Dear Brethren,

London Olympic Games 2012

The London Olympic Games 2012 had just ended. It brought together about 10,000 athletics in the world to compete to be the world’s best in their respective sports. Singapore has done fairly well with 2 bronzes. Every athletic has trained extremely hard to compete in the Olympic and for those who won the gold medals to be champion of their sports, the years of sacrifice, training and commitment are worth every bit of it. You can watch their tears of joy and uncontrollable emotion when they won their gold medals. Are there spiritual lessons we can learn from the Olympic Games? Let me share to you in this weekly.

Olympic Games History

History tells us that the Olympic Games began in the 776BC in Olympia Greece, and that they were held every fourth year, almost continually, for 1,200 years. During that time period, the Greeks even marked their calendars in four-year periods called Olympiads. In 393 AD, the Roman Emperor Theodosius declared the Games corrupt and ended them. Olympia and the Temple of Zeus were eventually buried by centuries of earthquakes and floods, and remained buried until 1870 when German excavations unearthed the site of the ancient Greek Games.

Hence, it is not surprising that the New Testament written during the 1st century AD contains words and phrases concerning the Olympic games of Biblical times, because they were familiar household terms that powerfully communicated God’s truths by comparing the known and familiar terms of the Olympic Games to the spiritual truths of God’s Word. Here are some verses for our learning:

Spiritual Truths using Olympic Terminology

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, ‘Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.’

  • The word “race” in 1 Corinthians 9:24 is the Greek word “stadia.” “Stadia” was used for the “stadium”, in which the foot race events were held, and also as a unit of measure, for about 220 yards, the length of the track in the “stadium”.
  • In verse 25, “striveth for the mastery” in Greek is “agonizomos” which means “training for the Olympic games”.
  • In verse 25, the word “crown” is the Greek word “stephanos”, which meant the awards, medals, and wreaths that the athletes won in the Olympic Games.
  • In verse 26, Paul “fights”, “pukteuo”, the Greek word for “boxing”, from which we get our English word “pugnacious”. Paul is saying that our “fight” or “boxing match” is not as one who “shadow boxes”, but our “boxing match” is real.
  • In verse 27, the word “castaway” is the Greek word “adokimos”, which in this context means “disqualified” from receiving rewards for not following the rules. God’s Word is the “rules” for our “race.”

2 Corinthians 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

The Christian’s final judgment is described in 2 Corinthians 5:10 and the “judgment seat” of Christ is a “bema”. The “bema” in New Testament times was a raised platform at the Olympic Games, where the chief of the games stood and placed awards around the neck of all the winners.

1 Timothy 4:7, ‘But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.’

The word “exercise” that Paul used is the Greek word “gumnasia”, our English word for “gymnasium”. “Gumnasia” means “strenuous exercise”, the kind an athlete uses to strive to be world class. Paul used this phrase to communicate to his Greek speaking listeners how we should use the same diligence to train ourselves to please God.

For an Olympic gold medal, the athletics of the world can give up everything to train and obtain it. As Christians, we are also running a race that God has placed us in. How much have we sacrifice to want to win this Christian race and to obtain the heavenly crowns that God will reward us? Do not be weary in your race and neither should you quit. Let the Word of God encourage your hearts in Hebrews 12: 1-2, ‘Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’

Elder John Leong

Testimony of Vietnam Mission Trip 2012

Thank God once again for the opportunity to go for the mission trip to Vietnam. Thank God for His grace and mercies to enable me to serve Him and experience His goodness. This year was the second time we went back to the same church in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. The church itself is located in a village around three hours car ride from Ho Chi Minh City. We conducted a three days vacation Bible school (VBS) for about 90 children and youth from 30th July to 1st August (Monday to Wednesday).

It was heartening to see many familiar faces in the VBS. There were both old and new faces. It was encouraging to see them desiring to learn God’s Word but because of the language barrier, it was hard to communicate with them. I wanted to know how they have been, have they grown in the Lord and are they attending church regularly etc. I believe we should reflect on these questions as well. Do we desire to learn God’s Word? Some of them were from other villages and had to travel a long way and stay in the church for the duration of the VBS. Have we grown in the knowledge of God’s Word? Have we matured spiritually over the past year or are we stagnant in our spiritual walk? I see some of the children growing up, becoming taller and bigger and I hope that their spiritual life has grown as well. I pray that they will remember the lessons learned from God’s Word and grow in their faith. I pray also that I will continue to grow in the Lord as well, just like the theme of our church this year – 2 Pet 3:18a “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Thank God for the interpreters who helped us in teaching them God’s Word. The interpreters are very zealous and sincere. However, they are charismatic and speak in tongues. Their idea of worship is really song and dance, clapping and waving of hands. There is a great need for the Word of God to be preached and taught to them, to instruct them. Thank God for the resources that He has blessed us with in Singapore, such that we have faithful teachers of God’s Word to help us discern what is right and wrong. We also have the language and technology to read, listen, and learn what is acceptable and pleasing to God. Such resources are not readily available to them compared to us. Yet I question myself, whether I have been diligently studying God’s Word. I am reminded of 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

We need the Word of God to guide us, not only in our thoughts but also in our actions. The knowledge that we have must not remain as just head knowledge but must transform our lives. We must not just know God’s Word but we must also do God’s Word. James 1:22, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

Once again, thank God for His faithfulness in preserving us and giving us opportunities to serve Him in the mission fields. It is wonderful to be part of God’s work and to see God’s work in other parts of the world. As God has richly blessed us, let us also strive to be blessings to others.

Brother Bo Hao