The Primacy of Preaching

Preaching as a primary task of the Church deserves a prominent place in the lives of the believers, the respect of the congregation, and the awareness of the surrounding community. By this I put great emphasis: if preaching is not primary in the tasks of a local church, then that church is dead.
I observe with great brokenness that the Church today has resorted too much to misplaced contextualization that the once highly-esteemed position of preaching has been replaced by other activities and their various forms. These activities and forms are not necessarily worldly or unspiritual in themselves, but too much focus on these tend to dethrone the authority and place of preaching.

Before I tell my observations regarding this unsettling displacement of the preaching task, let me first tell the reasons why preaching is a major task of the Church, hence, its supremacy.

The first reason for the supremacy of preaching is because it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that saves people. No other thing, no methodology, no persuasion, no philosophy, no good works, no acts of mercy will bring down a sinner in humble submission and faith to Christ except by the Gospel.

Romans 1:16 (KJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

And how is the Gospel presented and received? How is faith produced to believe in Christ? It is by hearing the Gospel, and the Gospel is heard by preaching.

Romans 10:13-14 (KJV) For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

It is important to note that I am not against good works or acts of kindness – I even propose that the Church is weak in these areas, and should be developed. What I am trying to say is that nothing can replace the role of preaching for the salvation of man and the strengthening of the Church. The preaching task, partnered with fervent prayers, is still the primary task of the Church for the harvesting of souls and the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. Good works will touch the mind and heart of people, but only the Gospel brought by preaching through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit could revive the dead spirit of man.

The second reason for the supremacy of preaching is because it is a primary tool to strengthen the believers. I do not say that other activities do not do the work of strengthening the Church – they do, like worship, prayer, seminar, thanksgiving, etc. What I emphasize is that all of those activities serve their own purposes and the hearing of the Word of God completes them. The maturity of the believer is never complete apart from the hearing of the Word. If a Church event has plenty of activities but devoid of the Word, then that event is virtually fruitless.

Only the Word gives us the knowledge of God’s Truth that edifies us in many ways; leads us to sanctification together with the work of the Holy Spirit; corrects us; equips us in service; and brings us closer to Jesus Christ Himself.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (KJV) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Psalms 119:105 (KJV) Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Matthew 4:4 (KJV) But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

Hebrews 4:12 (KJV) For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Now that I have told why the preaching of the Word deserves a supreme place in the life activity of the Church, we are now ready to talk about some observations why the preaching of the Word seems not highly regarded like it was before.

The first obvious observation is that today the Church is willing to conduct big activities devoid of the Word, in an attempt to stoop down under the great name of contextualization.

Why preach the offensive Gospel to the hard-headed unbelievers when you can give them programs that will benefit their interests? Why preach the outdated Gospel to the postmodern youth when you can give them ‘holy worldly activities’? Why preach the commonly heard Gospel when you can share thousands of stories and philosophies that are humanistic?

Those are the cries of the Church today, as a product of many meetings and evaluations that arrogantly suggest that the Gospel is not enough or sufficient to confront the needs of modern man.

The second observation is that today, an honest analysis shows that preaching lacks Scripture. I could easily judge that today’s preaching lacks authority and power because it chose to deny its allegiance to its source of power – the Word of God. Many preachings have become nothing but rampant outrages of human voice and emotion, throwing thoughts randomly at the hearers without affecting any positive change or transformation.

This is evident in three ways. First, preaching has been norrowed to a single-verse shallow explanation. I say single verse because I see preachers quoting a single verse from Scripture then leaving it out entirely during the entire course of the sermon. I say shallow explanation because it has become a natural tendency for preachers nowadays to give room to highly subjective experiences and humanistic philosophy to interpret Scripture. The result then is a ‘Word-less preaching.’ If you want good preaching, you should devote yourself to several verses of Scripture that are explained in an expository manner.

Second, preaching has become ‘recycled.’ By this I mean that some preachers lazily just get canned sermons from books and internet and with little reading, deliver such sermons on Sundays. I am not against getting ideas from others, but the best sermon is the one that God has given you personally thru fervent prayers and faithful study of the Word. For sure it is the message that God Himself has fed you, the message that has penetrated your soul, this is the message that you are most capable of preaching with power.

Third, preaching has become a way to adulterise the Scriptures. I mean to say that we preach to promote our personal agendas and interpretations using the Scriptures as an outside cover. So many times preachers use the pulpit to defend their insecurities, to avenge their hurt feelings, to defend and cover up their sins, and some other acts or motives that are far from the pure Biblical motives of preaching.

