I proclaim, reveal God's heart with clarity so as to prepare the Bride for the coming Bridegroom. Check out our prophetic message released at the National Prophecy Conference at http://vow.sg/our-message/
Many of you may have read about India’s lockdown situation and how the poor are suffering because of it: shops were closed, jobs were stopped, migrant workers turned into refugees overnight unable to work or get home. They have little food to eat. Millions are affected. Please watch the video below and read the article below to understand more:
An Indian pastor friend of mine wrote to me about the recent plight. Pastors have approached him telling him that their families and communities have nothing to eat. Because we had previously raised funds for Ps Johnson to run a certain project, we were able to allow him to activate those funds immediately to resolve the current starvation issues instead. You could read more about this pastor and the project we tried to start with him here:
With the money, Ps Johnson has over the last few days, bought rations, packed them and distributed them to families around the area.
I asked Ps Johnson if after this round of distribution, he would propose to follow up on the same families or try to reach new clusters of families? I also asked him how long does he envision this to last? His response is it will be better to reach new clusters of families as they would need help too. He also said the lockdown can be lifted by April 15th – and once work resumes, things would get better.
However, within minutes of our conversation, Ps Johnson received news that India extended their lockdown by another 2.5 weeks.
More would need to be done to help the poor Indians sustain through this famine crisis.
Here are the latest set of photos Ps Johnson sent me today. He told me he went to the “poorest of the poor” (read about them).
If you would like to help India’s poor tie over this crisis through the ministry of Ps Johnson, you could text in 91868819 now to be connected to Ps Johnson directly (accountability purposes). We are coordinating an effort to help. Below are some references:
Cost to feed one family for 15 days: $40
Ps Johnson is recommending a love gift for poor pastors: $40 (these could be Ps Johnson’s associates who are like-minded in the helping work for the poor).
Singapore’s churches may be suspending our gatherings for now but we must not be inactive. We are blessed to be a blessing. An opportunity and a gap has arisen. Join me to rally for our Indian neighbours. Thank you.
Purim falls on the 10th-March in 2020. Since in Biblical context, a new day begins at sundown, this means that Purim actually begins on the evening of 9th-March.
For those who are unsure of what Purim is, they can refer to the book of Esther. An excerpt of Chapter 9 is presented here for a quick understanding:
“20 Mordecai recorded these events, and he sent letters to all the Jews throughout the provinces of King Xerxes, near and far, 21 to have them celebrate annually the fourteenth and fifteenth days of the month of Adar 22 as the time when the Jews got relief from their enemies, and as the month when their sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.. 28 These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family.. these days of Purim should never fail to be celebrated by the Jews—nor should the memory of these days die out among their descendants.”
The word pur in Hebrew also means “break, bring to nothing, utterly take”, which was what God did to all the scheming of Haman. Purim is a kairos moment for intercessors to “reverse, annul; nullify” curses through repentance and righting of wrongs – spiritually and physically.
Purim last year was on 20 Mar 2019, which was also the 49th anniversary of abortion being legalized in Singapore (the Abortion Act came into effect on 20-March 1970). That meant the Abortion Act was into its Jubilee year. Jubilee represented a release from bondages and redemption. Therefore, there were intercessors who had prayed in hope that the Abortion Act could be annulled in its Jubilee year. Not wrong to hope.
However, as God’s word would teach us – faith always requires action. A promised land flowing with milk and honey might be God’s plan for the Israelites but they are still required to do something about it. We all know the story. They understood the spiritual promise but could not see through the physical requirement. They got afraid. Only Joshua, Caleb had the faith to persist to act. The rest wanted to back out. The promise fell flat and that generation died in the wilderness. Only Joshua and Caleb survived to enter the promise land.
On the Sabbath before Purim 2020, Jennifer Heng led the Love SG Prayer Meet. Then on Tue morning, 10-Mar-20, Purim itself, 3:16 Church (who leads Heartbeat Project) led it. Some feel, and I concur, these are not coincidences. God is putting a finger on the issue of abortion and directing the intercessors and His Bride to align with it.
So this year on Purim, a last minute meeting was called among groups of believers. They had gathered on 9th-March to petition heaven. One of these petitions is shared here, and was presented in front of a kneeling, corporate body who have acknowledged our sins and agreed to act judiciously with regards to the Abortion Act.
So before Jubilee ends, on Purim 2020, we presented this petition to the Heavenly Court. Nevertheless, the body of Christ must now grapple with the truth that it is not only spiritual prayers, but physical acts of justice and righteousness that must follow to right our wrongs.
