God’s Manifold Wisdom in our Ministry Work

Unorthodox KTB

In my teens KTB (the name of our cell groups at IREC Sydney), we frequently end up talking about many random things like how western media has so overtaken the entertainment world that we expect caucasian looking main characters to the adventurous and consuming nature of video games and the craze over the latest Zelda release. At times I am quite concerned if I am doing things right. It is not quite as orthodox as what I had imagined KTB should be like. We don’t sit down and read the Bible verse by verse whilst I wield my exegetical skills to give sense to God’s Word. Yet God’s Word does resound amongst us as we discuss the latest sunday sermon, a good book, or just what we’ve been reading in our daily lives. And God does work amongst us, giving us all spiritual growth in His own mysterious ways.

Likewise, I have many hopes and dreams for RE Generation-Z. Sometimes I imagine that the study centre would boom and turn into a centre brimming with thousands of teens thirsting after God’s Word, eager to study the Bible rigorously and deeply through the abundant lens of reformed theology. Then I would imagine that these teens would be so moved that they would start bringing reformed theology to their friends and church circles, reviving a youth that starts another great awakening from where there would arise many missionaries ready to die on the spear’s edge amongst unreached people groups. Could God do that? In the click of His fingers. But what if that is not the future of this movement? What if God’s ways are not our ways?

God Only Wise

In yesterday’s Sunday Service, we sang a hymn, Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise. That hymn is inspired by Paul’s testimony in 1 Timothy 1:12-17.

I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

If we pause for a moment and wonder at Paul’s story, it is quite odd, if we’re honest. Why in the world would God choose Paul for His ministry work to the Gentiles. First of all, Paul is not a Gentile. Instead, He’s a devout Jew. They have no commonalities. Second, Paul literally persecuted God’s church. He killed Christians. It would take double the effort to convert Him rather than some pew-sitting, Christian-raised teen. Imagine the amount of patience, the amount of hardship to turn such a man around. Yet God did, for no other reason than to show off His wisdom.

Similarly, it is quite unorthodox for God to build His church with sinful people. It is akin to building a grand palace using 100% termite-infested wood. Through some ridiculous process, you would have to mend every single plank of wood before even starting your construction project. God could have destroyed mankind at the flood and started over again with fresh oak timber. But He didn’t. in God’s wisdom He chose broken people to build His church. And all that to show off His “manifold wisdom” to the “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places”. Surprisingly, this was God’s plan from eternity (Eph 3:10-11).

What does Wisdom look like in our Ministry and Spiritual Life?

If God’s purpose is to show if His extraordinary wisdom through our ministry and life (ie. us being the church), how then should we hope, pray and dream for the future of RE Generation-Z? How should we dream about being used by God, about being sent to continue God’s grand kingdom work around the globe?

Firstly, with humility, recognising that this is God’s work not our work.

We love being at the epicentre of all things whether it be from coming up with creative ministry methodologies to running meetings and our own programs. We love being in control, orchestrating our own lives and ministries according to what we think is right. Yet, we have to realise none of this is actually our work. God is the only one drawing people into His kingdom. It is only the Holy Spirit that melts hardened hearts and expands Christ’s kingship in the hearts of His chosen ones. And God does this in ways we don’t expect. Have we ever considered how God is working through ordinary men in Iran — a muslim nation where Christianity is banned — who simply picked up a Bible, started reading it without any commentaries or reformed theological books, got converted and evangelised to hundreds of people on the streets, starting houses churches all without a theological education and quite possibly without a university degree either? We could quite possibly have both and yet no evident fruit in our ministry. That doesn’t disqualify education as a precious blessing and gift to the church. But it does humble us to realise our ways are not God’s ways. And He is going to work in unexpected ways to show off His wisdom to the cosmos for the sake of His glory and praise.

Secondly with listening ears, being open to reason, being gentle and peaceable.

Too often we think our way of doing ministry is the best way. We think we know what will be acceptable to God and effective to further His kingdom. Our pride creates sects even amongst our own local churches where some think one way of evangelising is better than another way. We always think we know best. Yet, God’s ways could unfathomably be the most out-of-the-box thing we know. Some people aren’t converted through gospel preaching or conversation. They’re converted through the a song playing on the radio or a leaflet of paper stuck to a noticeboard. Yes, in their walk of faith they will end up listening or reading to the Word for that is where faith comes from. But we can’t make that happen. The reason they wanted to hear us in the first place has nothing to do with what we said.

