We may or may not know each other. We may or may not have a common faith. If you don’t have a common faith, I invite you to know the good news.
Or you may be a seasoned Christian, a person who left church for a while and want to come back, or you may be in town visiting a relative. Either way, listen to what the Bible says:
Paul says that we have to taste it to know that. The Bible is where we find God’s will. Living according to Biblical truths is the way to go. However, it is an acquired taste.
But there is one thing that is of key importance that I want to tell you.
As pastors our key duty is to preach the word. When I first arrive to Shepherd the people at Bethany, I was told that we have 170 members. The leaders told me that we are a small church. You see I spent most of my time in churches that were no bigger than 70. So to me this isn’t too small.
Of course, to me the size of the church matters less than the substance of the church. Quality precedes quantity. But nevertheless we are people of the Great Commission and we take that seriously. As Christians we are called to make disciples of men to be fishers of man.
As part of the process of making disciples we are told to “GO”. It’s all about initiative. We are called to “BAPTIZE” disciples as a public declaration that they trust in Jesus and are willing to commit to Him.
We are also commanded to be “TEACHING”. And look, there is a specific. It doesn’t say, “teach them to follow your cultural norms” or “teach them to be civic minded” or “be moral.” It says, “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Disciples are those who are followers of Christ not just mere onlookers of His teachings. Those who disciple will surely be teachers to others so that they may follow Christ.
To observe is to learn attentively for the sake of following. The word literally means “keep”. So Jesus says those who make disciples must teach their disciples to keep all that Jesus commanded. One bible teacher summarizes this passage clearly, “To be a disciple is to obey Jesus’ teaching. ”
That’s what it is. To be disciples we must be equipped. That is why God gave us Scripture.
Scripture is “breathed out”. It is God’s speech to us. It is there for a purpose. It says, “that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” In other words, without Scripture, a man is simply not fit to be what God has made Him to do and he cannot be equipped.
That is why here at Bethany we believe that preaching and teaching is of utmost importance in the life and the growth of the church. As pastor, it is my job to make it clear. Without Scripture we are inadequate. Without a deep understanding of Scripture we will have but shallow faith. Scripture arms us with what we need now and what we need in the future. It’s equipping. It shows us why God created us and how He wants us to live.
The Bible is a library of 66 Books and several authors. It is made up of poetry, letters, narratives, covenants and more. Here at Bethany we commit to expository preaching. Expository preaching commits to what God says in each segment of the Bible and how it is said. We don’t pick out ideas and verses that we like or verses that we think are necessary and then skip the rest. We go from the first verse to the last verse of each document. We explain what it says and draw out the life-changing principles within.
The Bible may be an old book but it is not an obsolete book. Human beings are still human beings even though culture may change. The God of ancient civilizations is the same God of the modern globalized world and He will still be the same God of a technologically advanced future.
So we believe that God is the centre of our worship service. We let His words dominate our thinking, feelings and practice. We strive to listen to everything that He is saying, not just the things we prefer that he will say. Saint Augustine a pastor in the 3rd century AD was absolutely right to say,
Expository preaching should also be theological preaching. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What He is back then is the same as what He is now. HOW he does things changed but WHY He does things never changed.
There are themes in the bible like the final resurrection of all believers, redemption by blood atonement, justification by faith alone, corruption of mankind and the creation of the universe that are applicable in ancient times and certainly also applicable today. And we want to get that right. These concepts are binding for today as they are to the people of Bible times.
Theology is not to expand knowledge in order that a Christian might be proud and boastful. The word “theology” scares people. It gives people the sense that we are “high and mighty” or that we might “puffed up”. Theology may be part of the name of a seminary degree or diploma but it’s not just that. It’s not just for seminaries and pastors, it is for every Christian. Theology is simply knowing God.
And if you know Him you will obey Him and live for Him. But people have to know HOW to live for Him. So we want to show you that the text being preached is simply part of the big picture that is the whole Bible. And that it is saying the same things as other parts of the Bible. So we’ve got to be thoughtful and think thoroughly on what the Bible says about different issues in life. The words make us think and think hard. It penetrates all areas of our lives.
Knowing these concepts help believers to be better equipped in the public square, workplace, school or the home. It helps them to be wise in relationships and managing life and possessions in a way that pleases God. It shows them what they should work towards and what they should become.
We are all called to be walking in a manner worthy of God. That can only come when the words of God transforms us. God puts more love in our heart. (see also Phil 4:9, 1 Tim 1:5). Love is a supernatural element God puts in us. Without love within we can’t love without. Yet the greatest commandment is to love God and to love our neighbors (which includes our enemies).
We desire God to do a mighty work through the word of God. The word that changes our minds and hearts to worship Him from deep within.
So we emphasize preaching and teaching of Scriptures. Through it, we are transformed in our thoughts and how we view the world. Only then can we acquire the taste that we can say and approve that God’s will is good, acceptable and perfect.
So I hope to see you there, as you join us for this weekly treat as we feast upon His word and fellowship with Him and His children.
Sherman Malachi Tjiong is currently the English Congregation Pastor of Bethany Evangelical Free Church. He was called to ministry in 1999.
Prior to his appointment as pastor of Bethany EFC he was “tentmaking” by running his own event company that specializes in balloon decorations and marketing support for corporate clients and party planning for families, while serving in itinerant ministries in preaching and teaching. Sherman has been in the events, entertainment and hospitality industry since 1993.
He has a great passion to seek God’s glory by the careful study of Scriptures. He graduated with a Bachelor of Theology in a local school in 2007. His teachers and mentors were missionaries and local pastors who held Masters and Ph.Ds from Bob Jones University.
Sherman and his wife Celia had been founding members of 2 church planting ministries over the last 16 years. Besides teaching and preaching, he has led worship and the music ministry and shepherded youths and young adults.
He has a heart for evangelism, discipleship and heavy desire to teach people the deep truths of Scripture in order to impact His life. His current main focus are the young adults in the church. He hopes to build a vibrant, affectionate, resurrection driven, obviously loving and God glorifying ministry. His desire is still to plant churches.