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“Holding forth the Word of Life” Philippians 2:16
“Holding fast the Faithful Word” Titus 1:9
I invite you to please turn with me to the Book of Jeremiah Chapter 6 reading from verse 9 to 17.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall throughly glean the remnant of Israel as a vine: turn back thine hand as a grapegatherer into the baskets. To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it. For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.
It is with greatest joy that I address you this evening on the 38th year of the founding of this Bible College. So soon 38 years have flown by and very soon a new millennium dawns and with it, new dangers and challenges. Whether you like it or not, these will come upon us—a new social order, a new world order and a new church order—and things will never be the same again. Last December while we were in Canada, I read the newspapers how our SM Lee said:
A new age is coming on earth. Things are changing, the way we live, we think, we do business, we conduct ourselves, is changing. All because of the revolution brought about by that little microchip and the computer. Everything is changing and no matter how well you have been doing, how successful you have been, if you do not adapt to the changing situation, you will be left behind.
The same word of wisdom applies to us. Things are changing so rapidly in the computer field, every few months what was good gets out of date and is cast aside. My friends, we are children of light and the darkness deepens and danger mounts. Let’s ask ourselves, “What must we do?” Verse 16: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths.” Here God gives us the formula, the direction for the future: “There is the good way, walk ye therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Verse 17 says, “Also I set watchmen over you … hearken to the sound of the trumpet.” What is the need of the hour today? As in these verses, we are clearly told that we are to ask for the old paths. We who serve the Lord, surely, the Lord knows our needs but we must always turn to Him. Of ourselves we can do nothing; we shall fall. Pray for faithful watchmen to be raised, men and women of the Word of God, filled with the spirit of God; men and women of prayer who daily are in touch with that power house from above, who heed the voice of the Master.
What does the Master say? “Thus saith the Lord.” We must know what He says, not what the world says, not what the church says. Oh, it is a sad thing to note Christendom today has lost its way, fallen into the hands of the adversary. This was Jeremiah’s concern in his day and I say this is our concern today. In God’s service, as an ordinary member in the pew, whoever you are, if we name the name of Christ, we must know what Christ our Lord says every day or we shall lose our way.
Jeremiah was concerned. Are we concerned? We need faithful Jeremiahs today—men and women, prophets, watchmen, messengers—those willing to be used. I say to all young friends here studying, graduating; before you is a tremendous opportunity to prove the power of God. That power is not diminished today. If you follow the Lord and call upon him, He sends power from above that you may face the future and all its pitfalls and temptations that come your way. This college was raised for such a time as this, to train and equip watchmen. I like this word “watchman.” I’d rather be a watchman in the house of God than to dwell in tents of wickedness. The watchman has a task assigned to him—you have to observe with your eyes, your ears, sometimes with your nose, and your business is to raise a warning. Now a watchman’s task is not popular or easy but that is not our concern. Watchmen must be faithful. This is the need of the hour for we are put in trust by the Master. I say again to our friends who are going back to their churches or to the mission fields. Wherever you go throughout the four corners of this earth, your faithfulness means life and death to those you minister to. If you give the pure word of God, those who hear and heed will be delivered from death into life. It must not be otherwise.
“Thus saith the Lord” must be our one constant, unchanging message while the world around us changes. We have a Lord, Head of the Church, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. He never changes and He is our one constant point of reference. Keep going back to Him, to hear what He teaches, what He says in the Book and what His faithful servants the apostles say to us: make that your guide, nothing else.
Spreading deception is the order of the day today. In this new millennium so many new messages are coming in, new theologies. I remember what Spurgeon said a century ago: “You may rest assured, in theology there is nothing new except that which is false.” Please remember this. Someone has discovered a new exegesis, a new hermeneutic, a new theology—be careful, beware, always turn back to the verses we have read: “Thus saith the Lord” and remember what the Lord said 2,000 years ago stands today—changeless. Let us embrace that Word … “Stand in the ways … ask for the old paths, the good way …”. Our duty is not to please the hearers, my friends. This is the problem today. Preachers are afraid to loose their congregations, to lose the support of those who send in the donations, if they preach a contrary message. God spare us from the curse of preaching for popularity.
The Word of God here says that He will come and false prophets will be cast down. Why? Because they said, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Now how are we to understand this? I speak as a medical person. The patient is suffering from cancer and doctors prescribe lotions and band-aid treatment. My friends, these preachers are sending precious souls to eternal damnation in hell. The perils of the new millennium call for raising of more faithful watchmen. Are you one? Ask yourself—do you know the issues? Do you know what is right and wrong? Do you know a false prophet from a true one? A false teacher? Can you smell him out? I trust that in your time at this college, you have learnt this and learnt it well. If you didn’t learn a tremendous amount of theology, at least you learnt one thing—to discern truth from error and then to stand by the truth, come what may. Nothing must move you from the truth. Why? Because it is the truth and only the truth can save; only the truth can set you free, only the truth can establish the church, and save souls into God’s kingdom.
So, may you all be watchmen, faithful, filled with the Spirit, with prayer, daily watching, waiting unto the coming again of the great God—our Saviour Jesus Christ. Does He cause you to look up and your heart to leap up? “Behold He comes!” is something we must expect any moment, any time, in our life time – are you ready? May this thought constantly spur us on that we may never turn back, never slow down but keep pressing on, “forgetting those things which are behind … press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Now just a few specifics: the things you ought to know as a watchman. You ought to know that is happening. Why? Because God has called you to be a watchman. Did it occur to you that today’s evangelical preaching almost never touches on sin and repentance? Observe those who preach over television and radio. How often do you hear the message of repentance? But rather those people talk much about love and unity, about “Holy Spirit and salvation,” “healing and renewal,” words without meaning. But repentance and restitution are rarely mentioned. What must we do? Dear friends, these are realities which you face. You are going to meet those who have been nurtured in apostate churches. They are going to come to you. What do you tell them? “Ask for the old paths.” Let us constantly return to the old paths and say “Repent ye.” This is the message of John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ and Peter the Apostle on the day of Pentecost. What did they preach? “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” There is no other way to enter the Kingdom except to repent and to make restitution. “Repent ye for the Kingdom is at hand,” was what John the Baptist said, “Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance” (Matt 3:7b–8).
Did it occur to you that nowadays, the popular preaching of heaven and hell is totally changed. What is heaven? Heaven is now defined as a place where God is calling people out of every religion, and those who hear the call, see the light and follow, they will arrive in heaven. This is a strange heaven not found in the Bible. Do you realise that?
Listen, the Word of God says, “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth … but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27). There is no exception, no deviation, no way you can bypass this. Remember what our Lord said: “I am the way … no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” No other way, only one: Jesus Christ.
Now what about hell? The leading evangelicals are changing their view of hell—Billy Graham, John Stott, J I Packer and others. Now, there are many versions of hell. Listen carefully: firstly, hell is a state of mind and not a place; hell is longlasting but not forever; hell is hot but not so hot; hell is a real place, but there is no one in it. Now these new teachings are coming out of evangelicalism into the church of God and people are gleefully embracing them. Wonderful! Now who is afraid of hell? Listen, ask for the old paths “Thus saith the Lord.” “The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable (those who twist and turn doctrine) … whoremongers … sorcerers … idolaters (those who go to church and bow to images) … all liars (who preach the new evangelicalism—these are liars),” the Word of God says, “shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 21:8). Now, that is hell. Why don’t we go by the Word of God? Why go by books that are written today?
“Evangelical Truth” it is called. In it John Stott says, “How can hell have a fire that burns and destroys and yet those who go in are never destroyed!” Amazing new evangelical doctrine!
Today the call to all Christendom is, “Love and unite!” In 1995 the Pope issued his Twelfth Encyclical. (An encyclical means a directive to all humanity with particular reference to the churches.) He says “I speak as the head of the church. All Christendom return to mother church!” When? By the year 2000. When? By the end of this year. Now what do you say to that? God’s Word says “No.” That is the doctrine of the devil.
But the Word of God says, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate … and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor 6:17). What is the unclean thing? Today, the whole world is uniting to form a One World System. Now this is prophetic—you cannot stop it. It is irresistible and indeed it is now almost ready to function—one world, one church. God’s Word says, “Come out … be ye separate … touch not … I will receive you. And I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters” (2 Cor 6:17–18). This is the word of God. Do you know it? Do you obey it?
A couple of people, last week when I was in Kuala Lumpur preaching at Calvary Jaya Church, came up to me and said, “We come from a Methodist Church. Is the Methodist Church supporting this ecumenical movement?” Indeed it is one of the front runners leading people into this One World System. “But what can I do? In our town, there is no other church.” Very difficult! What do you do—come out of her and have no church? So these are things we have to think, to find solutions. I say as long as you are in that church, cling to the Saviour, call out to Him and have no part in that One World System. Then you are safe, and even out of that church you can be saved. Why? Because there is no other church to go to. But you must take a stand on the truth of God’s Word and do not support the One World System.
The New Millennium brings in a new Christianity—so different, with “another gospel, another Jesus.” It is by God’s grace that we have come thus far in the B-P Church, 50 years. You know this year is the golden anniversary, and when you have 50 years behind you, you can look back and size up the whole situation with what we call “hindsight.”
When we started in Prinsep Street we used to have OMF missionaries come to us and together we could preach the same gospel. Today, no longer. OMF missionaries preach another gospel, so different. Time has changed many things and the New Millennium is bringing in a New Christianity paving the way for the New World Order—the order set up by the god of this world, predicted in the Word of God, that must come to pass but of which you ought not have a part. I realise that some of you come from non-fundamental churches, from various churches in the mainline denominations like Methodist, Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran and so on. What must you do? I say you should pray and heed the Word of God. If you are convinced and you are called, God will show you what you ought to do.
Verse 13: It says in Jeremiah’s time “from the least unto the greatest, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophets even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely.” It is a sad thing when religion is made commercial. How can it be? Oh yes, it is being done. Indulgences are being sold. Last January the Pope announced a special discount for indulgences to commemorate the year 2000. Religion at a discount? Wonderful! Let us buy more indulgences for future use. This is called “forward buying.”
What about “healings and miracles?” You think they are cheap? They are not cheap because when a person gets so low in his sick state, and hoping for a cure, money pours into the healers’ offering bags. Today, Benny Hinn, front runner and successor to Kathleen Kuhlman, is building a Healing Park in the States for US$30M. For what? For healing! “All who are sick come along and we will heal you.” This is the greatest hoax and lie. Easily proved—they can do the healing on stage, in the park, but take them to the hospital and they can’t even heal one, not even one. My friends, you want to challenge these people who claim signs and wonders and healings? Just say, “Follow me to the Chronic Sick Ward now, heal, let me see, heal.” It just doesn’t happen. It only happens on stage. They have their props—part of the show. What deception! My friends, this is the high cost of healing today. Benny Hinn’s 25th anniversary—to celebrate with him people pay $100 a plate to sit there and listen to this great deceiver and false prophet. As in Jeremiah’s day religious leaders are given to covetousness and deception. These things are happening and you ought to know. Did not Jeremiah say that “every one is given to covetousness, from the prophet to the priest, every one dealeth falsely.”
Now what gospel strategy do we have for the New Millennium? We fundamentalists are called “bigots, backward, uninformed!” My friends, care not what people call you. It is what you are and how you serve the Lord that counts, not what people falsely say about you. What do you say to this? I say, “Back to the Word of God—Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, the good way”—the unchanging Word of God, the unchanging pathway of God. Today our strategy for the new millennium is “Back to the Bible, know your Word, King James Version.” Notice every modern English version attacks some vital central doctrine of the Bible and all claim to be “most accurate, most authentic”— a lie of the devil. Why? Did not Jeremiah say “covetousness, and deception?” Modern Versions bring to the publishers and copyright owners multi-millions of dollars. You know that? Ah, my friends, religion today is commercialised. Latest: Pat Robertson is marketing a new Bible called “The Book.” On publicity alone he spends US$7M in anticipation of huge profits coming ahead. Make no mistake: commercial religion reigns today. What must we do?
Back to the Bible, the good old King James Bible! Back to God’s greatest salvation, the Reformation of the 16th century! Today, it is submerged, blacked out, nobody ever hears anything about the Reformation. Today it is a bad word. Let us go back to God’s greatest salvation since Pentecost, when God’s people rallied with the war cry: Sola Scriptura! Sola Fide! Sola Gratia! Solus Christus! Only these are sufficient for all our needs and our message. So, I say, for the New Millennium: back to the grand simplicity of the gospel. Be not entangled with all the new fangled doctrines, new styles of worship, new music, new music idioms, all kinds of fantasies, words of wisdom, words of knowledge, direct relevations from God—all these are tricks of the devil. Back to the old fashioned gospel and tell it as it is. Know the Word – there is power in the Word. Give it as it is and see if God will not honour this simple faith in His wonderful Word.
Be a Jeremiah. Jeremiah preached for 40 long years to a stiffnecked, rebellious people. Jeremiah never gave up but he wept for his people. He was a true patriot, one who felt for his people. Do you feel for your people? Was there any time you wept for your people because they are in sin?
Be a Jeremiah: “Ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” Amen.
Dr S H Tow is senior pastor of Calvary Bible-Presbyterian Church. This sermon was delivered at the 25th Graduation Service of the Far Eastern Bible College at Life Bible-Presbyterian Church, May 14, 2000.
– Published in The Burning Bush, Volume 7 Number 1 (January 2001)