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15 May 2022

Take Heed Lest You Fall [1Corinthians 10:1-14]

Overview

"Going to Church" does not make you a Christian, just like going to Macdonald's doesn't make you a hamburger. This is a frequently quoted quip, but it remains true. Many people assume or presume they are Christians simply because of some external conformity to form and appearance. But the Bible says that a Christian is someone who is born again as a new creation, someone who is like the Father. In other words, he will practice righteousness, just as his father is righteous. Whilst he may not be said to arrive at sinless perfection, sincere progression (to holiness) is his pattern of life. He may not be sinless, but he will sin less. So this is a passage that warns church-goers not to assume or presume. We must not live in ongoing sin, We must all take heed lest we fall. Find out what this means and how you can fight sin, for a growing assurance of your salvation in God. May this sermon be a blessing to you.


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Sermon Transcript

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And let me just start with a Chinese proverb, 滥竽充数 [làn yú chōng shù]. To those of you who are not Chinese speakers, apologies, but I hope this simple illustration may still help you.

滥竽充数 [làn yú chōng shù] really is about this musical instrument in ancient China called the 竽 [yú]. It is played in such a way that it creates nice musical notes. Now, in ancient China there was an emperor who loved to hear the 竽 [yú]. So he got himself an orchestra of 300 竽 [yú] players. Now, he ... because he loved this so much, he made sure that he would reward all these instrumentalists very handsomely.

There was this man, his name is 南郭先生 [nán guō xiān sheng], very hard to remember, so let's call him Mr. NG, 南郭 [nán guō]. So, Mr. NG was a jobless man, but was a very smart man, when he heard that the emperor was gathering a ... an orchestra of 300 players, he decided to sign up, because he knew he will be paid handsomely.

Now, the story goes that somehow even though Mr. NG does not know how to play this instrument, he got into the orchestra, was paid very handsomely, and was able to be in this orchestra for years. He has learned the art of mimicking, he has learned the art of pretending. So when they play like this, he also tilted his head like this, when they ... when they do whatever actions, he absolutely followed everyone in the orchestra to the T.

His story came about at ... or rather Mr. NG, his story is now encapsulated or enshrined in this proverb, 滥竽充数 [làn yú chōng shù] which means, "fake it, like you had made it" or just "join the crowd and make up the numbers". Now, this story is true of that orchestra, but this story can also be true in the church.

We understand that there are many people who join worship services, and they may sing the same songs. They may stand up at the right time, they may close their eyes also at the right moments, but we must not imagine or assume that just because someone is in a worship service, they must necessarily be followers of Jesus Christ.

You see, Christianity is not just an outward activity you are a part of, Christianity is a way of life that springs from a heart of faith. That when someone repents of his sins and believes in Jesus Christ, something miraculous takes place. The Bible describes this as being "a new creation" [2 Cor 5:17-21], that God gives you a new life. Jesus calls this being born again.

And so when you come to Christ in repentance and faith, there must be a necessary transformation of your heart. The Bible calls this, "God, giving us a new heart." Taking away the old heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh. So, a Christian is therefore not just someone who attends a service, but he is someone, because of his faith in Jesus Christ is so changed, miraculously transformed, that he grows to be more like God.

So, his life demonstrates righteousness, holiness. Now, we are not saying that at some point of time you believe in Jesus, you become sinless. But we are saying, though you are not going to be sinless, you will sin less and less and less. It is not about what we say here in Gospel Light, sinless perfection, but there will be a sincere progression.

And that is the mark of the child of God, not just that he goes to church service, worse still today stay at home and watch online service, but that there will be a growing holiness, righteousness, Christ-likeness in his life.

And if there is no change, no change in your life after 5 years, after 10 years, after 15 years of joining worship service, then you must never be complacent, nor to be presumptuous that you have really become a Christian. That is the warning that is given to us in 1st Corinthians, chapter 10.

Paul is speaking to the church at ancient Corinth, that if your life is filled with on-going sin, and there is no change whatsoever, and if you continue in this path, then don't assume that you are God's child. "Take heed ..." he's giving a warning, "... lest you absolutely fall and prove yourself a hypocrite."

