Rev Timothy Tow

Message Preached at Chinese Service, Life Church,
April 9, 2000

Text: Romans 8:28

What a comforting thought this promise brings to every Christian who
loves the Lord. The Almighty Hand of God is for Him to direct all events,
whether good or bad, to work out good for him.

But this is not the case for them who are outside Christ. And if they are
outside Christ, they are without hope and without God (Eph. 2:12). Being
without hope and without God, life is a miserable struggle. Without the
light by which Christians are led, they are left to grope in their dark
superstitions. They are left to blind fate. What they decide to do at each
crossroad of life is to avoid every bad luck.

One of our inmates in Beulah House who comes from China has found
the Lord and is happily baptised. Before she was saved, she lived a life of
doubts and fears. Indeed she was without God and without hope. What
she told me of her former life fits exactly with what I have described here
of those outside Christ.

Thus they will consult the Chinese temple, the medium, the bomoh
(Malay) and the dukun (Indonesian) – choosing an auspicious day for
marriage, a good day for travel or to start a business. Others believe in
fengshui which is geomancy, whether a house lies in a good or bad
location so as to bring them good or bad luck. If they go on a journey,
they will buy insurance (not that they will have a fool proof flight but
rather if they should die, they would be compensated, what irony!) They
will consult the horoscope to avoid an evil fate. From these observations,
whether they meet with good or bad luck, all things can only work for bad.
To tell the rich fool, Jesus says, “For what shall it profit a man,
if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” (Mk. 8:36)

Let us come back to the Christian, not the nominal one who knows not his
God, but to the born-again, one who not only believes with all his heart
but also loves Him. Paul says it again, “What shall we then say to these
things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31)

This does not mean that a Christian will not go through trials in his life.
He also grows old like others. He is liable to sickness. He can meet with
an accident. He may even meet with untimely death. All these are the
vicissitudes of life and are part and parcel of earthly life. What makes the
difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that, for the
Christian is the promise, “There hath no temptation taken you but such
as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be
tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a
way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13)

What Paul says here, he speaks from his own experience. After his
conversion he waxed bold to testify Christ, so he was persecuted. “We are
troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in
despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (2
Cor. 4:8-9). For an example of how God worked good out of evil, Paul
tells the story of the governor of Damascus who tried to arrest him with a
garrison of soldiers. But Paul was helped by friends to escape by being let
down in a basket through a window over the city wall. A Christian is
hated by the world. Many times danger surrounds him even without his
knowing. But God by His Almighty hand has kept him.

During the Japanese occupation, the whole of Singapore went through the
concentration camp. Many young men were taken who never came back.
They were mass-killed by the Japanese in revenge for stiff resistance by
Chinese volunteers. As for the Tow families, we were staying in some
country hideout and so escaped this concentration camp. When we
emerged from our country hideout and innocently went into the city, the
ghastly business was over. God had saved us without our knowing
through Romans 8:28.

In Paul’s Second Missionary Journey, he was trying to go to the province of
Asia, but the Holy Spirit forbade him. He turned to go to Bithynia and again
he was hindered by the Spirit. This channelled him to proceed to Troas. There
he saw in a night vision, a man in Macedonia beckoning him to come over to
help them. Assuredly, gathering that God was calling him to preach the
gospel in Europe, he made a straight course in the power of the Spirit.=

Many times we have such an experience. “Man’s goings are of the LORD;
how can a man then understand his own way?” (Prov. 20:24) In the Old
Testament, we have the story of Saul’s father who lost his asses. He sent Saul
to search for them. In order to find them, Saul went to consult the prophet.
The prophet told Saul his father’s asses were found. But not the asses, Samuel
had a higher appointment for him. God told Samuel before Saul came that he
should anoint him captain of Israel. We see Romans 8:28 is fulfilled in Saul’s
Not to talk of lost asses, I have the experience of my mother and baby
daughter within five weeks. I was bent on going to study law in London
against the vow I had made to serve the Lord full-time. God had to use two
deaths at the time I was about to set out, to thwart my wayward purpose. This
turned me around 180 degrees. Since that day I gave myself to study
theology, and have served him without wavering for the last 50 years. The
bad that I went through brought me good.

Are there disappointments in your life? Do you suffer any setback? Did you
fail your exam so you cannot join the University? Are you engaged to be
married but now it is broken? Married, and now separated? Are you suffering
from a bad disease when you were robustly healthy? Have you lost heavily in
any business undertaking? These messengers of disappointment are used by
God to bring you to repentance. They are good for you if you love God. They
will bring you joy and success if you yield to the Lord’s hand. But if you are
outside Christ, even the good will end in the bad. It will bring you good if it
finally leads you back to God, to the salvation He has prepared for them that
love Him. It will lead you to bad, if you, though rich and powerful, end up
separated from God, in the everlasting darkness. “There is a way which
seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of
death.” (Prov. 14:12)

Are you a Christian? Are you a born-again Christian? If not, there is only one
way for you, and that is to come and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. “He
that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the
Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (Jn. 3:36)