By Eugene Chang
Good morning brothers, sisters, and friends. How great it is to be able to gather as a family and body of believers to worship and praise our God. Our God, who is an all powerful and all loving, living awesome, mighty God. I thank the worship team in leading us in the praise and worship songs. I thank God for your prayers and your support of me and the ministry that God has called me to. It was especially nice to get a letter and card from some of the high schoolers in brother Bob Jenningís Sunday school class. Through your partnership, DCCC is playing a role in ministering to the lost and also building up churches in the U.S. and Mexico. Actually, each one of us is playing a role in service and sharing the Gospel of Christ; some locally, others globally. I tis only through the moving of the Holy Spirit, and Godís grace and His mercy and your prayers that lives can be impacted for eternity.
It is a privilege to be used by God as His vessel and servant to share His Word this morning. I also thank the church, especially Pastor Lee for giving me the opportunity to share with you today, before I go back to Mexico and Arizona to share the Gospel of Christ and also train up and prepare servant leaders for ministry in the church and society.
I pray that God will use me as His vessel to effectively communicate and share His words as we study the theme of trust, follow, and obey. Please join me in prayer, before we continue with todayís message. (short prayer).
This morning I want to briefly share with you reasons why we can trust the Gospels. This is a very quick overview and I encourage you to do further study and research. This will help you to be firmer in your faith, and also help you to defend the Gospel. Later on in the sermon, based on the fact that we can trust the Gospel, we will focus on the themes of following and obeying.
Dear friends, the historical Jesus continues to make the news as books and magazine articles about Him proliferate. But such information about Jesus often paints portraits of Him other than the one in the New Testament. Some people view Jesus as a New Age guru, others see him as a political revolutionary. Many people think Him to be merely a great human teacher. These views by society agree that the Gospel accounts cannot be trusted in their entirety and that they should be viewed as a combination of fact and fiction.
Nevertheless, much evidence is available showing the trustworthiness of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There are eleven lines of evidence presented by Dr. Craig Blomberg, a professor of New Testament in Denver Colorado that converge to support the conclusion that we can truly trust the Gospels that share the Good news of Christ.
First, brothers and sisters we have highly reliable copies of the texts of what the Gospel writers wrote. More than 5,000 ancient parts of the New Testament allow us to reconstruct what the inspired authors wrote. This compares with at best a couple of dozen copies that exist for any other document of antiquity.
Second, the recorders of the Gospels were in a position to report accurate historical information. Matthew and John were two of the twelve apostles who accompanied Jesus. Mark, according to Early Church tradition, got the bulk of his information from Peter, while Luke interviewed eyewitnesses.
In Luke 1:1-3 it is written that many had undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled, among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since Luke himself investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good for Him to write an orderly account to Theophilus.
Third, all four Gospels were written by the end of the first century- within 70 years of the events that are recorded. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were probably written within about 40 years of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Hostile eyewitnesses who opposed Christ could easily have discredited and stopped the spread of the good news of Christ if the writers had indeed fabricated their stories.
Fourth, the Gospel writers wanted to preserve history accurately. They believed that Christianity was unique among the religions of the world in that Jesus died and rose to bring about the possibility of salvation for all people. Christian claims depend on the historicity of the story of Jesus Christ.
Fifth, oral tradition faithfully preserved Jesusí teachings and deeds prior to the writing of the Gospels. Today we often think it impossible for people to preserve accurately large amounts of information when passing it along by word of mouth. How many have you ever played telephone ? Or had messages changed because it went through many channels before it got to you ? Well, the oral tradition of Jesus Christ is totally different. Ancient Jews and Greeks alike cultivated the art of memorization enabling them to transmit faithfully information as lengthy as the Old Testament. Thus, the people could easily have memorized information the length of a Gospel. The facts and details of Jesusí miracles, teachings, and death, burial, and resurrection were faithfully preserved.
Sixth, the literary genre of the Gospels, most resembles that of other ancient histories and biographies that are considered trustworthy. These include Josephus, Thucydides and Herodotus. Lukeís preface in Luke 1:1-4 particularly resembles the beginnings of other scientific and even medical literature of the day.
Seventh, the Gospels are filled with hard sayings ascribed to Jesus that probably would not have been included if the Gospel recorders felts free to play fast and loose with history. The Gospel message has many hard sayings and in John 14:6 is offensive to many because it proclaims Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to God the Father. Some others examples of hard sayings include Christís challenging ethical teachings, epitomized in the Sermon of the Mount in Matthew 5 to 7, and His radical demands about renouncing material possessions in Mark 10:17 to 27 and family ties in Mark 10:28-31.
