updated on 4 Jun 2001 (best view with netscape communicator 4.77)
Paul and the Seven Churches

Praise God for the safe return of the 21 persons who participated in BGST's recent Bible Lands Study Tour, May 25 to June 6, 2001. We had a very, very rewarding time visiting all the Seven Churches (of Rev. 2 & 3) and 17 cities in Greece and Turkey associated with the Apostle Paul. 

The Glory Is Departed
Many of us in Asia have only a vague notion of the roots of Western civilization. The study of the Greek and Roman classics has taken a back seat understandably since our school curriculum has other priorities. Nonetheless, the English-speaking world and Western civilization generally is greatly indebted to ancient Greece and a knowledge of its rich heritage is essential to understanding its raison d'être. This was brought out poignantly in my recent visit to Greece. From the air one can discern the convoluted shoreline of the Greek archipelago. We arrived at Athens and like the Apostle Paul of old we tried to see the city through spiritual lenses. From high up on the acropolis we surveyed the market-place (the agora) where Paul went to do some successful soul-winning. An early morning sunrise service on Mars’ Hill gave us a spectacular impression of the surrounding area, then filled with magnificent temples to the Greek gods. We read from Acts 17 and were reminded of Paul’s bold preaching, for which he was called a ‘babbler’ (a scavenger bird picking scraps of strange ideas from various ideologies). We travelled to ancient Corinth, past the breath-taking Corinthian Canal, and stood before Gallio’s judgement sea (the bema). We noted the pavement bearing in large letters the name of Erastus, a prominent member of the Corinthian Church. We travelled from Athens to Thessaloniki by the coastal highway. On our left were precipitous mountains which seem to flaunt their lofty peaks at us. Some were snow-capped and Mt Olympus, thought to be the dwelling place of the gods by the ancient Greeks, was shrouded by thick clouds. On our right were the clear blue waters of the Aegean. We passed Thermopylae where King Leonidas and his brave 300 Spartan soldiers fought and died at the hands of the overwhelming Persian army. By the seashore were immaculate, white-washed houses, with doors, window frames and flower pots tastefully accented in brilliant shades of blue and red. We stopped at markets whose stalls were filled with luscious tomatoes, cucumbers and greens of many varieties. Cherries, apricots, apples and watermelons were found plentifully and they were cheap! There were hidden coves, many 
thermal springs, and red poppies and purple thistles grew profusely in the wild. In many ways it was an idyllic holiday.

But we also saw the other side of Greece: the polluted air in the cities, the heavy pollen count causing some of us (myself especially) to come down with hay fever. One also noticed the façade of religiosity, absence of true spirituality, empty rituals and frequent lighting of candles, and the heavy-scented atmosphere of dark, 
 


depressing interiors of Eastern Orthodox churches. The glory of Greece passed on to the Romans and now lies largely in magnificent ruins. Greece today is a largely secular society. Bible-believing churches are few and the Gospel needs to be preached anew by a modern-day Paul or whoever God may send. Remember Phinehas’s wife, who on her death-bed named her newly-born son Ichabod ("Where is the glory?" 1 Sam. 4:21-22). Eli and her husband had died. The ark of the Lord was taken by the Philistines. Let’s be careful and not bask at the glory of our achievements. All is transient and only what we do for God will last.

The Berean Example
One of the blessings of re-tracing the steps of the Apostle Paul is to try and understand what motivated this persecutor of Christians to turn completely around and blaze the torch of Christianity into the far corners of the Mediterranean world. Paul wrote two letters to the Christians in Thessalonica. All traces of the ancient city have been removed except for parts of an ancient wall which protected the city. Even the synagogue where Paul preached is non-existent. But no matter, our purpose was to see with spiritual eyes as we sought to understand this city of Alexander the Great and his forebears. Paul commended the church in 1 Thess 1:7, saying that they were an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. We wondered what he would do if he visited the same city today. Because of serious opposition to the Gospel, he and Silas had to flee by night to Berea. This little town was a joy to visit. We appreciated the tranquility of a garden where we could sit, read and ponder over the Scriptures, as did the first Berean Christians some 1950 years ago. Luke described their eagerness and willingness to accept God’s Word to them: "…they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).