Lastly, the third observation is that preachers today are much less equipped in the art and discipline of preaching. This observation goes on two extremes: being lowly equipped and being highly transcendent.

Being lowly equipped means that preachers are becoming less and less aware of the basic knowledge of the technicalities of preaching. They have become ignorant and hostile to the proper ways of constructing a sermon, or even worse, make preaching a contradiction of terms by believing that a devoted study and writing of a sermon is irrelevant and unnecessary because ‘the Holy Spirit will complete it anyway.’

Let me make this clear: I am never against completely relying upon the work of the Holy Spirit to bless a sermon and its preaching. I have witnessed that in many occassions, God has blessed my preaching (and the preaching of others) even though my notes were not with me (impromptu preaching), or I did not have enough time for serious study – but those cases are of course miracles of His Grace, and surely not to justify a preacher’s laziness. What I emphasize is that if God has called you to preach, you must give God and your calling the respect they deserve by a diligent study of the Word and its sermon preparation. Do we desire God to bless our sermon and preaching if we have not prepared for it, but lazily just picked up a random text and trusted God for its eternal benefits, especially when an ample amount of time is given for preparation? We must be ashamed.

2 Timothy 4:2 (KJV) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Ezra 7:10 (KJV) For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

By being highly transcendent, I mean the opposite of the former. Sometimes preachers, being too much idealistic, forget to grasp the reality of his surroundings. To preach effectively, we should adjust our methodology and style to suit the intellectual, emotional, and cultural level of our listeners, without compromising the Word. The effective preacher is not the one with the transcendent message or the greatest method of delivery, but the one who is able to make his message comprehensible to his listeners.

If we want revivals in our local churches, the basics need to be present: humility and repentance, prayer and Bible reading, holiness and devotion, and worship and the preaching of God’s Word.

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Love, Courtship, and Marriage

Regarding man-woman relationships, God has ordained that commitments be lifetime and not temporary. Therefore, a man should court a woman not because he sees her as material girlfriend, but rather as a prospect wife; and the same goes for the woman, a “yes” means she accepts that he is the ideal husband.

This in turn calls for God’s Perfect Will. It could be determined by three factors: the right person, the right time, and the right ways.

1) The Right Person. 

MAN

Ephesians 5:1, 23-30 (KJV)  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

A man in courtship should possess these two basic qualities:

A) Spiritual Maturity to lead the wife and the children spiritually; and the

B) Capacity to provide for the physical needs of the family.

In order for a man to lead a family to God, he should know a great deal about the Bible and practice a life of obedience. He should also have a good testimony and years of Christian ministry. Furthermore, the man should draw the woman to holiness, and his love for the woman is shown to draw the woman closer to God first, then to himself. The love of the man too is sacrificial, and looks upon the needs of the woman as much as he looks upon his own needs.

WOMAN

Ephesians 5:22-24 (KJV)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Basically, the woman should have meekness and the heart of submission. Yet the woman should also be spiritually wise, and knows how to deal with wrong decisions coming from the man. She must not submit in wrong decisions, yet be meek to tell her opinion to the man in a way that will not disrespect his authority over her.

Proverbs 31:13, 15, 30 (KJV)  She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.

The woman should also have a sense of responsibility and care for the family. She must be family-oriented. Furthermore, she knows how to work with her hands, that is, earning extra money for the family. Above all, she should be God-fearing.

2) The Right Time

The view of the lifetime commitment and the qualities of both the man and woman will determine the right time of entering this kind of relationship.

Strictly speaking, for the man, he is discouraged to enter courtship if he is still spiritually immature. This includes​ being jealous, possessive, short-tempered, disrespectful, etc. The man should mature first in his area of weaknesses. A good guideline to follow is possessing these qualities, which are the mark of a true spiritually mature person (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Galatians 5:22-23):

1 Corinthians 13:4-7  Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Moreover, a man that has not yet finished his studies and has no work is definitely discouraged to enter courtship.

For the woman, she should also possess first the traits enumerated in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and Galatians 5:22-23.

For both the man and woman, they should have a deep sense of maturity and responsibility because courtship is the first step towards marriage and entering this first step means that they are ready to leave behind the life of being single.

3) The Right Ways

The man entering Courtship should have a deep sense of respect both to the woman and her family. He should formally ask for the permission of her parents. He should acknowledge the fact that an unmarried woman belongs first to God, then to her parents.

