Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I'm Sure Peter and John Preached the Prosperity Gospel! (Acts 3:1-10)


One day Peter and John were going to the temple at the time of prayer – at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put everyday to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money
(Acts 3:1-3,
NIV)

Previously, the writer told us that “many wonders and signs performed by the apostles” (Acts 2:43) and here is one of the examples. As Peter and John went one day into the temple, some people (probably his relatives) were just bringing in a beggar. It is said that this man had been born lame and was now over 40 years old (see Acts 4:22). To beg in the temple area is equivalent today as begging in the church’s open doors (except hardly we see any beggars came to our churches, I wonder why not). Almsgiving and mercy assume greater in the religious settings rather than in the shopping mall areas. So this place was the most strategic area. Plus, the temple gate is called “Beautiful.”

Seeing Peter and John, he immediately asked them for “money” (3:3). He may not realize that Jesus’ disciples were mostly poor or not rich, particularly these two disciples. So no wonder “Peter looked straight at him, as did John” (3:4). “Then Peter said, ‘Look at us!’ So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them” (3:4-5). This is funny! When I read “Look at us!” I imagined these two tone of voice: First, surely a strong command; and secondly, a disbelief response like, ‘What do you expect from us? Look at us! We’re poor too!’ They didn’t have much money – or none for this purpose – but they did know the power of God and so was able to give something far better that afternoon than all the rich people who entered the temple.

So Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6). In the name of Jesus, Peter took hold of the lame man’s hand and raised him up. Immediately he received strength and began to walk and jump. For a man born lame, these descriptions in Acts 3:7-8 is simply amazing. What great power “the name of Jesus” is! At that moment, I’m sure that the man finally realized that to know the Lord Jesus Christ is far better than to have all the money in the world. He asked for “money” but he got far better, namely, healing in the name of Jesus. No wonder he “walking, jumping and praising God” (4:9). Begging-helpless voice now had turned into shout of praises. The people there “were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (v.10). No doubt!

Two things I learned from this text: #1 Jesus is the wisest prayer we can ever ask for. This man asked for what he thought the best he can possibly have – money, but instead he got better – Jesus. Jesus is more precious than silver and gold. When we asked for a certain thing [this man was simply asked, I think that’s the key: Ask], God may give us something else better than what we wanted at first. We must trust His wisdom, love and power whenever we pray. Ask; and #2 Jesus’ name bring complete spiritual healing to those who believe. I know that the man was physically healed and I’m not trying to ‘spiritualize’ this text. But this man’s healing was a good example of how God rescues us from our sin: 1) The man was totally hopeless since the beginning; 2) The healing took place by a direct word of command in the name of Jesus; 3) The healing was instantaneous, not gradual; 4) The healing was permanent, not partial or temporary; and 5) The healing was not in secret but was publicly acknowledge – this is the saving power of God!

Because of these two lessons I learned, I say this poor lame beggar is rich in the Kingdom of God. Surely, Peter and John preached the prosperity Gospel!


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Friday, October 14, 2016

Simple Book Review: To Explain the World (The Discovery of Modern Science)


To Explain The World: The Discovery of Modern Science (2015) by Steven Weinberg

Weinberg hope to answer these questions in his book [very ambitious, but he tried]: How did we come to understand the world? How did we learn physics and astronomy? Matter and poetry? Music and mathematics? Motion and philosophy? And the connection and influence (or not) of science and religion? “I chose ‘Discovery’ instead of ‘Invention’,” writes Weinberg, “to suggest that science is the way it is not so much because of various adventitious historic acts of invention, but because of the way nature is.” This book is divided into 4 parts: 1) Greek Physics, 2) Greek Astronomy, 3) The Middle Ages, and 4) The Scientific Revolution, and about 90+ pages of technical notes such as Thales’ Theorem, The Pythagorean Theorem, Irrational Numbers, Terminal Velocity, The Theory of the Rainbow, etc. Don’t assume that I know all of these things (I wish I can!) but it is such an amazing read to try to understand how the universe work!