A last point of interest. For those who understands that the sun and moon exist not just for telling us the day and the year but also for “signs and for seasons” (Gen 1:14), we had a super moon on 10th-March 1.47 am Tue morning. This means that the moon was 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual on Purim 2020. What sign is God showing His people in Singapore?
Petition to Heavenly Court at Purim
“Dear Father in heaven,
Father how many of these repentance prayers do your people have to make before we mean it and act according to what we said?
Yet You have been merciful to us in Singapore. Yet a time is coming and has now come, that You will make recompense.
You said in Your word in Isaiah 59 that when justice and truth fails then Your own arm shall bring salvation for Yourself. You will put on the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation. You will repay vengeance for Your own name.
Oh Lord as we stand here now, we plead with You – may You help the Bride in Singapore to arise so that we can be Your servants, share Your burdens, and partake in Your glory.
But Father we acknowledge we are weak and we seem few. For most have cared for religion, praises and fear of men more than for what burdens You. So we pray You will strengthen our feeble arms and legs and help the Church in Singapore even as we pray.
You do not see as man sees. Your thoughts and ways are higher than ours. Unfortunately, we Your people have failed to see as You told us to see. Our own ways have led us astray.
Therefore, we have not recognised the unborn as the most discriminated group of people today.
Lord You have given the unborn equal rights to life as a grown person in ownership of his life. In Exodus 21:22-25, You held the grown man accountable for the injury to the unborn child – “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise”.
But Father, we have not registered in our hearts and minds that abortion is the holocaust of the unborn. We have done little with regards to this blatant disregard of the sanctity of life. Our sins of omission as a passive, indifferent and faithless Church has abated the culture of death in many ways.
Today, we confess our sins before you. On the grave injustice of abortion – we as Your Church have not taken heed of Your call to set the captives and oppressed free. Instead, we have allowed countless unborn infants to be sacrificed to Molech under the justification of lies.
We have paid more credence to these lies, than to stand objectively and biblically on the right of the unborn child to life and protection. We have not spoken out against the grave injustices of this act culturally. We have not made our stand in our pulpits that this is wrong.
We also have not lifted a finger to help the unsupported widows and the fatherless, as exhorted in James 1:27. Unsupported single mothers who have chosen not to abort their child, have faced great difficulties in their journey alone, and have not witnessed compassion from the church.
Without compassion from others, pregnant and unsupported mothers are likelier to choose abortion. This point has however escaped our conscience.
Interestingly, The Straits Times recently published a report on 8th March (2 days leading up to Purim and this petition to heaven), revealing that teenage abortions have risen for the first time in 8 years. Abortions actually have been declining in every reported categories since 2010. But in 2018, abortions among teenagers rose from 320 in 2017 to 330.
As a Church, making this timely prayer now, should we not take heed of this rise? Check our own hearts and ask: where have we been for this group of teenage, pregnant and confused mothers? We realised as a church we have not really been available to encourage unsupported pregnant mothers towards “life”.
Even our own children would believe there would be no recourse and abortion will be their way out if they ever fail and get pregnant. Fear of man is stronger than true love in our church and Christian culture. We now repent.
We repent that as Fathers and Mothers, and as leaders of the older generation, we have failed in our roles to lead our children towards Christ’s values and His communities towards kingdom culture. They have not seen the ways of Christ through us. Father, forgive us. We are ashamed and we are sorry.
You say in Your word, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chr 7:14)
We hereby declare that we will be committed to be Your remnant who would stand in the gap against the genocide of the unborn. We would take heed of this injustice and be a mouthpiece of Your truth.
We would seek to act as One – according to what Christ has prayed over His disciples in John 17 – to seek to establish Your justice in our nation, on this issue of abortion.
We would obey Your call to seek to eliminate this unjust culture of death while acting in submission to our authorities, but also living up to our roles as the conscience of the state and as Your witnesses.
May it please You Lord as we pray these over our own hardened hearts and plead You for Your grace, strength, wisdom, enablement and supplication of all resources, to help us accomplish Your will for us on this issue of abortion.
Most of all, we plead for Your own hand to see to the rebuilding of Your House and the discipleship of our nation. Let Your will be established over Singapore, that we will fulfill Your destiny for us.
An education and 3 meals a day are basic necessities most Singaporeans would not bat an eyelid for. But in Machilipatnam where the Yanadis live, these are luxuries.
