. That's the foundation. But having a foundation, I still need a role model. And Jesus said, “Follow me”.
Who's your role model today? Who's your role model? You say, “I have none.” - it's a lie. Everybody has a role model whether he admits it or not. Whether he knows it, he follows somebody. He has a stereotype. He has some ideal which he wants to be. Who is your ideal today? Jesus said, “I must be your ideal. Follow me.”. Wow. Is that how you live your life? How do you know how to live your life? What is your way of living your life? Ask you a question: which verse in the Bible says cannot smoke cigarettes? You know, university cannot smoke cigarettes? I don't know any verse. Some say it is bad for health. I say, “if it is bad for health, you eat cholesterol is also bad for health. Don’t eat la. Eating white rice you also get diabetes. Don’t eat la. What is the temple of the Holy Ghost? Take care of your body. Okay, don't do this, don't do that. And at the end you are like…? My question is, (I don't have a verse that says Jesus didn't say put a cigarette in my mouth) but I just asked myself one question: would my hero put a cigarette in his mouth? I don't need a verse. I don't need a verse. I have a role model and I know my role model. I know enough of my role model - no, he wouldn't stick a cigarette in his mouth. What about Marina Bay Sands? Can you go and gamble? Some of you say it is for investment - maybe if I know the method, I can give more money to God. Would Jesus go into Marina Bay Sands? Question: would Jesus watch TV all day? Which verse says we cannot watch TV? Show me a verse. “Pastor, it is information, documentaries, news, you know, Pastor?” I said, Would Jesus watch all day? Honestly, answer me. What about Facebook, the Bible of today? Today's Bible is called Facebook, do you know that? For most people, the first thing in the morning - what is their quiet time? (Checking their phones and scrolling through social media.) Would Jesus do that? Is there a verse that says you can’t read or see Facebook or you can’t update yourself? Is there a verse? There is none but I ask myself a question - not what verse tells me but what my hero would do. Not what verse leads me, but what He leads me. What is your word, folks? Just the written word? If you don't know a verse, then go and smoke, gamble Facebook. But if you know your hero, ask yourself, “Would he be late for church? Would he say Punggol is too far? When we go to Punggol and the air-con is not working, would he say ‘walao, so hot?’” Do you need this verse (Matthew 8:20) to tell you that you shouldn't complain in Punggol? Even if you didn't know this verse, you ask yourself: if the air-con is not working, should you complain? You say, “Pastor, I didn't realize. Matthew 8:20 says foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of man has no air-con. I didn't know this verse you know…”. You don't need this verse! You know Jesus would not complain. You know why our Christianity is so chopped up and so truncated? Because people say,
“I don't know this verse. Jesus didn't say this and this.”. Jesus is alive for you! Why do you need all these details? What about this one (Matthew 5:47)? “And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” You're no better than anybody else. Do you need this verse to tell you that when you come to church, greet people? It's courteous. It's nice. It's friendly. It's an act of love. Do you need this? How many people know this verse? Very few. But how many people know that if Jesus came here, he wouldn't just stand in one corner and ignore everybody else except his friends. We don't need to know all these things. But we say we want to know the word and live by the word - man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. We're talking also about the written word. What about this one (Matthew 9:11)? When you go to Punggol, what are you going to eat and who are you going to eat with? Just your friends? People with your same standard in Bible knowledge? Those guys, young kids, I don't even know what they do and they don't even know anything about the Word of God. They are still so childish. Is that going to be your reaction? Does Jesus just eat with all the super spiritual people - his standard? Do you need to know this verse to go and be friendly to everybody, and welcome everybody, and play host to everybody? Do we need this verse? I don’t need it. What about these (Matthew 15:32, 14:14, 9:36)? Compassion - three verses in compassion. When Jesus sees a lonely guy standing in the church lobby, do you think he needs to find verse so that he can go and have some pity on the lonely fellow or the discouraged fellow or the mother with problem kids or the one who is sick? Do we need to have these verses