Here are some of interesting knowledge that I want to share with you: #1 Thales, one of the first philosophers of ancient Greek claimed that everything is made of water. Then, Anaximander identified it as a mysterious substance he called the unlimited, or infinite. Anaximenes then came out with air, and Heraclitus assumed it was fire. Empedocles thought of all matter is composed not of one but of four elements – water, air, earth and fire. But Democritus finally claimed that all matter consists of tiny indivisible particles called atoms that moving in empty space. Wow! [Btw, now we know better that an atom is not the smallest matter nor nucleus nor proton nor electron but quark. And an atom is about 99.99999% empty space!];

#2 It seem that the rise of religion had something to do with the decline of original work in science. “Once one invokes the supernatural, anything can be explained, and no explanation can be verified.” I agree to some extent; #3 What excite me is that many theologians of the middle ages were also scientists!; and #4 The author claims that Isaac Newton was the climax of the scientific revolution. I simply love this one chapter The Newtonian Synthesis. John Maynard known to write, “Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians, the last great mind which looked out on the visible and intellectual world with the same eyes as those who began to build our intellectual inheritance rather less than 10,000 years ago.” He learned Latin and theology, arithmetic and geometry, a little Greek and Hebrew, and he began his education with Aristotle’s works. He wrote many books in which none can match the history of physical science, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) or shortly known as Principia Mathematica. Here are some quotes on Newton by his friends:

“Then ye who now on heavenly nectar fare,
Come celebrate with me in song the name
Of Newton, to the Muses dear; for he
Unlocked the hidden treasuries of Truth:
So richly through his mind had Phoebus cast
The radius of his own divinity,
Nearer the gods no mortal may approach.”

And,

“Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;
God said, ‘Let Newton be!’ And all was light.”

Overall, I learned so much from this book. I have to study some of the subjects in the internet and YouTube for illustrations and imaginations. I recommend this book to any curious readers out there who love science!
[P.s: Since I admires Albert Einstein more than Isaac Newton, I was amused when I read this additional two more lines on the praise of Newton many years later, “It did not last: the Devil howling ‘Ho, Let Einstein be,’ restored the status quo.” :P]

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Simple Book Review: Isaac Newton (Giants of Science)


Giants of Science: Isaac Newton (2006) by Kathleen Krull

What qualities best characterize Isaac Newton? How about secretive, vindictive, withdrawn, obsessive and – most definitely – genius! This book give a compelling portrait of Newton, the bitter-sweet contradictions and all, but nevertheless a story about a man who was and is known as the greatest scientist of all time. He was born on January 1642 (some say 1643) as a premature infant “so tiny that no one expected him to make it,” writes Krull. His father died three months earlier before he was born, his mother deserted him (married again) and he was under the care of his grandparents until he went to Grantham Grammar School and soon entered Cambridge University. As youngster, he was known as absent-minded and unsociable. “From childhood on, much of his time was spent silent and alone. Thinking. Always thinking.” Many biographers assume that Newton suffered a mental illness known as bipolar (or manic depressive).

Newton was very curious and inventive. In young age he learned about herbs, studied Greek and Hebrew, logic, arithmetic, geometry, Biblical studies, very skilful with his hands, experimenting with kite (he don’t consider it as playing kite though), creating a miniature windmill, studying the sun, the moon, the planets and the rivers, taught himself about catching birds, melting metal, making fireworks, learn how to draw, experimenting with sheep’s blood to make inks, drying herbs and berries to make portions, etc. As he grow older, he have massive appetite for physics, astronomy and mathematics. In fact, to figure out some scientific explanations, he invented a new branch of math called calculus as we know it today [And invented a better telescope to study astronomy and popularizing “the scientific method” to the world of science]. Once, he almost blinded his eyes when he looked straight to the sun and poking his eye ball with needle to study optics and colours.  

Newton loves to read books. He devoured books by Plato, Aristotle, John Milton, Nicolaus Copernicus, John Bate, Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, his own lecturer, Isaac Barrow, and many more. The only man that I can think of being so curious to study everything is Leonardo da Vinci. “I never knew him to take any recreation or pastime either in riding out to take the air, walking, bowling, or any other exercise whatever,” witnessed his assistant, “thinking all hours lost that was not spent in his studies.” Here are some sad things about Newton: he have very few friends (maybe close to none), very sensitive to people’s criticisms (such as from Robert Hooke’s), and probably never had any, in his lifetime, serious relationships with anyone (people sometime accused him as homosexual, but I don’t think so).