The Yanadis are from the Untouchable caste. The Untouchables belong to the lowest caste of human lives under India’s caste system. But even among the Untouchables, there exist a hierarchy and those considered the lowest of all are the Yanadis. This makes them the untouchables of the Untouchables.
As a Christian, we believe God loves all human lives equally. There is no higher race or caste than another. In fact, where man considers another man or group of people to be lowly or unwanted, God holds a place of priority in his heart for them (see the parable of the Good Samaritan).
Pastor Johnson is an Indian Christian who knows the true worth of the Yanadis from God’s eyes, and he has been reaching out to them for 8 years. He was from the Untouchables community himself, but his parents were Christians and knew their value. Poor as they were, Johnson’s father gave him an education. Johnson graduated to work as a lecturer in a college, earning a comfortable income. But his heart has always been for the poor. Finally, he left his comfort to work with untouchables in Machilipatnam. At first, Johnson planted churches, distributed blankets during winter, and did gospel rallies. But now, he is settled on Grace Camp as his main work among the Yanadi community.
Grace Camp offers mainly student-care services catered around the needs of children in a village. The government of India offers free education that provides 1 meal a day i.e. lunch, to incentivize children to go to school. But according to Johnson, these efforts are not working. Without breakfast and dinner, the parents would rather send their kids out to beg or scavenge so as to feed the whole family. This is how the poverty cycle remain for these untouchables generation after generation.
Grace Camp fills in the gap by offering breakfast for these village kids. As the children come, they are organized into study groups according to their academic level and age. Free tuition and bible studies ensue among the children who had come. When it’s time, the tutors and volunteers line these kids up and walk them to the government school, where they get their lunch – and education. After school, these children return to Grace Camp for more activities – and dinner.
Grace Camp also provides bathing facilities and the volunteers at Grace Camp will encourage these children to practice good hygiene. Many of these Yanadi kids get ostracized in school because other children deem them unhygienic and dirty. They are also looked down as they are from the Yanadi caste. However, Grace Camp provides them a community where they can feel encouraged and be socially empowered as a group.
Here’s a video of Grace Camp:
It is undeniable Pastor Johnson is doing a good work in Machilipatnam. How can the Singapore Church support his work? As a friend of Johnson and a minister among the Singapore Churches, I caught up with him to find out the following:
Machilipatnam is one of the cities in India that has one of the largest untouchable communities in India. This was what brought Pastor Johnson here.
70-80% of the Untouchables in Machilipatnam are Christians. However, the lack of discipleship and the poverty cycle are big concerns to Pastor Johnson. Work that is focused on the Yanadi community is rare.
Pastor Johnson currently has 2 Grace Camps in two villages. For these 2 camps, Johnson is supported by some friends who sponsor for the food and amenities to the children of each camp. However, Pastor Johnson hopes to be able to get a blessing for the volunteer workers who are not paid for their devoted services at the end of this year. You could offer a one-time gift for the volunteer workers.
Christmas is coming and Pastor Johnson hopes to hold an evangelistic event where he can provide 2 buckets of clothes for each family who comes to the celebration. You could offer a one-time gift for families coming to Christmas.
An opportunity has arisen for him to establish a 3rd Grace Camp in another village somemiles away. Pastor Johnson anticipates 60 kids for the 3rd Camp – but he has no support for it. You (and your friends) could commit to sponsor one (or more) Yanadi kid’s education for about SG$40/month. You could also give to build the shed for the 3rd Grace Camp at about SG$3000 (includes furnishings).
If you wish to support Pastor Johnson in his good work, we would like to form a Whatsapp chat group that includes you, Pastor Johnson and others, so we could help in an informed and responsible way that encourages accountability. Please however note that we are merely facilitating to begin this aid towards Pastor Johnson. We will be unable to commit to coordinating this moving forward nor could we ensure the integrity of it (as much as we do trust Pastor Johnson). But we do encourage you to establish a connection directly with Pastor Johnson through the chat group. You are most welcome to make personal visits to Pastor Johnson’s ministry in India.
Please text us at 91868819 if you are interested to help Pastor Johnson in anyway. Pastor Johnson also happens to be available in Singapore on the 22-Nov – if you like to get in touch with him please do it through the above number as well. Lastly, could you help us forward this message to those who could be able to support Grace Camp’s work. Thank you.
“It was very enlightening and useful, especially since it discussed the major issues a Christian is currently facing today.” – Cheryl
“It was an invaluable contribution to the Christian landscape in Singapore..” – Ruth
Features and highlights
Exposed Session 1: Panel – “A broken spirit and a contrite heart O God You will not despise..”
