"To testify the gospel of the grace of God." Acts 20:24
**PUBLISHED AS A MISSION PROJECT OF PILGRIMS HOPE BAPTIST CHURCH**
May 1, 2002
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In this Issue:
THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF REWARDS
THAILAND MISSIONS REPORT: CHILDREN’S CENTER NEWS
PLANS FOR THE WORK I WILL BE DOING IN THAILAND
THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF REWARDS
By Elder Ed Colley
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
A truth that we hold dear as Baptists and believers in God’s sovereign grace is that ‘salvation is of the Lord’ from start to finish. We are not willing to compromise in the least this great Bible truth. We also understand that man’s efforts to save himself and keep himself saved are futile on his part and from God’s perspective are actually ‘dead works’ to be repented of. We deplore any doctrine that would seek to give man any credit whatsoever for accomplishing his salvation for ‘By grace ye are saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast’.
But, does the Bible present a doctrine concerning man’s works that complements rather than contradicts salvation by grace? Does Scripture speak of believers being expected and encouraged to perform good works after the conversion experience? Does it also teach that good works will be (See REWARDS Continued Page 7, Rt. Col.)(REWARDS Continued from Page 1) acknowledged and rewarded? Did Christ teach that rewards for service were possible? Did he rebuke for pursuing rewards? Does He delight in dispensing them? Are we wrong in desiring something that the Lord desires to give us? Did the apostles desire something beyond assurance of salvation and a daily, close walk with the Saviour? Did they desire rewards for service? Were they ever concerned that their efforts would not be rewarded? Did they encourage their hearers to strive for rewards?
If the Bible teaches that rewards based on works are to be sought by the saints of God then are there conditions for obtaining rewards? What types of behavior does God sanction and promise rewards for? Can some rewards be won and then lost before they are awarded? What role will rewards play in the future state?
The Lord’s Nature, His Words and the
Principles He Established Speak of Rewards
As the Lord reveals Himself in Scripture so are we to understand who He is. The Lord presents Himself as a Rewarder. The Hebrews passage above declares that those that come to God must believe that He is and they also must believe that He is a rewarder. He rewards those that diligently seek him, in this instance.
Several figures are employed in God’s Word to encourage us in our pilgrimage on earth. Some of the figures when viewed in their material setting very definitely carry with them the concept of exertion and effort followed by results that are pleasing to the one who put forth the effort. For example, the Christian’s experience is likened to a runner in a race, a farmer sowing and a warrior fighting. The runner strives for the prize, the farmer toils for the fruit of the soil, and the warrior strives to win the battle and enjoy the spoils of his victory.
John’s vision on the isle of Patmos was of those things that are to be. Included in that vision were words spoken by the soon coming Christ to be taken to heart by His own. In Revelation 22:12 he says, ‘And, behold I come quickly and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be.’ From this passage we understand that Christ’s second coming is the time when He has the privilege of giving His reward to every man in direct relation to their works.
Shouldn’t we bow to Him and acknowledge that our all-wise God knows what is a good motivator for His people? Are we wiser than God? If rewards are not to be pursued why did our Lord rebuke the Pharisees for failing to ‘seek the honour that cometh from God only’ (John 5:44). Why would it be said of the Lord Jesus that he ‘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’ (Hebrews 12:2) if it were not a noble thing to anticipate, expect and long for a prize at the end of faithful service?
Are we dangerously mistaken when we fall back on our sovereign grace truths to explain away our inactivity and lack of vigor for service? While God is working in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure isn’t it true that we are still accountable for our actions? And, don’t these facts concerning the rewarding nature of God, His stated purpose to grant rewards, the figures He employs to spur us on to service and our Lord’s personal example all lead us to rethink how we should view rewards?
WHAT DID HIS DISCIPLES SAY OF REWARDS TO BE GRANTED?
There is no question that the Apostles were spiritually minded men. And, beyond that, they were used of the Lord to be human authors of divinely inspired (therefore infallible) writings. Did any of them have anything to say about rewards and what our attitude should be toward them?
James writing in chapter 1 verse 12 states that a man can expect to receive a reward for enduring testing. This reward, a crown of life, awaits those that because of their love to Him endure temptations.
In the second epistle of John verse 8 the apostle weighs in on the subject of rewards. He warns his readers that were being exposed to deceivers and damaging doctrine. They were to be careful and ‘Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.’ Embracing of anti-Christ doctrine could not only be damaging to them in this life but would cause a full reward to be forfeited. What was true for John’s readers is also true for us.