Eighth, the silence of the Gospels on certain topics suggests that the later Church did not anachronistically add in subsequent guidance from God into their accounts of the earthly Jesus. Many critics have argued that the Early Christians could have mixed the teaching from Jesusí earthly ministry with the guidance that He gave later through the Holy Spirit. In that case, not all of the sayings ascribed to Jesus in the Gospels would actually have been spoken by Him in the flesh. But this argument does not stand because we read nothing in the Gospels about the problems of circumcising Gentiles, or speaking in tongues, two debates which according to Acts 15, threatened to divide Christianity within a generation of Jesusí life. That Jesus should not have addressed these issues while on earth, is not surprising, because those issues did not affect His followers who were an exclusively Jewish group within Israel.
Ninth, the testimony of Non-Christian writers confirms the general contours of Christís life. Other ancient Jewish, Greek, and Roman historians wrote that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock; that He ministered during the time of John the Baptist and also threw out demons from individuals who were possessed; and that He had a reputation of being a miracle worker. Moreover, according to Non-Christian writers of Jesus day state that Jesus gathered disciples, and He was arrested by Jewish leaders for blasphemy but was crucified by the Romans under Pontius Pilate as a political threat. Also, according to the ancient historianís Jesusí followers believed Him to be raised from the dead, and they worshipped Him as God. In an age when almost all historians wrote almost exclusively about political and military events and about official, institutionalized forms of religion, the existence of even this much historical information is significant.
Tenth, archaeology has confirmed even more circumstantial details in the Gospels. The five colonnades of the pool of Bethesda mentioned in John 5:2, the pool of Siloam mentioned in John 9:11, Jacobís well in Sychar mentioned in John 4:5, an inscription about Pontius Pilate as the Roman procurator of Judea, and the tomb of Caiaphas, and many other places, tombs, and data relating to the accounts of the Gospel have been discovered. In each case mentioned, a place or practice previously doubted has now been vinidacted.
Eleventh the testimony of other early Christian writers support details found in the Gospels. We must not forget that most early Christians were converted from Judaism or paganism to Christianity in part on the basis of the compelling evidence of Jesus Christ. Within the New Testament, the Apostle Paul and the other writers allude to many details about Jesus, often in documents that predate the written gospels, showing that the writers of the N.T. who were inspired by God had independent access to information later recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Brothers and sisters, these 11 reasons, each one alone, or all together do not prove every verse in the Bible. Rather, it does so suggest that historic Christian belief is not merely a leap of faith. Rather, it is reasonable. From these 11 reasons, and more importantly, the Holy Spirit convicting our hearts, a person is able to move from intellectual belief in the Gospelís accuracy to a lifetime commitment to Jesus as a faithful disciple of Christ.
If we trust the Gospel to be true, then we can believe and have hope in the fact that Jesus Christ is coming back soon. Jesus Christ is coming back, because of His own statements. Jesus Christ, is the absolute truth. In Matthew 24:27, it is written "for as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." Jesus has yet to come back, but I trust and believe that He will because Jesus said it.
My friends, Jesus did not lie to us. In John 14:1-3, he said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, also trust in me. In my fatherís house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." The Lord Jesus is coming back ! Thatís how much He loves us. Jesus has given us new life here, but He also has a great plan for the future; a great plan for eternity !
Now, if we can truly proclaim with our mouth and have a conviction in our heart that we can trust the Gospel to be the word of God..., we must also be willing to take the next steps of following, and obeying the word of God.
Brothers and sisters, we can trust the truth and have the hope that Jesus will return. Now knowing this, what are we supposed to do ? How are we supposed to face this ?
First, we are to purify ourselves. 1 John 3:3 says that those who have this hope in Christ, must also purify themselves, since Christ is pure and without sin. If we have the hope of the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ, then we need to live it. We need to live a pure life, a godly life, a surrendered life, a consecrated life. If we have this hope in Christ, we must wait with patience. Sometimes we wonder if Jesus Christ will come back. We are to persevere so that when we have done the will of God, we will receive what he has promised. For in a little while, Jesus who is coming, will come and will not delay." God has appointed a day and the day is all set. The day and the time and hour are unknown to man, but God knows it and Jesus will come back on time. I know that Jesus will not be an hour early or an hour late because God has perfect timing.
Third, my friends we are to watch and desire His coming. According to Titus 2:13, we are to be constantly thinking about His coming, and to wait for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God, and Savior Jesus Christ.
Fourth, my friends, we are to work. Some people say, "letís quit all these activities that weíre involved in because Christ is coming back." There have been cases of people who thought Christ would come back on Jan 1, 2000 so they quit their jobs and maxed out their credit cards. My friends, we should not do this. We know that Christ is coming back soon, but the day and time is not known to us. It might not be in our lifetime. His return should be our incentive to work and to do all that we can to glorify Christ through our life and testimony. Because Jesus will one day return, we should have the desire to work hard and share Christ with others.
