Newsletter August, 2005

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

August, 2005


Conference Message Sharing

The Principle of the Cross

We have known, heard and talked about the story of the cross: Jesus died for our sins on the cross so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Hebrew 10:10-12 tells us that Christ offered His body once for all and this is a sacrifice that is good forever. However if we study the Bible carefully, the original text of Rev 13:8 says that "the lamb that was slained before the foundation of the world" or "the lamb that was slained from the foundation of the world". This tells us that the desire of the cross was in God's heart since the foundation of the world.

The Cross and the Eternal Purpose of God

If we can see into God's heart, we can only see one person, who is His beloved Son Jesus Christ. But whom do we see in Christ's heart? It must be His bride, His Body which is the church. The eternal purpose of God is Christ and the church. We are able to have this understanding because of divine revelation. God revealed to us about Christ, and Christ revealed the church. If Christ must go through the cross, the church must go through the cross also.

The Cross and Christ

Jesus was born by the Spirit to this world for death. God sent Him as the Christ with the mission of dying on the cross. For 33 1/2 years on earth He lived a perfect life. If He wasn't crucified, He'd be personally a success. However it would be a total failure on His mission. The path that Christ went through: throne --> manger --> Mt. Transfiguration --> garden of Gesthemane --> Golgotha --> throne. The path of the church is: dust --> children of God -->way of the cross --> denying of self -->enthroned with Christ. God exalts those who are humble. The cross brings both Christ and the church through death and resurrection, therefore they will both be exalted and receive glory. To describe the way of the cross in simple terms: it is when man's desire cross over God's desire that we should deny ourselves and follow God's will.

The most glorious moment of the Lord on earth was on Mt. Transfiguration. His face shone as the sun, and His garments became white as the light. It was very easy for Him to just ascend to heaven from there. However, if He did, there will only be one person in heaven. Yet he was willing to follow God's will. He stepped down from the mountain, and slowly He walked towards Golgotha. Becasue of His willingness to humble Himself and be obedient, the way to heaven was opened for us.

The Cross and the Church

(1) The cross and the foundation of the church: Matthew chapter 16 tells us who Jesus is: Christ, the Son of the living God; what He will do: build the church upon the rock; how to build: go to Jerusalem ...be killed/be raised. From I Peter 2:6-7, we know that the stone which the builders rejected, has become the chief cornerstone. Eph. 2:19-22, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone, we were built together into a holy temple in the Lord.

Salvation began from the moment Christ died on the cross. The mission of Christ is to finish the work of salvation on the cross. If Jesus did not die on the cross, He is not the Christ, but the one who condemns our sins. Christ died on the cross so that the foundation of the church is set, and it can be built on.

On the cross, Christ was pierced on the side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. Blood and water are the raw materials for building the church. Blood redeems our sins: take away what is against God; Water gives lives: Christ's life was poured out. In this way, the cross brings out the raw materials for building the church.

(2) The cross and the building of the church: The raw materials for building the church were from Christ, not you or me. The church is not an organization, but an organism. Since we have our natural life in us, by simply adding ourselves to the church will cause rejection. We have to go through the process of the cross, so that whatever is not of Christ will be done away before we can be used to build the church. The Body of Christ must be built with raw materials from Christ. Through the cross, the raw materials are transformed into building materials for the church.

The Lord is a living stone. Although we are also living stones, we are rough stones. Before we can be used to build, we have to be tested and purified by the cross. Likewise, the stones used to build the temple was already made ready and do not need any additonal work. If we avoid the corss, we are still rough stones and the building of the church will be affected.