The apostle Peter knew the importance of living a life in conformity to God’s expectations. A factor that moved him to exhort to a holy lifestyle those to whom he wrote was the fact that the Father would one day ‘without respect of persons [judge] according to every man’s work’ (I Peter 1:17).
Of all the apostles Paul was the one who articulated most often the necessity of keeping in mind that conduct on the earth was being noticed, recorded and would be brought back to view at the judgment of the saints. He spoke of the individuality of rewards when he said that ‘each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor’ (I Corinthians 3:8). His exhortation to servants in Colossians 3:24 was to obey their masters in the fear of God and heartily as unto the Lord. The consolation that should animate their service to the Lord was that they would receive the reward (or recompense) of the inheritance. As he lived among the Greeks he saw the effect the prospects of a temporal prize had on the daily lives of participants in athletic contests. The Holy Spirit allowed him to see a lofty, eternal application to an earthly, temporal practice. The saints, understanding they were in a race with a prize to be obtained, were to ‘so run, that ye may obtain’ (I Corinthians 9:24).
WHAT TYPE OF BEHAVIOR IS CONSIDERED REWARDABLE BY THE SAVIOUR?
Future rewards for the child of God are the result of how they live here on earth. Does the Bible have anything to say about what type of conduct the Lord particularly notes as worthy of rewards?
There are times when difficult choices are forced upon us. Many saints have denied themselves present comfort for the glory of God. Men and women understanding the call to faithful service have turned their back on reasonably comfortable lifestyles in order to please their Lord. The apostle Peter was concerned that there be compensation for following the Lord. Far from being rebuked for this line of thought the Lord answered him with comforting words of future rewards. In Matthew 19:27-29 our Lord’s promise of abundant future blessings as a result of denying one’s self in the here and now extended beyond Peter to ‘every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake’.
Some works result in rewards from men and not from God. The Saviour cautioned that alms doing and praying could be done in such a way as to have no eternal value whatsoever. The reward of these activities done in the sight of and for men was that men would acknowledge them. That is as far as the reward would go. However, alms doing and praying done secretly and only for the glory of God results in open reward from the heavenly Father (see Matthew 6).
Concern for God’s prophets and fellow believers because of who they are can result in rewards that are not to be lost. One commentator has emphasized that the phrase ‘in the name of’ in Matthew 10:41-42 is literally ‘because they are’. Accordingly, he that receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. Similarly, one can receive a righteous man’s reward and one can establish for himself an irremovable reward if reception of the righteous man and kindness toward the child of God is done because of who they are in the sight of God.
Far from our works being judged simply on outward actions the Lord makes it clear that motives are really the key that unlocks the door to future rewards. Paul states that we are to ‘judge nothing before the time until the Lord come, who… will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God’ (I Corinthians 4:5). It is told that on George Whitefield’s tomb are the following words: ‘The type of man George Whitefield was that day shall declare’. May we all realize this solemn fact for ‘we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ’. There our works done in the body shall be scrutinized by the omniscient God.
Suffering for the name of Christ can bring temporal joy. Peter and John went away from the temple rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name. The benefits of suffering for Christ, however, extend beyond this life. ‘Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven’ (Luke 6:22-23).
WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE REWARDS?
It is nice to know that we are justified in pursuing future rewards. It is good to know now what conduct the Lord deems worthy of praise. Do we have any thing to help us know what the rewards will consist of?
Of course the Bible mentions crowns. We should be interested in what they are and the qualifications for attaining them. While the subject of crowns is worthy of prayerful study there are other aspects of future rewards that, too, are mentioned in the word of God.
Christ promises a special place of responsibility in His future earthly kingdom for those who meet certain qualifications. ‘He that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron’ (Revelation 2:24). This promise fits in perfectly with the very explicit promise to Peter and the other apostles of ‘sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel’ in the regeneration. Sufferers also have a promise of future authority and responsibility for as Paul says to Timothy, ‘if we suffer we shall reign with him’.