I have thought over and over how best we should evangelise and reach the upcoming generation. Yet no one methodology concocted in a man’s mind will ever sprout ministry fruit. Instead, a better way is to listen to one another and those we are serving. A better way is to recognise we don’t know what we are doing, get our hands dirty, and listen to those we want to serve. Each context for ministry will be different. There will be unique challenges and hardships to overcome. We cannot come with a saviour-syndrome that thinks we’ve prophecied all the potential problems. We need an I’m-going-to-wash-your-feet attitude to those we serve.

Wisdom from Above

James 3:17 says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peacable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

Could relating the west’s media power and influence to Christianity’s public impact towards western society in the last five hundred years since the reformation have eternal significance? Could relating the addictive nature of Zelda’s sense of adventure to our innate design as soldiers of Christ built for cosmic war spring divine fruit? Maybe. After all, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Christ was willing to know sin to save us. What are we willing ‘to know’ for the work of God’s kingdom? Let’s be prepared for God to unfold His manifold wisdom in building His church as we humbly serve faithful to what God has called us to do this very day.

The Call of Martyrdom

Bible Reading: John 15:18-27

“If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you…But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:20, 26-27)

What would happen if your life was threatened today because you confessed to following Christ? What would you do? Would you give in and renounce Christ? Or would you face death for your faith? 

Ask yourself what your answer would be. Many of us would like to say yes, but we know our faith is weak. And those who say yes, their words can only be tested at the trial. 

The catch is this. God calls us to be witnesses of His kingdom. The world does not like — in fact, the Bible uses the term, hates — the world hates witness to God’s kingdom. And just as Christ was persecuted, all those who wholeheartedly follow Him will have the same experience if they are integral and true. 

The other catch is this. We should not be afraid; rather, we should trust in God. Christ promised the Helper, who is the Holy Spirit, to be our advocate. He is the Spirit of Truth and will bear true witness about Christ and the truth and hope in Him. On the other hand, we can release responsibility to serve Him. We must bear witness also, and when we do, the Spirit works at His pleasure to open the eyes of the blind to see the Truth we bring. 

In the end, the call of martyrdom boils down again to the basics. It is about simple obedience to God in all aspects of life. It may or may not involve physical death. However, we are called to obey God day by day, following His unfolding plan for our lives. 

If God calls us to be a martyr one day, trust that the Helper will be there to help and strengthen our faith. In the meantime, are we obeying and witnessing Christ in our daily lives? After knowing the surpassing love of Christ and the glory that awaits us, are we able to see the nothingness of persecution compared to the love that Christ brings?

Have you given your heart to obey God and know Him through his world? Are you willing to serve Him with all your days and hours here on earth, even though it is uncomfortable and painful? We cannot serve God and obey His ways unless He seeks us out and gives us faith. Have you laid down your life to live for God in total surrender and reliance on Him?

Lord, I only get to die once. If it is Your will, I would like to be privileged as a martyr. Prepare my heart and strengthen me as the days get more evil. Please help me to learn simple obedience today and start with the small things You have given a charge to me. Apart from Your work, all this is in vain. Do not leave or forsake us. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

The Power of the Cross

Bible Reading: Luke 24:36-49

“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45-47)

What do we celebrate when we celebrate the resurrection of Christ? 

The resurrection of Christ points to the completion of His atoning work on the cross and is the confirmation of the life-giving truth there is in the cross. The symbol of Christianity is not an open grave. Instead, it is the cross. The cross is the focal point of our faith because, on the cross, Christ died as the slain Lamb for our sins so that we could be made right with God. As Jesus resurrected and appeared to His disciples, the power of Christ’s work on the cross is made evident. 

As Jesus spoke to His disciples, He opened their eyes to the scriptures. This was the moment that Jesus’ disciples understood all that Jesus had done and the purpose He came to earth. It was at this moment that they were born again. They saw the truth for what it really was. This is the power of the cross! On the cross, Christ died for our sins so that we who were dead and lost in sin might be able to have life and light. Because Christ died on the cross, His disciples could now believe. Christ opened their minds to see the whole picture of God’s redemptive plan for all His people. 