But all of these pale in comparison with his greatest success namely, the creation of his chief work, Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica also simply known as Principia Mathematica or Mathematical Principles explaining elliptical orbits, the gravitational force and more. His second great book is Opticks which mainly deals with the property of light. Because of these ingenious discoveries, John Locke, English philosopher, thought of him as a god. Alexander Pope, a poet composed, “Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night; God said, ‘Let Newton be!’ and all was light.” In later years, he became obsessed with alchemy, especially “the processes by which one substance changes into another” (maybe due to the fabled Philosophers’ Stone which was believed to have the power to turn worthless metals into gold). This is somewhat weird interest of his.

What amazed me, even though he is the physicist of the physicists, he believes in the existence of God. God was never out of Newton’s genius mind. Krull writes nothing he discovered ever shock his faith. “In the absence of any other proof,” Newton claimed, “the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence” [Btw, he doesn’t believe in the Trinity, only God the Father]. Because of his faith, no surprise he was also obsessed in the interpretation of Biblical passages, especially, with the idea of the end of the world [Newton predicted that year 2060 is the end of the world. Very safe prediction indeed]. So many things I learned from this book, too much that I may bore you, but let Newton end this review on himself:

I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Effects of Pentecost to the Church: How About Today? (Acts 2:40-47)


With many other words [Peter] warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day
(Acts 2:40-41,
NIV)

Some of those who heard Peter’s Christ-centred preaching wanted at once to do something about it. So he told them to repent. And to show their true repentance, they must be publicly baptized. About 3,000 did so that very day of Pentecost. What a joy that was to Peter, to all the disciples, to those who were just saved, and to the Lord Himself in heaven! If you read further in Acts 2:42-47, you’ll noticed evidences of Spirit-filled people. Because nowadays many churches are so obsess with modern day’s ‘Pentecost’, let’s check what happened to the first century church lead by the Holy Spirit as describes in the Book of Acts. They became…

A Learning Church. “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching…” (v.42). First evidence of Spirit-filled people is their hunger for the truth. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. And the Truth of God is the Word of God (“the apostles’ teaching”). I’m convince that Spirit-filled church is New Testament church that hold firm to the New Testament teachings and doctrines. They will not despise Christian mind and theology, but embrace it together with their passion for Christ. Don’t ever think that theology is dry as sand, true theology will produce rivers of living water. See here, there were “many wonders and signs performed by the apostle” (v.43).

A Loving Church. “…and to fellowship…” (v.42). Spirit-filled people love to be together. “All the believers were together and had everything in common” (v.44). Because the Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, and the Spirit is in us; this love of God become the ultimate source for our love with one another. Not only that, because the Father and the Son loves to give good things for us, the Spirit teaches us to give and share with others too. For example, first believers volunteeringly “sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (v.45). Not that we have to do the same, but the attitude of giving should be the attitude of the Spirit-filled church. Their love is visible.

A Worshipping Church. “…to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (v.42). Worship is the expression of Spirit-filled people. Here I notices that their worship (or can I say their prayer meetings?) was both formalin the temple court” and informal “in their homes” (v.46). Also, I realized that both the fear of the Lordfilled with awe” (v.43) and the joy of the Lordpraising God and enjoying the favour of all the people” (v.47) are mutually together. There is a place for formal worship. And there is a time for informal worship. But one thing for sure: We all must worship God with joy and reverence.

An Evangelistic Church. “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (v.47). Harry Boer in his challenging book Pentecost and Missions writes, the Acts “is governed by one dominant, overriding and all-controlling motif. This motif is the expansion of the faith through missionary witness in the power of the Spirit… Restlessly the Spirit drives the church to witness, and continually churches rise out of the witness. The church is a missionary church.” No doubt, Spirit-filled people are missionaries. As we go and witness the Good News of Jesus to the world, remember the Lord is the One who saved people. Once saved, they belong to us. Oh, may our church today become Spirit-filled church: continuous learning, extravagance with love, ever praising God, and missionary-minded. Amen.

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Sunday, October 9, 2016

Adakah TUHAN itu Wujud?


