Part I: By Cathy Zhang
Part II: By Pastor Steve Allen
25 Sep 2011 Sunday
Worship song: I Just Want You 你是唯一
|Verse 1||More than a nice melody
More than the sweetest of words
This is the love I have found
And in this love I am found
|Chorus||I just want You Jesus
I just want You my Lord
I just want You Jesus
I just want You
|Verse 1 CN||胜过最美好旋律 shèngguò zuìMěihǎo xuánlǜ
胜过甜美的言語 shèngguò tiánměi de yányǔ
我找到生命至宝 Wǒ zhǎodào shēngmìng zhì bǎo
因你愛已找到我 yīn Ní aìyǐ zhǎodào Wǒ
|Chorus CN||你是唯一 耶穌 Ní shì wéiyī Yēsū
你是唯一 我主 Ní shì wéiyī Wǒ zhǔ
你是唯一 耶穌 Ní shì wéiyī Yēsū
我需要你 Wǒ xūyào Ní
|Verse 2||Never could I comprehend
The love You so freely give
Never could I be worthy
But Your love covers all of my sin
|Verse 2 CN||我永远无法明白 Wǒ yǒng yuǎn wúfǎ míngbai
你赐下下无比大爱 Ní Cìxià búbǐ Dà ài
无条件舍下生命 Wú tiáojiàn she xià shēngmìng
你爱洗净我一切的罪 Ní Aìxǐ jìng Wǒ yīqiè de zuì
|Bridge||There is no greater love than Yours
Nothing else could ever compare
And even if I search all the world
I will never find a love like Yours
|Bridge CN||你的爱超越世上所有 Ní de ài chāoyuè shìshàng suǒyǒu
沒有人能够与你相比 Méiyǒurén néng gòu yǔ Ní Xiāngbǐ
我愿付出一生来寻求 Wǒ yuàn fùchū yīshēng lái xúnqiú
只愿永远沉浸你爱里 Zhǐyuàn yǒngyuǎn chénjìn Ní àili
Scripture Reading: John 20:29-31
29 Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
Good morning, please join me in a very short prayer:
“Lord, every day we have so many desires in our hearts, please let us understand that you are the greatest provider. And you are always there to make available what we need. Send Your Spirit to us now please, so we may listen and watch now for what You offer us today through Your Word and Your Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
We all know the story of the good Samaritan. But in Chinese context, especially in August, there was a heated discussion. And you will understand that there may be a danger to be a good Samaritan. I do not know if you have followed the news, but in August there was an accident, causing attention all over China. You can see the video. This is the bus driver, he drove a bus one day, crossed the bridge, and there, from the other side, you can see that, there was a bike falling down and there was an old lady laid beside the bus. So this bus driver stopped the bus, went down with the bus ticket conductor. They talked with the lady, and put her aside. The lady later accused him of being the one who knocked her down. The lucky thing is that this bus actually has a camera on it. You know the bus has a camera in the front. So the driver drove to the police station. And show the policemen the video that proved his innocence. He is lucky.
But the other cases happened in 2006 in Nanjing and also later in 2009 in Tianjin, the two young men were not that lucky. The 2006 one in Nanjing, his name is called Peng Yu. And that makes Nanjing quite famous now. whenever people talk about the case of “Peng Yu we all know that it relates to Nanjing. He went down from a bus, and saw a lady. , He claimed that the lady fell down because the bus was very crowded, but the old lady accused him of knocking her down. In Chinese law if you accuse somebody, it is the accuser’s responsibility to offer the proof. But she cannot offer the proof, still the judge asked this young man Peng Yu to pay the fine. You know there was a huge debate because the judge made the final decision through his reasoning. And also the same thing happened in Tianjin a case similar to Peng Yu”. It is also the same thing that the accuser could not offer the proof, and still the person being accused was punished.
So from these cases, it seems to be very true that “seeing is believing”. As the Chinese idiom says, “眼见为实 (yan3 jian4 wei3 shi2)”. And if we cannot see we just cannot believe. So people were hurt a lot, and they feel that we cannot trust the law any more, and we cannot trust people, what else can we trust? And the common knowledge also is like that if you cannot see, you cannot believe.