This is the good news of the gospel. On the cross, Christ died completely for the sins of His people. After three days, Christ arose from the dead, meaning He defeated death and conquered the power of evil. Because of what Christ did on the cross, there is a surety of salvation for you and me. God’s Spirit will indeed work in all of His children that they may come to life because Christ has already died for all God’s children. 

Because of what Christ has done, we have the power to repent. This power is not of our own, but it is the power of the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell with us because Christ has justified us. In the Spirit, there is power for repentance, there is power for a turning from sin to righteousness, and there is a power to obey God and live life as His servant. On the cross, there is the power to know true joy and true satisfaction because there is a power to know God and worship Him. All these things were bought for us because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. 

As Corinthians 1:24 says, “but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God”. Our source of hope and radiance of life flows from the cross of Christ. Truly, all that we ever will need can be found in Him. Have we looked to Him? Have we desired to know Him? 

Jesus arose from the dead to reveal and proclaim the power of the cross. He then charged His disciples to proclaim His gospel’s life-giving truth and redemptive work to all the nations. What is our message, and what is our hope this easter?

Lord, thank You for Your work on the cross. Thank You that from Your sacrifice on the cross, there is life for me. There is nothing I need in this world other than You. In Your cross, there is my hope, my joy, my glory. Thank You that my faith is grounded in the reality of Your dying and rising. Thank You that there are real power and hope in what You have done. Help me love You, know You, and make You known to the ends of the world. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

God’s Sovereignty over Evil’s Best

Psalm 74

“Yet God my King is from old, working salvation in the midst of the earth” (Psalm 74:12)

The more we grow up, the more we see evil powers that reign within this world. As young children, we would have been scared of the dark, concocting for ourselves imagery of satanic creatures that lurked around us in the absence of light. However, as we mature, we will realise, it is not that kind of Satan we must fear. 

In Asaph’s time, the foe or enemy was presented in physical nations who blundered Israel and obliterated their culture, replacing it with pagan worship, vile morality, and detestable sinful lifestyles of the flesh. In lament, Asaph sang, “How long, O God, is the foe to scoff? Is the enemy to revile your name forever?” (Psalm 74:10).

This age, past are the days of physical warfare in common civilian lives; much more in European post-colonial settings such as Australia, where we live now. Justice, peace, and civil rights seem to be the general progression of such societies, and sure, there are many positive benefits. 

Yet, note this. The same Satan who lurked and tempted in the days of Asaph is still here today. He may not entice and attack through physical warfare. However, today’s battles of philosophy in mainstream culture are far heated. As Asaph described, Satan’s works are still relevant today. 

“They profaned the dwelling place of [God’s] name, bringing it to the ground” (Psalm 74:7). “A foolish people revile your Name” (Psalm 74:18). “For the dark places of the land are full of habitations of violence” (Psalm 74:20). 

Through postmodern philosophical agendas, Satan is actively trying to instil the profaning of God’s name and dwelling place. These destroying philosophies that invite a deconstructed or alternate truth are so evidently grounded in those around us, our schools, friend circles, and greater society. Through these, the wicked prevail to reign, gaining power after power. 

As Christians, we ought to conduct ourselves in the manner Asaph did. One thing that God wants us to learn is our nothingness and complete dependence on Him. There is no guarantee we will not fall into one of Satan’s many destructible traps in this age. They are bountiful, and we are weak. 

Apart from Christ, there is no hope for us and our generation. We can strive to be excelling and obedient to all we want. Yet, no one is good enough and strong enough to stand. The times are getting eviller, and it is just a matter of time before we ourselves fall into the pothole of this age. 

What and where is our hope? It is not in our own capability. It is not in any man, religious leader, or pioneer of faith you look up to. All are broken, weak, and prone to fall no matter how big of a spiritual name they receive in this world. And, the reality is, Satan is much bigger, more intelligent, and more diligent than we are. 

Our only hope is in our unchangeable Christ, in knowing that God is sovereign over all things, even evil and destruction in this world. God wants to process us, teach us to cling to him alone, uphold His promises and commands, and put our full trust and identity only in His truth. 