Sejak wujudnya alam semesta, sifat-sifat Allah yang tidak dapat dilihat dengan mata, iaitu kuasa-Nya yang kekal dan ketuhanan-Nya, semuanya jelas ternyata serta difahami melalui segala ciptaan-Nya. Oleh itu, tiada alasan bagi memaafkan mereka
(Rom 1:20,
KSZI)

Ramai agnostik (mereka yang percaya bahawa tidak ada sesuatu pun yang menunjukkan kewujudan Tuhan) berpendapat bahawa kita tidak boleh pasti bahawa TUHAN itu wujud. Mereka berkata seseorang boleh berfikir bahawa Tuhan wujud, malah yakin bahawa TUHAN itu ada, tetapi mereka tetap mengatakan bahawa kepercayaan bahawa ada Tuhan merupakan sesuatu yang tidak logik dan iman yang buta. Bagi orang Kristian pula, seperti penjelasan Rasul Paulus kepada pemerintah Perkius Festus, iman yang kita percaya adalah munasabah. Apabila Festus berkata, “Kamu gila!” Paulus menjawab, “Aku bukannya gila… Aku mengatakan perkara yang benar dan bijaksana” (Kisah Para Rasul 26:25); “…benar dan yang keluar daripada fikiran yang waras.

Iman tentang kewujudan TUHAN adalah sesuatu yang munasabah kerana ada bukti. Tuhan mencipta manusia dan dia “sentiasa memberikan kesaksian tentang diri-Nya” (Kisah Para Rasul 14:17). Apakah bukti-bukti yang ada? Lihatlah keindahan, keagungan dunia disekeliling kita dan alam semesta di setiap penjuru langit. “Dia mengurniaimu hujan dari langit dan hasil dari bumi menurut musimnya” (14:18). Kitaran musim, hasil-hasil bumi, dan misteri tentang hidup itu sendiri bukan hanya merupakan bukti-bukti tentang kewujudan Tuhan yang kukuh malah kebaikan yang dilakukan-Nya.

Sain biologi moden – lebih-lebih lagi apabila dilihat dari sudut mikrobiologi – mengesahkan betapa komplek dan ajaibnya kehidupan yang diciptakan-Nya. Karya Tuhan boleh dilihat dimana-mana saja; hidupan liar, tumbuh-tumbuhan, langit, alam semula jadi dan sebagainya. Keunikkan, kekompleksan, kerumitan, dan kebergantungan antara satu sama lain jelas menunjukkan bahawa ada Pencipta disebalik apa yang wujud di dunia ini.

Raja Daud menulis, “Betapa terangnya langit menyatakan kemuliaan Allah! Betapa jelasnya cakerawala menunjukkan perbuatan-Nya! (Mazmur 19:1). Sekarang kita tahu (tontonlah National Geography) lebih dari mereka yang sebelumnya bahawa alam semesta dan cakerawala sebenarnya sangat sangat menakjubkan! Orang pada zaman dahulu tidak mungkin pernah membayangkan apa yang kita sudah terokai dan tahu sekarang. Bukan hanya bintang-bintang yang indah, tetapi alam semesta yang dipenuhi oleh planet-planet, bulan-bulan, galaksi-galaksi, lubang hitam, dan banyak lagi ciptaan yang unik dan cantik. Perhatikanlah! Apa yang lebih mengagumkan ialah bagaimana hukum-hukum alam yang tidak kelihatan seperti tarikan graviti, hukum inertia, gelombang bunyi dan cahaya menjadi sebahagian dari ciptaan-Nya untuk menjaga dan membolehkan banyak perkara berlaku disekeliling kita tanpa kita sedari. Lihat diri kamu sendiri, bukankah kamu ciptaan-Nya yang paling unik? Semuanya menunjukkan kepada kita sang Pencipta, TUHAN itu wujud.

Kesedaran ini saja sudah cukup untuk kita mengucap syukur, mengagumi dan memuji-Nya!
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Friday, October 7, 2016

There Is No Substitute for Theology


Taken from A. W. Tozer’s That Incredible Christian (1964) page 80-82: “We being what we are and all things else being what they are, the most important and profitable study any of us can engage in is without question the study of theology. That theology probably receives less attention than any other subject tells us nothing about its importance or lack of it. It indicates rather that men are still hiding from the presence of God among the trees of the garden and feel acutely uncomfortable when the matter of their relation to God is brought up. They sense their deep alienation from God and only manage to live at peace with themselves by forgetting that they are not at peace with God.