Moderator: ..[C]an you give a headline of why you are here today?
Henry: First of all, I am very glad to be able to share my story with all of you today, and to have my wife alongside. We flew in from Hong Kong and arrived yesterday afternoon. About 8 years ago, I had been in jail for engaging in taking naked photos of underaged girls. The court psychiatrist clinically diagnosed me to be suffering from paedophilia, and he wrote in the court report that there will be no treatment for me as it is incurable.
Privin: ..I am a little more poetic.. Light (has come) – darkness cannot understand. If I should label myself with a worldly tag I call myself gay. Say gay and you will think of happy people, rainbows, parties, what not. Yes that is what they are but they are not. It is a pit of darkness actually. It is a pit of darkness that leads you to many other dungeons of darkness. Ten years ago I found light. And it is the light of our world. The Lord lifts me out of this pit. But each time I scurried back inside. And when I scurried back inside He still lifts me up and He turns me back from the pit.
Moderator: Thank you.. Henry you mentioned you were struggling with pedophlia.. Were you born that way or were there influences that you think might have resulted in your very unique attraction?
Henry: When I was 4, 5 years old, there were a few occasions that my dad led me to touch my mother breasts while they were having sex. I couldn’t remember whether I witnessed the whole sex process, but I am sure this happened a few times.
Starting from that time, I started to have a lot of sex fantasies. I fantasised on sexual scenes all the time, like when I was about to sleep, and traveling on MRT.
I started to engage in sex games with another young girl who is my close relative. She was only about 2 years old while I was about 5 years old, and we had these activities for 8 years until I was 13 years old when I became a Christian. Luckily, we didn’t have sexual intercourse. After I became a Christian I confessed my sexual activities to my church mentors, who advised me to stop of course. They came to visit my mum and told her about the sexual activites. Since then, we stopped these acts.
However, even though I stopped those acts with my relative, I continued to struggle with sexual fantasies of puberty girls. When I was 19, it was the time the Internet became popular. I found some preteen girls websites and I was highly attracted. I don’t think pedophilia is a sexual preference I was born with, but the cause is highly related to my childhood sexual experience and the preteen girls websites.
(Note: Henry would later clarify with us that by “preteen,” he primarily refers to the age range of between 13-15.)
Moderator: Henry just to clarify – you were five years old when your dad got you in to “touch your mum?” That’s really young.
Henry: Yes it was. I could remember during that time when I was in kindergarten, I fantasised a lot – to have sex with my classmates and teachers.
Moderator: Wow. Often times we look at children as if they are invulnerable. I would tell you, as a professional counsellor. My own experience was that at five years old, I stumbled upon a pornographic magazine in my home. I didn’t know what I was seeing but I felt high within me. So my dad kept the magazine but you know what, within days, I was climbing onto the bed opening up his shelves. I didn’t know what I was doing but I wanted to see the magazine again. Your story kind of reminded me.. 5 years old.. it affected me in later part of my years as I struggled with pornography.. I really want to say this as a counsellor that kids are very vulnerable. When you introduce a doorway into sexuality at a very young age, where you place stimulants before them, it can influence and affect their lives tremendously. We don’t need more encouragement to experiment with sex at that young age. I am very sure that your dad would not have done that if he knew the kind of influence it would have made in your life..
We are going to come back to this story. Now over to Privin. How about yourself? What’s very common out there is that if you are having same-sex attraction then you are born this way. I want to hear your opinion on that or what you think might have influenced you.
Privin: I have to work this in the reverse. 10 years ago, I became Christian in the darkest hour of my life. I was in a top school. It was a boys’ school. I was effeminate. The boys were not the kindest to me. They noticed. They bullied me. It got to a point when I started rejecting myself. There are two ways to go. One, I can reinforce my identity. The other, I try to fit in. Thank God I tried to fit in – because it failed miserably. So it was double the rejection.
When it was double the rejection, I rejected myself as a whole, depression set in. When depression set in, my grades started dropping. I was not myself. Willpower was gone. I was referred to the school counsellor. The school counsellor heard from me what kind of weird ideas I had of the world. I was so depressed that I even rejected myself – there was no “ME”: I had these ideas of how we are born into the world with a brain that we have no control; it was given to us by our parents and their brains were given to them by their parents and so on and so forth. This brain when you come out of your mother’s womb interacts with an environment which you have no control over. Where is YOU? So I had no willpower at all.