to say, “please la, as Christians, wow, I realized Matthew 15:32 says “I have compassion on them”. What about the unsaved? You know, my friends, it's good to know the written word. It confirms what we should do. But even if you don't know it, you know your role model. And he is not just an outsider, he is the living word. He is the word we revere. He's describing the Bible. It's not just verses given. A life is described! A life that we can follow and be a role model. How about these ones? Have a quick look (Matthew 8:3; Matthew 8:15; Matthew 9:25 and Matthew 9:29). What are all these verses about? Have a quick look. It's about touching. Jesus is very touchy, you know that? He touches everybody! Leper he touch; blind man he touch; sick people he touch. Little children? He touch. You know, Jesus doesn't need to touch anybody you know that? He can heal from a distance. “Be healed” and 1 million miles away, the guy can get healed, you know that? Why does Jesus touch the guy? To show personal care and concern! Why do you shake hands? When don’t you just say, “Hi, how are you? Hi, how are you?” Why do you shake hands? Same reason la. Nothing complex. It is to show, “Hey, I'm your friend”. Do we need this to tell us we need to be personal? Jesus was personal. He's God. He's way above everybody and yet he came down, he lived among men, not just physically, emotionally and caringly. He displayed that! You know, we have a Christianity is so scholarly, that's so non-touchy. People come in and say, “this is Christianity” - study, study, study! How many people like to study here? How many of you like to study? Okay, be honest! Some of you do. I do! I tell you the truth; I do. I like to study. If you give me free time, I want to study but you know, we are the minority. The majority of people don't like to study. Why have we made Christianity such an elitist thing? So that we can feel better than others like Pharisees? So that when people go to CG they feel so inferior, so scared because they cannot have a memory like you have? For me to memorise verses is very easy. I'm a doctor! Doctors just memorize things. You know, the only skill of a doctor is that he can memorise a lot of things. No need to be smart, just memorize and regurgitate, alright? Lawyers have to be smart, doctors don't need to be smart. Just memorize. Nothing new in a human body, alright, please, there's nothing new. I can memorize. Many of you can't. So you feel inferior as a Christian? Because we have made Christianity a study subject. It was never meant to be for information. It is not about information only. It is about information that transforms, that changes lives, makes life sweeter, nicer; everything feels better, your home feels better, et cetera, et cetera. Everything you touch feels better.
What does this verse (John 1:47) teach you? “Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” What does this verse teach you? It teaches me something! I'm sure Nathaniel had a lot of faults. He is not a perfect man. In fact, if you read the Bible, he was always doubting things. But look at what Jesus does! He looks at the best points in people. Do you do that? By nature, we don't! We like to look at other people and say, “ew, the guy like that”, “ew, the guy like that”, “ew”. And everywhere we see the worst in people. It's a horrible world to live in when everyone looks at all your weak spots. You know, I don't want to live in this kind of world. I don't want to be in a family where every time all I do is get criticized. I mean, it's nothing wrong to identify weaknesses, but don't focus on it. When Jesus saw Nathaniel, he said, “Wonderful! Man without guile.” Maybe that was the only good thing about him. Maybe he smoked, he drank, he cursed, he did everything else. But he saw the good points. That's Christianity, folks! Jesus does not say it in a verse, “Please go around and only look at good points of people”. He didn't say that very explicitly but he demonstrated that in his life, and he is the light of the world. Concerning teachers, “You brood of vipers”, hypocrites! You know, when Jesus saw people who were doing things, evil things, perpetuating falsehoods, propagating lies and misconceptions, especially in the name of God, he hit them. Are you a real Christian? Are you Christ-like in that? You say, “Pastor, that is not me man. I just do good. I let evil prevail. That’s okay.”. That's not Christianity! Doing good is wonderful but stopping people from perpetuating evil is important too! You can't just ignore it. You see Jesus left us enough examples; enough! You don't need to know the verses if you don’t. If you do, praise God, it confirms what you thought Jesus would do. If you don't, let your conscience tell you that's what my Lord would do.