That is the big idea and we are going to plunge into the verses to understand further what Paul is saying. Paul starts with this illustration of ancient Israel. He says, "For, I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea." [1 Cor 10:1] So with this, we know, Paul is talking about the nation of Israel during the times of Moses.

In those days, God led the nation via a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. And they all passed through the Red Sea, the crossing, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea.
"They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." [1 Cor 10:2] They were immersed into Moses, they were identified together with Moses. That's the idea!

Not only that, "They enjoy spiritual food." [1 Cor 10:3] This refers to the manna, that miraculous provision of food that falls down from heaven every day for the 2 million people in Israel. "And they all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ." [1 Cor 10:4]

So, for their 40 years of wanderings and journeys, God provided for them, water and food. Amazing! 2 million people, and they all saw these amazing miracles. The emphasis is in a word, 'all'. So, with no exception, all the Israelites, they were identified with Moses, they were led by the pillar of cloud, they crossed the Red Sea, they fed on the manna, they drank from the same spiritual Rock. No exception!

But here is the bombshell, verse 5, even though they all saw these things, witnessed these things, experienced these things, enjoyed these things, "Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness." They all looked like God's people, but the reality is that they will people filled with unbelief and sin. And God was displeased, indeed angry with them, and their bodies or their carcasses were overthrown in the wilderness.

Now, the Bible has very strong language reserved for this generation of Israelites. We almost follow that common thinking that because they crossed the Red Sea, they must all be God's people, but actually the New Testament's writers are contradicting that false belief.

The Bible tells us, for example, and in Hebrews chapter 3:17-19, "And with whom was He provoked for 40 years? Was it not with those who sinned ..." And indeed, they sinned over and over and over and over again. "... Whose bodies fell in the wilderness. And to whom did He swear that he ... they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So that we see they were unable to enter because of unbelief."

So, the New Testament writers are saying that these people with Moses, though they were identified with him, they were a people filled with unbelief, and sin and disobedience.

"For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened." [Heb 4:2] Again, they were not a people who believed, they were a people who saw many miracles, but they did not believe, that's why they kept sinning.

"So I swore ... as I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest." [Heb 4:3] And again in Jude 1:5, "Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe."

So, I thought Israel was God's people! I thought the entire nation was God's people! Well, we thought wrongly. Not all in the crowd were God's people. Actually, most were not! Their unbelief is seen in their sinful lives and in God's judgment.

So Paul explains, "Not all who are descended from Israel, belong to Israel." [Rom 9:6] Not all who are the physical descendants of Jacob or Israel, are really part of God's Israel, the Israel of God. "And not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring." [Rom 9:7] Just because they are born under the physical lineage of Abraham, doesn't mean that they have the same spiritual lineage of Abraham.

"And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: "Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved." [Rom 9:27] So actually, God makes it clear, just because you're part of the nation of Israel, as a citizen doesn't mean you are a child of God. Only a fraction, only a remnant will be saved.

And so, when we come to 1st Corinthians 10 and verse 5, this is how we understand it. Yes, all of them saw the miracles, "But with most of them, God was not pleased..." they are not really part of the Kingdom of God, and the evidence is how, "... their bodies would be scattered in the wilderness."

Paul did not tell this just as a story for us to be interested about. But Paul wrote this to the Corinthians because he said, "These things took place as examples for us." [1 Cor 10:6] This is not just unique in the times of Moses, this is relevant for you guys who are listening in right now, as he says to the Corinthians. And if I'm ... if I may say, to all of us who are listening in right now.

These people, during Moses' time serve as an example for us, "That we might not desire evil as they did." [1 Cor 10:6] Why? Because the continuous desiring and the continuous committing of evil, springs from a heart of unbelief. And if we continue in our lives to desire evil and to commit evil, then we only prove ourselves, to be people who go to church services who may be externally identified as part of the church, but who really do not believe, and who really are not part of the Kingdom of God, and one day God will judge us.

I hope you understand that Paul is not saying, "Oh, don't commit sin, so that you can earn your way to God!" That's not what he's saying, that's not what Scripture teaches at all. We never earn righteousness with our works, we only evidence salvation by our works. We do not purchase salvation by our works, we only prove God's salvation by our works.

