AS WE END THE YEAR, it is good to be reminded that we live in an extremely perilous world. The world may be merry making, but Christians ought to be alert and sober (1 Thess. 5:6). Before Christ comes, there will be a great falling away (2 Thess. 2:3). This world is only going to get from bad to worse. Are you ready?

The article presented below is an abridgement and adaptation of a message preached by Dr. S. H. Tow during the FEBC Bible Conference in Genting Highlands, September 1988. While it is a message that was preached 30 years ago, the principles and applications still hold true today. Let us read carefully and take heed.

The main conference messages focused on the life of Elijah and Elisha. They are termed by Rev. Timothy Tow as the “Prophets of Fire and Water”. These prophets served during a perilous time in Israel’s history. There was great spiritual declension and apostasy.

By the grace of God, we will also be embarking on a study of the life of Elijah and Elisha next year. For the study of Elijah, we hope to see how God can use a man of like passions such as us to be a shining light in a time of immense spiritual darkness. It is also the pastor’s desire that the accounts in God’s Word may also shed light on the crisis which the church is facing today. This world is a perilous place. It is not our home!

As we read the book on the messages declared at the conference, we can-not help but note that some of those who preached have since departed from the good old faithful way. This is a sober warning to all as we enter the new year. Let our allegiance to God’s Word not just be empty talk. Are we truly on the Lord’s side? Do we love God’s truth above all things in this world?

Yours lovingly,
Pastor Clement Chew

(An abridgement and adaptation of a sermon by Dr S H Tow, FEBC Bible Conference, 1988)
Text: Acts 20:22-32

Let us turn to God’s Word. In the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 20, we have the theme of the conference: “Declaring all the counsel of God in perilous times.”

Verse 22-24
Paul is on his third missionary journey, returning to Jerusalem. As he makes his way towards the capital, the Holy Spirit indicates to him that bonds and afflictions await him in Jerusalem. Does that deter him? He says, “None of these things move me.” Not Paul!

What is it you value and treasure most? Is it your life? Or is it the course that you are running for the Lord? This is what Paul says, “Neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish the course.” Most important to Paul is that he must finish the course. So must we finish the course which God has given to us.

The B-P Church, FEBC, your own church, non-BPs, God has given you a course. Run it with patience, steadfastly, even though you know it is something hazardous and unpopular. Never count your life more important than the work God has given you. Never count the popularity.

So, Paul says, “The ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” It is so important. There is only one thing God gave to any of His servants at any time through all the ages, and that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is unchanging and unchangeable. It is unswerving and unwavering. All who turn from it fall into another gospel. That is sad.

Verse 25-26
Paul says to them, “I take you to record. All these years I have been with you – working with you, labouring together with you – I am pure from the blood of all men.”

Can you say that? Only if you have been faithful to the Gospel, to the ministry that God has given you. Never betray that Gospel! You are responsible for the souls of those entrusted to you, those you minister to, those who hear the gospel from your lips. What kind of gospel do you give them? If you give them the wrong gospel, or if you give them the polluted, diluted or perverted gospel, then their salvation is at stake, and their blood will be upon your heads!

Verse 27
Now we come to the key verse, which is the theme of this conference. “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” How precious a verse! There is much joy to read and learn from this man of God who says, “I have not shunned” Why should we when we live in comfortable Singapore with no one to persecute us? What have we to shun? Let us therefore never shun to declare all the counsel of God. We want to know every aspect of the Gospel – in defence, in attack, in feeding, in guarding the flock. There are many valuable, precious and deep facets of this counsel of God which we must not shun to declare.

Verse 28
Paul says to the elders that they are to take heed of two things: “First, to yourselves. I have not shunned to declare to you, and you must not shun to declare to the others.” Sometimes we think that it is inconvenient and unpopular to declare all the counsel of God. So we stifle part of the Gospel and accentuate on something else. And then we get unbalanced. We must not!

To the preachers and pastors, he says, “Take heed to yourselves. See that you yourself have the pure, full and balanced Gospel.” Then “Take heed to all the flock. It is the precious flock that is purchased by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.” I wonder if we always remind ourselves of this whenever we ascend the pulpit and preach to the people, that they are the flock of God. They are not ours, but they are God’s flock, purchased and bought at great price, and they are put in our responsibility and entrusted to us. How do we treat them? The souls saved and entrusted to us in the congregations are put there by the Holy Ghost for us to look after.

Members of the congregation, you are the precious flock. Those of you in the ministry of the word – when you think of the sheep who are helpless, hungry, looking for that food – what kind of food do you give them week after week, and year after year? What do you feed them with? It will not show in one week or in one year, but it will show in five and ten years. You must nurture the flock until they grow up strong, sturdy, steadfast, immovable, mature and perfect in Christ. This is our responsibility. Take heed therefore not to fail for it is God’s trust give to us.

This trust is multiplied a hundred times in the Bible College. Teachers, take note: You have ten, twenty, fifty students in your class, and you are going to feed them. What you feed them today, they will feed others in three or four years’ time! How do you feed them?

Verse 29-30
These verses are a warning. Paul is given that spiritual eyesight. What he says is applicable today, no less than it was two thousand years ago. The real issue today is that we are in the midst of a great downslide of the faith in the Church. You ask me what church? The B-P Church! Who says so? Paul says so. It is a perennial struggle to keep the faith. Regardless of how faithful you are and how vigilant you are, the creeping in of the apostasy must come. We saw this years ago, and we see it more clearly today.

