The Apostle Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus was a momentous event in his life, and in the shape and history of early Christianity. After he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, Paul’s mind must have been swirling with many thoughts. I wish to focus on one aspect of his thinking: his idea of “time.”
Let’s consider first what didn’t change in Paul’s thinking. Paul continued to be a devout believer in the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was convinced that the God of Israel is in fact the only God, the Lord of the whole world. And, as a faithful reader of the Scriptures of Israel, he knew that God’s commitment to Israel is part of His saving concern for all nations. Israel was chosen by God to be a special people, not for her own sake, but for the sake of the nations (Gen 12.3; Exod 19.5-6). Israel was to show all the nations who the Lord is, and the benefits of living under His rule. Like other Jews, Paul believed that in the last days, the nations will abandon their false gods and stream to worship the Lord (Isa 2). They will seek the righteous rule of God’s Messiah (Isa 11). Like other Pharisees, Paul believed these last days would culminate in the final resurrection of the righteous (Dan 12.2-3).
When Paul encountered the risen Jesus, he did not change these beliefs. What he did change was his view of where he stood in time. Before he met Jesus, if you had asked Paul “What time is it?” he would have said he was awaiting God’s Messiah, the resurrection, and the last days.
But after he met Jesus, Paul would give a different answer. His Jewish mind, filled with Scripture, made several connections. First, Jesus is indeed Messiah and Lord, now ruling in heaven (Acts 9.5; Eph 1.20). Secondly, Jesus is risen from the dead, the firstfruits for the resurrection of all people (1 Cor 15.20). Thirdly, if Messiah is now ruling, and the resurrection has started, then clearly the last days have begun.
“What time is it?” For Paul, it is the last days. And if it is the last days, then it is now time for the nations of the earth to come and worship the God of Israel. That is why Paul says, “now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor 6.2, ESV). Furthermore, Paul was personally sent by Jesus to the nations to facilitate this, “to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God ...” (Acts 26.17-18, ESV).
Paul derived this train of thought from his Jewish heritage and Scripture. That is why it is no contradiction for the “apostle to the nations” (Rom 11.13; Gal 2.7-8) to say that his “heart’s desire and prayer to God” is that Israel may be saved (Rom 10.1). If now is the time for the nations to call on the name of Israel’s Messiah and Lord, then all the more should Israel turn to her Messiah and her God. God’s plan all along was to save both Jew and non-Jew on the basis of trusting in Jesus. That is Paul’s passion.
“What time is it?” How will we answer this question? Perhaps, since we are still in the traditional period of 15 days, we can say “It is Chinese New Year.” Or maybe, like Paul, we should also say, “It is the day of salvation.” During this festive period, let’s think of how we can proclaim Jesus to those who are nearest, our relatives – our “Israel.” In this way, we can imitate Paul and say too, that “our heart’s desire and passion” is also for those from our own family. ‘For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”’ (Rom 10.13. ESV).
Dr Satterthwaite continued his series on Isaiah 56–66 with an exposition of cc. 61–62. These chapters can be seen as a series of five responses to the great promises of Zion’s restoration in c. 60. In the light of these promises the prophet: (i) commits himself to preaching the message of restoration (61:1–9); (ii) rejoices in anticipation of what God will bring about (61:10–11); (iii) insists that he will give God no rest until he has done as he has promised (62:1–5); (iv) appoints ‘prayer warriors’ who will cry out to God along with him (62:6–9); (v) commands the people to prepare a way into Jerusalem for further exiles who will soon return home (62:10–12). The promise of Zion’s restoration undergoes considerable transformation when we trace the idea forward into the New Testament. Nonetheless, Isaiah 61–62 can be seen as a call to persistence on the part of Christians: persistence in faith, continuing to trust God even when we cannot see many signs of his working; persistence in prayer that God will bring about what he has promised; persistence in good works that will bring glory to God and attract men and women to Christ.
On 16th February Dr Satterthwaite will be speaking on Ephesians 4.