I told this to my school counsellor and I believe she got a shock out of it. She’s seated amongst you today actually. I haven’t talked to her in about ten years. She’s now going to see the fruit the Lord has borne.
When I was referred to the school counsellor she referred me to Leo. Leo was a counsellor back then and you would think he would go through the routines of secular counselling – he did not. He listened to me and at the end of the session he asked me if I was willing to go for a talk with him and his cell group which I agreed to. I do not know why I agreed to it as well.
Moderator: I was very nice during the session maybe?
Privin: (Laughs.) We went to the talk – it was a talk by a prophet. The prophet just turned to me, he said my life is going to change. You know I was new to all this and I thought prophet would always say such things. Little did I know such big words do not come by daily. And it did change. So that night, Leo prayed for me. And when he prayed for me there was revelation:
It brought back me back to a traumatic incident when I was five years old. My cousin was home and my father was around. He made my cousin sweep the floor and he threw sweet wrappers onto the floor. I got offended by that and I went up to him to just give a light slap on his cheeks. He got really angry. He carried me and he held me out of the window. It was so traumatic I was crying for hours after that. God brought me back to that incident just to tell me that I had resented my father and my problematic identity was because of that.
So you can see how gays out there without God in the equation will never come to such realisations. That traumatic incident would just have been a traumatic incident. But the Lord had to tell me I resented my father through that. It is very easy for gays to be thinking they are born that way because such traumatic incidents happen very early in their childhood and that’s the earliest memory they had of themselves being gay.
Moderator: Thank you Privin. Maybe I can help you share it in a chronological order. At 5 years old, a little incident at home – the dad held him out of the window. His life dangled before him – you didn’t know whether your dad will let go or not. But from that day onwards you rejected your dad. You have two main caregivers. One is the masculine version one is the more feminine version. So you rejected your dad. Then the only person you can turn to was your mum because you are going through so much turmoil, so you associated more and modelled after your mother. When you went to school you didn’t know that your mannerism was more like your mum and the children saw it. Kids being kids, don’t know how to handle friends who are slightly different from them. They started laughing; they started bullying and that wasn’t helpful. That caused you to be rejected further.
Privin: Yes my mother was my safe place. I took her as my role model in more ways than one. I became like her – my mannerisms – and the kids did not take well to it. They saw me as different.
Later on, a few months after I became Christian, the Lord again, showed me through a spiritual encounter…
(Click on the audio to listen to the whole panel from 17min onwards.)
Exposed Session 2: Finding Freedom in Surrender
“I believe that we were created to have our identity and intimacy to align. I believe that it’s very important to everyone because we were designed that way. I believe that we are able to love when we know who we are. I believe that we discover who we are in the process of loving as well. I think that all these things have to be approached together. I believe that God is the original embracer of your individuality.. but not just in a physical way, but your spirit and your soul as well.. People are impacted when you see pass every layer to their spirit.. people are so used to being seen in boxes.” – Charis.
Exposed Session 3: Millennials ARISE – a Redemptive Vision and Mission of the Honour Generation
“The trait in itself is neither good nor bad. It’s how we use it, how we express it that makes a difference. When teenagers go through a phase called individuation the healthy expression of that is that they gain autonomy.. the unhealthy expression of individuation is rebellion. It is not an inevitable outcome that kids will grow up to be rebellious teenagers.. See millennials in a redemptive way… ARISE.. Authentic; Relational..; Inquisitive..; Socially Responsible..; Entitled.. hear me out, I will redeem this term..” – Raphael
Moderator: In the context of what we have been talking about – redeeming sexuality etc – do you think that biblical laws are still relevant in our lives?
Leo: .. The Law reveals who God is. Let me substantiate.. Now this conference – do you think we had objectives, or did we run it randomly? We had objectives. Same thing for law. Do you think God set his laws with objectives and purpose? Yes He does. Then you ask the second question. If He has a purpose for His laws, how about His purpose? Is it grounded on anything? Again if you ask this question, you realise His purpose and objectives are grounded on WHO HE IS. It’s not random. It’s not based on His whims and fancies. But the laws of God lends you perspectives into knowing WHO GOD IS.
Moderator: Do you have a concrete example?
Leo: If you study into the laws of God.. God has two principles behind His judicial system / law. The first principle – His laws are primarily corrective, or educative. This means that when God gives a judicial sentence, He does not seem to be so much to be doing so for the sake of punishment, but for correction or education. Secondly, I discovered that His laws are primarilypreventive. What do I mean by this? If God has to remove an individual for the sake of safeguarding (protecting) the larger community, He would do it objectively and execute His justice.