So Paul is not saying, "Don't desire evil so that you can earn your way there." Nope! He's saying, "Don't desire evil, so that you may be authenticated, you may be proven, you may evidence yourself as God's people, by your righteous life."

Now, he goes on to say, "Do not be idolaters and some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play."' [1 Cor 10:7] This clearly refers to the incident in Exodus 32, the story of the golden calf.

How do you know Israel did not really believe in God? Well, huh, right after they were delivered across the Red Sea, right when Moses was receiving instruction from God, what did the people do? Worship God? No! They straightaway built an idol to worship it — heart of unbelief!

And then Paul says, "We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and 23,000 fell in a single day." [1 Cor 10:8] This refers to the incident of Numbers, chapter 25, in the sin of Baal, Peor. You can read that up. So, not only did they commit adult ... idolatry, they commit adultery and then they were grumbling people.

"We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents." [1 Cor 10:9] This is an incident in Numbers, chapter 21.

So Paul is lifting up all these recorded incidents of their sinfulness before God, to prove that though they were externally identified as God's people, internally many of them weren't God's people. It is evidenced by their lives.

So, he goes on to say, "Nor grumble as some of them did, and were destroyed by the Destroyer." [1 Cor 10:10] They actually grumbled a lot, many times in the book of Numbers, you can read it.

And this is the point, "These things happened to them as an example, but they were written for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come." [1 Cor 10:11] So if you remember verse 6, now we come to verse 11. This is highlighting the example of Israel, so that we might not follow in the same footsteps.

So Paul goes on to say, "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." [1 Cor 10:12] Don't assume that just because you are in the church at Corinth, that you are standing in the right position before God. Because if you think that just because you're part of this church, you go on sinning, well, it may just prove that you were never God's child from the start. And one day you will fall, you will fall from having a right standing before Him.

Again, Paul is not saying that one can lose his salvation, but one will prove he never had salvation if he goes on in deliberate sin.

Now, it's not easy to fight sin. So Paul says, "For those of you who think it's difficult and you're discouraged, let me remind, you." "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to men ..." [1 Cor 10:13] Many of God's people have faced many temptations, but, "... God is faithful, and He will not allow you, not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with a temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

In other words, you can count on God, you can trust God, as you fight sin, and you pursue holiness and you say, "I do not want to desire evil." There's no way God will not enable you to live righteous lives if you trust Him to.

So, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, or my beloved, flee from idolatry." [1 Cor 10:14] This verse ties us, brings us back to how we started in chapter 8. There was a whole issue of eating food offered to idols, Paul is now reminding them, "Eating food offered to idols is not a trivial matter. It's not just about food, it's not something that you should trifle with, because if you're not careful you can fall back into idolatry, and if you continue in idolatry, regardless of what you say about your faith, regardless of how long you've been in church, you may just end up a hypocrite. You may fall, so take heed lest you fall.

That is why these 14 verses are given in chapter 10. Let me conclude by some applicatory thoughts from here.

[1] Don't Assume
I think the first thing we learned is that we must never assume, that just because someone is in church today, he or she must be a Christian.

We must never assume that just because someone knows how to stand up and pray and say, "Amen," he must be a Christian. We must never assume that just because you see someone bow his head before his meal, he must be a Christian. We must never assume that just because someone says, "I've been baptized," he must be a Christian.

Because there may be people who are like Mr. NG, he knows how to act, he knows how to tilt his head, he knows how to blow, but he really is not a 竽 [yú] player. He's not, but he knows how to pretend! And the reality is in church, there are people today who look like Christians, but they really aren't!

Because if you look at their lives there is no righteousness, there is no holiness, there is no obedience to God. I'm not saying that he must be like Jesus 100%, but I'm saying that there must be a progression towards that direction, not sinlessness but he will sin less.

You see, this is not something that is rarely talked about in the Bible! Jesus Himself talks about it quite a bit, and maybe the most classic passage, what He said in Matthew 7:21-23, "Many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not do these things? Did we not do amazing prophecies and exorcisms and miracles?"'

Well, Jesus would say to these people, who had all these external stuff, impressive external stuff, "I never knew you, depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness." "You're filled with evil! You're filled with sin!" "Not everyone therefore who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father."