Alright, some of you are going to say, “Pastor, Jesus is like that you know. I'm like that, okay? Very far. Anyway, I don't have this kind of imagination that I can picture what Jesus would do.”. Well, one role model - you can’t picture him? Don’t worry, we've got other role models. Jesus is role model number one, Exhibit A. There is Exhibit B, Apostle Paul. What does Paul say? “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). You see, when Paul went out on his mission trips, he was quite far away from Israel. The people he was talking to and trying to teach had never seen Jesus. Furthermore, they never had a page of Scripture. See, the Bible was not available to them. What does Paul say? You want to be a good Christian? See my life. Because in my life, you will see some of the life of Christ. You see, this is a baton race that God gives to us. Christ left a role model. He passed it on and we are all role models today. We must be because this is the best way to reflect Christ in the world; not give out pamphlets and tracks which is the easier way! Or better, use internet to scam everybody. It's our lives, folks. So Paul says, “You didn't see Christ? It's okay, imitate me. Be followers of me.”. I like the last one here. “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Philippians 3:17). You say, “Alamak, Pastor... Paul also very high you know. You know me or not? I am Ah Beng you know, I am Ah Lian you know. I cannot be like Paul, you know. All the Ah Bengs and Ah Lians here, let me tell you something you would love to hear today, alright? You know more than Apostle Paul did. Listen carefully. You know more than Apostle Paul did. This is not hyperbolic speech. This is fact. You think Paul had a copy of the New Testament? He didn't! He was writing it. What about the Old Testament? You know, in the old days how hard it was to get your hands on the Old Testament? You go to the synagogue, you stand up there and you read the Scripture. You're privileged to hold it, the scroll, and you read it. Even the synagogues in all the schools, hand-written verse by verse, we call it a manuscript. Paul never saw a fraction of what you did in Sunday School, folks. You all know more than Apostle Paul! Listen to me. Until the Bible was printed 500 years ago, when Mr. Gutenberg invented the moveable printing press, no people saw the Bible except a tiny fraction of people. Today, we all have Bibles, every version you want. You think Paul knew a lot more than you? Wrong, wrong, wrong! Today, we know so much but do so little. Paul knew a little and did everything he knew. Don't deceive ourselves, don't think because we are scholars of the word, hearers of the word. God wants you to be doers of the word. It is about life; life! And the best way is whatever you see, as Paul said here, you see an example: I believe that's Christ-like and I will imitate that.
Not many of you can memorize scripture; not many of you. You learn today, tomorrow you forget. But when you see a life, the way a man treats his wife, the way a good Christian talks to his mother, the way a good Christian talks to his maid, the way a Christian talks to his employee, the way a good Christian talks to a very poor man - what are you watching? Is that important? What does Paul say? Follow me. Follow these people who are examples. See, that's what the Bible tells us. The whole process of Christianity; the whole process of Christianity is role modeling, role modeling, role modeling! Call it discipleship, call it one on one, life on life, whatever - it's the same thing. Life; not just a book! There are a lot of holy books around folks but it was one perfect life who then sent the Holy Spirit into us that we would have the DNA to live a special life which then would pass on and on and on. Life on life.
I hope today at the end of this you will ask yourself this question: what is the word? Is it just a book or is there something called the living word described in the book? Question number two: who is your hero? Who is your role model? Question number three: are you a role model? If you can answer these three, my job is done today. I believe this is what God wants from us.
Again, I want to emphasize that some people say, “Pastor, you're running down the written word”. I'm not running down the written word. I'm a student of the written word. I love it. I read it. I study it. I love to study! Give me free time, I sit in my chair and I don't move. But is that enough? Is that enough? At the end of it all, who is your role model? As described in the written word, a life was described in the written word. Is that life also the light that will lead you or is it just the 10 commandments and the eight Beatitudes? To all of you today, I say this alright: spend time in the word, you need the foundations, you need the truths. All scripture is given by inspiration of God; it is profitable. And the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. You know the Bible, know the word, but remember in the word was also a life. Make that life a living light to you. And if that light is not so clear to you, God has given you a lot of supplementary lights. They are called other Christians. Learn from them. When I became a Christian, I was 33 years old and I first trusted the Lord. I joined a very simple church. Most of the people there couldn't study very well. Though it was a very fundamental Bible Church, they love to talk about the Bible, but people really struggle to understand the King James English, which the church insisted on. They could hardly understand normal English let alone King James English. And then they were told to memorize this, memorize this, memorize this, alright? I had no problem memorizing but I was not satisfied. I said, “What's the point of these verses in my head? I don't even know how to apply it.” I looked around for people. I looked for mentors. I was 33. I was a successful doctor. I had kids around there. The majority of the church were teenagers. I looked for them and I said, “I'm gonna follow this guy”. Alright, there's a guy called Daniel Koo, I still remember very clearly. He’s like 16 years old at the time. He lived in Chinatown. I said, “This guy knows how to look for needs.”