Followers of Paul 
From Berea we went to Philippi and walked on the ancient Roman road that went from east to west. It was awesome to be walking on the very road that Paul, Silas and other Christian missionaries walked when they braved bandits, religious opposition and many hardships in their desire to proclaim Jesus as the crucified and risen Lord and Saviour of the world. We travelled in comfortable, airconditioned coaches; but Paul walked, sometimes in pain because of the terrible beatings he received for preaching the Gospel. We went to Kavalla (Neapolis) where Paul landed when he crossed from Asia to Europe and visited the place where Lydia and other Jewish proselytes gathered for prayer when they heard the Gospel for the first time, believed, and were baptized. We ended our visit of Greece with a greater appreciation of Paul whose consuming aim was to point others to Jesus. He wrote thus in 1 Cor 11:1 "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." 
(By Dr Quek Swee Hwa, to be continued next week)
 
 

 
Page 2                                                                                        _____            11 - 17 June 2001
  • BibleWorks 4.0 is now available at the Library. 
  • Students are reminded to register with the Admin Office before viewing the tapes for Private Study courses. Your cooperation would be much appreciated. 
  • Special Announcement:                         We have a stock of phonecards designed with the text of 1 Cor 13 in miniscule Greek letters in the shape of the word "LOVE". These letters can actually be deciphered under a magnifying glass.                           The phonecard makes a lovely gift and can be used on any number of occasions where an expression of love is appropriate. We want very much to clear the present stock and are selling them at their value price of $2.00 for the phonecard alone and $2.20 where it comes with a greeting card and an envelope.                                                Your help in buying these or helping us to sell them would be very much appreciated. So if you have any contacts that might be useful such as schools, churches, bookshops or other retail counters which would allow the sale of these phonecards, please contact Serene at 3538071 or admin@bgst.edu.sg. These cards were printed as a fund-raising project and all proceeds go to the ministry of the school.
  • Away from office:                                     Dr Quek will be away for church camp from 11 to 15 June in Malaysia. Do pray for journey mercy. If you need                 to contact him, please do so via email at zion.queksh@pacific.net.sg.                        Kok Weng and Serene will be on leave from 11 to 13 June and 12 to 14 June respectively. If you need any assistance,         please refer to other Library and Admin staff
 

At Chapel last week Kok Weng led in a time of prayer for Taiwan. He shares these points with us:
What comes to your mind when the country Taiwan is mentioned? 
For me, it brings back the memories of: 

  • earthquake and typhoons, 
  • political turmoil, 
  • poorly constructed buildings (with staircase landings that are only 5 inches thick),
  • pollution, 
  • immorality, 
  • corruption, 
  • violence in parliament, 
  • numerous temples, 
  • missionaries, 
  • beautiful mountain ranges
  • and my recent reservist training in the country. 

  •  

     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    These memories are vivid and so I agreed readily to lead in a time of prayer for Taiwan. Some of the items we prayed for were:
     

  • that President Chen Shui-bian would rule wisely with righteousness and justice, 
  • that our SAF soldiers will abstain from the vices prevalent in the country when training there, 
  • for Christian soldiers to stand up to the pressure to conform to peer pressure, 
  • for Hoklo and Hakka groups to be more receptive to the gospel. 
  • for the unity of the church, and 
  • for more labourers in the country.
Our Lord of the harvest reminds us that the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. We are to ask Him to send out workers into his harvest field. (Luke 10:2-3) 

Chapel this week will be led by Dr Philip Satterthwaite in a time of prayer and worship.
 
We wish these who celebrate their birthdays this week God’s richest blessings

Mr Lee Kah Yuk Dennis 12/6 
Ms Heng Pheck Kee Sandra 13/6 
Mr How Choong Seng Ronald 13/6 
Ms Lee Pui Wan Rebecca 14/6 
Dr Quek Swee Hwa 15/6 
Elder Gan Pheng Chye Stephen 17/6 

 



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