Sorrow will turn to Joy

by Sey Yen

Scripture taken from John 16:1-24

First Part: Necessities of Pain and how to Face it

From verses 1-4, He started with the warning of prosecution.

 These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. They will put you out of the synagogues yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor  Me.  But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them. And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

 

He did not want them to be surprised and stumbled by it. They will be rejected everywhere they go to preach the Gospel. Note that Jesus used the word “these” refers to many opposition and persecution that may come.

 

In verse 2 When He said, The time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service, who did He refer to ? Jesus is referring to Saul of Tarsus before his conversion showed in Acts 8:1-3 who prosecutes the early church and approve of Stephen stoning and thinks that he offer God service.

 

Jesus did well to warn us, because it comes as a great shock that a gospel that is so glorious is hated so passionately. He did not tell His disciples these things at the beginning, the reason is because He had been in their company, and as long as He was with them the world’s hatred has been drawn to Jesus Himself.

 

Like the parable of the sower:

Matthew 13:19-21 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles”

 

Jesus warn us so that we can take heed and not stumble when tribulation and persecution arises.

 

In verse 5-7,  Jesus explains the benefits of His departure.

But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.”

 

Notice that Jesus said, None of you asks Me, “Where are You going”. Ironically, Peter had asked this question earlier John 13:36 “Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”

 

But in this context, why Jesus said” none of you ask , where are am I going  ?

 

What Jesus means not only the words  but more of checking the heart of the disciple.

 

They previously asked was about themselves, what will happen to us when Jesus leave, not in the sense what Jesus meant here , what will happen to Jesus when Jesus leave.

 

However Peter he made no real attempt to find out where Jesus was going. He had been concerned with the thought of parting with Jesus, and not with Jesus’s final destination. What he had in mind is what will affect  him and his fellow disciples. In this situation, we can see that the disciples are relying on their own human wisdom.

 

In Verse 6 : Jesus said But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart:

 

Jesus did not blame the disciple for lacking of interest in His fate, knowing their great sorrow. The disciples could only see the sorrow of Jesus leaving but Jesus’ departure was an essential step in their growth as disciples.

And Jesus said in verse 7

Nevertheless , I tell you the truth “It is to your advantage that I go away”:

 

In KJV and NKJV, the word Nevertheless,  These word meant a challenge to their sorrow and even their unbelief. Nevertheless  means despite of all circumstances. Jesus knew they were filled with sorrow because of what He told them. But, despite all of all circumstances that He wanted them to know that it was to their advantage.

 

This disciple hardly understand this statement. When our loved one is suffering and there is no way to cure it, we often think it is the best to let death take its natural course. We say, “It will be better for them to go, and to stop the suffering. It is to their advantage they go away. Yet Jesus here said that it was not to His advantage, but it is to our advantage that He go away.

 

If the disciples really understood what was about to happen, it would be even more difficult for them to believe. Now I would like us to ponder even as Easter is drawing near, let us ponder on these thoughts:

 

To our advantage that Jesus is arrested

To our advantage that Jesus is beaten

To our advantage that Jesus is mocked

To our advantage that Jesus is nailed to a cross

 

What are the advantages that we receive?

 

  • It was better because Jesus could be with every believer all the time. Jesus promised, “ For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them“ Matthew 18:20.
  • It was better because now we have communion with God.
  • It was better because now we can have a more trusting relationship with God.
  • Before Jesus left , the disciples were confused, selfish and self-centered and we see many of their fleshly weaknesses.  After Jesus left and after the Holy Spirit had come they were wise, bold and proclaiming the gospel everywhere.
  • Lastly and the most important one, It was better because Jesus’ work is better understood as He is enthroned in the heavens and fulfilled the Father’s plan of salvation.  He finished His work on the cross and the perfect plan of salvation.

Verse:  (8-11)

And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in  Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

 

Sin is the truth about man, righteousness is the truth about God, judgment is the combination of these two truths.

Before the convicting work of the Holy Spirit one may say, I make a lot of mistakes , I am useless, I do something always get condemned, nobody’s perfect. After the convicting work of the Holy Spirit one may say, I’m a sinner, and I must rely on Jesus to get right with God.

