BIBLICAL GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY

Issue No. 41

27 October - 2 November 2008

REFLECTIONS

In my New Testament Foundations I (NT101) class, besides other assignments, each student is asked to read through each book (four Gospels and Acts) preferably at one sitting or two and write his/her reflection on what God is saying to him and to the church today as a result of reading afresh the particular book. The following is what Joseph Chia wrote on the Gospel of Matthew. Joseph works for Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd as a Director and currently worships at Hebron Bible Presbyterian Church. Next week, another student will share his reading report on the Gospel of Mark.
(Dr Lee)

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My reflections are on two mega themes that thread through Matthew.
Jesus is the Christ who Fulfills OT Promises and Prophecies
Matthew starts with a genealogy of Jesus that traces Jesus’ ancestry from Abraham to David and then from David to Joseph, who was the husband of Mary. His purpose is to demonstrate that Jesus is the ultimate fulfiller of God’s promises made to Abraham and David. In Genesis 12:3, God promised Abraham that through him, God will bless all peoples on earth. At the close of Matthew’s Gospel, the resurrected Jesus, who is Abraham’s far descendent, was commissioning His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations (28:19), thus bringing God’s blessings to all peoples on earth. Similarly, Jesus fulfilled God’s promise that David’s kingdom would be an everlasting one (cf. 2 Sam 7:16) when He declared that “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me … and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (28:18, 20). This is truly the one “who is called Christ” (1:16), the Messianic-King!

Throughout the Gospel, Matthew takes pain to point out the fulfillment of OT prophecies in relation to the narrated events (see 1:22-23; 2:5-6, 2:15; 2:17-18, 3:3, 4:14-16, 8:17; 12:17-21, 13:14-15; 13:35, 21:4-5; 21:16). Matthew’s primary aim is to ascertain that Jesus is indeed the long-awaited Christ who fulfilled the prophecies as recorded in the OT. This ties in with Jesus’ own declaration that he had come not to abolish the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill them (5:17).

Personally, this is very faith-heartening to know that God is a promise-keeping God throughout the history of time and as such His promises in the Bible are reliable for me even today! It is also very faith-assuring to know that Jesus is the authentic Messiah and that my faith has objective evidence in both the OT and NT. Moreover, the fulfillment of OT promises and prophecies in Jesus serve as good apologetics for those who are willing to investigate Christianity sincerely. We do have a credible Gospel to share with confidence and we should not shy away from leading others to investigate that Jesus is the genuine Messiah. This is where the Church needs to equip the members to share the glorious Gospel as Matthew does with understanding of how OT prophecies and promises are being fulfilled in Jesus! Sometimes in the name of simplification, we over-simplify our evangelistic presentations (reducing to a few laws or a few steps) so that this continuity from Abraham’s time (Gen 12:3) to Jesus (1:16) to ours (28:18-20) is not fully appreciated!

On Hypocrisy and Righteousness
Another recurring theme throughout Matthew is that of living a hypocritical religious life rather than in true righteousness. Jesus has openly chided religious leaders and followers who merely want to impress others with their external acts of spirituality – e.g. in charitable giving (6:1-2), in public prayers (6:5, 7), in fasting (6:16), in obeying human traditions (15:1-6), in gathering followers (23:15), in oath taking (23:16-20) and in tithing (23:23). His charges are aimed predominantly at the Pharisees whom he described as whitewashed tombs (23:27) who “appear to people as righteous but on the inside … are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (23:28). Such hypocrites will be condemned to hell (23:33)! This is somber warning indeed for all of us (besides the Pharisees). It is easy to fall prey to external piety that looks spiritual but lacks the real relationship with God. Am I doing all the “right” things – like going church on Sundays, attending Bible StudyJoseph Chia group, turning up at prayer meetings, signing up for Bible seminars, etc. and yet missing true righteousness that is found in God alone (6:33)? Jesus said, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (5:20).

