Pastoral Exhortation

Annual Congregational Meeting

Written by Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy Sunday, 28 September 2014

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The ACM for the Financial Year 2014/2015 will be held today at 1.30pm.

The Annual Congregational Meeting (ACM) of Gethsemane B-P Church is held every year in the month of September. All Communicant Members are required to attend this meeting. The quorum needed for the ACM is one third of the total Communicant Members. During the ACM, the office-bearers of the Church Session shall report on the spiritual and temporal matters of the church, and also inform the church of the plans for the coming year...

Just as in all our meetings, let us also during the ACM conduct ourselves in an orderly and honourable manner worthy of a church that is called in Christ Jesus our Lord. Let us also pray for the office-bearers who will give reports of the church ministries and accounts.

Remember the following Scriptural advice on our conduct in the church.

As we listen to the reports, we should not only examine whether the work of the church has been carried out faithfully, but also praise God for all things that have been done faithfully and effectively. Since we will also consider our plans for the coming year, let us also take this time to dedicate ourselves to serve Him as good stewards of His house.

 

Scripture in Song:

Romans 8:32

(KJV)

Music: Prabhudas Koshy
Arrangement: Dorcas Koshy

 

The Relevance of the Moral Law Today - II
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

 

It Helps to Confirm Our Love for God and Fellow Men

Both in the Old and New Testaments, obedience of His commandments proved a person’s love for God (cf. Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 10:12, 13; Daniel 9:4; John 15:10, 14; 2 John 6). Jesus says to His followers, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

It must be emphasised that Jesus’ commandments did not exclude the Ten Commandments, for He said that He did not come to destroy but to fulfil the Law (cf. Matthew 5:17). The Lord Jesus Christ has taught us more than just the Ten Commandments, and not once did He refute or set it aside. Neither did Jesus teach His followers that it is alright to ignore or disobey the Decalogue. Instead, He taught them how to obey the Ten Commandments – by loving God with all their heart and strength, and by loving their neighbours as themselves.

In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus firmly asserted the importance of the Law when He was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” His answer was not that the Law would be irrelevant from then onwards, but that “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Thus, Jesus taught us that we can fulfil the Moral Law by loving God and loving our neighbour.

Now ask yourself, in the light of the above teaching of Christ, whether a man can justly claim that he truly loves God and his fellow brethren, when he refuses to obey even one of the Ten Commandments.

The Apostle John reminds us, “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (vv. 8-10).

Christ and the apostles clearly upheld the Decalogue as an expression of love for God and man. Hence, the commandments of God serve as a guide by which our love for God is given rich expression. They do not grant us salvation, but they provide those who are already saved by faith in Christ, the proper expression of a life that is filled with love for God and fellow men.

The Law of God is not antithetical to the love of God. God’s Law and His love are not opposing or conflicting spiritual realities. Instead, there is an immutable and unbreakable bond between them. The Law and love are two spiritual realities that God has joined, which no man should put asunder. True love does not promote lawlessness, but it promotes the fulfilling of His Law. James, in his epistle, explains this truth: “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty” (James 2:8-12).

It Shows and Guides Us in the Path of Righteousness

The Apostle Paul says, “Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12), and further asserts, “For we know that the law is spiritual” (Romans 7:14). Every one of the Ten Commandments is holy, just like its Giver, the Lord Himself. God gave them to command and to encourage holiness in His people.

The Decalogue is the holy will of God. It is spiritual, for it forbids spiritual wickedness (such as heart-murder and heart-adultery), and it commands spiritual service. It requires the heart to render worship to God with total devotion. It is God’s spiritual Law for all His people.

In Romans 7 and 8, Paul shows the importance of the Law in fighting off the onslaught of the flesh. In Romans 8:7, he mentioned that “the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God”. In fact, he had already explained in Romans 7 that the sinful or fleshly nature within him is overcome by his inward commitment to the Law of God. He said, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). He also “thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” in Romans 7:25, that “with the mind I myself serve the law of God” as he faced the temptation of the flesh to serve “the law of sin”.

