28 Apr 2019
Just because someone is exposed to biblical teaching is no guarantee his soul is saved. It is possible to be "in the net" of the Kingdom and yet be cast away as "bad" for his evil deeds. Jesus explained this in his last parable on the secrets of the Kingdom in Matthew 13. Be sure to check it out! The disciples were reminded that the goal of their learning is not just for their own benefit, but that they may help others in Kingdom truths. These precious lessons should form the content of our teaching and also shape the way we teach or reach out to others. Once again, check out the sermon here!
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As a church, we have been going through the book of Matthew for the past two years. And we arrive at Matthew chapter 13 today, about the parables of Jesus. And we have called this series, ‘The Secrets of the Kingdom’.
Let me do a little bit of a recap, if I can. I think there are some here who are for the first-time attending church, or at least first time hearing a message from Matthew chapter 13. Some years ago, I had in possession, my very first smart phone, it's an iPhone. That was many years ago, and I was a little bit of a ‘sua ku’.[ignorant in Hokkien]. I, I didn't know how it works. I didn't know how it should perform.
But I had my first phone, was quite happy with it. And I started using it to text and so on. But when I received my first phone call, I was rather disappointed. Because I can't hear very well on my phone. I used to have a Nokia, that kind of an old kind of phone and it, it performs very well, when I take a call. But iPhone was lousy! I couldn't hear at all. It's muffled, it's soft.
I tried to change all the settings. I tried to push up the volume as far as I can. But it is still soft and muffled. I thought , “Bad design! Apple, bad design!” Or at least I got a defective phone. It's a lemon. But I didn't want to do anything much about it, just struggle along in conversations. Until one day, I accidentally dropped my iPhone, phone and it cracked. It fell to the floor.
A crack spiderweb appeared on the screen and I knew I had to get it fixed. So, I brought it to the repairman and said, “Sir, my phone is cracked. I need a replacement. And by the way, I've always had a problem hearing on my iPhone, could you help me check out if there's anything wrong with it?”
The repairman took a look at my phone, fiddled with it for a while. And then, he was peeling something from the screen. And as he was peeling and he looked at me and said, “Mr., you know why you cannot hear properly? Because you've not even removed the film yet.” When you buy an iPhone, there is this transparent film that is on top of it, just to protect it for a while. I was so blur that I had it on, and it blocked the audio input. And that's why I couldn't hear very clearly at all.
When Jesus was here preaching the Kingdom messages, many people heard him. But not many followed Him. In fact, many were angry with him. Many rejected and persecuted him. And probably the disciples must be thinking, “There is something wrong with Jesus. There is something wrong with the message He's preaching. How come if this is the message of the Kingdom, this is the message from God, why is it that people will reject Him? Is there something wrong with him or his message?”
Well, the reality is, there is nothing wrong with Jesus. Just like there is nothing wrong with iPhone. The problem is that there's a barrier. There's a layer that hinders our proper hearing and obeying of God's Word. And that I think is what Jesus started with in the parables in Matthew 13. He spoke about ‘The Parable of the Sower’.
‘The Parable of the Sower’ tells us that there is nothing wrong with the message. Because there is nothing wrong with the seed of God's Word. The seed of God's Word has all the potential to bring forth abundant fruit. Sow it in the right soil and it brings forth thirty-fold, sixty-fold, hundred-fold. Nothing wrong with the message!
Why is it then that people do not believe? The heart has a barrier, has a film that prevents the proper reception of the seed of God's Word. That's why! And so Jesus says, “There are four kinds of soils that describes four kinds of hearing.” There's some people today who are hardened.
There's this barrier that prevents the seed from being internalized. There are some who are callous, they have a very superficial layer of soil and when the sun comes up it dies. And there are some who are careless hearers, there are lots of thorns and weeds that choked up the seed of God's Word. And only when you have a good soil, a cultivated soil, a cultivated heart, that the seed of God's Word will bring forth abundant fruit.
So the point that Jesus is making, is that: There is nothing wrong with the message. It has all the power to save! The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. The problem lies not in the word. The problem lies in our hearts.
And that's why God's people need to hear God's Word well. When I say, “Hear God's Word well, it does not just refer to sound waves bouncing off your eardrums.” To hear God's Word well means we hear with a heart and commitment and intention not only to know but to obey and to do His will.
