Little Outpost of Glory

Even though the church is in a mess, fallen world, yet when gathered as a congregation, it is a little outpost of glory. It is a foretaste of eternity; a tiny glimpse of what heaven is like.—Ligon Duncan.

I read this in my Worship Class today, and it resonated something within me. Perhaps it’s the longing to see the little community separate from the corrupted world today as we see, somewhere else out there. And that little community of God in Christ is captured so well in the term, “A little Outpost of Glory”.

First, it’s an outpost.

It’s not in the mainstream of society where so much twitter bombs, corruption fire breathing down from the Biden administration pushing for codifying abortion laws at the eve of what could be the overturn of Roe V Wade in Supreme Court. All these begin to make your heads spin on what’s going on, in a Christianized country in so many ways, the president of such is actually not just pushing abortion, but also wanting to codify it, meaning putting into laws. Apparently there are only 4 countries in the world today who practice such extreme abortion legislations, and they are, it may shock you, N Korea, China. ..and some extreme nation. Just to see the supposedly the crown jewel of the beacon of liberty nation, USA, being lumped into the same category with N Korea, is something just revolting, nauseating. Okay, there are much more going on. Biden administration will fund all kinds of abortion, sexual transgenderism for people and even young kids with tax dollars, something of an abomination to the God of the Bible. If that doesn’t incur the wrath of God, I don’t know what will. That’s why running away from all these corruption for the mind and soul looks very refreshing and energizing and promising. It’s what Augustine called semi monastic living. He withdrew with some of his friends from the corrupted world at that time, and began to dedicate themselves to God, praying, and worshipping God, and also reading and writing theology books that eventually changed the world. A recent book that came out few years ago called “The Benedict Option” also sounds very appealing along this line. Benedict is essentially the monk in the AD 480 who was disillusioned with life . The Benedictine Order is named after its founder, St Benedict, who was born in Nursia, near Spoleto, in Italy, around 480 AD. While in his late teens he was sent to study in Rome, but dissatisfied by the life he found there, he decided to turn away from a worldly existence to seek and serve God. Instead of seeking worshipping God in solitude, many came and joined him and he taught them to live in community to worship and serve God. [1]

Second, it’s an outpost of glory.

Not just being tucked away from the hustle and bustle of life with the currents of corruption and sin’s deceitfulness, it’s an outpost far away from all these, and it’s a community or outpost of glory. Its glorious. Its only glorious because it connected with the God of heaven and heaven. Like Peter and John and James witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus , when Jesus was transfigured.

Matthew 17:1–3 (NIV) After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter, James and John saw with their eyes the face of Jesus shone like the sun and his clothing was white as the light. Jesus’ face shone like the sun…that would have blinded anyone looking into that! That shows how much glory is Jesus when he is transformed or transfigured to His original divine form. At that time, Jesus was appearing and talking with the disciples as a man with his divinity tucked at the back, and within those moments, He revealed his glory on his face. Wow! That’s the glory of God. Compare that with the corruption of the world today. 2 Peter 2:17–19 (NIV)

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

The glory of Jesus! The corruption of the world.

Its glorious because we saw the glory of God. Henceforth we are transformed by the glory of Christ! Real transformation happens when we behold the glory and beauty of Christ in our souls and spirits. Nothing will be comparable to such glorious moments and revelations of Christ.

That outpost of glory can only happen, when Acts 2 the outpouring of the Spirit of God happened, i.e. revival happens. When that happens, we will have the outpost of glory on earth.

Sooner than later, that outpost of glory will become the main city square of glory. We will have the city back.

Like Augustine calls it, “The City of God”.

Foretaste of Heaven

The little outpost, under the power of the power of the Holy Spirit, and the power of our Christ’s redemption, will become the highest mountain.

Isaiah 2:1–3 (NIV) This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:  In the last days

the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains;

it will be exalted above the hills,and all nations will stream to it.Many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob.He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.”The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

We are all looking to the day this promise of God will become reality, and doubtlessly,

this will be the time of consummation, i.e. Christ return. The promise is for us. We are tasting beforehand the beauty and glory of the heaven that’s coming. If the church can’t reflect that glory bit by it, surely we will fall short. But, praise the Lord, for He will bring us through to such perfection. We can’t wait for such to happen. It will over shine all powers of principalities, be it twitter, Facebook, political parties, believe or not, church will over shine them. Come Lord Jesus.