 

The Spirit also reveals Christ in the lives of believers. The world cannot receive or see the Spirit of God, but they can see what He does as they watch the lives of believers, in other words the testimonies of believers. The Spirit convicts the lost sinner of judgment.

 

When a lost sinner is truly under conviction, he will see the sin of unbelief,  he will confess that he does not measure up to the righteousness of Christ, and he will realize that he is under condemnation because he belongs to the world and the devil .The only person who can rescue him from such a horrible situation is Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

There can be no conversion without conviction, and there can be no conviction apart from the Spirit of God using the Word of God and the witness of the child of God.

 

In verse  (12-15) The work of the Holy Spirit among the disciples.

When Jesus told the disciple that He still have many things to say to them,  Jesus frankly admitted that His own teaching was incomplete  and he anticipated the further instruction of the church by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit, won’t be teaching us new doctrines. The Spirit of God will be reminding his disciples of what Jesus has already taught them (14:26). The Spirit will listen to Jesus and relay this to us, just as Jesus listened to the Father and communicate that to his disciples (5:30), and only spoke what the Father told him to say (12:49). Both Jesus and the Spirit will speak the Father’s Words to us. The Holy Spirit’s ministry is revealing Jesus to us, to bear testimony of Jesus  John 15:26.

Verse (16-18) Jesus tells them of His immediate, brief departure.

The disciples didn’t understand that the arrest of Jesus was only an hour or two away, and then His crucifixion would follow. Yet because He must go to the Father, they would see Him again as He rose from the dead.

Jesus understood that the disciples wanted more clarity; but He also knew that they needed more information. They needed their hearts and minds prepared to endure the coming crisis.

 

 

Second Part:  Sorrow will turn to Joy

 

Types of sorrow the disciples experienced:

  • Sorrowful at the loss of relationship with Jesus
  • Sorrowful at the humiliation of Master
  • Sorrowful because all they hoped for was taken away

The crucifixion and all that went with it was not a roadblock in the road on the way to fulfilling God’s plan, as if it were an obstacle to overcome. It was the way the plan would be fulfilled where eventually the sorrow would turn into joy.

God’s work of salvation was not to replace our sorrow with joy, but to turn sorrow into joy, as He often does in our lives.

Charles Spurgeon once quoted  “It is most remarkable and instructive that the apostles do not appear in their sermons or epistles to have spoken of the death of our Lord with any kind of regret. The gospels mention their distress during the actual occurrence of the crucifixion, but after the resurrection, and especially after Pentecost, we hear of no such grief.”

Verse 22,  I will see you again and your heart will rejoice: The disciple  didn’t fully understand the separation, so they could not fully understand the joy of the coming reunion. Yet when it happened, no one could deny their joy-filled testimony of the resurrection. It was testimony so sure that they endured death because of it.

Jesus said, Your joy no one will take from you: “Jesus’s  meaning appears to have been this that his resurrection should be so completely demonstrated to the world that no one can take away the joy.

Verse 23 In that day you will ask Me nothing: Jesus probably meant that they would be so overcome with joy and relief at the resurrection that they would be speechless/overwhelming when it came to making requests of Jesus. Yet the pathway to audience with God and answered prayer was more open, not more closed.

When we are too consumed with our own problems, it is impossible to focus on another person’s problem. Is our physical sorrow hurting us, or are we relying too much on our own understanding, trying to solve every single things by ourselves, or do we have marriage or family problem that affect us . Like the disciple, we should not caught up with the sorrow, but God allow us to experience the sorrow so that we can comfort others. 2 Cor 1:3-4

 

God is always looking to “help” us  in the sense that He takes over and consumes us as He wants to do His work in and through you.