Fifth, we must also be prepared. Brothers, sisters, and friends... are we prepared ? The Bible says in Luke 12:40 that "we must be ready because the Son of Man, Jesus Christ comes at an hour when you do not expect Him." In the hall of fame of the men of faith, Hebrews 11:7, states that in holy fear, Noah built an ark to save his family." The word "fear" means terror. Yes, some people are drawn by love into the kingdom by love, others also in terror come into the kingdom of God. For those who do not know Jesus, they have a right to be terrified. For those who do not know Jesus, it means judgement, and life in hell, eternal separation from God. For those who do not yet have a personal relationship with God, by the grace, love, and patience of God you still have the chance. Please ponder and consider the words. I pray that you will be moved by the Holy Spirit to come to Christ and accept Him as Lord and savior.
My friends, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, said in John 8:31 that if we hold to his teachings, then were are really his disciples. From Jesus and the word of God, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. Now friends, many of us here are people who have already accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. We know the truth and have been set free from sin through Jesus Christís death, burial, and resurrection. His one and only death has set us free.
Now, we must follow and obey God and share the good news of Christ with others, so that our friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, and society can also know the truth and be set free from a lifestyle of sin, without hope, and meaning. Only Jesus Christ can give us real joy, real peace, and a purpose and meaning in life. I encourage you my friend, if you have yet to accept Christ as your Savior, consider the words that I and other pastors or Christian friends have shared with you. Choosing to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior is one of the most important decisions that you will make in your life. God loves you and has a plan and blessing for you.
For those who are already Christians, who love and trust God, let us read together Matthew 28:18-20. "Jesus said, "all authority in Heaven an on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Are we ready to follow and obey His words ? I believe with my heart that God is calling many in this room to missions and ministry. Iím not just talking about junior high, high school, and college age people. God does not discriminate. Rather, He uses the whole body of Christ, from kids to seasoned adults with real life experience to advance the Gospel. If the Holy Spirit is moving in your heart, and if God is calling you, do not be scared. It is a privilege and honor to be used as His servant to proclaim the truth. Do not be scared, because God does not do things halfway. He will provide for your needs and take care of everything. Iím not preaching a health and wealth gospel; rather God will provide, you will need to make sacrifices, and it might be hard at times, but from Psalm 23:1 and Philippians 4:19, I know that those who follow and obey His command will not be lacking. If God is calling, and knocking at the door... it is up to you to answer His call in completing the task of going, baptizing, and teaching the nations.
God is also telling people in this church... do not go, I want you to stay. Also rejoice with this special calling. God has called many people to stay and continue with ministry in the local community and also help support the work of missionaries through prayer and also support.
God is calling many to continue in their task and role of being pastors, deacons, Sunday school teachers, counselors, worship leaders, and to do evangelism in the community. Continue with fervor in your task of ministry dear brothers and sisters. Keep the faith.
You can also play a part in missions without leaving the community. God has opened doors where many nations have come to Davis to study or live. We can do our part in obeying the Great commission by teaching, discipling, and baptizing those who come to Davis. When they go back to their country or home, they will continue to spread the Gospel message.
Another way of playing a part in missions without leaving the community is to pray for, and also support missionaries. To tell you the truth, without the prayers and support of you and many other brothers and sisters in Christ, I know that the ministry that God called me to would not be the same as it is today. I am forever grateful and thankful for your prayers and support.
Dear brothers and sisters... we know that we can trust the Gospel as truth. And besides trusting, I pray that from this message we will be moved to continue to follow and obey His word, especially the command of going, making disciples, baptizing, and teaching. Jesus has empowered us with His message, the guiding and power of the Holy Spirit and Christ is with us as we go about our task of making Christ known to a lost and dying world. (Please pray with me)
With the following time, I would like to briefly share with you about some of the areas and work that God has allowed for me to be a part.
- Help oversee and coordinate the alliance of pastors & churches in San Luis R.C.
- Minister to the lost through my music group "Otra Onda" (The other Way) which uses rap,alternative, pop, praise/ worship and drama, sermons to share Christ.
- Minister to youth, street kids, gang members, and people in drug rehab.
- Also minister to single mothers and at risk mothers & children.
- Minister directly with Pastor Mariano Meza at Church of God: "Templo El Camino"
*over see Sunday school; teach children and youth; also adults occasionally.
*childrenís/ youth & family minister
*lead weekly prayer meetings.
*help with a Breakfast program that feeds over 100 kids on a weekly basis.
*Coordinate and teach discipleship classes.
*Praise and worship director and coordinator of praise/worship teams at the church.
- Professor/ instructor at a Bible Institute in San Luis R.C., Sonora Mexico. (We began our 2nd year of instruction in the fall of 1999).
