|The Macedonian cross-over|
Acts 16:26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
As I was listening to the sermon today on Acts 16:26, it wasn't so much about darkness we faced, or the common suffering of pain and injustice in the prison, or praising God in the midst of a dark adversity that was emphasised in the bible, but the power of God when we extend the Gospel of the Kingdom of God in faithfullness to our calling.
I am reminded whether Pastor Kong Hee and five others at City Harvest Church now facing trial next week would have felt the same manner as Paul and Silas were dragged into the "marketplace" ie the city center where the magistrates were because they were preaching the gospel.
The charges against Apostle Paul and the CHC pastors are of course entirely different, but the root was the same. It was a cross-over to new kingdoms for the gospel sake. ie they wouldn't be tempted to sin without the cross over.
It does not however mean that the pastors are being persecuted for the Gospel sake but rather possibly succumbing to the much greater temptations faced as a mega church pastors. When we are crossing over, there must be protection in prayer!
Pastor Phil Pringle of the Christian City Church in Sydney had compared Pastor Kong Hee with Apostle Paul being thrown into prison unfairly and standing up for Jesus which is misleading. Phil Pringle had forgotten to remind his congregation that the "burden" Kong hee was facing was charges of corruption! They were praying that the CHC pastors wouldn't spend even one day in prison!
The senior pastor of a mega church is always being attacked spiritually for when the pastor falls, so will the sheep be scattered! It is difficult to remain focused on Jesus when we are treated like mega stars.
Apostle Paul could have stayed at Antioch and contented with the fact that the whole world was never going to become "Christian" so why bother to preach the Gospel. Surely it would be better to have an ecumenical faith dialog with the different Roman faiths. He wouldn't have gotten into trouble. By the same logic, Jesus woundn't have come down to earth! nor have died for mankind!
Instead, Jesus clearly commissions each one of us to preach the Gospel, ie to make it available, for the hearer to decide, for it is the truth and the way to God in Jesus Christ. That is our commission, and the specific calling for Apostle Paul in Acts 16:9 was to Macedonia.
If Apostle Paul hadn't obeyed his high calling, he wouldn't gotten into trouble. Therefore, in the prison darkness, If i were Paul, I would have blamed God! for the vision to Macedonia. Instead of blaiming God, Paul saw that it was not only a physical prison but a spiritual prison which had to be broken through with prayer and worship.
Similarly, If the CHC pastors hadn't embraced the Cross over to the churches in Malaysia, Taiwan, and China, there wouldn't have been the 50 affliated churches and a christian revival in Taiwan. City Harvest would still be in the old Hollywood theatre at Kallang with a thousand in attendance.
Just as Apostle Paul had the vision to Macedonia, for the CHC pastors, the cross over mandate was given by prophecy through his close friends Senior Pastors Phil Pringle and AR Barnard each with their own mega churches in Australia and New York respectively.
The Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom and not just kindom relationships. Apostle Paul was given the calling to extend the kingdom of God, to extend the Gospel Good News to Macedonia.
Apostle Paul was extending the Kingdom of God, into a Kingdom that hitherto had belonged to Satan who had bound and put the citizens of Macedonia in a spiritual prison worshiping other gods.
The Kingdom of darkness would never let go so easily against the Kingdom of light, and Paul and Silas were tormented in Acts 16:17 by a slave girl who constantly disturbed them and hindered the Gospel message being preached.
The Gospel message of salvation is often being hindered from voices which proclaimed that believing in Jesus Christ is not necesarry, to salvation in terms of social justice and making this world a better place to live in. Instead of preaching the Gospel message of individual salvation and repentance, we talked about salvation of the "community" and of the earth even though one day this earth will pass away.
Before we condemn the CHC pastors, each one of us has already compromised in our faith one way or another. It is just that we don't have the opportunity to err as much as some mega church pastors had.
The demon possessed girl whilst stating that Paul and Silas were the servants of God proclaiming the way of salvation was also giving glory and presence to the power of darkness following Paul and Silas.
Only when we start to take on and invade another kingdom, to proclaim the Good News, would we see a spiritual battle where the forces of darkness would try to stop us or to set traps for us to fall.
