BIBLICAL GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY
|Issue No. 04||25 - 31 Jan 2010|
|A Reflection on the Book of Acts||by Marcus Mok|
Courage in the Face of Rage
I thought Singaporean Christianity is in peril. We feel the rampage of militant New Atheism, with its books storming our bookstores and influencing the minds of our thinkers. We face pressures from pro-homosexual activists in their advocacy of positions on sexuality which are contrary to Christian belief and practice. Christian evangelism has its sensitivities within the multi-religious context of Singapore. Personally, I have experienced deep hurt from people who ridicule our faith. These things affect my morale and confidence in the gospel, as I struggle with a profound sense of discouragement and powerlessness.
This is why I find Acts highly relevant to my needs and struggles. When the early church prayed Psalm 2, “Why did the Gentiles rage, and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves…against the Lord and against his Anointed” (4:25-26), I could see the parallel with today’s non-Christian antagonism. Throughout Acts the gospel consistently met resistance from strict Pharisees, liberal Sadducees and pious Jews, superstitious pagans, suspicious Romans and philosophically-conceited Greeks. Each time the gospel seemed to make in-roads into a city, somewhere, someone would somehow stir up opposition against it. Sometimes it was based on ignorance or misunderstanding, as with the crowd at Lystra (14:8-19); more often it was driven by pure rage against the counter-cultural implications of the gospel, as with the idol-makers’ riot at Ephesus (19:21-41).
Why such hatred towards the gospel? And why such courage in those who proclaimed it? The first question was partially answered in the end when Luke cited Isaiah, that they will hear but never understand because their heart has grown dull and their eyes are closed (8:26-27). The problem does not lie with the message: in Acts the apostles presented it as clearly and factually as possible. The problem lies with the hearts of the recipients. And if this same predisposed enmity against God still persists today, why should we expect evangelism to be any easier for our present context?
It is the second question that should invite further contemplation. The undaunted courage of the apostles challenged my lethargy in evangelism: if I truly believe the gospel to be real and its message urgent, what is holding me back from proclaiming it? If the Holy Spirit could produce in them such fearlessness in the face of violent opposition, will He not empower me as well? Even as it helps us understand the rage of the nations, the book of Acts also comforts us by showing how our Lord understands our pain in persecution as well. The same Lord who stood by Paul (23:11) will also stand by me. The secret to their courage lies in the power of the gospel, which shall prevail even against the gates of hell. Acts demonstrated that this was possible, it will continue to be possible in the church and in our individual lives as well.
Lord, grant us courage not to fear the rage of the nations, because the gospel of Your kingdom will ultimately triumph.
(Marcus is currently working as a teacher in a local junior college, teaching Chinese language and Project Work. He and his wife Wee Ling worship in Truth Baptist Church and he is currently serving in the pulpit interpretation ministry. Marcus was active in the youth ministry before he stepped down this year in order to focus on parenting their new baby girl, Qin En.)
We would like to draw your attention to three courses which are due to begin next week:
‘The Lamb, the Dragon and the Holy City: A Study of the Book of Revelation’ (NT 363), to be taught by Mr Quek Tze Ming
‘The Gospel of Isaiah (Isa. 40–55)’ (OT 363), to be taught by Dr Augustine Pagolu
‘Preaching Old Testament Texts’ (OT 252), to be taught by Dr Philip Satterthwaite
We encourage you to sign up for one of these three courses. Please contact Admin for further details, or consult the following link at the BGST web site: http://www.bgst.edu.sg/mainsite/index.php
|Courses commencing in Term 3 & 4, 2009-2010|
|Pastor Edmund Koh (Assistant Pastor, Fairfield Methodist Church) will be our Chapel speaker on 3rd Feb. Chapel begins at 12pm every Wednesday. You are welcome to join us.|
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