Philippians 2:3 says, “ It is God who work in us to will and act according to His good purpose”

 

 

 

Abraham Justified By Faith

Abraham’s Justification (Romans 4)

by Choon See

1) Justification by Faith not Works (v1-8)

2) Justification by Grace not Law (v9-17)

3) Justification by Divine Power not Human Effort (v18-25)

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1) Justification by Faith not Works (v1-8)

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about–but not before God Rom 4:1-2

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9not by works, so that no one can boast Eph 2:8-9

What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” Rom 4:3

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness Rom 4:4-5

David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him Rom 4:6-8

2) Justification by Grace not Law (v9-17)

Jewish Righteousness:-

1. Circumcision

2.Observing the Law

2Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Gal 5:2-4 5

But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Gal 5:5-6

Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! Rom 4:9-10 Abram believed the LORD , and he credited it to him as righteousness Gen 15:6

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them Rom 4:11

Circumcision as a Sign
  1. God’s People
  2. God’s Covenant
  3. Spiritual Sign

Circumcision of our hearts Deut 30:6, Jer 4:4, Rom 4:11

Communion

• Symbolizing Christ’s redemptive act

• Proclaiming men need to be saved

Baptism

• Symbolizing Christ’s redemptive act

• Proclaiming men need to be saved

It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.  Rom 4:13-15 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God Gal 3:17

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring–not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all Rom 4:16

3) Justification by Divine Power not Human Effort (v18-25)

“I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were Rom 4:17

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be Rom 4:18 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead Rom 4:19

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised Rom 4:20-21

This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” Rom 4:22

The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness–for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead Rom 4:23-24

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification Rom 4:25

My Redeemer Liveth

Penang Assemblies Combined Easter Conference 2017: Session 4 (final).

Speaker: Dr Peter Wong

Job 19:23-27 (ESV)

23 Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!

24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!

25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,

27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another…

Job lived long before the time of Christ. Most Bible scholars think he lived close to the time of Abraham; it is not possible to date the Book of Job precisely, whether from internal or external evidence.

Job did not have “the scriptures” – neither in the sense of the word as we use it today to refer to the whole Bible, or even in the sense of 1 Corinthians 15:3,4, where “the scriptures” refers to the Old Testament, which foretold and foreshadowed the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

When Job lived, Moses had not yet written down the Book of Genesis, even!

But we know from the Book of Job that he was an upright man, who feared God. Satan was not happy about that. So Satan said bad things about Job to God, claiming that Job only honoured God because God had protected Job and blessed Job.

Take away Your protection and blessings from Job, taunted Satan, and Job will curse You to Your face!

God then allowed Satan to afflict Job. Job lost his possessions, his children, his health.

We know Job’s famous response:

“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!” (Job 1:21)

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong (Job 1:22).

And when even Job’s wife in her despair and anger asked Job to curse God and die, Job’s answer was, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).

In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10).

 

Not that Job was a sinless man. There is none righteous, no not one. But Job feared God. And, as we shall learn as we consider Job 19:25-27, he put his trust in God as his Redeemer. Job was a sinner, but Job was redeemed!

Because Job was redeemed, Satan had no winning case against him in the courtroom of heaven. God permitted Satan to accuse and attack Job, but Job’s eternal security was never in question. Though Job might lose his wealth, his family, his friends, Job could never lose what he chose to place in God’s hands – his soul.

Job was far from faultless, but because he was redeemed, God would deal with Job’s faults privately, as a father disciplines his son (chapters 38 to 41), leading to Job’s repentance and restoration (chapter 42).

 

Even in this brief review of Job’s life, can we not see the similarities between Job and us, who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ in the dispensation of grace?

Yes, there are key differences – as I mentioned just now, Job did not have the scriptures; and as we considered last night, there are differences between Old Testament saints and New Testament saints as to how we come to salvation – although ultimately their salvation and ours alike hinge on the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But again I say, Job did not have the scriptures! How then did he know to turn to the one Redeemer who could save him?

I must emphasise, today we DO have the scriptures – we have the Bible, the Word of God. And it is the Good News of Jesus Christ found in the Word of God which must be preached to the lost. We must preach Christ crucified – we must tell those who are not yet in Christ that there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

But Job lived under a different dispensation – a different stage in God’s revelation of His one plan of salvation.

Job had a lot less revelation than we did. Yet Job knew certain things that amaze us that he knew.

The last 3 of the verses we read from Job 19 tell us some surprising things that Job knew, that Job believed.

The words of Job testifying to these glorious truths, coming in the midst of Job’s cries of despair, shine all the brighter because of the darkness of their setting.

Let’s look at these verses again carefully!

 

Job 19:25-27 (ESV)

25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.

26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God,

27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another…

 

First, let’s make sure we understand the “big word” in this passage, the most difficult word if you haven’t come across it before: Redeemer.