Courtship should be done most of the time in the home of the woman, with her parents present. Respect for the woman should be regarded highly, and there should not be a single hint of lust involved, even after obtaining the woman’s “yes”. Touching, kissing, and petting are strictly forbidden.

Dating outside the woman’s home is subject to the approval of the woman’s parents. No dating should be done without the approval of the woman’s parents. Dating should also not be during the night, and certainly not in dark and private places. A group date involving many Christian friends and couples is much more desirable.

Selfless Love

Matthew 16:24 (KJV)  Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

That was the Scripture God gave me when I had a motorcycle accident in 2015, teaching me to offer my life for His service. A year later, God reminded me of the same thing – if I wanted to show love to God and to others, it must be selfless.

I had the motorcycle accident when we were traveling for our Bible Study in Naujan. I suffered a large cut on my head and the people said it was by God’s miracle that I did not suffer internal head injuries. That time, God was testing me if I would still serve Him despite what happened – it was the test of willingness to offer to God my physical life. After a year, I was not the patient anymore – it was my father. He suffered from a pulmonary disease and a mild heart attack. And still, God was teaching me to serve Him by loving others selflessly.

How did God teach me to love selflessly so I could serve Him with a fresh start?

Firstly, God taught me to deny my comfort for the comfort of others. My father suffered from a mild heart attack because of strenuous physical labors. Partly I was blaming myself because I should be the one doing those heavy labors – I knew the doctors warned my father against heavy tasks after he suffered his first heart attack in 2007.  Worse, in the hospital, God revealed my selfish heart – it was so self-centered – I hated the discomforts of staying in the hospital. I was not thinking of the discomforts of my father who was in the ICU, I was only sympathizing with my own hard feelings. I felt ashamed. How could I be that selfish!

As days went by, God was pushing me more to realize my selfishness. As I was seeing the patients and their families, my heart was aching to see them broken and hopeless. I always wanted to comfort them with the love of Jesus from the Bible – but one thing was hindering me – too much thinking of the self! I argued in my mind that I needed more sleep, that I needed more time for myself, and some other reasons. There was a clear battle between thinking of myself against my desire to serve others. I saw clearly that prioritizing my wants hindered me from loving and serving others.

Secondly, God taught me to be sensitive for the needs of others. I found it true that as you deny your own comforts to give comfort to others, you will naturally be sensitive to their needs. The hospital was full of patients and people from all walks of life – from the rural and urban places, the rich and the poor, the believers and the unbelievers – but they all shared a common trait – they were all in need.

Being sensitive to the needs of others did not call for a reactive thinking, but for a proactive one. The former was telling me to respond to the emerging needs I saw in them; the latter was instructing me to think what I could possibly do before things might actually happen. Being proactive in thinking trained me to adjust my whole life and time management. I had to wake up earlier to pray for strength and guidance. Then I would talk to some people and pray for them. I also had to think always of different ways to give strength and comfort to my father and to the others – some ways work for certain people, but not to the others. I was the one adjusting for them and not the other way around.

Lastly, God taught me to exalt Him and not the self. This was the lesson I found to be the hardest to learn. As I was ministering in the Emergency Room, the different Medical ICU Rooms, and the semi-private wards – doctors, nurses, and people began to notice me as a religious and spiritual person. Soon, I earned their respect. With their high respect and regard, I felt that my ego was being fed! The natural self-centered I was coming to life! Grant me Lord the Grace to exalt You and not the self (Psalm 115: 1)!

The test of character was even stronger when I gained friendships with the opposite sex who were attractive. Soon, I felt that I had to make my physical appearance and gestures better to maintain and develop those friendships. I really saw myself taking decisive actions to draw people to myself and not to God – but of course with the ministry as the outside covering. But God was gracious in convicting me of my sin of self-glorification, and soon I was praying for a new heart with the right motives (Psalm 51: 10). After that prayer, every time I would go out to minister to the people, I would pray first for true humility and selflessness.

During my ten days of staying in the hospital, did I really learn those three truths of selfless love? To a small degree, maybe – but I know that learning is a lifetime process. I know that in the future, in everyday life, I will find myself again being entangled so much in the self that will hinder me in loving Jesus and serving others. But my prayer is that God will always give me the Grace to fight this sin of self-indulgence, and be a more selfless person.