If there were no God things would be quite otherwise with us. Were there no one to whom we must finally render up account, at least one big load would be gone from our minds. We would only need to live within the law, not too hard a task in most countries, and there would be nothing to fear. But if God indeed created the earth and placed man upon it in a state of moral probation, then the heavy obligation lies upon us to learn the will of God and do it.

It has always seemed to me completely inconsistent that existentialism should deny the existence of God and then proceed to use the language of theism to persuade men to live right. The French writer, Jean-Paul Sartre, for instance, states frankly that he represents atheistic existentialism. “If God does not exist,” he says, “we find no values or commands to turn to which legitimize our conduct. So in the bright realm of values, we have no excuse behind us, nor justification before us. We are all alone, with no excuses.” Yet in the next paragraph he states bluntly, “Man is responsible for his passion,” and further on, “A coward is responsible for his cowardice.” And such considerations as these, he says, fill the existentialist with “anguish, forlornness and despair.”

It seems to me that such reasoning must assume the truth of everything it seeks to deny. If there were no God there could be no such word as “responsible.” No criminal need fear a judge who does not exist; nor would he need to worry about breaking a law that had not been passed. It is the knowledge that the law and the judge do in fact exist that strikes fear to the lawbreaker’s heart. There is someone to whom he is accountable; otherwise the concept of responsibility could have no meaning. It is precisely because God is, and because man is made in His image and is accountable to Him, that theology is so critically important. Christian revelation alone has the answer to life’s unanswered questions about God and human destiny. To let these authoritative answers lie neglected while we search everywhere else for answers and find none is, it seems to me, nothing less than folly…

The present neglect of the inspired Scriptures by civilized man is a shame and a scandal; for those same Scriptures tell him all he wants to know, or should want to know, about God, his own soul and human destiny. It is ironic that men will spend vast amounts both of time and of money in an effort to uncover the secrets of their past when their own future is all that should really matter to them… Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion.

The secret of life is theological and the key to heaven as well. We learn with difficulty, forget easily and suffer many distractions. Therefore we should set our hearts to study theology. We should preach it from our pulpits, sing it in our hymns, teach it to our children and make it the subject of conversation when we meet with Christian friends.”


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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Peter preached Jesus of Nazareth: 3,000 Died, 3,000 Saved (Acts 2:12-41)


Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’ Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’ Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. Those people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel
(Acts 2:12-16,
NIV)

When some of the people insult the disciples by saying they must be drunk, Peter doesn’t become angry, but quietly replies this is not the case at all. In the Middle East, people drink at night not early in the morning (But in Iban culture, it’s a different story). What Peter tried to say is that the disciples are not full of wine but are full of the Holy Spirit. In fact, he told them of a promise God gave long ago to Israel through the prophet Joel that God would pour out His Spirit on all the people (read Joel 2:28-32). On the day of Pentecost, only some of the people received the Holy Spirit, but the time is coming when more from all nations will received Him prior to Jesus’ second coming.

As I read the Scripture, Church history and my own experiences (limited of course), this event in Pentecost was one time event not to be repeated again. Nowhere in the Scripture tells another event such as this. It was like a grand opening, the birth of the movement of the Holy Spirit with a sole message: Jesus is alive and the Holy Spirit is here! However, the last part of Joel’s promise was true for us today as in Peter’s day: “[Everyone] who calls on the names of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). From here Peter went on to preach about “Jesus of Nazareth” (v.22). Although God had approved the work and Sonship of Jesus Christ, wicked men took Him and nailed Him to the cross. God knew in advance – “God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge” (v.23) – that this would happen and soon raised His Son back to life again. Why? Because “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (v.24). Oh yeah!

Peter went on to prove that even God had told David His servant that Messiah would rise from the dead (read Acts 2:25-28). David could not have been speaking about himself, as his grave was right there in Jerusalem. But he was prophesying about Jesus. David went on to prophesied, “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’” (Acts 2:34-35; Psalm 110:1). “The Lord” here is God the Father, and “my Lord” cannot be David himself but the Messiah, the Promised One, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In short, Peter was showing to them about their terrible sin in opposing God’s Messiah. They had killed the very One whom God had approved before and now had glorified. If we reject Jesus, we are rejecting God too, and we will be in the same position as the Jews who crucified Him.