Who or what is a redeemer?

A redeemer is someone who redeems, or claims back, or buys back, something that was taken away or lost.

The word redeem means “to buy out”. It’s a word that was used to refer to purchasing a slave’s freedom.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13), meaning, when we were sinners under the curse of the law, the Lord Jesus paid a price to free us from the curse of the law.

We had become slaves to sin, but the Lord Jesus bought us out of slavery to sin; He paid the price to secure our freedom.

That’s why Christians call the Lord Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

 

Now that we understand what “Redeemer” means, let’s scrutinise Job’s words in verses 25 to 27.

 

Let’s observe that in verse 25, Job said “I know”.

I know that my Redeemer lives”!

He did not say, “I think that my Redeemer lives”.

Nor “I hope that my Redeemer lives”.

How could he know? How could he be sure of the divine truths in these 3 verses?

Surely God had revealed this to Job. Without revelation, there can be no faith. Faith is a response to revelation. Faith is believing what God has told us.

Job had no written Word of God, but he must have heard word from God.

God may not have sent his prophets yet, but we do know from Job chapters 38 to 41 that it is not beneath God for Him to communicate directly with a man, even a sinner.

God had clearly revealed wonderful things to Job. Whether through the quiet working of the Holy Spirit in Job’s heart, or through dreams, or through forceful words as in Job 38 to 41, we don’t know, but God spoke to Job.

We pause here for a devotional application to us. Hebrews 1:2 says that in these last days, God has spoken to us by His Son. What a privilege, that Job did not have! To have the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s communication to us. To have encountered the Word.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). God Himself said, “This is My beloved Son: hear Him!” (Luke 9:35).

Have we sat at the Lord Jesus’ feet today (as Mary of Bethany did), and listened to Him? Have we met Him in the pages of the Bible? How often do we go to meet Him there?

 

Coming back to Job 19, next please notice with me that Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives”!

He did not say “the Redeemer”.

He did not say “a Redeemer”.

He said “my Redeemer”!

Job knew that he needed, and that he had, a personal Saviour.

We all need a personal Saviour. I too have one – the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you?

 

Job says that His Redeemer lives. He had a living Saviour.

I too have one – the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you?

 

And although in this darkest time in Job’s life, when all seemed lost and he was in excruciating pain, Job could not yet see His Redeemer, He believed that he would one day see Him! So sure was Job, that he repeatedly said this – “in my flesh I shall see”; “I shall see for myself”; “my eyes shall behold”.

 

What did Job know about this Redeemer, whom He knew he would one day see?

  • That He was not then on the earth, but would one day be.
  • That He was God.
  • That He was not a stranger.

 

Let’s take these 3 points about Job’s Redeemer one by one.

 

  • That He was not then on the earth, but would one day be! Job’s Redeemer was not one of his friends, who had come to sit with him; it was not any man, for until man travelled to outer space in the 20th century, the only place that man inhabited was the earth! So who could this Redeemer who was not on the earth, but would come to the earth, be? Either a celestial being, or God Himself!

 

  • Job then asserts that He was God! Indeed I believe that is what Job means in verse 26 when He says “I shall see God”. He had just been taking about meeting his Redeemer in verse 25, and then in the same breath mentions God. Notice the flow from verse 25 to verse 26: “My Redeemer… God”. Instead of pairing rhyming words, Hebrew poetry pairs matching ideas. “My Redeemer” in verse 25 pairs with “God” in verse 26. I believe that Job knew that his Redeemer is God.

 

  • That He was not a stranger. That’s the meaning I gather from the phrase “not another” in Job 19:27. The ASV translates this verse like this:

“Whom I, even I, shall see, on my side. And mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger…”

Job’s Redeemer is someone who knows Him – someone close to Him; and not a stranger.

The Hebrew word for Redeemer here in Job 19:27 is goel, which refers to a relative who buys back for someone a possession that had been lost. Indeed, Job’s Redeemer is a Kinsman-Redeemer, a goel. He is God, took the form of a Man, in order to be our Kinsman-Redeemer.

 

So, wondrously, Job knew that he had a Redeemer; a living Redeemer; not an impersonal and distant one, but his Redeemer, a kinsman; who would stand one day on earth; who is God; and whom he would meet face-to-face one day, seeing Him with his own eyes.