So it is in the gospel of John, chapter 20. Look at chapter 20, it is all related with seeing and believing. Mary went first. She did not see the body, but she saw the tomb stone was removed, so she went back to tell the brothers and the two brothers came. They did not see the body, they only saw the wrappings. And in verse 8, it is said then the other disciple who reached the tomb first also went in and he saw and believed. He saw and believed. Believed in what? Resurrection? No. Because the next verse says that as yet they did not understand the scripture that He (Jesus) must rise from the dead, so they actually left and went home. And then Jesus showed Himself to the disciples., All the disciples except Thomas saw Jesus and believed. The doubting Thomas insisted that he himself needed to see Jesus and touch in His hands the print of the nailsbefore he could believe. In chapter 20, we see that Jesus also came and showed Himself to Thomas. So Thomas also saw and believed. After all this seeing and believing, Jesus said, “have you believed because you have seen me, blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
As the summary of this whole chapter, the writer said,
“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples which are not written in this book, but these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God and through believing in His name, you may have life.”
So this could be the end of the Book of John, (some thought that this chapter was the first ending of the gospel of John,, maybe the other chapter, chapter 21, was added later). It summarizes that among all the signs, they have chosen to write some of them and recorded them here, but not all signs were recorded. All the signs are not the main purpose, but the signs that are leading to belief, and to believe is related to LIFE.
Throughout the whole chapter, actually, throughout the gospel of John, seeing and believing is always related together, and there is a tension between seeing and believing. Many people believed because they had seen Jesus, like the Samaritan woman and her town people because they saw Jesus and stayed with Jesus, and they believed. And many believed after the miracles of Jesus’feeding many people. And many believed because they had seen the healing power of Jesus. It is natural that after you see and your being touched, you came to believe.
Once in a sermon, I shared that in the doubting Thomas story, for us who have not come to believe, it is ok that you have some doubts. It is ok that you still cannot believe because you cannot see or you have not seen. It is fine and it is natural. But today I want to challenge you. Because maybe you will never get to believe if you only or you always try to stick to believing after seeing.
It is the common, natural or ordinary sequence that we see then we believe. But actually, what we see is not perfectly true. These people around Jesus at that time, they saw Jesus, but they still, even the disciples, could not believe that Jesus could rise up again. And during the last sermon of last Sunday, Professor David Jasper also said about, “Pilate said to the others, ‘Here is the man.’” They all saw the man on the cross, did what they see give them the belief or faith, or lead them to faith? No. So actually, the tension can also be seen from this chapter.
For instance, Mary saw the tomb stone was moved and the tomb was empty. And she saw the angels and then she saw Jesus. Did she recognize Jesus? No. How did she recognize Jesus? It is through hearing. For Mary, seeing is not as good as hearing. Hearing brought her to recognize Jesus because Jesus called her in a familiar way.
For some people you can see, or you can feel that love of God because you can see, feel or hear the stories from somebody else. Seeing is definitely not the only way to believe .On the contrary, if we claim that we have faith we should start from believing or maybe half believing, or try to suspend your habit of seeing and believing. To give it a try, or to experience first, suspend your doubts for a minute, but to do something so that you can start believing.
Come back to the cases I mentioned before because the cases were heatedly discussed and it was on the CCTV actually. Because it is very hurting, people feel that we could not trust the law, we could not trust others, what else could we trust? And actually, we have been talking about the loss of trustworthiness for a long time. It is dangerous, and it is going to be very terrible and horrible to China. Isn’t it depressing if you help somebody like the good Samaritan, but you were accused of being the guilty, and no one could help you, even the law could not help you? Are you going to lose your faith in God? Or are you willing to help others next time? Or are you able to? So if we stick to the doctrine that “seeing is believing”, we are not going to do any good. We are not going to be able to reconstruct our trustworthiness.