And the most scary thing of course, as we often highlighted, when we, whenever we come to this text is the word, 'many'. It's not a few! There's a saying, 自欺欺人 [zì qī qī rén] , you deceive others, you end up deceiving yourself. And I believe that might be true for many that are being described here.

These people sincerely believe they must be in the Kingdom of God. Do you realize that? Because even to the last moment when they face Jesus, they will say, "Lord, Lord, did not we do these things? Aren't these things prove that we are yours?" Jesus says, "No, I never knew you." Why? "Because your life is filled with sin and lawlessness."

And this is not a deception believed upon by just a few, but many, many people. You know what's scary? It can be possible that even in a group like this, where we all stood up at the right time, sang the same song, sat in the same sermon, one day we may appear before God, and I fear many of us may fall into this category, and it is so scary.

"If you know that He is righteous," [1 John 2:29] ] John says. This 'He' refers to God. If you know that God is righteous and isn't God righteous? Clearly He is! He's holy, righteous, He is pure. So, "If you know that God is righteous ..." the logic goes, "... you may be sure that every one who practices righteousness, has been born of Him."

How do you know you're born of God? How do you know you're God's child? Because your pastor prayed over you? Because you are still attending service? No, because you practice righteousness! Why? Because our God is righteous, and if you're His child, you will practice righteousness.

How do you know Matthias is the son of Jason Lim? You look at his pattern, you know. That's how it is! How do you know you're the child of God? I look at your pattern, I know. What's your pattern? Pattern of righteousness or the pattern of unrighteousness.

Goes on to say, "No one who abide to Him keeps on sinning ..." [1 John 3:6] No one who has a right relationship with God keeps on sinning. Now, he may fall into sin sometimes, but that's not his pattern, or continuous way of life. "... no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him."

"Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He [that is God] is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning, [goes to church but], he's of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning." [1 John 3:7-8]

"No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abide in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God." [1 John 3:9] Are you ... you get the point already? I mean John is very clear, emphatic, repetitive about this.

"By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God." [1 John 3:10]

So my friends, don't assume. Don't assume that you must be a Christian because you have always been to church your entire life. Since the day you were born, your parents have been bringing you the church, and for all these years you have played the game well. In fact, you have played the game so well that you have now come to believe that you are a child of God. But if you were to examine your life today, there is no pattern of God in your life. No growing righteousness, no desire for holiness, no commitment to righteousness.

I know I'm not popular preaching things like this, people do not like it. In fact, I know of people formerly from Gospel Light who left our church, because they are offended that I'm always saying, you cannot assume your salvation. They feel that I'm shaking your assurance. But let me tell you this, I'm not trying to shake your assurance, but I'm trying to shake you, anyone from their false presumption.

It is not pleasant! But I believe it is only the right thing to warn people from the false assurances. I want you to grow in assurance, because that's what the Bible is given for. These things, John says in the same book, 1st John, chapter 5:13, "These things have I written unto you that you may know you have eternal life."

It is God's will that you should have a rock solid assurance of salvation, but that rock solid assurance of salvation does not come from thinking that just because you are baptized, from just because you come to church, you are saved. That strong assurance comes as you see you grow in righteousness.

So I pray today, if you truly are concerned about your soul, that you will be still and examine your life. That's what Paul would say in 2nd Corinthians 13:5, "Examine yourselves to see if you be in the faith." Examine what? Examine your pattern, examine if there is any practice of righteousness on an on-going basis.

Now, we stand in grace, we are not saved by our righteousness. We are saved by the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are saved not by works, we are saved by faith. But it is a faith that works, it is a grace that produces works. So if you do not have these things, perhaps this is a day for you to be still, for you to humble yourself, to repent and to come to Jesus Christ. Don't assume.

[2] Fight Sin
But for those who see righteousness over the years develop in your life, you are thankful to God and I'm thankful for that in your life. I'm thankful for God's miracle of life change. But don't stop there! Because I think the emphasis in 1st Corinthians 10, and indeed if you are to cast your memory a little bit back to what we looked at last week, the whole message here is Paul saying, "Don't slip into sin casually, but aggressively fight sin."

We don't fight sin to save ourselves, but we fight sin because that is what salvation should bring about. And we are diligent to 'work out' our salvation, not 'work for' salvation, but to work out our salvation so that we may have that developing assurance that we truly belong to Him. We must fight sin!