The key to carry the cross is to deny oursleves. We should offer ourselves as living sacrifices and let the Lord reign in our lives. It's like the burnt offering. Not only was it offered every morning and evening, additional offerings are required when needed. We have to have the mind of Christ in us. If we have the mind of Christ as a bond servant, all the problems in the church will be solved for the cause of the problems was from our self-centered selves. The path that Christ went through is our path. The Lord went to the cross and was glorified. Likewise, if we carry our crosses each day and follow Him, we will be glorified with Christ. For things that God requires of us to do, none of them has not been overcome by Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-16, God's will is to equip all the saints to the ministry of the Body, to build up the Body of Christ, and to attain to the unity of faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the statue of the fullness of Christ.

(3) The cross and the testimony of the church: Christ is the Head of the church. The abundant of the head is in the body. The body is the testimony of the head. God has put this responsibilty of testimony on the church. It is to testify that Christ was crucified and glorified. In Revelation, the lampstands represent the churches. The lampstand is where the light is. The lampstand lifts up the light and let it shine before man. Man sees the light instead of the lampstand, therefore the lampstand is a tesimony for the light.

What we can testify is only what we have experienced. To testify Christ crucified and glorified, we have to go through the cross and experience the same. If the church does not go through the cross, Christ can not be manifested.

Do churches today fulfilled this responsibility? The majority of the seven churches in Revelation failed. The complete testimony of Christ will not be fully fulfilled by one church. It must be represented by many churches to manifest the many aspects of God. God does not look at the church's experiences, but look for Christ in the church. Only Himself can satisfy God. The outward appearance of the church of the Laodicea is rich and has need of nothing. However, they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked in the inside. Christ was standing at the door knocking because He was not in the church.

Conclusion

The church was born through the cross, and it will continue to grow through the cross as well. If we love Christ, we should also love the cross. He called us to following Him to walk the path of the cross, so that the Will of the Father shall be done. Without the cross, there is no Christ; without the cross, there is no church. For the Father's will to be done, the only way is the way of the cross. (Owen)

After Conference Sharings

(1)I attended the West Coast Christian Conference in Los Angeles, which lasted for five days. This was the first time I attended such a large conference. The topic of this conference was the Cross, with three speakers, in which each of them spoke about a sub topic. The sub topics are the Cross and the Holy Spirit, the Cross and the Christ; and the Cross and the Church. I would like to share my feelings after attending this conference.

When I first knew about the topic, it appears ordinary to me. I thought to myself, "I know the Cross." This was what I brought to the conference, besides my Bible and note book. As I heard more and more the message during the conference, I started to feel that my self-esteem is diminishing. I see the unworthiness of myself more and more. I feel that I am so far away from being perfect. I know that I will never be as perfect as Jesus, but I feel that I am on the opposite side of perfect, just like the west to the east.

During the conference, I see my imperfection from understanding Jesus' perfection. I thought I know Jesus before attending this conference. However, I realized that I didn't. Even worse is that I didn't realize it until this conference, after learning about Jesus since I was in kindergarten, after being a Christian for fourteen years. Jesus to me is the Jesus in my head. Yes, I have experienced Him throughout my Christian life; however, I never felt as unworthy and imperfect as now. I was depressed before because I was hurt by other people. But now, I have a different feeling of depression. In the past, I thought I was a good person, or even a better person than certain people. However, I realized that I am so far away from being a good person in God's eyes, according to God's standard. I feel ashamed of myself. I feel ashamed to tell people that I am a Christian. I feel ashamed to even think about it. There is a long way before I can become a "better" person than I am now.

The message, on the other hand, has given me some comfort. Jesus is patient, just as He was patient to Simon Peter. I am willing to let go of myself to Jesus and let Him do His work. I need to because I know that I have been delaying God's work in me for the longest time. I can't delay any further. I don't want Jesus to run out of His patience on me. I certainly don't want to run out of time, not Jesus' time but mine. I don't know when I will die; I don't know when Jesus will return either. However, I know that I am not ready to face the Judgment Day yet. I can't think of anything that God can be proud of me. I haven't done much for Jesus either. I didn't know the reason before, but now I know. God can't use me because I didn't humble myself and let God shape me into an appropriate vessel for His use. This is to my disadvantage. God has no disadvantage. God can glorify Himself through other people. I hope that one day God can glorify Himself through me. I hope that one day God can look down from heaven and proclaim to the earth that I am His beloved daughter that He is pleased with.