. Every time he comes, he tells me, “I saw this person here. I met this person there.”. I said, “Wow. I want to watch this guy.”. I followed him. How does this guy meet people under the bridge in the staircases of Chinatown? I said, “it's not complicated”. Wow, it's so simple. He's a simple guy! He pushes his bicycle and just says, ‘Uncle!’ - he uses a few words and then the next thing is that he has built a bridge. Wow, so easy! I had to see a live example. If you tell me to I read 10 books on how to build a bridge, I would not have understood it. I did not know how to share the gospel. There was a lady, I still remember named Miss Goh Geok Leng. She came to my house and I had a nanny who took care of me; she took care of my mother too. She was an old Teochew lady. I said, “Aiya, how to share the gospel with her? She don't even understand anything.” You know she followed her family, seventh month was the devil’s month of whatever. One day I say, Miss Goh Geok Leng, come. I go to the sink with her. “Come la, I’m washing the dishes”, I washed the plates with her, we talk, talk, talk and within 10 minutes, she accepted the Lord. You serious or not, Geok Leng? No lah, it cannot be so simple lah, no way. I doubted her. The seventh month in the year she went home to her family, they prayed to idols and all the food was offered to idols. She refused to eat. The son told her, or the daughter-in-law said, “you don't eat, you starve la”. She's like seventy over years old at the time. She said, “Okay, I starve”. She refused to eat. After that, her testimony. 10 minutes; watch how simple it was to share. I watched that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. I had to see with my own eyes. I had to see it is doable. It's not a complex thing. It's not some theory written in a book. It's doable by an ordinary person. To my first pastor, Dr Peter Ng, who now is a member of the church, I said, “Pastor, wherever you go, I follow you. You just tell me and I take leave to follow you.” I was serious. I followed him. I just would have watched his life, sleep anywhere, eat anything. And every time there is a meeting, his meeting is two minutes. His prayers are one hour. This is called a meeting? I came from a corporate world; this is called a meeting? I realized that's a meeting. It's all about God. He introduced me to Dr. Bob Jones, president of Bob Jones University. I said, “Dr. Bob, I want to go with you.”. I went to conferences with him, lived with him, traveled with him and I wanted to see a life. He was 80 years old at that time and I was 50. One day there was a typhoon in Manila; a huge typhoon! Everything went out. He was on (I think) the 13th floor, if I remember correctly. Breakfast was on the ground floor. So I walked down to the breakfast room thinking Dr. Bob will be stuck on the 13th floor. He was 80 years old! Merrily he walked down, sat next to me and asked, “What’s for breakfast?”. I said, “Dr. Bob, how did you come down?”. “I walked.”. I said, “The elevators are not working.”. “Yeah, what's for breakfast?” Then I realized, foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has no elevator, right? It's no big deal. It's no big deal. Why do all of us complain about why it is so hot and there is no air-conditioning? I said, “Was there air-con last night?” No, nothing - we don’t even talk about it. Were there lights? No! No big deal. We are not obliged to have air-con, lights and elevators! I had to see a life! I had to see a life that was like that. You know, my friends, you have to see lives. Not about a book; it is more than a book! It is about a book that changes lives. It's a book that describes a life! And its life on life, not just a book on life.
Today, I hope we are a balanced church. When we say the word of God, all scripture is given by inspiration of God. We understand the lives described in Scripture, the life of Christ described in Scripture, the lives of people with Scripture in them. All of that is for you and me and they are profitable for transformation. May God make us a church that is transformed, not just informed. Not knowing but not growing. I hope that we will be balanced. Right truths for a right life. Christ's truth for a Christ life.
Let us pray. Father, thank you for this time. Thank You, You gave us an amazing word. Thank You for the Bible, full of truth, full of stories. In fact, Lord, 70 percent’s narratives of lives. Thank You, God for helping us see that in the written word are not just abstract verses, abstract commands but real lives. Help us, Lord, to be impacted by lives, lives from the Bible, lives from other Christians - that our life may reflect your life. Lord, make this a church, not of scholars of Christ like believers. This is our prayer. We ask, in Jesus name Amen
More Episodes from Pastor Paul Choo:
24 Dec 2021
16 Jun 2021
20 Sep 2020
13 Sep 2020
06 Sep 2020
19 Apr 2019
10 Mar 2019
23 Dec 2018
Episodes from other sermons:
15 Apr 2022
13 Feb 2022
24 Dec 2021
16 Jun 2021
02 Apr 2021
25 Dec 2020
20 Sep 2020
13 Sep 2020