That's what the Hebrews would say, “Shema, 什么是 [what is] Shema?”, you say . ‘Shema’ means to hear with your whole heart. To hear it, in order to obey. It's not difficult. I think Chinese people, you can understand that you say to your kids, “你要听话” [Nǐ yào tīng huà]. That's right! That's what mothers all say, right? 你要听话ni yao ting hua, ‘lee ai tia way’ [you must obey in Hokkien]. What do you mean by ‘tia way’? You mean just listen? No! Your parents mean listen and … listen and obey.
Shema is like ‘听话’ [tīng huà]. And the way to hear God's Word is to have such an attitude that says, “I want to not only know but to do”. So, the parable of the sower tells us many people hear but they don't want to do. And that's why, they are not blessed in the reception of God's Word.
Then Jesus tells us another secret about the Kingdom. The Kingdom is for those who hear in order to obey. The second parable, he tells us is that the Kingdom is a… the external Kingdom, at least, the world we see today, is made up of people who are real Christians and people who are just pretending to be Christians. And he teaches that in the parable of the weeds,.
Remember that? That in the world today, there are wheat and there are weeds. Wheat is good. Wheat is where you get your flour and so on. It's good for food. It's good stuff. But weeds then are bad stuff.
There's a particular species of weeds that looks like wheat, but it is poisonous. When you take of it, you don't feel well. And the two can coexist on the same field, on the same plot of land. And they look so similar. It's not so easy to tell them apart.
Jesus uses this common scenario in agricultural situations then to say that, “There are those who are real Christians. And there are those who are like they are Christians, but they are actually not!”
They may speak like a Christian, they may talk like a Christian. They may dress like a Christian. They may have ICs that have Christian. They may follow Christians to come to church as well and look like Christians. But they are anything but. They don't know God. They do not believe the Gospel. They are not followers of Jesus Christ. Because God says, “They look like it but they're actually lawbreakers. They are sinful people. They indulge in their sins.”
So regardless of what they say, their lives show themselves up. And one day, when Jesus comes with his angels, though they look so similar now, there will be a great separation. A separation of the wheat from the weeds.
So just because we are all seated in this auditorium today, doesn't give us the right to assume you or all of us are believers. The wheat and the weeds can coexist. And so, He's teaching the disciples, some secrets of the Kingdom here.
Many people assume that just because you are religious, just because you go to church, just because you say your prayers before meals, you must be God's child. No! That's not so simplistic! They look the same, but they may not be. So, He calls us to examine ourselves, I think. To see whether we are really in the faith, not just by our profession but whether there is a change of our lives.
All that seem quite tough and then he gives us a very encouraging pair of parables, you remember what they are? So, we have parable of the sower, the parable of the parable of the weeds, then the parable of the? Not yet, not yet treasure. Mustard seed and the parable of the leaven. So you have parables of Kingdom growth, stories that tell us how God's Kingdom flourish.
The mustard seed is really tiny, very small. And leaven doesn't need to be very big. You don't need a lot of leaven, dough. You just need a very small lump and you insert it into a bigger dough and the whole dough will be leavened.
And he's saying, “That the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It's like a little leaven.” You don't need a lot of it. It had, it can be a very small, almost insignificant looking start. But give it time, silently it grows, it permeates. And one day, you will see the amazing results.
The growth of the Kingdom start small. But it progresses in a stunning way, until the mustard seed becomes a tree, until the whole lump is leavened. And Jesus, I think is encouraging, encouraging the disciples, the apostles, that : We all start small. “It's just you and it's just me with the 12 of you.” I know that, it's small. But wait for it, one day it will flourish.
And we are in the midst of this growth process by the way, this growth has begun in somewhere in the Middle East, some 2000 years ago. And it has spread, it has spread. It has spread to the shores, even here in Singapore and in all corners of the world. And we, not seen the real extent of it yet. But that's how the Kingdom progresses.
And then two weeks ago, we went to the next two parables. Parables about? Not Kingdom growth, but Kingdom? This is very ‘keck sim’ [troubling in Hokkien]. Parables of Kingdom worth. When Jesus gave us the parable of the treasure and parable of the pearl of great value. He's teaching that people who belong to God, are people who see the all surpassing worth of knowing God through Jesus Christ.