All so true of our Lord Jesus Christ to us!

I wonder if, when Christ opened the scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, beginning at Moses and all the prophets expounding the things about Himself, He pointed them to the faith of His servant Job.

 

Is there something else that we have missed in these 3 verses? Perhaps there is! Look again at verse 26.

“And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.”

Maybe Job simply meant that even though he was covered in boils, even though he looked and felt so aweful, even though his flesh was destroyed, it was no obstacle to meeting God face-to-face.

Or maybe not. Maybe, even tough Job was not under Mosaic law or nor did he know the teachings of Leviticus yet, Job might yet have had a sense that in his state, he was “unclean” and unable to meet a holy God.

Maybe Job believed that the way he would see God in the last day would be to be given a new body! A resurrection body!

Had God give Job a revelation concerning resurrection?

Was Job a believer in resurrection, as Abraham was according to Hebrews 11:19 (which we studied at Island Glades this morning)?

I don’t know for sure.

Job may not have been very clear about that himself.

But Job was not ashamed to declare what he knew, what he believed, to others.

Regardless of his own sorry condition, Job wanted others to know about his Redeemer!

He wanted his friends to know! He wanted the world to know! My, he even wanted future generations to know!

The first 2 verses we read from Job 19 just now tells us so! Job 19:23,24.

Job said, “Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book!

Oh that with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!”

Job desired to testify about his Redeemer.

 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we in half as sorry a state as Job? Maybe not even 10% as sorry a state. Last I checked, I hadn’t lost any livestock, my children are still alive and I have no boils on my skin.

Yet, are we half as enthusiastic as Job was about proclaiming his Redeemer?

 

Tonight we witnessed the baptism of Choo Ean, Tracy, Xiao Hui, Siew Hin, Weiking and Chun Kean.

Do you know why they went through the waters of baptism?

They did it as a public testimony of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Like Job, they wanted others to know that their Redeemer lives!

Romans 6:4 – “we were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

Tonight, when these 6 brothers and sisters went into the water, they were identifying with Christ in His death – Christ our Passover; and when they emerged from the water, they were testifying of the power of God to both raise Christ the Firstfruits from the dead, and if they should “fall asleep” before the rapture, also raise them from the dead as the promised harvest after the firstfruits! And to meanwhile wait for His Son from heaven, whilst enabling them to lead new, holy lives!

 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we continually testifying for the Lord Jesus? We must ask ourselves this question tonight, whether we’re new believers, or saved and baptised years or decades ago. Even if you’re like me baptised in the last century. Have we forgotten why we went through the waters of baptism? Are we still telling others about Him? Are we walking in newness of life, walking with our risen Lord?

 

Dear friends who have not yet trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ – it is no coincidence that you are here tonight. Maybe you are a seeker who has been searching for answers for many years. Maybe you came just to support your friend or family member being baptised. Or maybe you came here to meet people, and are not looking to meet the Saviour. It doesn’t matter why you came: tonight you have heard that we all need a Saviour. A personal Saviour. A living Saviour.

Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross, and rose again from the dead on the third day. Christians remember this not just at Easter, but week after week when we meet the first day of the week to break bread. Dear friend, come speak to me, or to one of your Christian friends tonight after this meeting, and ask why that is so precious to us.

It is our desire that you too come to know our Redeemer, that you may like us have life eternal and joy everlasting!

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved!

 

IGGC as the organizers extend our thanks to all the combined Penang assemblies for their love, support, and selfless contributions joyously serving together to make the Penang Assemblies Easter Conference 2017 a rich and rewarding experience of God.

Abraham Reckoned

Penang Assemblies Combined Easter Conference 2017: Session 3.

Speaker: Dr Peter Wong

Genesis 22:1-18

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” ~Hebrews‬ ‭11:17-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

 

“Abraham reckoned that God was able to raise Isaac from death — and, so to speak, Abraham did receive Isaac back from death.” ~‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭Good News Bible

Abraham lived in 2000 BC.
When Abraham first received promised to be made a great nation, he and his wife were old and childless.
They left a stable home to live a life in tents.