Amen.

Amen.


[1] The History of the Benedictine Order

https://www.durhamworldheritagesite.com/learn/history/benedictine-order/history

Did Israel worship idols when they bow down to the golden calf? Or they worshipped God in the form of a golden calf?

Exodus 32:7–10 (ESV)

And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ ” And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

Yes God said they have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. The arguments goes that God didn’t accuse them of not worshipping Him, but rather accused them turning aside out of the way He commanded them.

But, next verse says “they have made a golden calf and have worshipped it and sacrificed to it…” Now they clearly bowed down and worshipped the Calf! There is no way, one can argue that in Israel’s mind, they were worshipping the Lord in the form of a calf. Its far beyond and bigger than the “form” of worship, it’s the “object” of worship.

Ligon Duncan writes, “ God charges Israel not with departing from him, but from his way, his command of worship. And quoted Sarna notes, “ significantly the text does not say “from me”; they have adopted pagan modes of worship.” [1]

But I think Israel clearly worshipped the golden calf, as they have taken the golden calf as their God, Yahweh who called Moses to deliver them.

Exodus 32:4 And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”

After Aaron fashioned the gold into a calf, Israel proclaimed these are their gods! (Clearly Yahweh been reduced to calf now).

Also :Exodus 32:1–2 (ESV)When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” So Aaron said to them, “Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”

Israel asked make us godswho shall go before us..” Not “make us image of God“. v2 then Aaron started his amazing idol making of the gold from Israelites and formed into a calf. 

So my view is that Israel made a major sin by worshipping the golden calf, not worshipping God in the form of a golden calf.


[1] Philip Ryken editor, Ligon Duncan, Give Praise to God (P&R Publishing, 2011) 39

不配的恩典-十字架上的賊

路加福音 23:39-43 39 一個被絞死的罪犯責罵他說:“你不是基督嗎?拯救你自己和我們!” 40 那人責備他說:“你既受了同樣的刑罰,你就不敬畏神嗎? 41我們確實是正義的,因為我們正在接受我們的行為應有的回報;但這個人並沒有做錯什麼。” 42 他說:“耶穌,當你進入你的王國時,記得我。” 43 他對他說:“我實實在在地告訴你,今天你將在天堂與我同在。”

阿拉斯泰爾·貝格(Alastair Begg)就此宣揚了一條鼓舞人心的信息,有人在推特上放了一段 2 分鐘的片段。它剛剛在互聯網世界、Twitter 世界、Facebook 世界中風靡一時。他們從他關於十字架上的小偷的講道中截取了 2 分鐘的剪輯。

很想問那個上天堂的小偷說:“你是怎麼做到的?

小偷就這樣上天堂,真是太棒了!等我到了天堂,我想問問那個上天堂的小偷說:“你是怎麼做到的?怎麼樣?”

耶穌在中間的十字架上,左邊是一個小偷,右邊是另一個小偷。右邊的賊罵耶穌。 “你不是基督嗎?拯救你自己和我們!

左邊卻責備他說: 另一個責備他,說:“你既然同判了,你就不敬畏神嗎? 41我們確實是正義的,因為我們正在接受我們的行為應有的回報;但是這個男人並沒有做錯什麼!

小偷說出了他一生中最重要的一句話

他轉向耶穌,說出他一生中最重要的一句話。隨著時間的推移,他看著耶穌就像在他死前幾分鐘或他死前幾小時一樣。他對主耶穌說話。 42 他說:“耶穌,當你進入你的王國時,記得我。

當你進入你的王國。記住賬號?你猜怎麼著?神之子的回答是我聽過最震撼的回答。他今天轉身看著他。他仍然,當耶穌說他快要死的時候,你知道,他流血得厲害。我想他在喘氣。,43 他對他說:“我真的告訴你,今天你會和我一起在天堂裡。”

“你將在天堂與我同在”,就是這樣!!!當這個小偷上天堂的時候。我可以想像:天使不斷問他:“你是怎麼問的?你是怎麼做的?你是怎麼彌補的? “

那個小偷回答說:“我不知道。我在這。”然後天使回答說:“讓我們去找我們的主管。”主管來了,他說“。讓我切入正題。你知道稱義的教義嗎?”