That his people are people, who really see the amazing worth of being forgiven of our sins, inheriting eternal life and being reconciled with God. That we will be a people who have such a deep joy, that we are willing to give up all, to follow God. That we will be a people who are willing to deny ourselves and take up the cross to follow him.
How do you know if you really a child of God? Well, is this a reality in your life? That you see the all surpassing worth of the Kingdom. That Christianity, the Bible, your faith is not just a peripheral aspect of your life. Is not just like a CCA or a hobby, or a Sunday morning thing but it is an all-encompassing joy. That you are willing to change your whole life around from following your own ambitions and dreams to pursuing the things of the Kingdom.
This is not a reality for some special spiritual man. I think, this is the reality for everyone who is truly part of the Kingdom. These are the secrets. These are difficult things for us to grasp, but these are realities.
So today, we come to the seventh and the last parable. It's ‘The Parable of the Net’. My sons asked me, “What is ‘The Parable of the Net’?” I told them, “First of all, it's not the parable of the Internet. It is about something that they used a long time ago and people are still using today. It's about a fishing net.”
Now, fishing in those days are carried out via three main methods. The first method will be using a hook and a line, as you would see in Matthew chapter 17:27. Peter was asked to cast a hook into the sea. So, it is a common practice in those days that when you fish, you may use this first method of a hook and a line. Many of you might have gone fishing before, many of you would have seen fishing done this way.
There's a second method that the people then would use. And that would be using a net. Peter, Andrew were fishermen and they would be casting a net into the sea. [Matthew 4:18] The net here, is a smaller kind of a net, where there are weights tied probably at the extremes or the ends of the net. So that, when you throw it, it can spread out. And then, it will sink, and it will go deep into the sea. And so that when the person draws it up, it brings in a shoal of fish.
So, that's another way of fishing, using a smaller net. But there is a third way of fishing mentioned here in Matthew 13:47. And this parable and it is also using a net. But if you check the Greek word, the ‘net’ used here in Matthew 13 is different from the ‘net’ used in Matthew 4.
The ‘net’ here refers to a big gigantic net. Matthew 4, is a smaller net. Smaller net, people cast. Big gigantic net, it is pulled by the ships or the boats. So you will know of those trawling nets, huge nets that ships would sail with. So that, as they sailed through the waters, they would capture, they would trap all kinds of sea creatures into the net. And that's the idea here.
The idea here is that Jesus is saying, “The Kingdom of God is moving like a kind of a net that moves silently through the sea of humanity. And trapping, capturing people into this net where they get to hear the Gospel, where they get to hear God's Word, when they are exposed to Christian realities.”
So, the Kingdom has moved throughout time, throughout humanity. And many people have been exposed, been part or been captured in this net. However, Jesus says, “Where it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into the containers but threw away the bad.” [Matthew 13:48]
“Not everything …” he says, “not everything caught in this net is good.” As you would know if you drag this net through the sea. I'm sure you catch some fish and squid and sotong and prawns, but you also get some boots and puffer fish. Er, OK puffer fish should be nice but you should catch some plastic bags and trash and so on. And so, when you get that net full, bring it to shore. There needs to be a sorting out process.
So Jesus is saying, “Not everyone, I think who has been exposed to Biblical teaching, not everyone who has seen the church, not everyone who has been taught the Gospel are automatically good.” There are some who are good and some who are bad. What do you mean good or bad?
Becomes clearer - “So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous.” [Matthew 13:40] In other words, there are people today in church, hearing the Bible. There are people who have been exposed to Christian teachings. There are people who had been raised in Christian homes, where their parents do Bible studies with them but they still end up evil.
Clearly these are people who do not know God. They may hear about God. They may hear about the Gospel. They may hear about Jesus, but they don't really know God. They persist in their evil ways.
So, the Kingdom of God moves through humanity, touches many lives, many people get to hear it. But let us not assume everyone who is in church or hear the Bible must be automatically saved. There needs to be a separation of the good and the bad; the evil from the righteous.
I was reading the Bible with my sons, and we came to the story of Eli. You know Eli? I've mentioned about Eli before. But seems to be the target boy, you know. But anyway, we came to Eli again. Who is Eli? He's a? He's a priest in the Old Testament during the times of Samuel. And Eli is well known or notorious, or infamous for his two sons.