Places of familiar companionship are promised in the future to some. In Revelation 3:4 the saints of Sardis that have ‘not defiled their garments...shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy’. This implies that some saints will not be worthy to walk with Him in especial relations at that time because of soiled garments. There is a difference between being ‘in Christ’ and having part ‘with Christ’. Peter learned that lesson from our Lord as he disputed with him over the washing of his feet. The ‘bathing’ of justification through the blood of Christ opens the door for communion with Christ. The washing of our feet (our lives that come in contact with the filth of the world daily) by constant approach and confession of our sins secures for us a cleansing by the blood of Jesus Christ from all sins and fits us for communion and companionship.
CAN REWARDS BE LOST?
There is no doubt that we can digress in our spiritual life here. We can attain certain heights of spiritual growth and if we are not careful we can become dull of hearing. But, is it possible for us to fail to gain something that could and should be ours in the future state?
Paul, during his ministry, was concerned enough about the loss of rewards that he constantly kept his body under subjection. His usefulness as a steward of the mysteries of God was important to him in this life. He knew that improper conduct could cause him to be considered a ‘castaway’ (or disqualified) after having preached the gospel. He also was compelled to strive for attaining to the resurrection (actually the ‘out resurrection’) from the dead. Further study on this great doctrine is recommended to the serious inquirer.
A telling type in the Old Testament is revealed clearly in the New Testament. At Kadesh Barnea many of the nation of Israel failed to believe that God could fulfill His promises and carry them safely into Canaan to dwell there. With many of them God was not well pleased (see I Corinthians 10) and they never did receive their inheritance. I believe that the inheritance of the saints of God is to rule and reign with Christ during the millennium. This inheritance is not guaranteed, I believe, but rather is contingent upon lives lived consistently with demands placed upon us by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Future rewards are not to be thought little of. We should give them their rightful (Biblical) place. While it may seem rather selfish and un-spiritual to expect and strive for rewards the Bible makes it clear that it is neither. The God we serve is pleased to call Himself a rewarder, prompted his apostles to strive for them and encourage those whom they came in contact with to do the same, and has laid out for us certain behaviors that can result in future rewards. Let us think highly of the same things He thinks highly of. And, let us strive to please Him in all we do knowing that ‘he that judgeth me is the Lord’.
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THAILAND MISSIONS REPORT:
CHILDREN’S CENTER NEWS
By Wayne Camp
(Click on hyperlinks to see pictures)
Janice Lee and Ruth Camp with children and clothes
When we went to Thailand in March, 2002, my wife took a lot of clothes and shoes for the children at the Children’s Center. With the help of ladies from the Beverly Manor Baptist Church in Washington, Illinois, the Grace Baptist Church of Claremore, Oklahoma, and our own ladies here at PHBC, four large suitcases were needed to take the clothes and shoes. When we went to the children’s center they had the task of trying to find the clothes that fit each child as they are doing in the picture at the beginning of this article. Due to time constraints they were unable to complete the task but it was completed later by those who care for the children. (See Pictures on Page 2).
Ruth and our ladies want to thank the ladies from the other two churches who helped so greatly. We were able to give all the children more than one outfit and a pair of new shoes.
In a recent issue of the paper we showed a picture of the blown-down girls’ house at the new children’s center. Happily we report that the building is being rebuilt with a permanent structure. The roof is not yet on. Bro. Anond is using steel and tile for the roof this time and is awaiting electricity to do some welding on the steel structure. The new building has a concrete floor, concrete columns to support the roof that will be steel and tile. The walls have concrete blocks on the lower five feet and then bamboo for ventilation on the upper part of the wall.
The dining hall, which will also serve as a chapel and a classroom for at least the first session of the Sovereign Grace Baptist School of Theology, is also finished in a similar structure as the boys’ and girls’ houses except that the framework for the roof structure is wood with tile rather than steel with tile.
GIRLS WEARING CLOTHES DISPLAYING SHOES
BOYS WEARING CLOTHES DISPLAYING SHOES
There is still much to be done at the Children’s Center. The water well is probably finished as I write this but Bro. Anond has been making a round of the churches and is not at home so I do not know exactly where we are on that. The last report I had was that the well was down to 140 meters (450 ft.) depth but they had to bring in a bigger drilling rig to go to the necessary 150-180 meters. This depth should provide water that is safe to drink. We must then install a water tank at a cost of approximately $4500.
Within the week the electricity should be run to the land so that they can connect to it and have electricity for the buildings and the water pump. We must still purchase items for the cooking and storage of food.
There is also the need to run water from the river before November for the dry season. This will cost approximately $5,000. And, there is a land payment due January 1. It is a little over $3450. It could increase if the value of the dollar continues to decrease as it has recently.