Moderator: Since we are all presumably bible-believing Christians, are you able to show us how you got these principles, otherwise, why must we believe you?
Exposed Session 6: Biblical Justice and the Gospel
Part 1: What is God revealing prophetically through “1111” and the Gospel of the Kingdom
“This conference is not by chance. There is a divine arrangement, collaboration that God had put all of us through.” – Ps Ian, 3:16 church
“I saw a picture of a spade, and I heard ‘dig deeper.’ I felt that God would use the conference to dig deeper into the foundations of things to strike at the core, to show everyone the heart of the matter. I sensed that God will use the conference to shine a spotlight on what He wants people to really pay attention to and focus on. When light is shone on these issues, it’s clear as day what they are and will be impossible to ignore.” – Raphael
“As I sit and listen intently, I can’t help but realised that it was a powerful prophetic moment where God’s spirit downloaded His vision and critical revelations. There was such congruence in the things each speaker shared that was beyond expectation – truth as indisputable, indispensable foundational bedrock for love; honouring our church fathers; justice and kingdom. Many teared when ministered to at the end. God proved to us that it was possible to impart His truth uncompromisingly and still carry it out with a strong spirit of love that will touch hearts.” – Leo, VOW
When God created Adam, He commanded Adam to “subdue” (steward) the earth (Gen 1:28). Primarily, this is a cultural mandate.
Physically, earth already belongs to God. Scriptures taught that all things were created in, for and through Christ (Col 1:16). Not a single inch of earth does not belong to the Kingdom of God.
But while there was ownership of the physical, God’s Kingdom culture still has to be cultivated throughout earth for her flourishing. This was the cultural mandate to Adam.
The Essence of God’s Kingdom
Let’s pause to think what a kingdom is. A kingdom is the realm where a king has dominion over. It includes the king’s subjects and His land, and his governance over them.
Now think about what a healthy kingdom should look like. A king may have subjects but what if his subjects are disloyal to him? The king may be overthrown in a coup and his kingdom lost in an instance.
Therefore, a healthy kingdom includes more than just subjects, lands and governing rules. It would include non-physical qualities like loyalty, willing submission, respect, trust, equity, justice, mercy, love, meaningful communication, strong relationships, welfare, wellness etc.
These non-physical valueswithin the subjects make up the culture of the kingdom. Culture is like the ground zero reflection of the values of a people.
A healthy kingdom would have a flourishing culture. God knows this clearly. In fact, in God’s Kingdom, culture is His priority. Jesus Himself says: “The kingdom of God does not come with observation,” (Luke 17:20). He then declares, “For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (v21)
What’s “within” us are the intangible values we carry
What’s “within” us where the Kingdom of God is found? It’s none other than the intangiblevalues God’s people carry. In God’s eyes, these intangible values are more precious than physical emphases. Hence, even while Adam was still physically around, Adam no longer advanced God’s kingdom, because he no longer carried the King’s values as priority. After his life got mired with sin at the fall, he needed to be redeemed and sanctified to be able to overcome sin. Otherwise, with sin overtaking his nature, his authority over earth will serve the devil’s purposes.
This thread of how God values the intangible i.e. priestly values, MORE than the physical i.e. priestly robes, is paramount to understanding what Kingdom on earth means, and how Kingdom advances i.e. culturally. It is consistent throughout Scriptures and God keeps emphasising on it.
Remember what God told Samuel who was looking for the next king of Israel to anoint – “for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7). This also after king Saul, a person of great kingly stature by physical measurements, was found to be ruled by sinful attitudes in his heart. So Samuel eventually anointed David, an insignificant shepherd boy, but whom God said, was “a man after mine own heart.” (1 Sam 13:14)
Israel grew powerful and prospered under David’s leadership, who then passed the throne to his son Solomon, who built God a glorious temple. Under Solomon, Israel became the wealthiest and most glorious nation on earth. World’s leaders paid tribute to them! If kingdom of God is measured materially, surely this is it! Yet God had no qualms judging Israel when king Solomon’s heart turned away from Him (1 King 11:11) – Israel’s glory was destroyed in one generation and the kingdom of Israel split into half! God is no respecter of material glory!
Less you think this pattern of judgement was unprecedented. On the contrary, it has always been characteristic of God. God almost destroyed Israel in their entirety for worshipping a golden calf (Exo 32:10); for disobeying him with unbelief in entering the promise land (Num 14:12). God destroyed the glorious temple Solomon built for Him. When God’s people do not submit to His Lordship or carry His priestly values, all physical, material, religious achievement mean nothing to Him.