小偷回答“什麼”。首席天使說:“算了。讓我們直接進入聖經無誤的教義。你聽說過嗎?” Theif回答說:“我從來沒有聽說過!”。質疑還在繼續:“你怎麼又來了?你是怎麼來到這裡?”而那人脫口而出。 “中間十字架上的人說。我能來。就是這樣。他說我來了。 “!!!

上帝白白的恩典

哈利路亞。這就是你需要的,男人說。我可以去。耶穌說我可以來。這個小偷從未上過教堂、主日學,從未受過洗禮,從未上過主日學,從未聽過稱義的教義。沒有!他在上面。立即地。我喜歡那個。這很酷。這就是上帝不配的恩典。哈利路亞。

當有人上天堂時,天堂裡的人問他:“你是怎麼到這兒來的?”

如果你以人稱代詞 I 開頭,那麼你就完成了。因為你什麼都沒做。不管你做了什麼,你甚至不應該在這裡。你應該在下面。甚至不要來告訴我你養活了 250 名無家可歸的人。不要來告訴我你給窮人很多錢。不要來告訴我你幫助寡婦和一切。那些日子他們都很好。他們不會把你帶到這裡的!你出去了。你完成了。你在這裡的唯一方式是因為他!因為他救了我。他說:“我可以來。”我來了。那是白白的恩典。這就是耶穌為我們所做的。他為我做了一切。那就是基督教。

基督教從來不是表演

這不是表演。記住這個詞。我從蒂姆·凱勒那裡得到的。這不是表演。記住這一點,基督教從來不是表演。它不是。從來都不是你努力做到的好。星期五我又和媽媽打了一個小時的電話,每個星期五我都給媽媽打電話。我告訴她很多次關於相信的事,就是這樣。但她問道:“那些真正優秀的人呢?你知道,他們不相信基督,但他們做了很多好事,比如佛教徒、穆斯林和你知道的。作為媽媽,他們有非常好的人。做個好人卻永遠達不到目標,這與基督所做的事有關。我知道她知道。但她忘記了。我每週都想把她帶回來,我必須提醒她。

從來都不是關於你的。我必須更加努力的表演。你知道嗎?這真的,真的很重要。基督教是關於一種不配得的恩典。加爾文將格蕾絲帶回敬拜中。你知道當你崇拜上帝時,我們必須體驗對上帝的超然敬畏。如果我們像民俗、隨意地敬拜,我們就失去了上帝的超越性。對上帝沒有敬畏之心。但如果你只有話語的教導,你可能沒有喜慶的心情嗎?為什麼我們不應該兩者兼得?你必須與上帝和他們到來的喜悅上帝有超然的聯繫。

哈利路亞,因為耶穌做到了。我對他很敬畏,因為他為我做到了。我說我太高興了。你可以兩者兼得。但如果你來到家裡,說我會崇拜你。主啊,我要讚美你,從上帝那裡得到一些東西。你只是失去了上帝的超然同在。在你的生活中,在崇拜中也是如此。敬拜就是敬拜、會眾、敬拜、敬拜一生。當你去打棒球時。玩的不錯。享受上帝,當你學習時,你就是在敬拜上帝。為上帝,為基督做每一件事。

上帝不配的恩典會讓你成為一個更快樂的人。

看到表演不會讓你進入。但優雅會。上帝不配的恩典會讓你成為一個更快樂的人。如果你嘗試到厭倦嘗試的地步,你就不能再這樣做了。你只是說,我太沮喪了,我不能再這樣做了。就像我祈禱一樣,我在祈禱。沒發生什麼事。它發生在我身上。我肯定發生在你身上。但是當涉及到你說的一點時?你到了一定程度,你更崇拜他,因為他已經做到了。我會騎在他的所作所為上。哈利路亞。你只能騎在前提下,你在生活中能做的,是基於他在十字架上已經為你所做的。在一切,在生活中。

The Unmerited Grace-The Thief on the Cross

Luke 23:39–43 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Alastair Begg preached an inspiring message on this, and someone put in the twitter a 2 minute clip of that. It’s just gone viral in in the Internet world, in the Twitter world Facebook world about. They took a 2 minutes clip from his preaching on the man on the thief on the cross.