I have not tried to give a detailed list of our needs at the center but through the Lord’s people we have been able to meet the needs as they arise and pray that this may continue until the work is complete.
We are being extremely careful that we spend the money as wisely as possible and that we also spend it as the supporters designate.
GIRLS RECEIVING SHOES
BOYS RECEIVING SHOES
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PLANS FOR THE WORK I WILL BE DOING IN THAILAND
By Wayne Camp
Several have asked me to give some details about the work that I will be doing in Thailand during the four months of November, December, January, and February. I am glad to provide this information.
On October 28, 2002, Bro. Bill Lee, and I, with possibly one other Brother will depart for Thailand. The other Brethren will only be staying a little over two weeks, I will remain until my departure for home on February 28, 2003.
We will arrive sometime on Wednesday of that week and will try to get a little rest and begin visit some of the villages/churches through Sunday or Monday. Then, in the second week, we will conduct a Bible Conference that will most likely be attended by representatives from all the churches. This will last about 4 days and will be filled with intensive teaching and preaching of the word of God. I will also take time to explain to the folks who attend some of the things concerning the Sovereign Grace Baptist School of Theology.
The primary purpose in starting the school is to train the pastors and preachers but there are a number of others who want to attend. I must explain that the effectiveness of the teaching will be diminished if all who wish attend. As it stands now, we are sure to have between 30 and 50 students without the ladies and other men attending who wish to do so. There is also a problem of housing and feeding that must be faced.
After the Bible Conference, we will begin classes on Tuesday, November 12, 2002. On the first day we will register the students, have orientation, and in the afternoon a time of discussion with the pastors and preachers that should help me in my planning for future classes.
At this time our schedule calls for classes from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon and from 1:00 to 3:00 PM. We may have some changes in that exact schedule. The pastors want more hours than that in the classroom but I feel they will see the value of homework time after we run that schedule for a time.
I plan to teach the following classes the first year.
ENGLISH: One hour at the beginning of each day, Tuesday through Friday. The reason for teaching English is that there are no books on Bible subjects in the Lahu, Lisu, and Thai languages. I believe it will be simpler to teach the brethren the English language than it will for me to learn Lahu, Lisu, and Thai, and then translate books. Their Bibles, though that is all they have, are very poorly translated. My goal is to also enable them through teaching English to read the KJV from which I will be teaching. There will be other activities in which I will teach English. I plan to teach them to sing some hymns they already use in English. After a reasonable period of time they will also be required to memorize verses of Scripture in English. When Bro. Anond and Bro. Daniel become more adept in English, we may then work on translating some material into the Lahu and Lisu languages.
THEOLOGY: Theology proper is a very great need among these people. One must keep in mind that many of the people had not heard of any of the three persons of the Godhead until recent years. By “Theology Proper” I mean that I will begin by teaching about God, his existence, being, nature and attributes. As all who have taught on the attributes of God know, in the process I will be teaching much about salvation and other subjects. I also plan to spend a good deal of time on Christology as we study the persons of the Godhead.
ECCLESIOLOGY: In this course I plan to teach on the origin, Head, nature, perpetuity, rule of faith and practice, doctrinal position, ecclesiological separation, membership, mission and purpose, offices, ordinances, financial support, Administrator (Holy Spirit), discipline, and destiny of the church. I will stress each area of this study as I need to do so. For instance, these folks are very strong on the Scriptures as the rule of faith and practice so will not need as much time there as in the area of ecclesiological separation. It is only in the last few years that they have learned that there needs to be ecclesiological separation. In Thailand, Baptists as well as others, make little distinction between groups. The Church of Christ of Thailand is an amalgamation of Presbyterians, Baptists, Nazarenes, and others. The Northern Baptists, the Lahu Baptist Convention, and most other Baptists fellowship together in this mongrel group. Our churches are pretty much alone in practicing ecclesiological separation so the pastors need to be strengthened in this doctrine so they can strengthen the churches.
HOMILETICS: This course will be a study in sermon preparation. An orderly presentation of a message is essential to an orderly understanding of what is preached. I hope to teach these men to put their notes together in an orderly manner.
WEEKENDS: On the week-ends I will travel with Bro. Anond and speak in the various churches.
I trust that this will give the readers some idea of the scope of what, God willing and enabling, I hope to do in Thailand.
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