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(Ring Pastor Jeffrey Khoo 62561189 Anytime)
|“The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep SILENCE before him.”|
We are grateful to the Lord for another successful pilgrimage, FEBC’s 4th to see and to study the biblical sites in Asia Minor (Turkey), Greece, and Rome, 19–31 May 2019. Students earn two credits when they submit a research project after the trip. We thank the Lord for journey mercies as we travelled by air, land, and sea. Despite forecast of rain in various places, the Lord gave us dry weather when we were out; the sky opened only when we were indoors or back in the hotel. The Lord’s good hand was upon us for which we are thankful.
There are many biblical, historical and spiritual lessons to share, but allow me just to highlight one—the contrast between the true and the false in Cappadocia and Rome respectively.
In Cappadocia we learned about how the early Christians were persecuted and had to hide in the caves. We went into one of them—the Kaymakli Underground City which is a labyrinth of caverns and tunnels dating back to the days of the Hittites and later used by the Christians to hide from their persecutors. In these caves there were not only living and dining quarters, but also chapels. Those early Christians true to their faith, believed and worshipped only the living and true God, even Jesus Christ their Lord and Saviour. They would not deny their faith by joining the imperial cult and worshipping Caesar. The faith of such faithful Christians is lauded in the book of Hebrews, “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,… They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Heb 11:33, 37, 38). This is true Christianity—believers whose faith were tried and tested to the extreme, and coming forth as gold for “they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Rev 12:11).
How many of us who profess faith in Christ will still confess faith when temptations and tribulations, persecution and prosecution, trials and testings come? Heed the words of the Lord, “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:17–20).
The Apostle Peter, who was martyred under the emperor Nero, exhorted, “But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” (1 Pet 3:14–16).
Nero burned Rome and blamed the Christians. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal 6:7). God the righteous Judge will avenge the blood of His children, and judge the wicked. The wicked will burn in the lake of fire on judgement day and “be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Rev 20:10).
Cappadocia produced three outstanding church fathers, namely Basil of Kayseri, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus. These three Cappadocian fathers defended the full deity and full humanity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity against the Arian and Apollinarian heretics who sought to destroy the Gospel of Christ. Without fear or favour, they earnestly contended for the unchanging and unchangeable Word of God (Jude 3). Do we find such faith and faithfulness today? No, but rather a whole lot of doctrinal corruption and compromise not only in liberal or modernistic churches but also in so-called “evangelical” and “fundamental” ones. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron”. (1 Tim 4:1–2).
Such an apostasy is clearly seen in Rome. We saw the prosperous and pompous Basilica of the Vatican named after the Apostle Peter. The Roman Catholic Church with its false Christianity of venerating and trusting in saints and relics (and not in Christ alone), of performing dead works through superstitious rituals and traditions (and not by grace through faith alone), of subjecting itself to the power and authority of the pope and magisterium (instead of the sole, supreme and final authority of the divinely inspired and preserved Scriptures) is a church Peter would never have approved, much less recognise. Peter in Acts 3:6 said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” Peter had no silver, no gold, but he had Christ. St Peter’s Basilica can boast of all its gold and silver but it has no Christ.
Rome the city is today full of thieves and robbers—pickpockets at every corner. One of our pilgrims, on our very first outing, fell victim; even our tour agent was not spared. Can we say, “like city, like church”? Rome is doctrinally and morally corrupt. Thinking of a holiday in Rome? Think again! JK
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