He has two sons who are terrible sons. These two sons, they abuse the sacrifices people bring to God. They actually, when people bring sacrifices to God is for God, they actually take the good parts for themselves. They, they take the ‘sio bak’ [roasted meat in Hokkien] and the lamb chops and they keep it for themselves. They eat it for themselves. They … I can imagine them being gluttons and fat and so on.
But it was terrible because they are profaning the worship of God. And God knows that, sees that and comments that about Eli. “Eli did not restrain his sons.” So he was privy, he was an accomplice in the sense of not doing anything to stop this terrible sin. So when I said this story, I shared this story my sons then asked me, “Is Eli a Christian? Is Eli a child of God? Is Eli saved? Is Eli just a priest or is he really a child of God?”
What would you say? I said, what most of you would have said, “I don't know.” I'm not kidding. I said, “I do not know.” Because not that I'm not clear what it takes for someone to be saved, but I think it is not clear about the specifics or the details of Eli's life for me to know better.
But then I turned the question around and I said, “Shawn, how do you know if one is saved. You asked me, “Is Eli saved? I ask you, how do you know, if someone is really saved?” And my son said, “He must have a sin reducing life.” That's a, that's a new term! I've never heard of, read of. I've never spoken about that, but he coined his own term- it's a sin reducing life. I said, “What?” He said, “Sin less life.”
I said, “You are spot on! You're right! It's a sin less life.” He, he was clear to tell me not sinless but sin less. And so I said, “Shawn, can I use it? I thought it's real cool.” He says, “Cannot. Copyright Shawn.” But I said, “You are my son. I own you, so too bad. I'm using it.”
But he's right! How do you know if you're really a child of God? Now of course, you need to be someone who knows that you are sinner, and you cannot save yourself. You need to be someone who relies on Jesus and His perfect work on the cross. You need to believe that He is the only One who can save you from your sins. And he saves you not because you're good but He saves you because of His grace. You must know that! You must believe that!
But the evidence that must be seen in one's life, if he truly believes in Jesus, is that he will have a sin reducing life. Not that he's perfect. Not that he's sinless, but he will sin less. Doesn't guarantee that he would never slip into sin. Doesn't guarantee that he will never backslide. But over the course of his life, if he does know Jesus, because God now lives in him, he will start living more and more righteously. He will start to sin less and less.
That fruit, that changed life, that obedience is the best evidence that one has truly born again.
So just because you come to church, just because you hear the Bible, just because you call yourself a Christian, doesn't mean then that you're Christian. You must really believe. And the real belief will always result in life change.
So, just because you are in the net, is not good enough. I'm glad you're in the net. I'm glad you're hearing God's Word. But I pray more than just being in the net, you will really be part of the Kingdom. Because one day, “The angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous. [Matthew 13:49] Where they and the evil will be thrown into the fiery furnace and that place will be where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew 13:50]
There's nothing more tragic in my mind, there's nothing more tragic in my mind that you should hear God's Word, not repent, not believe and one day end up here. There's nothing more tragic than that! And yet, there's nothing more privileged than to hear God's Word today and have an opportunity to repent and believe in Him.
So don't assume! Don't blind yourself to this reality! Don't just say, “I must be fine because I come to church.” But make your election and calling sure. Look to the Gospel and seek to obey, not to earn salvation but to evidence that salvation. That as you add to your faith, virtue, charity, so on, that you see, it is real. God's work in me is real. It's the real deal. And I know that when there's a judgement that is to come, I stand in grace.
So when Jesus finished these parables, he then asked them, “Have you understood all these things?” [Matthew 13:51] So, can I ask you, “Do you understand all these things?” This is the most awkward. You know, it's so hard, right? Do you understand that there is nothing wrong in the seed of the Bible? There's nothing wrong with the Gospel. But the problem is all on human hearts. Do you understand that?
Do you understand that it is so important for you every Sunday, every day, when you read the Bible, when you encounter the Scriptures, that you should have a desire that says, “Lord, help me not just to hear but to do, to ‘shema’, to ‘听话’ ting hua.”
Do you understand it's so important for you to see that you, you should not just be contented with outward conformities but there is that inward reality? That you're not a weed but a wheat. It's so important for us to be encouraged that God's work can start small but it will grow humongous in its time.