- In addition to ministry at Templo El Camino, I help Pastor Mariano Meza oversee and coordinate the ministry of 9 other churches (meet with pastors; evaluate their ministries, visit the churches; occasionally preach)
-Also outside adviser & consultant for other churches/ projects in Mexico, CA, AZ, CO, FL, and also other parts of the U.S. and world.
-Also assist and minister for conferences, churches, and some Christian organizations.
Focus on the Colony 10 de abril
Due to the crime, gangs, prostitution, drugs, violence, robberies, poverty, etc. this is considered by many people to be one of the worst neighborhoods in Sonora, Mexico. But God loves the people of this colony, and His light shines in the darkness. Godís love is being made known in this colony and many lives are being won to Christ.
*Please pray for the weekly Saturday morning breakfast program to over
Besides giving them physical food, we also share the Gospel and give
love to the kids.
*We are in the process of setting up a sports league with soccer, basket ball, and volleyball. Please pray for these outreaches.
*Please pray for the weekly Friday night evangelistic services that we are doing in the colony. (I praise God that every week at least one new person has come to the Lord.
"Something Special... a merry Christmas for the kids who have very little" On December 23rd, we had a special Christmas party in the colony 10 de abril. In the name of Jesus, close to 250 kids & youth, and some 50 adults attended this party which celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. Besides a special Christmas meal, we handed out gifts and tracts to the kids, and also gave New Testaments and some material to help parents in raising their children. My music group "Otra Onda" did a 7 song set and the youth from the church presented a skit, and then I gave a short Gospel message. I praise God that 40 people came to the Lord.
Several families cried with tears of joy and thankfulness as their kids were given gifts, because due to their economic hardships, they did not have the resources to by gifts for their children. One lady said that we were angels from God. I set her straight by telling her that it was God who provided and moved our hearts. And out of love for God and others, we decided to do the program. After sharing with her, she also accepted Christ as her Lord and savior.
Please pray for the follow up and the implementation of a discipleship program. We want to set up more cell groups and have more houses set up as light houses to pray for people and also teach them, and give them hope. Profile on the music group "Otra Onda" (in English it means... "The other Way")
God has really been blessing the ministry of the group "Otra Onda". I formed the group in November, but God has already allowed for us to do presentations, go on tour, get some radio air play, and most importantly proclaim Christ.
Besides me, the members are youth 12-16 years old. They love God
and have a heart for others. The group Otra Onda currently consists of:
Eugene (me) (23): lead vocals/ rap/chorus
Fidel (16): lead vocal & chorus, keyboards/drum machines.
Juan (16): vocals, drum, some guitar.
Ulisses (15): chorus/ & sound tech.
dummer on some songs
Kevin (14): vocals/rap/ drummer
Jaime: (13): rap/ chorus; key boards
*Jesus (12): vocals, drums, water boy.
*Due to his age, Jesus does not tour with us. He only performs during local presentations. He is probably the #1 prayer warrior for the group when we are outside of San Luis R.C.
*Through different styles of music (rap, rock, alternative, & praise and worship), drama, and the straight forward preaching of the Gospel, we are ministering to the lost, and also reaching the Christians, and challenging them to be real, and to also grow in the way of God.
*One of our songs called Harto (Sick and tired) was recorded during a concert by a friend and given to a Christian radio station. Even though the quality of the recording was poor, I was interviewed and we got air play and some media attention that opened new doors.
Through the radio, God used that song in a way that on a Saturday night, a depressed teenager who was contemplating ending her life changed her outlook on life as she heard that song. She went before God and told God that she was sick and tired of the lies and way of life, and desired to "follow Christ." She called the radio station and was given a Bible and given some counseling and prayed for. After hearing about this chain of events, the youth and I went to visit the teenager and encourage her to grow in the way of the Lord.
* During a recent presentation in Ensenada, close to 600 people attended. After I shared the Gospel message, we sang a song called La Oportunidad (the opportunity). Literally, close to a 1/3 of the audience came forward for prayer, healing, and counseling. Of that group 50 accepted Christ. Here is a sampling of some of the words to a praise song that we sing called "Accept Me"
"Just as I am, Oh Lord. I don't have anything to offer you, but this song.It's not much, but I give you my heart, I give you my life. Oh Lord, I'm here before you...Accept me Lord, as your living sacrifice. Oh Lord with my life, and all I have. I want to be a precious perfume, an offering of love given to you."
I pray that you will be moved by these testimonies showing the power of Christ. As you remember this message, please especially pray for me and my music group "Otra Onda". Pray that God will give us strength and also effectively use us to share His Gospel and help people seek the "other way",,, which is Jesus Christ. God bless you brothers and sisters. I love you all. May God continue to bless you as you share His Word, make disciples, babtize, and teach others.
Title: Trust Him, Follow Him, and Obey Him
By: Eugene Chang
Series: Miscellaneous Topics
Davis Chinese Christian Church
536 Anderson Road
Davis, CA 95616, USA