Will love to ask the thief who made it to heaven and said “how did you make it?

Its that wonderful and amazing that the thief get to heaven just like that! When I get to heaven,  I would like to ask the thief who made it to to heaven and said “how did you make it? How was it like?”

Jesus on the center cross, a thief on the left, and another thief on the right. The thief on the right side railed at Jesus. “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!

But on the left side chided him saying: But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong!

The thief uttered the most single most important line of his life

The he turned to Jesus and said the most single most important line of his life. In time, he looked at Jesus literally like minutes before he died, or hours before he died. He spoke to Jesus Lord. 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.

When you enter into your Kingdom. Remember Me? And guess what? The answer from the son of God is the most stunning answer I’ve ever heard. He turned around and looked at him today. He still, when Jesus said that he was about to die, you know, he was bleeding so bad. I think he was gasping for breath., 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

“You will be with me in Paradise” and that’s it!!!  When this thief who got to heaven. I can imagine: The angels kept asking him: “How did you asking? How did you make it? How did you make it up?

That thief replied, “I don’t know. I’m here.”  Then angel replied, “ Let us get our supervisor.” When the supervisor came, he said “. Let me just cut to the chase. Do you know the doctrine of justification?”

The thief replied “What”. The chief angel said “ Forget that. Let’s go straight into the doctrine of inerrancy of the scripture of the Word of God. Have you heard?” Theif replied, “ I’ve never heard anything of that!”.  Questioning continues: “How did you get here again? How did you get here?” And the guy blurted out. “The men on the Middle cross said. I can come. That’s it. He said I’m coming. “!!!

Unmerited Grace of God

Hallelujah. That’s what you need, the man say. I can go. Jesus said I can come. This thief has never been in church, Sunday school, never been to baptism, never been to Sunday school, never heard doctrine of justification. Nothing!  He’s up there. Immediately. I love that. That’s cool. And that is the Unmerited Grace of God. Hallelujah.

When somebody goes to heaven and the people in heaven asked him, “How did you get here?”

If you start with the with the personal pronoun I, then you’re done. Because you have done nothing. Whatever you’ve done, you shouldn’t even be here. You should be down there. Don’t even come and tell me your feed 250 homeless people. Don’t come and tell me that you give a lot of money to the poor. Don’t come & tell me that you help the widows and everything. They’re all good for those days. They won’t get you here ! You’re out. You’re done. The only way you are here is because of Him!! Because he has saved me. He said, “I can come.”  I’m coming. That is the unmerited grace. That is what Jesus has done for us. He has done everything for me. That’s Christianity.

Christianity is never a performance

It’s not performance. Remember this word. I got it from Tim Keller. It’s not performance. Remember this, Christianity is never a performance. It’s not. It’s never how good you have tried to be. I was on a one hour call again with my mom Friday that every Friday I called my mom. I told her so many times about believe and that’s it. But she asked , “What about those people who are really good people? You know, they don’t believe in Christ, but they they’ve done a lot of good things like Buddhists, Muslims and you know. They have very good people as a mom. By being good and never getting there, it’s about what Christ has done. I know she knows it. But she forgets. I keep trying to bring her back every week I have to remind her.

It’s never about you. The performances I got to try harder.You know what? This is really, really important. Christianity is about an Unmerited Grace. Calvin brings Grace back into worship. You know when you worship God, we must experience  the transcendent awe, of God. If we conduct worship like a folksiness, casual , we lost the transcendence of God. There’s no sense of awe towards God. But if you only have the Word teaching, you may not have the celebration mood of joy? Why shouldn’t we have both? You gotta have transcendence connection with God and the delighted God they came.