So important for us to realize that the true follower is someone who sees the all surpassing worth of the Kingdom, who has such a joy that he is willing to deny himself and give up his ambitions. So important for us to see that it's not good enough to be in the net but we must really be in the Kingdom. Do you understand these things?
The disciples said, “Yes, we do.” Amazing! And you would have thought, alright job's done, teachings over, go home. But that's not what Jesus ended with because he ends with verse 52. “And he said to them, therefore every scribe who has been trained for the Kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
Now you say, “Pastor, you're not true. This is, there's another parable. Well, this is parable number eight, but this is postscript, if you know what I mean. PS, the main thing is done, he says some more. And the postscript involves an illustration. You say, “What is this illustration about?”
Well, let's look at it, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the Kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 13:52] A scribe is a teacher of the law. A scribe is someone who is well-versed in the Bible. So, a scribe is to teach others Kingdom realities, spiritual realities.
So, a scribe who has been trained for the Kingdom of heaven is then likened to this owner. This owner has guests in his house. And it is only right that the owner would now try to meet the needs of his guests.
So, he brings out his choicest food, he brings out his choicest wine. He may bring out even his garments. So, a master of a house is hospitable, is here to serve, is here to give. And he brings out of all the things he has, old and new to meet the needs of the people.
So what Jesus is simply saying is, “Good that you understand, but there's more. I want you not just to know these truths, but I want you to serve people with these truths. I want you to teach people these truths because I've just trained you. I've just taught you, I've just equipped you with the Secrets of the Kingdom. That you may then teach others, what it means to be part of the Kingdom. And may these truths be the content of what you teach. And may these truths also shape the way you teach.”
“I'm not sure what you're saying, Jason? I still don't get it. I still don't know how this practically works out in my life? How can I teach in a better way, in a more biblical way, in a more aligned way to the principles Jesus has taught?”
I gave some thought to this and I figure that I am an ideal man to teach this. Why? Why do you say that? Well, because I'm an expert in making all the mistakes about teaching the Gospel. I'm an expert in making mistakes. In my 20 over years of being a Christian and sharing the Gospel, I've made many, many mistakes.
And I just want to share some of the mistakes. And then share with you how the principles in these parables have changed the way I go about teaching the Gospel now. I used to make many mistakes but I will just name some, some philosophies that I think I've gone wrong.
Number one, when I share the Gospel in the past, I saw myself like a bulldozer. You know what a bulldozer does? He just flattens everything. So, if I've a friend in front of me, I want to share the Gospel. I just flatten him.
I don't care about what questions you have. I don't care if you have any opposition, I'll just preach and flatten him out. I don't want him to ask too many questions. I don't want to entertain his questions. I just want to preach. I've three points. I've one conclusion. I just preach.
That's one thing I do very wrong. I have no patience. I've no confidence to deal with his questions. And maybe a reason why bulldoze people and don't want to entertain their questions too much, and I'm afraid of the questions is because I believe I need to give - one shot, one kill.
I have only this one chance with you. I, I, I saw evangelism as a crisis thing. You know, I've only this one chance. Because after this, I know you won't talk to me anymore. Because I just bulldoze you. So one shot, one kill, I must really get this opportunity and ‘zhun, zhun’ [with accuracy in Hokkien], get you.
You know, a sniper, he snipes right? And, and, and if, if, if a sniper is smart, he understands it's got to be one shot, one kill. Because if he misses the shot, the enemy will find out that someone is out here sniping, and I may be caught subsequently. So, I really gotta make sure I give a good one - a good bulldozing sermon. So that, even if you are unhappy with me, and later and you don't want to talk to me, I have given you that one-shot.
And maybe another mistake I commit in my life in sharing the Gospel, is this belief that my job is to just somehow get the person to - just say yes. I just want him to say, “Yes.” I don't really know and I don't really care and I won't really know or do I really care how he actually receives the message.
I just want to preach, preach, preach, preach, preach. Bulldoze him, impress him in such a way or nag at him in such a way that he would finally say, “Yes, okay lah. I believe okay, okay, okay, get off my back.” And if I could just get him to say, “Yes.” I'll be happy.
Now, I must say that ,a lot of that comes from a good place in the heart that I genuinely want my friends to come to know Jesus. I don't doubt that! I really want my friends, classmates, relatives, whatever people I get to share to. I really want them to know Christ. I do want that!