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves . . . For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.” Wolves among sheep! They are going to maul them, bite them and eat them up. We must therefore warn! Verse 30, “Also of your own selves . . .” Satan’s strategy is to use trusted men. The best types that Satan uses are those who start off well. These men gain confidence and trust, but then in their hearts is the seed of apostasy. Eventually it comes out in small doses. Then, people are caught unawares because their track record has been good.

The most dangerous poison is milk with a drop of arsenic. You won’t taste it or know it. You feed them with small doses. Eventually, the one who feeds on it will die. Satan is smarter than we think! No marvel, for he comes as an angel of light. What angel of light do we see walking around? These are the trusted pastors, elders, theologians – men who have gained much confidence but who now turn away from the truth. They bring in their error a little at a time. People believe them because they are so much taken up with these men that they do not suspect.

I give you the example of Fuller Seminary. In 1947, it was started as a fundamental institution by Charles Fuller, a great preacher of the Word of God. Within ten years, this institution began to be eroded by men of unsound faith, amongst whom was his own son. They brought in the craving of intellectual attainment and academic excellence. They wanted an institution as good as the best in the secular world, with foremost scholarship, men of degrees, research, publications of the highest level. This was Satan’s trap, and they fell in. Today, Fuller is the centre of ecumenical and Catholic-Evangelical co-operation. It is the place where the social gospel thrives on the carcass of fundamentalism.

Now back to verses 29-30. We see this in FEBC! We have had teachers who came along and taught various things, such as “The gospel is not unique”, “The virgin birth is not unique”, “The Bible may have grammati-cal errors.” Things like the six-day creation and the universal flood are being questioned. Further, they say that Charismatic tongues have ceased but ecstatic utterances and meaningful Holy Spirit utterances have not ceased. They also say that exorcism, miracles and faith healings are part of the teachings of Scripture. These things are coming in! So, I say this, “I know that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them.”

We must take heed. There are perils ahead. The enemy will attack the Bible insidiously – sideways, subtly, by devious methods. Secondly, the adversary will attack Biblical separation. If someone offers us the ecumenical movement, we will say “No!” But the enemy will not do that. He will come with tempting and disguised baits, such as “Why not be our guest professor?” Or “Perhaps you should go and speak.” Mutual honouring of one another is Satan’s trap. Those who seek men’s praise and honour fall into his trap.

A deacon from Life Church told me a couple of years ago after his operation, “If you and your brother do not something, soon there will be no B-P Church.” I wondered what he was talking about. But he repeated, “If you do nothing, the B-P Church won’t be there soon!” My friends these are not telling fairy tales, but we are facing reality. Thirty-eight years (editor’s note: since 1950) has passed. Has that time come?

The Devil comes to us with devious methods: in 1978 it was co-operative evangelism. Except for the strenuous efforts of some, we would have fall-en. If we agree to co-operate, to give an inch, they will take a foot, and then a yard, and the church will go down. That is the trap of co-operative evangelism.

You say, “The Billy Graham Crusade was in 1978 – ten years ago (editor’s note: from 1988). That danger is past.” You say, “What’s wrong with the other groups which I join? They’re saving souls, aren’t they?” It is not that simple. When you join with a group, you align with the groups that the group is aligned with. When you align with a movement that says that Billy Graham, John Stott and Luis Palau are their partners in evangelism, you align with these big names. It is about time we understand what alignment is all about.

Jesus Christ has been betrayed by Billy Graham, John Stott and Luis Palau. And you say that these are your partners in evangelism? We are not talking about who is saving more souls. We ask, “Where is your loyalty?” These are the issues which face us today.

Let us search our own hearts. History will judge us. We cannot just happily say: “Nothing is going to happen.” Things may not happen now, but we will be judged by what we do today five or ten years hence, and those things will come boomeranging back on us.

Verse 31-32
Have you warned with tears? When we warn, people laugh. In 1975, I warned against the Charismatic Movement. It is not a laughing matter, as seen in the growth of the movement today.

May the grace of God protect you, surround you, defend you and keep you. Brethren, my heart’s desire is that five years hence, then years hence, till the Lord comes, you will stand faithful to the trust given to you, and to the gospel. Each believer must fight the battle for himself. Everyone must fight it himself and be convinced in his heart that what he does is right.

Remember Athanasius. There was a movement to dethrone the Lord Jesus Christ, to say that He was only a created being. Athanasius wrote to defend the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ against his opponents: “If the world is against Athanasius, Athanasius is against the world.” This must be our conviction. Never say, “I will do what the brethren in the Synod tell me to do. Let them pass a motion first.” Let not our convictions depend upon other people’s motions. If we have a conviction of the truth, stand by it! Be an Athanasius. God’s Church needs men of valour, men of truth, and not men who wave with the wind, waiting for motions, resolutions and rules to be passed. These are not worthy of the Name of Jesus Christ.

May God preserve you. The Word of God alone – SOLA SCRIPTURA – is that which can defend you. If you love the Word, defend the Word, hold fast to the Word, stick to the Word and hang on to the end. That Word is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. Amen.