The Bible in other parts say, "Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord." [Heb 12:14] The word, 'strive' is the word that means to chase, to pursue, to run after. In fact, it is also translated as persecute.

So chase real hard after what? Peace with everyone and holiness. And if you do not have this, you will not see the Lord. If you're not someone who is fighting sin and pursuing holiness, you will not see the Lord. It just evidences that you are not really His.

"Take care, brothers, lest there be any, in any of you and evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the Living God." [Heb 3:12] The word, 'take care', actually is the word to see, blepō, to see, to observe, to understand, to discern.

So the Hebrews author here is saying, "Don't just assume, please don't assume, but be aware. Understand, discern, because there can be a possibility that even though we are gathered together as a church, some of you actually have an evil, an unbelieving heart. And if you're not careful, you're not vigilant to fight sin, one day you will fall away from the Living God."

Again, not that you lose your salvation, but that you never had it in the first place and you are manifested from the human perspective as such — you fall away. But beware, don't assume!

And therefore, "We exhort one another everyday as so long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." [Heb 3:13] Sin has a hardening effect.

I ... I play badminton and now my hands are all calloused. It's hardened here, thickened skin. Why? Because of repeated handling of the racket. And if you repeatedly sin against God, you know what happens to your heart? Same as my hand — hardened and calloused.

So it is a community project, it is a fellowship purpose that as we gather in our Care Groups, in our Discipleship Groups, we are warning one another from on-going sin, so that our hearts will not be hardened against God, so that we will not one day eventually fall away.

I've seen enough examples, even in my short history as a Christian, to realize that there's a pattern I observe in people who come to church. They start to fall away from fellowship, they start to disengage from God's people, because they do not want to be held accountable for their sin. And over time, they just plunge deeper and deeper into their sin and eventually drop away. They don't go to church, they don't even want to put up a pretense anymore.

How many would have been perhaps from our human perspective rescued if we take this seriously, for ourselves and for our brethren! This, I think ties in beautifully with what Paul was saying earlier about himself, "I will not be careless about sin."

"I will not live a life that is indulgent to the flesh. Like an athlete, I dis... discipline my body. I blue black, my body, I bruise my body, I will not be giving over myself to sinful appetites. And I want to keep my body under control, lest after preaching, I will be disqualified, I may fall away from God."

Even for the Apostle Paul, he takes this seriously and he does not become complacent or presumptuous about his faith. So I say to you, fight sin.

What do you mean by fight sin?

Well, let's go to what Paul is saying here, "Fight idolatry." Don't let idolatry take root in your life. Because if it does, you may eventually fall away from God. You say, "Jason, this is easy, I don't have any idols at home! Certainly, I don't have cows at home, I won't worship a cow. I ... I ... the only picture I see of a cow is on a milk carton. I don't worship idols! I don't have a problem with idolatry!"

Well, I think most of you here may not have idols at home, and even if you do, you do not worship the idols. But you know, idolatry is not just about statues or images. Idolatry is anything that takes the place of God in your life. And the Bible explicitly warns against a certain idol that is very real, especially here in sunny Singapore and that is covetousness — the desire and greed for more material stuff.

Stuff has become the golden calf of our age, and many of us are trapped without realizing it. Very few people will confess, "Oh, I'm covetous!" Because we kind of normalize it here in Singapore, we give euphemisms to covetousness. We say, "Investment." We say, "Planning for retirement." We say, "Responsible stewardship."

Well, these are euphemisms! In other words, nice ways to describe what perhaps, is an evil heart of unbelief. That we must fight for every scrap, and we must grab every excess, so that I will take care of my own life. You know what? That's idolatry! Because yourself or your money has taken place ... taken the place of God in your life.

This is extremely dangerous! Because the Bible says, "For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil and it is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs." [1 Tim 6:10] We have referred to this verse many times. We have looked at different parts of these verses, but I focus on this one part, "It is through this craving, that some have wandered away."

You know why people fall away? Love for money! "Pastor, I ... I ... I can't come church, I can't serve because my ... my job is very demanding, I have to take after ... look after my career, I have to provide for my family." I understand that there's a legitimate care in your work. But what I think you should be mindful about is this craving for the or the love of money, and if you're not careful about it, you may stray and wander away.