Abraham at age 86 tried to foolishly help God by fathering a child, Ishmael with Sarah’s Egyptian maid servant Hagar.

God then blessed Abraham and Sarah with a son Isaac.
Isaac is now grown to be a young lad and Abraham is then asked to sacrifice Isaac.

 

Why did God ask Abraham to sacrifice his child?

Especially when human sacrifice is an abomination (Deuteronomy 12:31).

Is it just a test? No.
1. God has the right to take human life. (Matthew 28)
2. God can authorise men to take men’s life
3. God is not capable of evil (John 1:5)
4. If sacrificing Isaac was evil, God would not ask Abraham to do it.

The sacrifice of Isaac was right as God does no evil.

God does expect us to make a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).
To be holy consumed like a burnt offering.

Imagine what Abraham felt. Son. Only son. Only son whom you love. Like a knife plunged deeper and deeper.

 

How did Abraham respond

He obeyed immediately without delay. Abraham was determined to be fully equipped to prepare God’s command bringing woods.

What did Abraham bring?
• 2 servants
• Chopped wood
• Isaac, his son

At the centre was always his son.
Abraham had time to think carefully on 3 day journey about giving his most precious possession.

Worship (v5).
First mention of worship in the Bible.
Teaches an important lesson and sets tone for rest of Bible.

 

What is truly worship?

More than songs of praise in a big church building with many people in attendance.
Worship literally means to bow down.
Not truly worshiping God unless you bow down before God’s will.
Abraham’s worship is private without the servants.
Only in the secret place of our own hearts can we truly worship the Lord.
Do we come to Sunday worship with our hearts bowed down?

Abraham told his two servants that he and his son will come again to them.
Was Abraham deceiving his servants?
Was Abraham hoping that God would change His mind?
Abraham had already thought things carefully and knew that through Isaac, he would be the father of a great nation.
It must mean that God will raise Isaac from the dead.
No resurrection yet known at that point.
Abraham believed in resurrection.

Isaac obediently went together.
Isaac carried the wood.
Abraham provided a thoughtful answer that “God will provide Himself a lamb”
Abraham didn’t know it, but these words were literally proven true.
Fulfilment echo across 2000 years to the words of John the Baptist.

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
‭~ John‬ ‭1:29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

To all intent and purposes, Abraham had obeyed and offered up Isaac already in his heart.

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?” ~‭‭James‬ ‭2:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In fact you could say that Isaac was dead for 3 days.

When God stopped Isaac from killing his son.
It was as if his dead son had come back to life.

If you had bumped into Abraham and Isaac, Abraham may have said, “Meet my son Isaac. He was dead but is alive again.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ did die for us on Calvary.
(Calvary could possibly be the very same mountain in the region).

There was no cancellation of the burnt offering.
The ram was Isaac’s substitute on the altar.
For us, there was no substitute for the Lord Jesus Christ as He was our substitute.

Important that ram was caught by its horns.
If caught elsewhere, would have been blemished.

Even though Abraham’s son was spared, God did not spare His own son.
How deep the father’s love for us that He should give His only son.

 

First mention of the word “obey”.

How has Abraham obeyed God?
Giving up his most treasured possession.
No holding back.
Don’t hold back anything for God who for your sake did not withhold His only begotten son.

First mention of the word “love” (Genesis 22:2).

Refers to father’s love for his son. (Not man and wife or other type of love).
Abraham’s love for Isaac is a picture of love of God the Father for God the son.

First mention of the word “love” in New Testament.

“And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”” ~ Matthew‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

“And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”” ~ Mark‬ ‭1:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

“and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”” ~ Luke‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God’s son is at the centre of His plan of salvation and master plan for all creation.
Is God’s son at the centre of your life?

Christ the Firstfruits

Penang Assemblies Combined Easter Conference 2017: Session 2.

