Our 35th Anniversary Exhortation
Dear BPCWA worshipper, Last Sunday we celebrated our church’s 35th Anniversary with a dinner together. I want to take the opportunity to expand upon and revisit some points about the exhortation from 1 Timothy 3:15 which I gave that night. This is so that those present will be reminded, and that the whole church will also know what BPCWA should be as a church, be stirred to persevere to be such a church, and how we can be sure that God will continue to protect this church of His, and your part to play to ensure that.
1 Timothy 3:15, states, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
What is God’s church? God defines His Church for us. He says it is “the pillar and ground of the truth”. Pillar here not only means something that props up, holds up high, and supports, but it also implies “to stiffen”. The ground speaks of the foundation that is below the pillar, serving to give it a firm footing. But notice that God does not say that “the church is the truth” but rather that the church is merely the pillar and ground of “the” truth. This is emphasized in Greek, sending a strong signal to us that the church is not to decide what it wants to hold up as truths. It is only to be “the” truth ie. specifically God’s Word because John affirmed, “thy word is truth” (Jn 17:17). So, the defining picture of God’s church is one that uplifts and reinforces His Word alone. This implies at least these 3 things: (1) Lift up God’s Word. To be a pillar in upholding God’s Word, BPCWA must always make God’s Word the central focus and interest. This means that BPCWA must focus on teaching the Word, not screening “Christian” movies or having song performances. We are also not a community centre that should organise health talks, cooking lessons, and games for the physical benefits of attendees. That is not God’s definition of what the church spends its time and resources to hold up. In fact, Paul instructed Timothy in the next chapter, “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Tim 4:8). What the pillar draws hearts and minds to are not the physical but the spiritual benefits that only the thorough teaching of the Word can bring. (2) Do not compromise. As a pillar, BPCWA is to be “stiffening” ie reinforcing and buttressing God’s truth, not compromising nor bowing under the very present pressure on us as His pillars. We are to support and promote the ways of God, not the world’s ideas, not well-known Christian teachers, no matter how common and popular they are in any aspect of life if they contradict the truth in Scriptures. (3) Be unmovable. How long will we remain uncompromising? We must persevere. And being the ground for His truth, BPCWA must always be the unmovable and unshakable bedrock of God’s teachings and His ways as time goes by. BPCWA must not shift our stand just because the world in this age has its ever-changing principles and concepts of what is laudable for singles; what is accepted, promoted, and upheld for roles and responsibilities models in families and churches; how worship styles and music should be; and what fellowships should focus on; what a holy walk with God ought to be.
The encouragement to be such a church. If BPCWA is criticised for being “stiff”, “unbending”, “rigid”, and we are not “progressive” and do not “move with the times”, then such castigations are in fact compliments if we are simply keeping true to and upholding high what God’s Word says about those areas. That is our charge as the church of God, by God’s expectations. Now, this is easier said than done or lived up to perseveringly. To live up to God’s definition of a church of God, we can expect disparaging remarks from other Christians who have their own ideas of what a church should be. You may also receive denigrating remarks from relatives, family members, and even within our church itself. You may even feel disheartened and embarrassed to belong to a church with such “bad press”. But as long as BPCWA is upholding God’s ways in His Word, be encouraged and be thankful instead. Why? Because in this verse, God calls such a church “the house of God”! What an assurance! What a privilege that God chooses to make BPCWA His dwelling place! This means that He will be among us to bless and use us if we remain His pillar and ground for His Truth no matter what we face. Would you prefer a church that has the praise and preference of man or a church that you know God is pleased with and is present in? If BPCWA is disdained because we reinforce and stand by God’s ways, then remember, “Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake” (Matt 5:11). And importantly, when such is the case, then BPCWA glorifies God, because “If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified” (1 Peter 4:14). And if the Living God is pleased to make BPCWA His house, there is nothing we need to fear when we uphold His truth and live by it. We should rather desire to have the Living God with us than leave us. As long as we are shoring up His Truth unmovably, I cannot think of a greater encouragement than this.
The warning for failing to be such a church. So how can we be assured that God will indeed protect us for another 35 years? Will BPCWA continue to be a sound church that our children can worship in when they grow up? In fact, we should be desiring that God will make BPCWA His house till our beloved Saviour returns for His Bride, whichever is later. This is the reason why I or any future pastor after me who is assigned by God to BPCWA must ensure that BPCWA not only focuses on feeding God’s sheep with His Word constantly, and remains unbuckling under pressure and resists unbiblical trends. If the pastor fears and flounders because of pressures from worshippers, the world, or even other churches, then BPCWA will soon cease to be God’s House. What kind of pastor do you want? An ever-smiling one who accommodates to your ideas of what church should be even if is a “pillar and ground of your ways”?
Your role in the pillar and ground of the truth. We are always just one generation away from such a fall. BPCWA needs your prayer support for the church to remain so both now and till Christ returns. But BPCWA is made up of worshippers, not just a building with a signboard with these 5 alphabets. Your life, your choices, your ways do affect the church. Sound teachings are meant for obedience. God warned the church in Corinth, “Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Cor 5:6). The Christians there were proud because it thought that it was progressive in being “loving” by not being “judgemental” and thereby allowing sin to continue undealt with. The individual that did not repent would be the leaven whose way of life in disobedience will rapidly influence and spread (the meaning of leaven) to other individuals and families. BPCWA can be assured of God’s ongoing presence and protection if its focus on upholding God’s Truth and its worshippers remain true to and obey God’s Word, whatever it costs them. The practice of the faith resides in its worshippers as the church upholds and teaches God’s Word without compromise. No matter how the pulpit ministry stays true to the Word, it is of no use if you refuse to obey. If you love wrong friendships, the ways of the world, and your sins and ambitions above God’s church, then you must admit that you do not love or care for God’s church.
We should always refer to God’s definition whenever we measure a church. The ultimate and final gauge for BPCWA to be a church after God’s own heart is whether we are focused on making sure that His Word is taught faithfully, resisting the ideas and philosophies of the age, and its worshippers shoring up God’s truth by the way they live as singles and families. Each one of us is a Blood bought worshipper with a charge. Hence, I chose the hymn at our 35th Anniversary dinner.
1 A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.
2 To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill;
Oh, may it all my pow’rs engage
To do my Master’s will!
3 Arm me with watchful care
As in Thy sight to live,
And now Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!
4 Help me to watch and pray,
And still on Thee rely,
Oh, let me not my trust betray,
But press to realms on high.
Commission upon BPCWA and its worshippers. Amidst the peace that our good Lord has given to us, we must be diligent to the cause He has left us to do. We are a mission church, planted to fulfill the Great Commission. We must be reminded of this every time we walk into the church and see the stone plaque outside of our church – to extend the Great Commission which Christ left for us to fulfil in Australia. We must be passionate about the purity of BPCWA because it is the house of the Living God, the Bride of our Beloved Saviour!
Yours in our Lord’s service,