In essence, the entire city was in jail, in darkness, being bondage by the power of Satan. When Apostle Paul and Silas were dragged to the magistrates, surely it was unbelievable that they could be thrown into prison for casting out the demon. The magistrates were also influenced by the spiritual environment.
When we abide by our calling and ministry to extend the kingdom of God, we will always face a spiritual battle. In the case of Paul and Silas, it was a tormenting spirit.
For the mega ministries, it could be the temptation of money. When the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tested by the evil one, the first attack was wealth and power. Jesus was tested, but we are tempted because there is sin in our lives. When we are dealing with millions, the temptation is magnified many fold.
We often justify our financial mis-dealings by proclaiming that we doing God's work which is partially true. That is why it is so important for prayer and spiritual warfare, and standing on the rock of Jesus Christ, His power and righteousness, having one mind with Christ.
Apostle Paul and Silas didn't view the persecution as unfair, or unjust, for they would have expected persecution as a possible risk in the preaching of the Gospel. It was common to be persecuted for the Gospel sake.
There is no crime to be persecuted for the sake of preaching the Good News that Jesus is the truth and the way back to God. But we can fall into temptation and derail our calling when we are presented with the riches and power and pride and wealth of the nations, and start to believe that we are god Himself. The glory is always to God alone.
In the spiritual battle, in the darkess part of the jail, in a city ruled by the forces of darkness, Apostle Paul and Silas begin to do spiritual warfare, binding the spirit that rule the city just as they had rebuked the demon in the slave girl.
When they finally bound the principality of the city which was spiritually holding them in captive, the light overcame the darkness and the power of God came in like a flood, to set the captives free.
The prison was the picture of the light of the Gospel coming against the dark spiritual forces of the city, and when we enter as Christians into the dark places, we take hold in the name of Jesus Christ, we free the city from bondage.
Apostle Paul and Silas had crossed over to entire nations and regions. Therefore, when we extend the kingdom of God, our hearts must be centered on Christ for our pride, power, and wealth will be tested. Every sin and weakness in our lives will be opened to scrunity if they have not be covered by the grace and righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
There is no strenght and power to escape the kingdom of darkness, but by the grace of God, and having our spiritual eyes not on the circumstances or on the devices of satan, but having focus on Jesus Christ, His righteousness, His power, His love, and the first calling we have.
Apostle Paul and Silas wouldn't have gotten into trouble if he hadn't steped out by faith to extend the Kingdom of God! When they were in trouble, they conducted spiritual warfare, but far more importantly they brought focus back into praising and worshiping Jesus at the prison.
I suspect that many GLBT churches in Asia wouldn't get into trouble, because we are not extending the Kingdom of God beyond our church walls.
Few bothers about the small GLBT churches in Asia, not the mainstream churches, not the evil one, because we are not taking over any spiritual Kingdoms. We are not a threat! when we are not standing up for the Gospel of salvation for each person as individuals of worth and dignity and value before God.
We seek the civil rights for gays but forgotten that the prison is both physical and spiritual. The mainstream churches put gays in prisons and in closets. The closet has a greater spiritual impact of denying Christ to the GLBT population.
But even in the darkest closet, the Gospel is to be preached! for when Paul and Silas begin praising God and singing hymns, in Acts 16:25, the prisoners were listening to them! We have an audience for the Gospel message of God's salvation to the gay tribe but no one is preaching.
It has to be reminded that whether Pastor Kong and the five others are guilty or innocent, is up to the courts. But their legacy of a mega church of 20K, and another fifty churches in Asia is a testimony of their faith and courage to follow the call of God.
They may have made many mistakes and are not without sin, but no one is perfect and we all need the grace of God. It is however, a much greater tragedy if they had not followed the calling of God.
If Apostle Paul and Silas had not followed their cross-over calling into Macedonia, there wouldn't be the church today.
Therefore the message of Acts 16, is to run towards the calling of God, to proclaim light over darkness in the ministry God has called us into, and fighting a good fight of praising God and doing spiritual warfare.