Speaker: Dr Peter Wong

Day 2 (3)

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the LORD. Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the LORD, for a sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” ~‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭23:9-14‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

 

“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.” ~‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:12-23‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Feasts foreshadow future
1. Passover: Christ dying on the cross
2. Unleavened Bread: Communion of believers
3. Firstfruits: Resurrection of Christ
4. Pentecost: Descent of the Holy Spirit
Last 3 feasts events in the future
5. Trumpets: Israel’s redemption and awakening
6. Atonement: Israel’s restoration
7. Tabernacles: God’s eternal kingdom

Recommended reading: Feasts of Jehovah by John Ritchie

feasts-of-jehovah

Passover is on a specific day: 14th day of the first month for 7 days.
Firstfruits is not assigned a specific date (unlike Passover and Unleavened Bread).
But Firstfruits is on a fixed day of the week (the 1st Sunday after the Sabbath Passover).

Offering required of Israelites
• Sheath of grain
• Burnt offering 1 year old male lamb
• Flour offering
• Drink offering of wine
Is there any offering missing? (Read on below)

What lessons could the Israelites learn from this?
To Jews: in the midst of prosperity, the claims of Jehovah were to be first remembered. What God blesses them, first give a portion to God.
Firstfruits is a successful joyous celebration.

Perfectly fulfilled picture or type of feast of firstfruits.
The timing of the resurrection on Sunday after Sabbath of Passover.

Sheath of grain in expectation of harvest which would follow.
Likewise Christ in His uniqueness and preeminence resurrection, and then many others would follow.

They who are Christ’s at His coming. (1 Cor 15:23)

1st resurrection (Rev 20:5)
2nd resurrection (John 5:29)

Resurrection of life, and damnation.
Resurrection of the just, and unjust.

Two resurrections are 1,000 years apart.

1st Resurrection
Resurrection of God’s people.
Resurrection from among the dead.
“Out” resurrection meaning never to die again.

2nd Resurrection
Where the lost are raised.
To face judgment.
Nowhere in Bible is this called as resurrection from among the dead (but “of the dead”).
Bible considers them still dead.

Paul’s letters often refer to “in Christ” referring to New Testament saints.
Those “who are Christ’s at His coming” covers a larger group:-
1. Old Testament saints
2. Infant & children who have yet to reach the age of accountability
3. Tribulation saints

1. Old Testament Saints
Job, David & other OT saints died before the time of Christ.
For us, we look back at the past and are saved by grace through faith.
For them, they were also saved by the cross – looking forward to the Messiah.
Even the first animal that had to die when Adam & Eve sinned.

2. Infants and Children
2 Samuel 12:22-23
Matthew 18:10-11

3. Tribulation Saints
Those who turn to Christ after the rapture of the church. They will be martyred and be with Christ after the 7 year tribulation.

But each one in his own order (1 Corinthians 15:23)

Christ at the head of the army.
Followed by resurrected.
Lastly tribulation saints.

Christ is the firstfruits.
Main harvest: 1st resurrection
Tribulation saints: gleanings

What do the waving of sheathes of grain signify?
Leveticus 23 ESV: so you may be accepted

What is the significance of Christ the firstfruit?
God’s acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ.
More than that, God’s acceptance of believers together with Christ because of what He has done.
This is as Christ has made the end of all the sins.

Which Levitical offering is not mentioned?
No sin offering!

“so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” ~‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭9:28‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Christ completed the work atoning for our sin.
From that point on no more sin offering.
It is Christ’s resurrection that declared sins are forever gone for those who believe.

God accepts us in Christ (Ephesians 1:6).
Risen with Christ (Colossians 3:1).
God has raised us together with Christ (Ephesians 2:5).
Christ raised for our justification (Romans 4:25).

The one who is the waved sheath – Christ

“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” ~‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Firstfruits and the first born from the dead.

Is Christ’s resurrection the first one from the dead?
No. Six resurrections are recorded in Bible before:-
1. Son of widow of Zarephath raised by Elijah
2. Son of Shunammite’s son raised by Elishah
3. Body of man who touched Elisha’s bones
4. Son of widow of Nain raised by Christ
5. Daughter of Jairus raised by Christ
6. Lazarus raised by Christ
Thus Christ is the 7th resurrection.

How then is Christ the 1st resurrection?
All of them temporarily and all of them died again.
Christ is triumphant over death and raised never to die again.
Christ is raised with a spiritual body.

Christ is first raised and we shall follow.

I will make him my firstborn (Exodus 4:22).

Let all angels revere Him (Hebrews 1:6).

By the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ was declared to be the son of God with power. In everything He may be preeminent (Romans 1:4).