Whether it is the offering of life like in the motorcycle accident that I had or the denying of personal comforts and glory like in my ten days of staying in the hospital, they both call for a selfless love as my service to Jesus. For Jesus Himself, the great God (Hebrews 1: 8; John 1: 1), also denied Himself greatly of heavenly glories and humbled Himself as the Father’s Servant (Philippians 2: 6-7; Isaiah 53).

 

Soli Deo Gloria! To God alone be all the Glory!

The Home is Still the First School

Our students today choose to overlook the fact that the home is the first school. In its most subtle form this sad truth puts our families in cold relationships and in its heart it shows the deadly spirit of arrogance.

Every national government and educational institution acknowledges the fact that learning begins at home, and that the parents are the first teachers of every learner. It is also true they say that the formative years spent in the home will have the most powerful bearing in the following years of a person’s learning.

Every student knows this; it is a basic and well-disseminated fact in schools. However, our students ignore it to their own peril and destruction. They try their best to learn only from the outside environment, taking into little account that the most important lessons of love, social development, and self-actualization are best learned when we begin learning them in our homes with our families.

The school is important. The instructors, textbooks, classmates, and learning activities all contribute much to the well-being of every student. However, if the home is deprived of its privilege to lay down the proper foundations for the total development of a person, then even the best educational institutions will fall short in its goals of forming well-educated and well-transformed students.

Going Biblical, the parents are instructed to teach their children the moral values and the right perspectives in life as shown in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This popular verse demands for a radical call to parents: if you want your child to live a fulfilled happy life, train him! Instruct him! How you train and instruct your child now will determine his life in the future!

And how should a parent properly train and discipline his child? By giving discipline that does not invoke anger, and by guidance that leads the child nearer to God as said in Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”

Yet this too, is overlooked by the parents. In the fear of securing only the financial aspect of their children, most parents today deliberately choose to abandon their children by working abroad to provide for their high-quality education. The results are devastating: children wanting for love and seeking them in unhealthy relationships, and not so uncommon, is broken homes. And that is all because of wanting to give them a better life by the means of abandoning them.

Alas! The children could well be blamed too! Even when a home is blessed with the most spiritual and caring parents who give their utmost efforts in educating their children, some children still choose to have their own ways, separated from the guidance of their parents. This is complete arrogance and in direct defiance against the admonition of the Bible in: Exodus 20:12 “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.” The dishonouring of the parents is one major reason why the youth keep on getting frustrated in life even if money and other resources are well available. They just do not see that the blessing of the parents is a must for them to succeed.

The home is still the first school. This has been taught over and over again in every educational institution. Yet, there is very little that a school could do to make this an actual experiential realization for all. The acceptance of the fact that the home is still the first school begins with the parents and the children themselves.

So here is what I say to the parents: Take hold of your responsibility! Nurture and educate your children in holistic ways! Teach them morality and disipline them in the ways of the Lord! Only then, they could benefit from the academic things of the school.

And to the children: Listen and honor your parents! Do not be wise on your own eyes! By giving them respect you can know for sure that your life will be a blessed one.

God Moves Mysteriously

Right now my Church Members are decreasing in number. I don’t know if it’s because of God’s answer to my prayer – “Lord, visit the Church and uproot its false foundations.”

False foundations may sometime refer to church members? I don’t know. But God is revealing something. Maybe He is telling us that dependence on sponsors is wrong. Or too much formality is not His way.

I know that in His own ways He wants us to return to true worship.

God reveal your will to us!

God Still Heals!


I know this might sound unpopular or quite common – God still heals!

What makes this special to me, this healing that the Lord wonderfully gave to us is that this only proves His love for us – and my family!

That Overnight Prayer, July 30, God moved my heart to pray for Tatay Ronnie – who cannot walk for many years because of his former strokes. At first I was hesitant.

At the end of the Overnight Prayer, I led the prayer with the backup prayers of the people with me – after minutes of praying – he did walk!

Praise God, He dearly loves my family!

God desires to save your family

I really do not know where to start. I have not written anything on this blog for quite a long time. This time, I would like to tell you that God is really interested in saving your family, if not all of your family members is saved.

We just had a worship tonight with my family on my stepmother’s side. My grandmother had a swollen colon that needs an operation. But that night, God revealed that He wanted to heal my grandmother. There is no need for an operation.

God poured out His Spirit and God healing as we prayed unitedly for Lola Pine’s healing. We felt it. It was God’s power. It was God’s love.

God is interested in saving our entire family. Bring to them God’s love.