At first, I didn't know why God led me to this conference, but now I know. I need this conference to wake me up. Brother Lance, one of the speakers, said at one of the sessions, "those who are asleep, wake up." I was one of them. I wasn't physically asleep but I was certainly spiritually asleep, until then. This conference has prepared me for my journey to Hong Kong. For a long time, I wanted my parents to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. However, I haven't done enough to accomplish that. Trust and obey - this is what I need to learn. I always wanted others to trust and obey me. However, my trust and obedience to the Lord is little. My eyes have been opened in understanding the Cross. I don't look at the Cross the same way. If one day, God can see my will and His Will as one line instead of a cross, that's the day I am ready for the Judgment Day.

Lord, thank you for your patience, for your trustworthiness.

Lord, help me gain the characteristics of yours so that I can be more like you.

Lord, I need your strength to walk to the Cross, to face this world, to humble myself, to fight the spiritual battle. to see beyond the death of Jesus and see God's glory through Jesus.

I encourage brothers and sisters to attend this conference next year, or other conferences. I also encourage each one of you to attend the Friday night Bible Study, especially if you don't plan on attending a conference any time soon. After attending this conference, I realize that a lot of messages spoken in our church at various occasions (especially on Friday nights) are consistent with the message at the conference. So, let's utilize the resource from our church - our own brothers and sisters. (Elizabeth)

(2)Thank the Lord for the opportunity to attend the West Coast Christian Conference last month and to share and testify to you today. The conference's theme is "The Way to the Eternal Purpose of God - The Cross", a topic I desire to learn more.

Since this was the first time I participated the Conference, I did not know what to expect. However, I know for sure that it will definitely help me in my spiritual life and growth. From the first section I looked at everybody gathering together in the Name of the Lord to worship God, praise God and listen to God's Word, it really moved me and made me feel the presence of God. Moreover, everybody left the daily burdens behind and came to the Conference. This denying of self and offering the whole time to God is exactly what is needed to pick up the cross. Matthew 16: 24-25 says, "if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it." After the first section, my sister asked what thoughts I had regarding the message. My first reaction was that God's words were indeed abundant. If I did not empty myself, it is impossible for me to receive and understand the messages. As much as I empty myself, then I can receive as much. In our daily life, God always talks to us. We cannot hear because we are blocked by the worldly burdens. Thank the Lord that we have an excellent example in Jesus Christ. When He was in the garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father if the cup might be taken away from Him. However, He denied Himself, and submitted to the fulfilment of God's will. Otherwise, we all still live in sin.

The day before the conclusion of the Conference, I thought during my quiet time, "These few days I really can offer my time, energy and all to God. When I leave here and return home, all the burdens and worries will come back to me. What will I do? Of course, I will not have full-time dedicated to spiritual stride. But, will I give the priority to God?" Shamefully, I did not. However, thank the Lord to make me realize the work of the cross is for everyday, not just for a conference or other meetings.

Finally, I would like to share about the church. In our Friday night Bible study, it mentioned "the mystery" in Ephesians 3 being related to the church. The word "mystery" specially impressed me of her glory. God's eternal purpose is to have all the glory through the church. Because Jesus' denying Himself to give us salvation, we are no longer sinners and have eternal life. Church is the Body of Christ and Christ is the Head. In order to glorify the Head, the Body needs to grow unto maturity. If one member of the Body is not healthy, the whole body is affected and the Head will have no glory. If we, being members of the Body, do not deny ourselves to walk the way of the cross, God will not have the glory. We are honored to be part of the Body. Brothers and sisters, may we encourage each other and stride to learn the lesson of self-denying. Let's take up our cross and walk the spiritual way, so that God will have all the glory. (Andrew)