Preeminent: unrivalled; Having first place of the highest rank

 

Does the Lord Jesus Christ have preeminence on your life?

Is He unrivaled among all things? Does He have first place in your heart?

What do you think God felt when Christ presented Himself as the firstfruit?
God is delighted with the offering of firstfruits. How much more God’s delight must have been on resurrection morning as the perfect fulfillment of the foreshadow.

What will occupy your heart as you go from hear tonight?
Will your heart be occupied with Christ our firstfruit?
Will your life be transformed?
Will you point others to our unique preeminent Lord Jesus Christ who is alone the Savior, Passover lamb and firstfruit.

Christ Our Passover

Penang Assemblies Combined Easter Conference 2017: Session 1.

Speaker: Dr Peter Wong

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” ~ ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭15:3-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Context/Background
Corinth was a young, richly blessed assembly eagerly using their gifts.
Problems faced:
• Divisive rivalries
• Defilement
• Disorderliness at meetings
• Disregarding others interest
• Denying important doctrines (including resurrection)

Truths
Christ the messiah foretold & foreshadowed in Old Testament
• He died for our sins
• He was buried
• But His tomb was empty
• He is risen

Paul makes a further point: according to the scripture (mentioned twice!)

Where was the Lord Jesus Christ on His first resurrection Sunday?

“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”” ~‭‭Luke‬ ‭24:27, 32‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Christ our Passover

Exodus 12 ESV

There is none righteous.
The wages of sin is death.
Substitution of a life for a life.
A redemption of blood.

Pasah” in Passover means spreading.

“For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.” ~‭‭Exodus‬ ‭12:23‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The hand of the Lord is for all who trust Him & His wrath for all who forsake Him.
No option for us to be neutral.

Did the blood of the Passover lamb save the life of the Israelites firstborns?
Yes

Did the blood take away the sins of the Israelites?
No (Hebrews 10:4)

John the Baptist testified on Him (John 1:29)

Our key verse tells us that true Passover the Lamb is our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ foreshadowed
• Without blemish and flawless
• Checked thoroughly
• Displayed publicly

Passover lamb with unleavened bread & bitter herbs.
Leaven a picture of sin as a tiny bit of leaven causes the bread to be drastically transformed.
Causes bread to be puffed up – like pride in men.
Each generation of men inherit the sin of Adam.
The feast of unleavened bread for 7 more days.
All traces of leaven was needed to be removed from the Israelites home.
It’s an object lesson that sin must & can be removed – with the Passover lamb.
They reflects the breaking of the sin nature.

Because Christ has died as our Passover lamb we can & must purge all traces of sinful ways from our lives. Live lives of sincerity and truth.

The order is important
1. Passover
2. Feast of unleavened bread

Israelites put away leaven because they had been saved (and not the other way around).
We are saved by grace not by works. We are saved for good works. After we have been saved, we must be involved in good works.
There is no pause between the Passover and feast.
Likewise when a person trusts Jesus, there is no more room for sin in our lives.
Christ has finished the work of redemption on the cross.

In summary: We are not holy in order to be saved. We are saved in order to be holy. All who are saved must be holy.

Why bitter herbs?
Remind Israelites on their lives as slaves.
Speak to us of the suffering of Jesus Christ.
Like the hymn:

O Christ, what burdens bowed Thy head!
Our load was laid on Thee;
Thou stoodest in the sinner’s stead,
Didst bear all ill for me.
A Victim led, Thy blood was shed;
Now there’s no load for me.

Death and the curse were in our cup:
O Christ, ’twas full for Thee;
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
’Tis empty now for me.
That bitter cup, love drank it up;
Now blessing’s draught for me.

In what matter Passover meal eaten?
In haste. Ready to leave at a moments notice. Belt faster, sandals on feet, and staff in hand.
We who are redeemed are to be ready to go whenever called or when raptured.
Are we ready? Be watchful like soldiers on night duty, and not asleep.
We are called to be sojourners on earth (not tourists).

The Passover changed everything for the Israelites. Everything would be new after that. They would experience the provision of God in the wilderness. Their lives would never be the same again.

So must it be for us being saved by the blood of Christ. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

“Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” ~‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭NKJV‬‬