Archive for the 'Elder's Corner' Category

No Better Place on Earth

by Peter Lim

Most San Diegans know what a privilege it is to live here in America’s Finest City. Currently we are experiencing mid 70s and even 80 degree temperatures in early January while the rest of the country is “enjoying” much colder temperatures. We have nice beaches, good Mexican food, decent city life without LA’s traffic jams, and a pretty good professional football team. It’s easy to consider ourselves fortunate that we live here. We might even say that there is no better place on Earth to live. But for a Christian, these factors are insignificant reasons for living where we live. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate and even enjoy all these attributes of San Diego. However, when someone who claims to be a Christian elevates such superficial reasons to live at a particular location above spiritual considerations, priorities are misplaced. Before we consider the weather, we need to consider what kind of ministry we hope to have. Before we look at the size of houses we can afford or what salary we can hope to command, we need to consider how we can get plugged into a good church that we can grow and worship in. When we consider what university to attend or send our children to, we must prioritize spiritual considerations above and beyond academic considerations. Unfortunately, many so-called Christians minimize their spiritual priority and elevate the prestige of academic institutions or their careers over their ministry. This misplacement of priorities often confuse their non-saved family members and weaker Christians into thinking that Christians think the same way as non-Christians.

This life that we live as Christians may or may not involve living in such a nice place as San Diego. Since our main goal as Christians on Earth is to evangelize, we must be willing to go anywhere the gospel needs to be preached. This may take us away from our beloved city to a dusty little town, freezing cold cities where they speak an impossible to learn language, and maybe humid jungles where people have yet to hear the message of Jesus’ atoning work. But wherever we are on Earth geographically, as long as we are doing the Lord’s work spreading the gospel, it’s the same path that leads to Heaven. This road is not always easy nor comfortable nor even desirable for our fleshly sensibilities. Our way of thinking and the priorities that we have will be foreign to the world around us. In fact, God tells us to expect the world to hate us. (1 John 3:13) One sure way to know whether we are on this road that leads to heaven is if the world sees any difference in our priorities. It is this priority of the gospel that could possibly cause us to consider Haiti or Bangladesh or Afghanistan to be the best place on Earth to live. As long as we are involved in evangelism, that is the best place on Earth to be because God is being glorified.

This article started out with the impression that I was talking about geography. For a Christian, it’s not about that at all. It’s about the place of blessing that God has placed us in. This road can be anywhere on Earth. Rightly did Steven Curtis Chapman sing about this very road:

Somebody told me that this path that leads to heaven
Will not be the easy way
Well I found that to be true
Oh, but I also found, I found out there’s

CHORUS
No better place on earth than the road that leads to heaven
No other place I’d rather be

Love of the Cross

by Elder Mike Chon

It is amazing how many people in the world actually celebrate Christmas and never take time to consider the true meaning of Christmas. I remember as an unbeliever making fun of my Christian friend who used to try to tell me that Christmas was about Jesus Christ. Even explaining how the word Christ is found in Christmas. As an unbeliever I would just laugh at him and think how ridiculous it was to believe that Christmas was about Jesus. Now looking back I can’t believe how ignorant and hardened I truly was as an unbeliever. But isn’t this true of so many things in our life, that the true meaning behind the words we use get redefined by what we perceive the meaning “should” be.

For the believer, words such as truth, God, servant, hope, joy, and love are defined not by Webster’s dictionary, but by the Word of God. It is the Word of God that reveals to us the depth of the meaning of these words. Without God’s Word we would never know what truth is, we would never know the one and true God, we would have false hope, and our joy would be a fleeting sense of happiness that changes as much as the wind. We see how the world has treated the meaning of love in today’s culture and the result of that in today’s families and marriages. Even for the believer, I believe we may not fully grasp the biblical view of love until you experience the greatest expression of love that has ever been displayed in the history of this world.

Before we begin defining love with mere words, we need to start where infinite love was displayed, which was on the cross. This is where the believer must start before we begin talking about how love is patient, kind…etc. As horrific as the sight was for those viewing the crucifixion on the day of Christ’s death, it was at the same time the greatest expression of love that has ever been manifested by any individual in this world. Love that drove the creator of the universe to become a mere man and suffer in the hands of those He created, accept the torment of Satan and the demons, and ultimately experiencing the wrath and separation of God. Not what we would consider love in these days, but true love indeed. All of us have experienced a moment in our past when we knew someone loves us by their gesture or gift. Such as when our mom would painstakingly stay up through the night when we were sick, when a friend would bring by your favorite meal, or when someone wrote or spoke words of encouragement when we were going through a difficult time. All of these were expressions of love to us because they met a need we had at a specific point in our lives. It wouldn’t be love if our mom decided to make us run five miles outside in the rain while you had a fever, even if you were a little overweight. Love expressed is very specific to the person receiving the love. It wouldn’t do you any good if you needed surgery to have your friend bring books about how you need surgery. That isn’t true love expressed even though they were sincere about their gesture. It just shows that they really don’t know you well enough.

On the cross, Christ displayed his love for the world. Not just because he endured physical torture and spiritual torment, but because through the cross, Christ extended His love to us by meeting the greatest need that we all had. That was our need to be reconciled to the Holy God. If the cross only accomplished a possibility for us to be saved, it wouldn’t be the greatest love. If the cross was only a sentimental death, it wouldn’t be the greatest love. If the cross was only heroic, it wouldn’t be the greatest love. The cross actually reconciled unbelievers to God, which is the greatest expression of love because it was the greatest need that we all had. There is nothing else that can compare to the gift that Jesus gave to us through the cross. There is no greater love than what Christ accomplished on the cross. May we as followers of Christ extend love to each other so that we would be a testimony of Christ’s love to this world. Below are several passages to read and meditate on. Notice how the love of God and Christ is linked to the cross.

John 3:16 (ESV) 16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 15:12 – 13 (ESV) 12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.

Romans 5:6 – 11 (ESV) 6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:14 – 15 (ESV) 14For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Ephesians 5:1 – 2 (ESV) 1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Ephesians 5:25 – 27 (ESV) 25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

1 John 3:16 (ESV) 16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.

1 John 4:7 – 12 (ESV) 7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

Let us love one another purposefully and thoughtfully to encourage our church to grow in their affection for one another and for God. Let us put aside grudges and any excuses to hold back forgives and reconciliation when Christ did not on the cross by completely reconciling us to God. May we learn together and practice together the love that was displayed to us on the cross with each other, to be able to lift up the faint hearted, to strengthen the weary, to encourage the sorrowful, all to the glory of God.

What’s Up Bro?

by Elder Peter Lim

Here in America, people frequently greet each other as a brother or simply as “bro”. It’s a common greeting especially between friends who have known each other for a long time. Sometimes it’s even used to greet a stranger when one wants to convey a sense of friendliness. Of course there’s nothing wrong with being friendly but as a Christian, the title of “brother” is a precious one. It brings to mind the preciousness of what Jesus accomplished on the cross that made it possible for us to have a common Father in God. (1 Cor 8:11)

To call someone a brother who is not a Christian cheapens the precious relationship that Christians have with one another. For Christians, a servant can call his master a brother. A man who has been deeply hurt and offended can truly forgive enough to call him a brother. A murderer can become a brother of those he once sought to kill. A man would rather suffer loss of property or rights rather than take his brother to court (1 Cor. 6:6). In fact it’s impossible for anyone to say that they love God if they don’t love their brother (1 John 4:20). Hating a brother is as bad as murdering a brother (1 John 3:15).

This is why I never use the term “brother” when referring to people in general. I wouldn’t want to bestow that title to someone who may not consider Jesus to be precious. On the other hand, whenever I do use this term, you can be sure that it’s something that I have thought through. Brothers (and sisters!) are precious. Jesus died for them. They deserve my deepest affections and service and love, no matter how badly we’ve been hurt in the past. Life is too short to live with grudges and bitterness.

Brothers, hurting each other during this lifetime is an eventual certainty, especially the longer we work with one another because we are all prideful sinners. This is why we must be especially slow to anger, and quick to forgive. Do you have broken/strained/difficult relationships with your brothers? Humble yourself and seek out peace. For the glory of God it will be worth it.

Glorying in the Cross

by Elder Mike Chon

Do you glory in the cross of Jesus Christ? In churches today, there are so many opinions or thoughts regarding the cross of Christ. Some would say that the cross is the instrument that was used to crucify Jesus, a place where where the greatest tragedy occurred, a place where the greatest sin was displayed, a time when the Romans or Jews murdered an innocent man, a symbol of Christianity, or an ornament or jewelry. For many believers when we remember the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross, especially during communion or Good Friday, we usually grieve over the physical suffering and death of our Lord. It is equivalent to attending a funeral where there is great sadness and sorrow over the death of a loved one. We mourn as though Jesus died a senseless death or that it was a tragedy. Is this the way that Christ desired for us to remember Him when He instituted communion during the last supper?

I believe that many today who would confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior have never considered the true reality of the cross of Christ. Paul writes in Galatians 6:14 “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” The word “boast” can also be translated “glory” as it is in the King James Bible, which means to praise or even to brag about something in a positive sense. Was this just hyperbole by Paul? Did he really mean to boast about the cross? Should we boast about the Son of God crucified on a cross? Many of us consider the sufferings of Christ and grieve over the pain that He had to endure. We only consider the physical sufferings of Jesus that He was mocked, spit upon, beaten multiple times, then scourged, and finally crucified. If we only remember the physical sufferings of Christ, we have a very superficial view of the cross and we miss out on the reason why Paul would write that we should only boast in the cross alone.

With so many things that occur in our lives, there is a spiritual aspect that needs to be considered. Life is not about avoiding hardships or trying to resolve difficult situations in our lives. If we only consider our circumstances and what we see, we may miss on what God is trying to teach us and His blessing for our lives. Such is the cross. It is not just another event in history which we read about in books. Moreover, the physical suffering that Christ endured and the crucifixion itself was not how He saved us. It was only the means to the end. So when we remember the cross, we need to remember what actually occurred on the cross that was hidden from the eyewitnesses that were present. For instance, one aspect of the cross was during the last three hours of the crucifixion, when great darkness came over the land. It was supernatural darkness, not caused by clouds, a storm, or a solar eclipse. It was complete darkness that made it impossible to see. A darkness that was felt such as the darkness during the ten plagues in Exodus. This darkness was God’s presence coming to the cross and during those three hours pouring His wrath upon Jesus for every sin that every believer has ever committed and will ever commit. To think of the wrath of God being poured out upon Jesus for three hours is incomprehensible. And after three hours, Jesus absorbed God’s wrath to the point that He satisfied God’s wrath for each one of our sins. To help us better understand the magnitude of what Christ accomplished, consider someone condemned in hell, after spending one thousand years in hell he would not have satisfied God’s wrath for one of his sins let alone for all of them. But Jesus was able to absorb infinite wrath for three hours to completely satisfy God’s wrath for all our sins. The cross did not just give an opportunity for people in the future to be saved, but it actually saved people two thousand years ago by satisfying God’s wrath.

I don’t know about you, but if this isn’t something to boast about, there is nothing in this world to boast in. Nothing is greater than what Jesus accomplished on the cross. The cross and the message of the cross must be the most important message in your life. It must be more important than even the teachings of Jesus, more important than the Sermon on the Mount, and even more important than living a righteous life. We boast about so many things in our lives, our work, our achievements, our children. How about boasting in the one thing that is really worth boasting about? Jesus satisfied God’s wrath on the cross which we deserved to pay for. If understood correctly, the cross humbles us to know that we did not contribute anything to our salvation, and will not contribute anything in our sanctification, since it is completely by God and His grace alone that saves and preserves us until we are finally with God for all eternity. What else is there to boast about?

If we understand the fullness of the cross, then we would come to communion and Good Friday with a sense of joy and celebration as we glory in the cross of Christ. Put away the gloomy faces, the sorrow and sadness, because Good Friday is truly good. It is the most wonderful, amazing and awesome day of all of history, so why should we come with sorrow as we remember the day of the cross of Christ? Moreover, if we truly understand the cross of Christ, I believe that more of us would be boasting about the cross to others. Our desire for others to know what Christ truly accomplished would be on the tip of our tongues ready to share the most glorious moment of all of history. How easily we forget the magnitude and the greatness of the cross of Christ as we boast about everything else except the only thing that deserves boasting about. Therefore, let us come together and see the cross of Christ as truly good, and that we would consider the cross as the only message that we would boast about in our lives to God’s glory alone.

Cut Off Your Hand

by Elder Peter Lim

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time. That’s right. It’s time to cut off your hand. To poke out your eye. Of course I don’t mean literally.

Matthew 5:29-30 says “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

This passage is not teaching that we should literally dismember ourselves. Even if we did, it wouldn’t cure us of our sin since this solution doesn’t deal with the heart. But it is making a point that we need to take drastic measures to prune sinful behavior from our lives. Have you been struggling with the same sins for years and years? Have you made the same resolutions to not sin the same sin over and over again? Notice that this passage doesn’t say to cut off someone else’s hand if it causes them to sin. This hatred of sin is motivated by one’s own desire to deal with one’s own sin, not a desire to remove someone else’s speck.

What does this mean practically? Here are some suggestions. If your computer causes you to sin, get rid of it. Literally. Or only allow yourself to use a computer for particular purposes that you predefine as being legit. Are you tempted by your TV? Get rid of it. Or at least set some limits for yourself and ask someone to keep you accountable to them. It could be as simple as limiting the hours, particular programs, or only watching pre-recorded content on your DVR.

Getting someone to keep you accountable may be a little humbling because you’d be admitting that you have struggles in a particular area. Really, is eating humble pie so bad? Confess your proud hearts and take some bold steps to address your weaknesses. This isn’t legalism. This is a sincere desire to honor God. Remember that He is as concerned with holiness as he ever was in the Old Testament since He never changes. As we ask God to change our hearts so that our actions are more consistent with His character, we will become more useful instruments for Him to use to minister to others.


About

The Beacon is the monthly newsletter for Lighthouse Bible Church in San Diego, California. It covers a variety of subjects including LBC events, church history, current events from a Christan perspective, ministry profiles, and messages from our pastors and elders. To join the Beacon ministry, please contact Stephen Rodgers.

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