The word “beatitude” means “heavenly happiness, or happiness of the highest kind” (Chambers). It is from the Greek makarios and is used to describe the man who is blessed by God. For example, the eight beatitudes found in the Lord’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:3–12, cf Luke 6:20–23) speak of the blessed man who possesses the favour of God, ie the Christian who of all people are truly happy, not in the worldly or carnal or material sense, but spiritual, eternal and supernatural sense.
There are not just eight beatitudes, but a total of 24 in the NT. Here is the list:
Pastor will expound on each of the beatitudes at the Friday night prayer meetings. Blessed is the studious and prayerful Christian. JK
GRANDFATHER OF BIBLE-PRESBYTERIANS
The Rev Dr Timothy Tow who was the founding pastor of the Bible-Presbyterian Church in Singapore called the famous Scottish missionary William Chalmers Burns the “grandfather of Bible-Presbyterians”. How did he become our denominational “grandfather”? It is good for us to review our B-P heritage and see how God worked in history to save His people from Sinim (ie the land of the Far East, namely China, cf Isa 49:12) lest we forget.
Burns was born into a godly Christian home on April 1, 1815. His father was a pastor in Kilsyth—a little town near Glasgow in Scotland. He was brought up in the Christian way at home and in church. Burns grew up with an outdoor spirit and wanted to be a farmer. But his lawyer uncle Alexander Burns, noticing the intellectual potential of the young lad, sponsored his studies at the Aberdeen Grammar School when he reached 13 years of age. There Burns excelled in his studies, and upon completion went to Aberdeen University where he was a straight-A student.
After graduation from Aberdeen University, he aspired to be a lawyer because of the high pay and fine houses lawyers enjoyed. He went to Edinburgh to become a qualified lawyer under the pupillage of his lawyer uncle. But God had even nobler plans for him. “Man’s goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” (Prov 20:24). It so happened in God’s providence that His college certificates did not reach the law office on time and so his licensing was delayed. He could not start work. So, instead of whiling his time away, he decided to return home to Kilsyth. On his way back, the Lord spoke to him and he decided to give up on law to study theology so as to be a minister of the gospel.
What caused this change? Burns himself testified in his memoirs, “The means by which my change of heart was brought about were these, I think—my father’s preaching; the fear of sudden death from cholera, an epidemic which was then claiming many lives, one of my uncles among them; a letter from my sisters at home in which they spoke of themselves as pilgrims going to Zion and leaving me behind. I could think of parting with Christ without pain for as yet I knew him not, but to part from my godly parents and happy home forever was too much for me to bear. In this way I was prepared. God apprehended me. In my bedroom I poured out my heart for the first time with tears and a cry for mercy. In the same instant I felt I must leave my present occupation and devote myself to Jesus Christ in the ministry of the glorious Gospel by which I had been saved.”
Upon completing his theological studies in Glasgow, he became a preacher in a number of churches including the church of the famed Robert Murray McCheyne in Dundee. The Lord blessed his preaching ministry and many got saved in Scotland, Northern England, Ireland and Canada.
After eight years of preaching ministry, the Lord opened the door for him to go to China as a missionary of the English Presbyterian Church. In 1856, he visited Swatow (Teochew speaking) with Hudson Taylor (founder of the OMF). Swatow was the hometown of the Tow clan. Many got saved in Swatow and not only in Swatow but also in Amoy (Hokkien speaking).
The first convert in Swatow was Rev Timothy Tow’s maternal great-grandfather—Tan Khai Lin—in 1859. He was also the first to be ordained a pastor in 1882. The Teochew and Hokkien converts later migrated to Malaysia and Singapore. The emigration of their converts led the English Presbyterian Mission (EPM) to establish churches in those countries. The EPM set up its HQ at 11 Gilstead Road (today Morimasa Gardens, just next to Life BPC/FEBC). The EPM later ordained Tow’s paternal great-grandfather—Tow Khi Hien—as a minister and he became one of the early pastors of Glory Presbyterian Church—the oldest Chinese church in Singapore.
The EPM also established Life Church at Prinsep Street (Say Mia Tng) which was Teochew speaking. Later, in 1950, under Rev Timothy Tow, the English speaking congregation came out of Life Church to form Life Bible-Presbyterian Church to take a stand for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ against the apostasy and ecumenism of the World Council of Churches (WCC) of which the Presbyterian Church was a member.
Thank God for missionaries like William Chalmers Burns who brought the gospel to our Chinese forefathers. How we need more of such men today! Will you answer God’s call? “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” (Isa 6:8). JK
For further reading, see Timothy Tow, William C Burns: Grandfather of Bible-Presbyterians (Singapore: Christian Life Publishers, 1994).
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