For those who want to believe and come to God, Peter said: “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39)

What was their response? What was the outcome of Peter’s boldness? Were there anyone believe? The Scripture tells us: “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (v.41). This number remind me of our Bible Study on the Book of Exodus. When some of the Israelites were not repented of their idolatrous sin of worshiping the Golden Calf in Mount Sinai, Moses told us about “three thousand of the people died” (Exodus 32:28). What is your respond to this article? Would you consider this Jesus of Nazareth? Who do you say Jesus is? Peter had reminded us, he even warned us: “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (v.40). Do something…


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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Come Holy Spirit: Be Filled, Speak in Tongues and the Meaning of It (Acts 2:1-13)


Seven weeks had gone by since Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the Day of Pentecost had now arrived. As the believers met together that day, suddenly there was a sound like the roaring of a mighty windstorm in the skies above them and it filled the house where they were meeting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on their heads. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speaking in languages they didn’t know, for the Holy Spirit gave them this ability
(Acts 2:1-4, The Living Bible)

The Day of Pentecost was one of the feast days of the ancient Jews. It was held 50 days after the feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:16). Seven weeks, 7 x 7 = 49 days had gone by, so now is the 50th day. What’s my point? The feast of First Fruits in the Old Testament pointed to Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23) and then He ascended to heaven. And 50 days later, the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was the day the Holy Spirit poured out on the believers. Before the Pentecost come, the feast of First Fruits must be celebrated; before the Holy Spirit could come, the Son must go.

The 120 disciples (Acts 1:15) were all together in one place when they heard the sound of wind, visibly saw tongues of fire, and began to speak in other languages which they did not know before. Wind, fire, speech; they heard, they saw, they spoke. To me, this experience of “filled with the Holy Spirit” is rich in its nature. I want to ask, how could the Holy Spirit come and dwell with men whose hearts had been tainted with sin? It would only be possible, in my understanding of theology, if those hearts had first been cleansed. Or in other word, the Spirit only can dwell in holiness, not sinfulness. What is sufficient to wash away the guilt of sin? When people read this text automatically they would answer the Holy Spirit, but no, THE answer is the blood of the Lamb. The coming of the Spirit shows how completely the blood of Jesus Christ washes away all our sin. If the Spirit dwells in our hearts, He will be grieved if any sin is permitted to dwell there too. Therefore, it is appropriate if we first get rid of our conscious sin and asked God to cleanse us by the blood of Jesus. Do this and you will be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Come back to the text. Jewish people had been scattered all over the world, but some of them came back to Jerusalem “for the religious celebrations” (v.5). Imagine the surprise of these people when they heard the disciples, “all from Galilee” (v.7), speaking in fifteen different foreign languages! (Read lists of languages they speak in Acts 2:9-11). These were known human languages, not nonsense or unintelligible or meaningless gibberish (Test time: When people says they are speaking in tongue, what languages are they speak? Is there any people with the gift of interpretation among them?). What were they speaking about? The people said, “We all hear these men telling in our own languages about the mighty miracles of God” (v.11). This is interesting. In John 16:13-14, the Scriptures said that the Holy Spirit would not speak of Himself, but would glorify Jesus. So, when a Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she will not talk so much about him/herself nor even about the Spirit, but about Jesus Christ and the mighty miracles of God.

Then some of them were amazed and perplexed, “What can this mean?” they asked each other (v.12). While they still thinking, others in the crowd were mocking, “They’re drunk, that’s all!” (v.13). Peter, the leader of the apostles, defended against the accusation and denied that they were drunk of wine but was filled with the Holy Spirit [I’ll continue with Peter’s sermon in another article]. So, what does it all mean? John Stott rightly answer: “Nothing could demonstrated more clearly than this the multi-racial, multi-national, multi-lingual nature of the kingdom of Christ. Ever since the early church fathers, commentators have seen the blessing of Pentecost as a deliberate and dramatic reversal of the curse of Babel. At Babel human languages were confused and the nations were scattered; in Jerusalem the language barrier was supernaturally overcome as a sign that the nations would now be gathered together in Christ, prefiguring the great day when the redeemed company will be drawn ‘from every nation, tribe, people and language.’ Besides, at Babel earth proudly tried to ascend to heaven, whereas in Jerusalem heaven humbly descended to earth.” Amazing!