Therefore, the essence of God’s kingdom is cultural, not physical. God rejects all our religious offerings when our hearts are not right before Him. But when our hearts are fully surrendered, we manifest the most basic quality of Kingdom – Lordship i.e. complete obedience to the King’s will.
Lordship i.e. complete obedience to the King’s will – the most basic quality of Kingdom
Hence, for the end of kingdom on earth, what God needs most are not big congregations, physical monuments, material wealth, or religion. What He needs is a people who would revere Him as King and exhibit His values as priests. This culture of Kingship and the counter-cultural values of this kingdom community will inevitably rub against the marketplaces of the world steep into other cultures. This is how salt and light impact communities and nations.
Is there Kingdom culture in your church? Among your community? Or are we just a bunch of religious people steep into religious routines? The converts we make are culturalised into a dead and irrelevant religion, making zero to little impact on the cultures of the marketplaces and nation. Are we content with church growth making quick converts without discipleship that produces disciples of nations? Are we content with preaching about all the means of what makes up kingdom but never pursuing God’s kingdom on earth as our end?
The cultural mandate given 6000 years back by the King to Adam is in fact the Kingdom mandate. And Christ recommissioned the Kingdom mandate to the church – through the great commission. The great commission states that we are to “make disciples of all nations“ (cultural mandate), “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Lordship). Contrary to widespread practice, this is different from “converting everyone everywhere by getting them to say the sinners’ prayer.” Two important clarifications need to be made.
1. Disciples, not Converts
First is about discipleship. A sinners’-prayer-spiritual-conversion-focused-evangelism without subsequent emphasis on a lifestyle of Lordship leads to widespread nominal practice of Christianity. Such has never been God’s intent for what church is.
Examine carefully what Jesus said when he was asked by a law expert, “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25)Jesus didn’t answer as how modern evangelism methods would e.g. say the sinners’ prayer.
Jesus’ answer was straightforward: Do the greatest two commandments which is to love God with everything (Lordship), and love your neighbour as yourself (King’s values), (“all the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” – Mat 24:40) and you will have eternal life! Christ’s answer implies that salvation comes from biblical living. Christ expects all believers to be disciples who surrender it all to follow Him (Luke 14:33).
Deviation from Christ’s Word and way has led to devastating consequences. During reformation, the “church” was a continental empire, but their might was used to suppress worship; and they killed hundreds of thousands to retain their power. In more recent history, Hitler’s Germany was 50% Protestant and 45% Catholic, but it did not stop the nation of “Christians” from embracing “Positive Christianity,” where Christ was presented as Aryan and the Jews denounced. One has to ask again – what’s the point of mass conversions when Lordship and the King’s values are compromised?
So here I say again. It’s never God’s intent for churches to be practising nominal Christianity without emphasis on discipleship / Lordship.
2. The Cultural Mandate is missing because we have not understood “Nations”
Secondly, the understanding of our cultural mandate is missing because we don’t understand why the great commission would use the word “nations”. This is partly because we have looked at the great commission in isolation, and had not considered it from the parts of Scriptures where He reveals His Kingdom heartbeat.
From “Mankind” to “Israel” to “Church”
God’s Kingdom heartbeat is revealed right at the beginning of creation, when He commanded the father of mankind i.e. Adam, to “subdue” the earth. After Adam failed, God called out Abram and said, “in you all the familiesof the earth shall be blessed” (Gen 12:8) and “all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 22:18) While God would call individuals, it was clear that His greater purpose has always been for the world – its peoples and their cultures. God is jealous for His Kingdom on earth and has always been in the process of “calling out” kingdom agents who would advance His Kingdom culturally on earth! (note: even the word Church is actually “Ekklesia” in Greek which essentially means His “called out” onesi.e. kingdom agents.)
Note how God calls Israel His “kingdom of priests and a holynation” (Exo 19:6). Israel was more than just “numbers” to God. It matters that His people manifest priesthood not by robes but by values. If they do not exhibit kingdom values, they denounce the very purpose God calls them out for. However, if they live according to their purpose, they would become a holy nation. A HOLY nation is a cultural manifestation, not physical. Again, it highlights what God is after – the cultural mandate.
But this spotlight on Israel then shifts to Christ – Israel’s Messiah. When Israel as a nation rejected Him, salvation went to the Gentiles, who gets grafted into His Kingdom. But less you think God’s story with Israel as His ekklesia is over – it’s just postponed till the times of the gentiles is fulfilled.