INTRODUCING BGST
Council members ...
Deputy Chairman

Mrs Low Bee HongMrs Low Bee Hong was Treasurer in 1998/9 and a returned Council member since. She was Deputy Chairman to Dr Toh See Kiat before he left for his theological studies.

Bee Hong graduated with an accounting degree from the then Singapore University (now known as NUS) but never worked as an accountant. Her experience is largely in the Finance and banking area, having worked more than 20 years in total with a large local bank and 2 foreign banks. Presently she is on the management team in a food-related company and has been in the service of this food company since 2003. With her working experience, Bee Hong feels that her contribution lies in the area of stewardship of funds of BGST.

Presently, Bee Hong heads the Facilities & Building committee. One of the responsibilities of the committee is to source for an alternative site for the school. Thus far, a site has been identified, on a rental basis but there are still hurdles to cross.

Married to Choon Peow, the family includes two adult children who are also worshiping in Zion BP Church. Bee Hong has been a member of Zion BP church since 1974.

Announcements

Date for Convocation 2009: Next year’s Annual Convocation and Thanksgiving Service will be held on Saturday 30 May 2009, which is a month earlier in the year than the Convocation for 2008. BGST Faculty Board has taken this decision in order to avoid a clash with the BGST Pastors’ Conference, which will be held between 29 June and 2 July 2009.

Those who are intending to graduate at the 2009 Convocation should aim to complete all the necessary courses and submit all their assignments by 15 April 2009. If you will find it difficult to meet this revised deadline, which may well be earlier than you were expecting, please contact your Faculty Advisor as soon as possible in order to discuss the matter. We will try to do what we can to help you. (Philip Satterthwaite, Acting Principal)

Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies: Mr Tan Huai Tze worships at the Covenant Evangelical Free Church and serves actively as a Lay Leader in the Bible Study and Mentoring ministry. He is a Civil Servant and a Graduate of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London.

Alumni Update: We have received the Autumn newsletter from Daniel (Grad Dip CS, 2007) and Joy Lau from Japan. He writes: "Samuku natte kimashita ne! (It has become cooler!) Last summer, our friends gave us incredulous looks when we told them we were back in Singapore partly to escape the heat in Tokyo! Autumn has arrived and temperatures have cooled down to a nice 20 degrees. This is by far our favourite time of the year because of its Autumn foliage." You can read more of their life and ministry at http://www.bgst.edu.sg/
alumni/daniel_lau/2008_autumn.pdf

New Arrival: Many congratulations to Khamh Cung Nung (MTh student) and his wife for the safe arrival of their daughter Joy Sui Tha Chin (a local name meaning more precious than gold). She was born on Wednesday 8 October 2008 at 8am (local time) in Yangon at Dagon Clinic. Her weight is 7 pounds. Thank God that both the mother and the baby are healthy and strong.

Weekly Highlights

Chapel Summary: Last week's chapel was led by Dr Philip Satterthwaite, our Acting Principal, and he gave the first installment of his five sermon series on the Book of Leviticus. He spoke on the burnt offering from  Chapter 1. Since the meaning of the burnt offering not explained in the Bible, he expounded for us the various symbolism attached to it in each step. He emphasized that unlike other offerings mentioned in Leviticus, in the case of the burnt offering the whole animal is given to God, a clear of total commitment to God by the individual who offers sacrifice. We do no longer offer any sacrifice mentioned in the OT, but what would be the equivalent of the burnt offering in today's context? Dr Satterthwaite suggested a few and ended his message with a searching question. How are we to express our commitment to God? How are we going to apply the picture of Leviticus 1 in our lives? (Dr Lee)

Chapel This Week: Rev George Barathan, of OM Singapore, will be our chapel speaker on 29 Oct. Dr Satterthwaite’s second sermon on Leviticus (in a series of five) will continue next week.

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Email : bgst@pacific.net.sg
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