Dr Satterthwaite’s chapel sermons may be accessed through the BGST website (http://bgst.edu.sg/audio-resources/chapel-messages).
Dr Lai Pak Wah will be our speaker for chapel on 23 February 2011. Chapel begins at 12 pm. You are welcome to join us.
|Update on Dr Quek
For real time update, you may visit the web link: http://bgst.edu.sg/201-update-on-dr-queks-hip-replacement-surgery
BGST Office & Library will be closed on 16 March 2011 (Wed) for BGST Work Plan Seminar. We will resume normal operating hours on 17 March.
|Students and Alumni News
Master of Christian Studies
Mr Yong Teck Meng (Alumnus, Grad DipCS, 1998) is the Pastor of Reformed Evangelical Church Singapore.
Master of Arts in Education for Spiritual Formation
Mr Peter Lim (Alumnus, Grad DipCS ,2005, MCS, 2006) is a member of Prinsep Street Presbyterian Church.
Master of Divinity
Mr Daniel Teo Soon Ann will be graduating with MCS in May, 2011 and continuing with the MDiv programme. He is a Pastor of Yishun Christian Church (Anglican).
Calling All BGST Students and Alumni for Inter-College Games Day 2011!
Date: 4th March 2011 (Friday)
Time: From 2pm
Venue: High Point Community Services Association, Address: No. 1, Lorong 23, Geylang. Singapore 388352.
Event: The Inter-College Games Day is an event that is jointly organized by students from various theological colleges in Singapore to encourage interaction among theological students. To date, participating colleges include the Singapore Bible College, Trinity Theological College, East Asia School of Theology, and the Baptist Theological Seminary. BGST is keen to send a team to participate in this year’s event. Our school’s Students and Alumni Network (SANE) is currently gathering a list of participants. This list will need to be submitted to the organizing committee for the event by 16th February 2011. Please do consider representing the school and spending an afternoon of fun, games, and fellowship at the above event.
Registration Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ms Koh May Fern).
The BGST family extends its deepest condolences to Mr. Seow Teow Seng (Grad Dip ECF student) and family, on the home-going of his beloved brother Mr. John Seow Teow Han on Feb 13, 2011. Please pray for Teow Seng and the family in this time of bereavement.
Discerning God’s Will: Biblical Principles of Christian Decision-making (AT353, 1.5cr);
Feb 21, 28, Mar 14, 21, 28; (Mon 7.15-9.45pm)
Venue: Zion Bishan BP Church, 4 Bishan St 13
Lecturer: Dr Tan Soo-Inn
COUNSELLING & APPLIED THEOLOGY
*The Counsellor’s Skills: Developing Micro-Skills in Counselling (CO213, 3cr);
Mar 2 (New Commencement Date), 9, 16, 23, 30, Apr 6, 13, 20, 27, May 4;
Venue: Clarus Centre
Lecturer: Mr Yam Keng Mun
Reading Revelation Ethically: the last word on Empire, Economics, Ecology (NT364, 3cr);
Mar 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, Apr 5, 12, 19, 26, May 3;
Venue: Telok Ayer CMC, 235 Telok Ayer Street
Lecturer: Mr Quek Tze-Ming (PhD candidate, Uni of Cambridge)
Interpreting Ezekiel (OT367, 1.5cr);(Group Tutorial)
by Dr Daniel Block / Tutor: Mr Andrew Lee (PhD candidate, Uni of Gloucester);
Mar 4, 11, 18, 25; (Fri 7.30-9.30pm)
Venue: Prinsep St Presbyterian Church, 77 Prinsep Street
MISSION & EVANGELISM
Introduction to Evangelism & World Mission
Mar 5 &12 (Sat 10am - 1pm, 2 - 5pm),
Mar 4, 7, 10, 11; 7.15-10.15pm
Venue: Clarus Centre
Lecturer: Dr Tan Kang San [Required for MDiv]
*Courses marked with an asterisk are not offered on audit basis.
For more information on our courses please visit our website: http://bgst.edu.sg/courses-and-events