23 And they (Israel) also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? 25 For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved.. – Rom 11
A new entity unlike the nation of Israel emerges. Made up of both Jews and Gentiles, as “one new man” (Eph 2:15), the Church is unlike a nation. As an entity, they are not supposed to operate with political sovereignty, amass military might or possess territorial land. But the Church is His ekklesia nevertheless. Jesus emphatically taught all believers to pray daily, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Reexamine Christ’s statement. Isn’t that the Kingdom mandate? God wanted earth! All peoples; all cultures; all nations. Church is His chosen agent to advance His kingdom to earth, as mankind, and the nation of Israel once was!
But it is important to clarify: How would an entity not supposed to have political sovereignty, military might or territorial land bring about the Kingdom of God over all the earth? The answer is found in the gospel Christ preached and the life He lived.
Unlike modern evangelism which often fails to expound on Kingdom, the gospel Christ preached was the gospel of the Kingdom – about the Kingdom of God. And how was the Kingdom like? Christ laid down the most unbelievable standards of Kingdom living. The beatitudes (which I like to see it as the “be” attitudes) begins: Blessed are the poor in spirit.. Blessed are those who mourn; the meek; those who hunger and thirst for righteousness etc. These are non-physical values“within” the believer. Conventionally, kingdoms advance physically by sword and might. But Christ is telling people that the Kingdom of God is discovered in those who live counter-culturally with full dependence on God.
But the Kingdom culture was just too radical as an alternative reality to the world’s. How can anyone believe that by being meek, one can inherit a kingdom? Jesus showed the church how it was done. While Christ never preached His death and resurrection as the gospel, He DEMONSTRATED IT! Through which reveals the EVIDENCE of God’s Kingdom and the EPITOME of Kingdom living! By submitting His will completely to the Father’s even unto death, Christ won a lion-like victory over sin in a lamb-like manner. The love and power of the crucified Christ became a reality, through which the church overcame the shackles of fear, death, unbelief, bondage to sin and condemnation etc. They gained the ability to shine counter culturally, reflecting God’s justice, holiness and righteousness, as salt of the earth, light of the world. This is the alternative reality resounded by the gospel of the Kingdom, witnessed not by religion, but by the lives of all compelled henceforth, to live by the values of Christ their King.
Christ’s death and resurrection was The King’s best testimony about His Kingdom – and today, salvation through Christ forms the central piece of the gospel. However, we have dropped the whole context by which this central piece hangs from – the Kingdom of God. This has led to deep misunderstanding of the mission of the gospel, as we have reduced the end of “kingdom on earth through a culture of Lordship” to “make heaven-focused spiritual converts.” Without emphasis on Lordship as discipleship, and the cultural mandate as mission, the church has grown numerically by means of conversions but is largely devoid of Kingdom culture and the conviction to transform nations.
Spiritual conversions are not without merit – but it merely begins a process and is not the end. To “make disciples of all nations” meant that God is invested in the values of individuals AND the cultures of communities – from families to marketplaces to nations. There are considerations to at least three components. First is personal: Are we first and foremost a disciple? Second is communal / church: Are we making disciples? (not just converts) Third is societal: Are we discipling nations? God’s end is to move in and through these three components till all the nations in the world are culturally reflecting His Kingdom in heaven. Woe to us if we build church as our end; instead of perfecting her to be the means for God’s Kingdom as end. (On this note, I had written about God’s gracious 11th hour warning of judgement for the Singapore church with regards to our apathy toward justice and indifference toward truth)
Revelations 5 records the “beginning of the end”, when the heavenly seals are broken. Christ who was slain is the one worthy to “break the seals and open the scrolls.” As He did, the elders sang: “from every tribe and language and people and nation.. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God” (v9;10). The vision of God from creation in Genesis, to His end in Revelation, has always been about a Kingdom of priests who He could call His. He will soon return to see to the completion of His restoration of Kingdom on earth, but meanwhile, the church is to “occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13) and to preach (plus live out) the gospel of the kingdom.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. – Mat 24:14
The Old Testament Template – Landa Cope. One of the classics on how gospel is “reduced” if it is only salvation focused and not about discipling nations.
Myles Munroe’s take on Rediscovering The Kingdom. The cultural mandate very clearly explained. Well watched.
Dutch Sheets on how the great commission is about discipling nations to see God’s culture on earth:
NT Wright, scholar and academic on making God King on earth as He is in heaven. There are shorter versions of his videos online.