But maybe a reason why I want people to say, “Yes,” also, maybe because and I think I'm guilty of that, I just want to have some way to keep score. That, “Hey, you're such an effective soul winner!” “Wow! You preach to people and people say yes to you. They say the sinners prayer. They, they receive and your, your field-goal percentage very high.”
For those who know basketball or sports for every hundred shots, 60 goes in, you have a 60% shooting percentage. If only 20 go in, you have a 20% shooting percentage. I, I hope I have a shooting percentage for evangelism.
So subtly, there is that temptation to share and share and share and share unto you finally say, “Yes.” That I can tick one point. I just want to get people to say the sinners prayer. I just want to get people to say, “Yes”, and I thought, “Wow! That must be evangelism.”
But over the years, I realize that is so wrong, so wrong on many counts. Now, I have done this, I think I'm not exaggerating. I have done this hundreds of times, hundreds of times -bulldozing. Just getting people to say, “Yes.”
But, I've realized evangelism is not just getting people to say, “Yes.” Isn't it? I mean, ‘The Parable of the Net’ should tell me very clearly! Just because they hear the preaching of God's Word, doesn't always equate to being blessed. They do really need to understand, repent and believe. So, if I just content myself with preaching, dumping the message on him, that's not right! That’s not faithful!
I should not aim at bulldozing people through, but I should be willing to be patiently. This is the key - I should be willing to patiently, lovingly, respectfully, help them understand the Gospel. So that, they have the right information; right truths, that they can repent and believe.
Instead of a one conversation encounter, why is it that I can't be patiently meeting with them in over multiple conversations over a period of time? And so we call this, journeying with people in the Gospel. We don't want to just hit them, one shot one kill. But we journey with them, we help them understand.
You see, you must understand Singapore by and large, the world by and large today is quite ignorant of, of biblical truths. We really are! You ask people, “Who is God?” They say, “I do not know.” You ask people, “What is sin?” You ask people, “What is hell?” So, they do not know God, they do not know sin. They do not know hell, they do not know heaven. They do not know Jesus, they do not know what believe means. They do not know what it means to repent. They do not know the Gospel.
And you imagine, you meet that guy for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, everything got to come in and he believes right there and then. I'm not saying, “It's impossible but it's mighty hard.” We don't even do that to our own kids, right? How do you share the Gospel with your children? When he's 12 years old, you sit him down and say, “Shawn, I tell you the Gospel. 20 minutes, 30 minutes, I bulldoze you, you better believe.”
“Dad, I can't even get past the first line, God.” “Who is God? What is God? What is He like? Why is it that we must be reconciled with Him?” He has no idea! But the reason why God gives me my son, is so that over the years, as he's developing mentally and intellectually, I can help him progressively understand these realities.
And perhaps, one day with the right understanding, God will work in his heart. And he will obey and repent and believe in Jesus. We've got to understand that sharing the Gospel takes patience, takes time. You, you don't assume things.
Now, I want you to be clear that I'm not saying, “It's your persuasion or your patience that saves people.” No, it is the grace of God alone that saves. But if you want to be used as a messenger, as a witness, as an ambassador for Christ, then you must have the proper understanding of how someone comes to faith. It takes time. It takes your patience.
I think Apostle Paul, he's the greatest evangelist apart from Christ. I know, I read in the Bible. And he doesn't do that one shot one kill thing as far as he can. Sometimes, he has to because that's the only time perhaps he can preach. But if he is able to, he would stay in that city and reason with the people, every Sabbath - persuading, reasoning, helping them understand.
I think that's great! Not only that, in another chapter, in another city, “He would enter the synagogue and for three months would speak; reason and persuade them.” [Acts 19:8] You see, even the great apostle, Paul doesn't say, “Bulldoze you, one-shot, one kill!” But, he patiently reasons.
Imagine, today you are stricken with cancer, terrible disease. You go to the Doctor and says, “Doc, I have this disease.” The Doctor says, “I want to help you get well. I know a medicine that can help you get well, but it's not easy to take this medicine. You need to bear with some side effects. You have to suffer some consequences. But you take this, you will get well.”