Hallelujah, because Jesus’ done it. I am so awed by him because he’s done it for me. I say I’m so overjoyed. You can have both. But if you come to the house, and  say I will worship you. I will praise you, Lord, to get something from God. You just lost the transcendent presence of God. In your life, in the worship is the same thing. Worship is worship, congregation, worship and worship all of life. When you go and play baseball. Play well. Enjoy God you are worshipping God when you study. Do everything for God, for Christ.

Unmerited Grace of God will make you a more, much more happier person.

See that performance will not get you in. But the but the grace will.  Unmerited Grace of God will make you a more, much more happier person. If you try and come to a point of being so tired of trying that you cannot do it anymore. You just say, I’m just so discouraged I cannot do it anymore. Like I pray, I’m praying. Nothing happens. It happened to me. I’m sure happened to you. But when it comes to a point you say? You come to a point, you worship him more because he has done it. I’m gonna ride on what he’s done. Hallelujah. You can only ride on the premise of what you can do in life is based on what he has already done for you on the cross. In everything, in life.

With my God I can scale a wall

Psalm 18:28–29 (NIV). 28 You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;  my God turns my darkness into light.  29 With your help I can advance against a troop;  with my God I can scale a wall. David was running away from King Saul who was trying to kill him. Facing so many discouragements and despair of being constantly pursue his life by how king whom he respect and gives allegiance, and having done no wrong n=but only fought valiantly for Israel, he went into escape and crying to God for deliverance. Reading Psalms you can feel the heartbeat of David and he really cried out to the Lord, and not only that, the key, is he recognizes the greatness and faithfulness and love of Yahweh, his God and ours today. He was never shaken from his faith in God even in the most ardent despair and disappointment in life. You see the verses before this call:

Psalm 18:1–3 (ESV)

   I love you, O Lord, my strength.

   The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

   I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,

and I am saved from my enemies.

He loves the Lord his strength, he calls the Lord as his rock, his fortress, and his delivered , his shield, his horn of salvation and stronghold. He called upon the Lord who is WORTHY to be praised. My question to you is: Is the Lord worthy to be praised when you are discouraged, disappointed, an going through a time of despair? God never changes. Our circumstances changes. His fixed confidence and trust in the Lord no matter what circumstances or turbulence surround him is surreal, uplifting, inspiring, and penetratingly powerful. Seriously nothing is going to be able to take David down no matter how much vengeance hatred the enemies spewed out at him, because his gaze is constantly fixed on the Lord who is worthy of all his praise and worship. That’s what we want to be, like David in this sense. I sensed a time of discouragements sometime, and I was seeking the Lord and praying. You know that when we go thru hard times, trying time, we either despair and drop off or run towards the Lord. By running to the Lord our Rock, refuge, shield, our love, we are purged of the weaknesses and human flaws in our lives, and our preaching, ministry has just got better. We become better husbands, fathers, wives, mothers, daughters, sons, etc., thru the process. Tim Keller shared about going thru hardship in lives simply make them a better person, and better preacher in fact. God does a deeper work in our lives, when we hit a wall, and we turn to him for help. That creates a special chemistry between us and the Lord. Look at Psalms:

Psalm 18:4–7 (ESV)

   The cords of death encompassed me;

the torrents of destruction assailed me;

   the cords of Sheol entangled me;

the snares of death confronted me.

   In my distress I called upon the Lord;

to my God I cried for help.

       From his temple he heard my voice,

and my cry to him reached his ears.

   Then the earth reeled and rocked;

the foundations also of the mountains trembled

and quaked, because he was angry

You see how much David was going thru? Snares of death confronted him! In his distress he called upon the Lord, and God heard his voice from his temple, and then God responded. Earth reeled and rocked and foundations trembled and quaked, he was angry. Those words with God I can scale a wall” spoke to me. My obstacles and challenges in life are like a wall to me, that I cannot cross. But with God, I can scale a wall. Hallelujah! I can cross it. My gaze is upon the Lord, and nothing else.