This is not far removed from reality, it is very real! In fact, he goes on to say, instead of indulging or normalizing idolatry, Paul here, in 1st Timothy is saying pretty much what he's saying in 1st Corinthians, "But as for you, O man of God ..." [1 Tim 6:11] What do you do? "... flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness," and so on.

Fight sin. Make every effort to add to your faith, these things — righteousness, godliness, so that at the end of life, "You take hold of the eternal life." [1 Tim 6:12] Because if you do not fight these things, you will wander away and you prove yourself a hypocrite.

The Bible is extremely consistent here. What profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? [Mark 8:36] What profits a man if he should worship the golden calf of our age?


Paul highlights idolatry in Israel, and it is still the same problem in modern day Singapore. Paul highlights the problem of immorality, it was a grievous sexual orgy in Numbers 25, and I don't think things have changed very much in modern day Singapore. Yes, we may not conduct orgies, like the days of Israel, but many do their orgies at home, before their computer screens and maybe some even progress to illicit affairs.

We must fight this! Because you must not think of immorality as something that does not hurt anyone. One day you will ruin your family, you'll ruin your children, but I think it ruins your own soul.

So, without going into greater detail, I just remind you of what we have covered in time past - How do you battle against immorality?

Flee
I say flee free from temptation, flee from the sources of temptation. It may be a computer program, a computer terminal. It may be ... it may be someone that you need to avoid in your workplace. Flee! Don't tempt yourself.

Fight
Then fight! Fight it in prayer, fight in dependence on the Spirit of God.

Fortify
Fortify yourself, read up Scripture, be filled with the Gospel. Drink in the Gospel in the Word and in community.

Fellowship
And then, fellowship. That's accountability! That's community life.

Fulfill
And how we need to have a fulfilling sexual life even in our own marriages.

These things are not easy, but neither am I going to go in great detail, my time is almost up, we need to battle against immorality.

[3] Stop Complaining
And then, I think we need to battle against complaining. Stop complaining, huh. Complaining is the favorite pastime of Singaporeans, it's a national hobby.

Today, our mixer system is down, and it's very easy for people to complain, "Aiyah ..." I ... I ... I say this ah, this sermon is recorded now, I'm not sure if we could live stream it, but if we can't, some of ... Oh, can ah! Okay, I was hoping that some can't watch it and you'll start complaining, then, I will know where the where the false Israelites are.

It's easy to complain, anything that doesn't go well in a very well-run country makes people complain. But I hope we won't. You know last week, we ... we ... we had a ... now, we just started the Cooking Ministry right, and there are many new people and we're so thankful for them, stepping up in such short notice to commit themselves to providing refreshments for the whole church.

Last week, well, things did not go as planned. I'm not sure what happened or who did what, it doesn't matter to me. But I'm told that salt became sugar or sugar became salt. So then, the entire dish, or that sauce cannot be used. And I'm thankful that gospeliters just ate the chee cheong fun without the sauce lah!
It's okay, lah! You eat it with thankfulness because at least someone cook for you. It's the provision of God through loving hands, sometimes mistaken hands but still loving hands. I think we need to have that spirit and attitude.

And I know, right now coming to Gospel Light and wanting to park in this building is not easy. But I hope you won't drive round and round the buildings and say, "Aiyah, jialat lah! This church cannot find parking, jialat lah! Why they don't ... they let me in, aiyah, aiyah, aiyah, aiyah." Just park at HDB and walk here thanking God for HDB car park.

Because I think that's what the child of God looks like, that's one of the evidences of faith. "Do all things without grumbling or disputing ... that in a day of Christ," [Phil 2:14-16] Paul is saying, "I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain."

He's saying that, "ow do you know, how do I know that you really belong to God, that the Gospel ministry really worked?" Because you are able to do all things by God's grace, without grumbling or disputing.

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." [1 Thess 5:18] You know, who are the workers of lawlessness? People who will not give thanks, that's what it is!