God is our rock and fortress, the “defend[er] of our cause”. Only in Him can we find unshakeable hope and security. Apart from Him, we are nothing. But, God is for His children. He does not forget His covenant with them. He is their King from Old and continues to work out His grand plan of salvation. 

Hope in God. Trust in Him. He will get us through the storms of life and the wars we will have to fight. Cling to Him because He is faithful, trustworthy, and ultimately sovereign over all creatures, restoring all things until that glorious day where God’s Kingdom will be made known in full. 

Lord, in a secular age where worldly philosophies bombard us with ways leading us against You, please help us keep the faith. We are weak and sinners. We cannot stand before You, and there is no way we can fight the evil powers which try to oppose Your name. Please help us and give us discernment. Help us trust in You and You alone. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

The Spirit Who Works

Bible Reading: Acts 10:34-48

“While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:44)

Often after revival meetings and significant moments in our walk of faith, we have an unquenchable zeal to spread God’s Word. This is wonderful, of course. However, we must return to understand the basic concepts of ministry. 

The success of ministry and gospel-sharing has nothing to do with us. It does not matter how eloquent we are or how planned our marketing strategies are. Ministry and the advancement of God’s Kingdom boils down to one thing; the Spirit who works. 

Let’s take a step back to see the whole picture. 

God has a grand plan to restore His sinful world into one that once again worships and glorifies Him. This is not an egotistical goal. It is a wondrous end because God Himself is glorious and worthy of praise; even though our praises cannot add to His glory. On top of that, God knows that our greatest pleasure and contentment comes from glorifying Him and worshipping Him. God loved us so much, and He wanted to give us a second chance at living how He intended we originally lived. 

The crux of God’s plan was to send His only begotten Son to condescend for man to the point of death on a cross, so that man’s sins may be atoned for, and Christ’s righteousness imputed onto believing sinners. This is the good news of God’s plan; God Himself delved into our problem of sin to offer a solution, the only solution that meant the sacrifice of the Son. 

Now, Christ rose again on the third day and appeared to His chosen witnesses. To them, He commanded to bear witness to God’s grand plan of salvation until the ends of the earth. Those who believed in Him would return to God’s Kingdom. In other words, they would return to living the life God had originally intended for man, a life glorifying and enjoying God. 

He also left a promise that He would be coming back, and one day, on His second return, the whole world will be brought under the full Lordship of Christ, and the whole world will have to submit and acknowledge that Christ is the Lord and His ways are right. All who rebelled against Him will be punished as all rightly deserve. However, those who received God’s grace to believe will go and be with God for eternity, worshipping and glorifying Him. In all of this, God will be glorified, and He will accomplish His plan of salvation. 

Here is the thing. All of this is God’s plan. God is working it out bit by bit. It is a marvellous plan, a wondrous plan, and a plan that is beyond our imagination. When we fail to taste and see its goodness, pray that we may behold this glorious vision. 

From age to age, God is continually working through His Spirit to further His Kingdom. The world fails to see, but God is working big things, leading up to the day when He will return. 

Let’s return to the question, where does the success of ministry come from? 

We are not the engineers of God’s plan. We are sinful, broken, selfish human beings who have been given the opportunity of grace and a new life out of God’s lavish love. We are undeserving, unworthy, and unrightfully chosen as God’s people. If God is willing to use us to further His grand plan, it is a great privilege. He could do it much better without us, but He wants us to learn to serve Him and live for Him. 

Our part is simple child-like obedience. It is a humble heart and a willingness always to learn. It is getting up again when we fall, recommitting our hearts to Christ, and humbly learning in His strength to follow Him step by step. Where are you today? 

Lord, thank You for Your grand plan of salvation. Truly Your love is great and marvellous. I want to obey You, Lord, in fear and trembling. I want to submit to Your ways in child-like obedience. Forgive me, God. You know my failures. Please help me to obey You and to serve You faithfully. I surrender all in Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

Back to the Basics

Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

In the Christian walk, it is easy to fall back into Satan’s pits. He will continue to tempt us and hint at our flaws. Satan wants us to believe that we are not good enough for God’s kingdom. Whatever it may be, Satan will say, “see, you did it again. You fell into sin. You’re not holy, you’re not a child of God. God’s children are better than you.”