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Simple Book Review: Light in the Sarawak Jungle


Light in the Sarawak Jungle: An Epic Story of How the Gospel Spread Among the Kayan People
 and How the Bible was Translated into Their Language
(2016) by Leah Cubit

Tebara Ka ‘atih aleng lirui mayak akui, dahin malah te’ alan kui” (Psalm 119:105). With this verse, Leah Cubit ended her personal encounters, stories of obedience to the Lord’s call from Australia to Borneo Island. Leah (to whom the Kayan gave the name ‘Ubong’) and Win Burrow (‘Bulan’) were among the earliest BEM/OMF missionaries who has been ministering to the Kayan people of Borneo. These two women sent by God to work at Long Atip and other Kayan villages in the Baram area of Sarawak, East Malaysia. Leah recorded: “Travel was by launch on the Great Baram River of Sarawak to Marudi, then for three days in a dugout canoe on the Tutoh and Apoh tributaries of that river, with thick jungle on both sides. I lived there with those beautiful people for about 27 years.”

As I read this action-pack diary of Ubong, I was very inspired! They opened a school, provide medical services, build an airstrip(!), hiking for hours in the interior jungle, ministering to the Penan and Kenyah people too, eating monkey’s brain(!), trained leaders and pastors, encountered poisonous snakes, and many more. And the greatest of them all – translating the whole Bible into Kayan language. Leah as the pioneer translator together with Taman Ngau Juk, Taman Ayub, Taman Joseph, Taman Sara’ and others – local and oversea – finally finished translating the Bible after 12 years of hard work, almost give up and much prayer. “The Bible in our own language,” the Kayan people said, “is like eating a banana without the skin on it” (the “skin” being a language they had to learn before they got to the flesh).

28-19th July 1988 were memorable days for the Church of Borneo as hundreds gathered – includes YB Ramsey Jitam, Miss Sylvia Webb, YB Luhat Wan, the Penan and Kenyah people, and especially the Kayans – at Long Bedian for celebration services with sermons, thanksgivings, praise and worship because God’s Book, the Wonderful Book, the Word of the Eternal God, were given by the Glorious Lord to His precious children, the Kayan people! This book is published by Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM), so, may BEM churches can promote or translate this book in BM. If you’re Kayan people (or married one or about to marry one), read this book. If you already read Unchartered Waters by Hudson Southwell and/or Longhouses Open Doors by Ray Cunningham, you’re going to love this one too! Thank you missionaries, local churches, pastors and leaders, supporters from overseas for your great courage and hearts for my country and Sarawak specifically. With tears of joy in my eyes, the Lord bless you all. Amen.

My Psalm of Praise
(written by Leah)

Praise ye the Lord,
For it is good to praise Him together.
He is majestic,
And his works call forth our praise.
He builds up his Church in Borneo,
He gathers the pagans to be His people,
He breaks the power of smoking and drinking,
He flings away the betel-nut from those who have been bound.
Men’s faces light up as they recount the blessings,
Women say, “O, we didn’t know that the Lord was like this.”
Young people sing words and harmony blending the praise to our God,
Even children run to the house of prayer, praising and worshipping in truth.
Praise ye the Lord.

God has revealed His purity,
And the darkness has fled before it,
Secrets are revealed publicly by the spirit of God,
Even Satan’s things hidden in dark places,
They are dug out, they are flung away,
The people rejoice.
Praise ye the Lord.

God gives joy in the place of burden,
And love instead of suspicion,
Praise replaces the curse,
And the gentleness the word of anger.
He opens the mouths of young people,
They proclaim His words.
He opens the purses of men,
They pour them out for Him.
He makes their feet to run swiftly,
Running with the good news of grace.
Praise ye the Lord.

The Word of God is quickly and powerful,
And sharper than any two-edged sword;
It is food, it is water,
It is strong meat, it is honey.
Men seeking for light, read it and say, “Why, this is Truth.
Why aren’t we walking in this?
This is the Word of God.”
The Fathers come to the Bookroom, ‘Have you any Bibles?
Thank you. I’ll take the lot,
Our people want them.”
Praise ye the Lord.

Praise the Lord, all you my praying friends!
Praise Him you who give to His works!
Praise Him Council members, prayer groups, missionaries!
Praise ye the Lord.

THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.

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