He gives you the medicine, you take it home. And he says, “Alright, I've given you the medicine, you should be well. You don't have to come and see me again.” This kind of Doctor, you want to go or not? You say, “Siow ah [crazy in Hokkien] Doctor. Got cancer ‘ay si ei leh [will result in death in Hokkien]. You give me this medicine, you leave me alone. What if I do not know how to take it or got problems? Are you sure I'll get well? I, I …”
You get the point. A good Doctor doesn't just send you off with the medicine and say, “You take it, you'll be fine.” A good Doctor says, “This is the medicine, you take it, you will be fine. But come back and see me in two weeks time. I want to check how you are. I want to make sure you really took that medicine. I want to make sure you really understand that medicine, how it is to be taken. I want to make sure that you're reacting well to that medicine. And that, that it's really helping you. Because my purpose is not just to give you the medicine, my purpose is to see you get well.”
When we share the Gospel, our duty is not just to dump the Gospel onto someone. But our duty to really help someone get well - spiritually. And that's why you need to follow up. That's why you may need multiple conversations. That's why you need to meet up because you need to understand. Help him understand this truth, then another truth, then another truth.
Then maybe he still not clear about the first one, you come back again. But you help him patiently, you journey with him from base camp to camp one, to camp two, to camp three, to camp four. Ultimately to the apex of it where he can say, “I see. I see. I understand now! I'm a sinner before a Holy God and I cannot save myself, but God gave His Son Jesus Christ to die and pay for all my sins. I see that! I see that! I'm a desperate sinner who can never save myself and I need to believe in Jesus. I need to follow him. I see that and I'm willing to believe.”
You know, we today in modern day, suffer from a superficial brand of Christianity that says, “Just come and believe Jesus.” Come on, that's not the Gospel! If the person doesn't understand why he needs to believe in Jesus. Just saying, “I believe.” Just praying, “I believe,” without understanding sin, God and so on, is not real belief! Let's get that clear!
Now, this journeying takes time. But it's worth it! Like I said, “I have preached hundreds of times.” I preached this door-to-door, one room flats in Singapore. We knocked on the doors for many years. We did that! Each door, shared the Gospel. As much as I can, share, share, share, share, share, until he closed the door at me.
But I give him my one shot, one kill lah. “Ay, believe Jesus, ya sor hor ah, li ai xin ya sor ah. “Pop!” [sound of door closing] Okay, go to next door. I try my one shot, one kill again, many, many times.
We, we will go to Orchard Green, Orchard Green is where Ion is. Ion Orchard that beautiful mall, it used to be a knoll. It used to be a little hill, green slopes where many, many Filipina ladies would go. And every Sunday afternoon, we will go, we will share.
And my job there, my missionary goal there - one shot, one kill. I may never get to see you again. You may go in the Philippines, I do not know. But, I will bulldoze my way through, and I'll just try to get you to say, “Yes.” And Filipinas are so nice, they will say, “Yes.” They really are the nicest people, they will say, “Yes”.
But when I walk away, I have my question because when I shared with them, they did look like they were not clear about some things. And I know it will take a long time to resolve those things. But you know what : one shot one kill, bulldoze your way through, just get them to say, “Yes.”
I've since realized I cannot share the Gospel like this. It's not responsible! Now, I'm not saying that if I meet someone on an airplane and he's going to Africa, I'm going to Singapore. And that’s the only time I can meet, I don't share lah. I say, “Ay, I need a long time with you, cannot share with you.” No, I'll give my best shot, if that's the only time I have. I will still give my best shot!
But, if I can help it, I wouldn't need to do everything at one shot. I would say, “Hey, would you want to find out more? Would you want to find out what it means to know God and have eternal life?” I'm a church … okay my opening like always, “What do you do? What do you do? “I'm a businessman. I'm a scientist. I'm a whatever.” “I'm a Pastor.” “Oh, Pastor, what do you do?” “Well, I help people come to know God, would you want to find out more?”
Very easy turn around, right? Something along that line lah. And he says, “Yah, okay, let's let's maybe meet up sometime.” See, I, I do not want to think that it needed to be a crisis event, like it's so stressful. He is to make the decision on the spot, but I want to help him over time, to understand the Gospel reality.
And what has happened is that for the past few years, I've journeyed with people for various, varying lengths of time. Sometimes one session, that guy gets it. He has been to church before, he has heard the Gospel before. He knows some things before, he gets it there and then. I say, “Great!”