So again, I'm trying to be con ... showing you the consistency of all Scripture. "He will render to each one according to his works." [Rom 2:6] On the Day of Judgment, it will be a very objective assessment. "To those who by patience in well-doing, seeking for glory, honor, immortality." [Rom 2:7 To these people, they have good works, they are in patience, well-doing, "God gives eternal life." [Rom 2:7]

"But to the workers of lawlessness, those who are self-seeking, those who do not obey the truth ..." even if they can perform miracles, they, "... people who obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury." [Rom 2:8]

My question to you is - Are you someone in your life who demonstrate patience in well-doing, someone who is growing in holiness, in righteousness? It is the long obedience, in the right direction, we are talking about, and it is this that is the cardinal, the most gold standard proof of one's faith in Jesus.

Someone asked me, "I want to believe in Jesus, but how do I know if I believe in Jesus?" I say this, "If you really want to believe in Jesus and you repent of your sin, and you trust in Him that He died for your sin, this is how you know — you will fight sin and you grow in holiness, long obedience in the right direction."

God is faithful, my friends, I don't want this to be self-effort or self ... it's all about self kind of sermon. Because 1st Corinthians 10, Verse 13, reminds us, yes, it is effortful Christian living, but it is also dependent Christian living. It is God who will see us through and over and over again, I ... I guess I'll just flash out the verses, you might want to take note.

"It is God who works in us to do all things which is pleasing in His sight." Hebrews 13:20-21.

Philippians 2:13, famous verse, "It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

"God who began a good work in you will bring it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus." [Phil 1:6]

"And it is God who will sanctify us completely." [1 Thess 5:23-24]

Mr. NG, he played before the emperor in the crowd of 300 and thought he made it. Well, the story goes actually that the emperor died, and in the place of the emperor, it was his son, another emperor. This son also likes this instrument, 竽 [yú] music. But this son is special. He doesn't want ... he doesn't want the orchestra of 300, he wants the ... he wants the instrumentalists to come to him one by one.

This time, Mr. Ng 'chuan liow' [terrified in Hokkien]. He knows he's in deep trouble and he fled away. You know something where we appear before God on the day of judgment. We are not going to appear before Him all as one church. "Pastor ... Pastor Jason here! Ha, ha, ha, hah, I follow him!" Doesn't work that way! We will all appear before God each and every one of us. Mr. Ng can run away from the emperor, but none of us can run away from God.

Okay, my time is up, I know. We will all have to give an account of our lives. And I pray today, we would all not stand before God and say, "Lord, Lord, didn't we do this and do that?" But we will say, "Lord, I'm thankful for Your grace, that in my pilgrimage on Earth, You have enabled me to show long obedience in the right direction."

I pray that will be true for all of us here. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

I do not want any one of us to leave this hall, thinking that we earn our salvation by our obedience. We are not saved by what we earn, we are saved by what Jesus earned and paid for. He died on the cross and paid for the sins of those who would believe in Him. But if you are someone who really repents and believes in Jesus Christ, the Bible says, "God is the One, who then gives you a new heart. He calls this a new creation. He calls this process being born again."

And if you're someone who really therefore repents and believes in Jesus, there will be a change in your life. There will be long obedience in the right direction. So if you do not have that in your life, it only goes to show that you were never born again, you were never saved, you never really repented and believed.

And the purpose of the sermon today is to stop you right in your tracks, in case you continue in the wrong direction. I pray today you will humble yourself. I hope you're not angry with me, but I hope that you will search your own life and truly come to Jesus in deep humility, in repentance and faith, that you today might be saved.

And my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my longing for you, for all of us, is that our ministry would not be in vain. We will not run in vain, but that you will manifest holiness, righteousness, godliness. There will be a constant fight against idolatry, immorality and ingratitude, that you may show yourself to truly be the sons and daughters of God. That you may have that rock solid assurance of life, that you may have that joyful expectation of all the good God has promised for you in Christ Jesus, because you know, you truly belong to Him.

Father, help us to cast out idols in our lives, fight immorality, and be a people thankful. Help us to follow Paul, to blue black our bodies and not give ourselves over to sinful appetites. Doing all that not because we want to earn favor, but because we know Your love for us in the Gospel, and we want to evidence Your gracious work in our lives through our obedience.

This morning, we pray that You'll save souls and You'll grow saints. May this church shine as Gospel light, indeed. Thank You, we pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
 

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