If the Law of God had been Paul’s help in the fight against the flesh, we should also adhere to the Law with the help of the Holy Spirit to fight against the fleshly desires of our body. “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:4).

The Moral Law, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gives evidence to our conscience and the actual nature of our sanctification. When the Spirit helps us to compare our thoughts and actions with the Law, we will be able to discern whether we are growing towards the perfection that God requires in our practical living. Hence as a standard of holiness set by God, the Law, in the hand of the Holy Spirit, functions as an unerring guide in our pursuit of holiness.

Conclusion

The Law of God is relevant and important to Christians. In fact, God’s people of the new covenant will have the Law written in their hearts. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” (Hebrews 8:10). Though the new covenant is specifically focused on Israel (cf. Jeremiah 31:31), it is clear that Christians of the present time also stand under its blessings (cf. Romans 11:13-27). Assuredly, this perception does not lead to confusion between Israel and the Church, for under the new covenant, all believers are promised that God will “write” His “laws” in their hearts and minds. For all who know Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord, and have become partakers in this new covenant, the Law is not just something external (written on two stone tablets placed in the Ark of the Covenant), but an internal truth written in their hearts!

Matthew Henry rightly said, “The Law is still of use to convince us of what is past, and to direct us for the future; though we cannot be saved by it as a covenant, yet we own it, and submit to it, as a rule in the hand of the Mediator, subordinate to the Law of grace; and so, are so far from overthrowing that we establish the Law. Let those who deny the obligation of the Moral Law on believers consider this.”

So, are the Ten Commandments relevant today? Let us consider the words of Jesus Himself: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). Nothing can be clearer than that!

 

Pangasinan Mission Update

The northern part of the Philippines, including Manila and Pangasinan, experienced two typhoons in one week. Together with the typhoons were heavy rains. Last Friday (2am onwards), the rain kept pouring non-stop for 30 hours. Most parts of northern Luzon, which include Pangasinan, were flooded. School and work were suspended. Some districts, including Dagupan City, have declared a state of calamity. But the Lord has preserved us in our mission station. We thank the Lord for sparing us the flood, though we experienced strong winds.

The church brethren have also experienced the loving Hand of God. They were very worried that their crops would be destroyed by the strong winds and possible flood. Now they are very thankful that the Lord has kept their rice fields intact. The river beside their houses and fields almost burst its banks. Thank God that they did not experience flooding. The weather for this week is very sunny which is favourable for the harvest season. God willing, the brethren will start to harvest from late this week until next week.

We thank God for safety, especially while I drove to fetch the brethren to and fro in the midst of heavy rain and typhoon last Sunday. Last Sunday’s worship service was attended by 14 adults and 8 children. Please pray that the worshippers in Pangasinan will consecrate their lives and follow God’s will. Please pray also for the Friday Bible Study and all our evangelistic efforts.

This Lord’s day, the children will have Scripture Memorization test. To encourage them to take it seriously, we have prepared token rewards for those who are outstanding students. We pray that our children and adults will strive to put Scripture in their heart.

In Christ,
Pr Donald dela Cruz

 

Thanksgiving for Provision of Vans

Dear Pastor,

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!

I apologise for not sending you an email earlier. Upon my return after the Missionary Conference in Singapore, I had tried twice to send an email to you but for some reason they bounced back. However, I would like you to know that we keep you always in our prayers.

I also would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to all who have made it possible for us to purchase the two vans for our church ministries here in Ethiopia. Because of the van, I can now go from Addis Ababa to Alem Gena without all the problems that I used to face. It has helped me to avail myself to teach and preach even in Alem Gena. It gives us much relief from the long and wearisome journeying that we had to endure over the last three years. I cannot thank you all enough for your generous giving to the van fund, as well as for all your prayers and support. ALL GLORY BE TO OUR ALMIGHTY GOD!

Truly, even as we continue to reach out to the unsaved ones with the Gospel, God has been using you, brethren, in many ways to sustain the Gospel work here in Ethiopia.

Thank you also for the support extended to my family. God bless you and keep you for His glory. Amen.

Pr Engida Tefera