Sometimes two weeks, sometimes four weeks. Sometimes six-month, sometimes one year. Some, sometimes two years. But I've seen fruit in these recent years, like I have never seen in my past 20 years. You don't need to bulldoze people. You need to respectfully love people, patiently journey with them in the Gospel.
We say, “Gospel Light is to be leading generations into a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.” We are not interested just to get you to church. That really is not the goal. Glad you're here. Glad you can hear the Gospel, but the goal must not be just coming to church. The goal must be that you really are led to a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ.
And I think Gospel Light, we must really … thankful for many of you, doing so much to connect with the community. We have outreach platforms, ministries, fun things we can invite people for. But we must also be equipped to help people get the Gospel. We must be patient and willing to help people get the Gospel.
And I think this is really what it boils down to - Are you instructed in the teachings of the Kingdom that you will know what to share? And that even the principles of these parables will shape the way you share the Gospel.
I wish I could say a lot more, but I think time's up. And I'm not here to really do a training seminar - how to share the Gospel. I just want to sow that seed and say, “If we want to fulfil our mission, if we want to be good witnesses, then let us not be contented with superficial evangelism. But let us really patiently take people through the Bible, the Gospel and see that they really get well.”
One of the joys of a doctor is when a patient is compliant, takes the medicine and recovers. One of the joys of being a child of God is that you can give the Gospel in such a way that their lives are turned around and which glorifies God. Would you join me in sharing the Gospel in a way that honours Him?
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. There's so much for us to learn. There's so much for me to learn but I hope you will at least not follow in my footsteps of making the mistakes. Let us as a church, not aim for statistics. Not aim for just some figures that make us look good but genuinely helping one and all to really get the Gospel.
Oh, we need to pray. And it is all the sovereign grace of God when he saves someone. But we can all do it better, we can all do it more biblically. We can do it more patiently, we can do it lovingly. We can do it in such a way that the Holy Spirit is most free to work in the hearts of men and women. And I pray that the teachings of Jesus in the parables here would somehow beautifully shape the way you live and give the Gospel.
Maybe some of you are praying for your friend or your loved one and you are just aiming to just hit him with that one bulldozing message. I say, “It's great that you want to reach him or her. But think about it, think about how you can gently help him with the questions. Think about how you can break it all up. How you can find a good tool, a good tool that would allow you to journey with someone. And you know, we have great tools we use in this church. And we would be happy to share it with you, if you are really keen to do so.”
But let’s all endeavour to share the Gospel well: accurately; faithfully; thoroughly, so that people will really have a life changing relationship with Jesus Christ. And I speak to some of us here today, who have been to church, who have called ourselves Christians . But you have always thought, “Am I really saved? Am I really the real deal?”
I’m not trying to shake your confidence. I’m not trying to take away your assurance. Not at all! I believe those who are God’s, even in a message that is hard hitting like this, you will see the evidence of God’s work in your lives. And this may actually grow you in your assurance. But I’m speaking to those who absolutely can’t see evidence of life change. I pray that this is not going to condemn you, as much as it’s meant to help you really to turn to Jesus today.
And as you see no change since the day you believed, or at least you think you believe, you would, even right now humble yourself and say, “Lord, maybe I have been faking it all, maybe I have not really understood the Gospel at all. But I want to know, I want to believe. Maybe you can speak to someone in this Church. Speak to myself, write in to us. We are most happy to help you get the Gospel. That’s what we are here for. Not to sugar coat things, not to brush aside questions, genuine questions of the heart. But to really help you. Whilst you are in the net, to get into the good container, to get into the Kingdom. That you soul may be saved.
So, Father, thank you this morning we could hear your Word. We thank you for these stories that we can tell to the nations. Stories of salvation and light. May this be first of all receive into our hearts this morning. And then, may this be faithfully declared and taught through your Church from this morning. So bless your Church and we thank you for Jesus and His love. We pray all these in Jesus’ name. Amen.
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More Episodes from Pastor Jason Lim:
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02 Jun 2019
28 May 2019
Episodes from other sermons:
21 Apr 2019
19 Apr 2019
10 Mar 2019
30 Dec 2018
25 Dec 2018
23 Dec 2018
16 Dec 2018
09 Dec 2018