It is very subtle, yet the more we walk with God, the harder Satan will try to deceive us. What makes it so hard and believable is the fact that Satan is telling the truth. We can’t reject such thoughts. We are sinful. We did fall again into the same sins we want to get out of. We fail God again and again. Satan dangles these mistakes over our heads and makes us stare into our flaws. 

Our solution is not to reject what we did wrong. It is also not to succumb to self-pity because of our apparent failures. Our solution is to turn to God and return to the basics of who He is and what love He has and continues to love us with. Paul reassures the Thessalonians that the one who keeps us holy and blameless to the end is not ourselves. It is the God of peace himself who will sanctify us completely. His sanctification will not fail, and our whole spirit, soul, and body will be kept blameless.

Even though our faith seems to be stagnant and our love for Christ is so dim, He is faithful. He will surely hold us to the end because, in the end, it is not our works that justified us; it was Christ’s blood alone. Our sins and mistakes are washed clean by Christ, and we have been made righteous and blameless in the blood of Christ. This is freeing news. It will unclasp us from the bondage of our guilt. Do not look to self; look to Christ. 

The Christian walk is not one of keeping the law to obtain righteousness. The Christian walk is humbly knowing that Christ has already obtained our righteousness. It is about walking freely in the love of Christ and learning to love Him because He loved us. Know this, that even though our love may fail, His love never fails, and He will pull us back again. We are safe in God’s hands because He is faithful.

The world will say that Christianity is binding. However, it is the complete opposite. Blessed are you if you are in Christ because you are freer than ever. You are holy and justified and able to step in God’s sanctification as He works to renew us completely, keeping us blameless until our perfection when our Lord comes back. 

Lord, thank You for Your love You showed cavalry. Thank You that in You, we who are sinners, are forgiven. Thank You that we don’t need to live up to a standard. Yet, because You first loved us, help us love You and continue to learn of Your love and Your ways. Thank You, God. May Your Spirit continue to work in us to sanctify us and keep us until our perfection when You return. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

Principles on Gospel Sharing

Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4)

Sharing the gospel is not about eloquent convincing or flattery language. Sharing the gospel is not a show that good Christians put on to seek glory from others and fame amongst men. Sharing the gospel at its core is this one thing; obedience to God. 

We are not called to share the gospel out of guilt. We often recognise that Christians must share the gospel, so, seeing ourselves who fail to share the gospel, we share the gospel out of guilt. This is wrong. The gospel is not selfish. The gospel is not for satisfying guilt. The gospel is God’s loving command for us to partake in His wondrous work. We should spread to gospel out of obedience to God. It is not to please man but to please God. In the end, sharing the gospel is not solely for the person who we are evangelising. In the end, it is obedience to our Master. 

How does God call us to obey Him? Paul witnesses, “we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8). There are times when God gives us opportunities to speak the gospel aloud to another person. Other times, we are called to be steadfast in love, to give our own selves to others. How have we sacrificed ourselves to show someone else Christ’s love?

God’s call to evangelism shapes in us a loving heart. As Christ first loved us, now God longs to teach us to love others. He longs to teach us what it means to lay down our lives, deny ourselves, and give our whole life for the sake that others may know Christ. 

For the sake of the gospel, Paul worked night and day, that [he] might not be a burden to any of [the Thessalonians]”. Paul gave all his energy and effort for the sake of the gospel. His heart was set to love wholeheartedly, to give up his time and sweat, so that the Thessalonians could know the gospel. The love of Christ drove him to be gentle and ready to give his whole life to others that they may know the gospel. What has Christ’s love driven us to do?

Lord, thank You for Your love on the cross and the example of Paul, Your servant. I want to obey You and be a minister of Your gospel. I surrender my whole heart to You. I want my whole life, time, and effort to be used up for the sake of Your gospel. Please help me, and shape a gentleness and love for others as You loved me. Keep me and hold me because, without You, I am unfaithful. Thank You, God. In Jesus’ name, amen.  

Hans Sangtoki (18) is the coordinator of RE Generation Z. He has a passion for serving his generation and sharing hope in Christ. He also has an interest in classical music and dreams of conducting an orchestra one day.

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