We simply have to believe the necessity and goodness of the trustworthy God so that we can act out our trustworthiness, together we can build or reconstruct our moral system to make our community a good witness. At least, our Christian community can be a trustworthy community. But first of all you have to believe. It is impossible actually for others to imagine that to give, you have to give up first. But we can because we believe that Christ has given up Himself for us just to save us. And no matter we are poor or rich, bad or good, we are loved by God and we have been given this gift of believing at first hand and it is free. We are blessed because we believe in Jesus Christ even after 2000 years without eye-witnesses, but we came to believe through all kinds of ways through listening and participation.
Seeing may not help you all the time and what you see may not be true all the time. Seeing could not be the only way to believe in order to reconstruct our trustworthiness with each other. And with God we need to have other ways: listen to your hearts, listen to the people around you, come to church and join the group, talk with people and participate in ministries. Although you may have not reached the belief, or you may not have fully believed, but others have believed, so just give yourself an opportunity to try to suspend your disbelief a little bit, and just participate first, and join the group first. You can gradually come to believe by listening and participation.
Our church has been growing so fast and there are many ministries unprepared or undone. I hope you all can be patient and stay with us, create chances to serve and keep walking with us. Please stay! What I mean is that last Sunday we have called for the small group, and actually we cannot meet all the needs. I just hope that if you notice that. Give us more time and be patient. We are trying and calling for more leaders to serve in this ministry, and your prayers are needed. If you felt you were ignored when you came to the church, please forgive us. We hope you can talk to somebody and someday you will have an opportunity to serve. In this way, while you are participating, listening and joining us, we are together giving our God a chance to suspend our disbelief and only in this way is God helping us come to believe without the need of seeing. Seeing and believing is always a topic, and will always stay in your mind. When you are doubting about this, actually, there is some chance.
And next, we are going to have a pastor from Washington D.C., who is going to talk more about “Seeing and Believing”.
Sermon by Pastor Steve
Good morning, it is a great privilege and honour to bring and share the word of God to this country that I so deeply love. Ms Cathy, I appreciate your words because it is about BELIEVE, it is about believe in that Jesus died on the cross, it is about believe in that Jesus that fills your heart and changes you. That is the belief that I want to embrace. That is the belief that I know many of you here embrace. As you came, as you were deciding this morning what to do with your time in a room this size, there are three types of people. Those that you are just here, a friend invited you, you do not believe, you do not believe in this God of the universe that created the beauty of our country, that put the planets in the motion, that put the stars in the heavens. You know today, September 25th of 2011, might be your day, your day to put your faith in Jesus. You know, some of you have come in here with a child-like faith. You know this belief that Cathy was talking about – see Jesus, and you just want to touch Him, you want to make sense here (the speaker postures to his head), and here (the speaker postures to his heart). And you want to grow. And many of you in this room, you are mature believers, you are hungry for the Word, you are hungry for people to hear about the only true God, the only One that can change the course of mankind. And the last verse of John 20, it says,
“by believing you may have life in His name (the speaker repeats the verse).”
In John 10:10, it says that Jesus came to give you life and to give it abundantly! Not material possessions, not in wealth, but to give you the life that only comes in by in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. That is where the fulfilling life comes. I want to put this into a little bit of practice for you.
If you have your Bible with you, if you would turn to Luke chapter 5, and we are going to start reading in verse one, because no matter where you are, which of these three types of people you are today about your belief, this is what Luke 5 says;
“1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding round him and listening to the word of God,
2 he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets.
3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.
5 Simon answered, Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything.”
Now, hear this verse, hear this line,
“But because you say so, I will do it.”
And you know sometimes God calls us to do things that just seem to be ridiculous. Well, I am supposed to give up my life and surrender my life to follow Him. You know, for my family, what seemed a ridiculous starter 15 years ago – God put this burden in our family to adopt a child. And in our family picture up here (he pointed to the big projector screen) you will see that God has allowed us to adopt three precious jewels from this beautiful country – the low girl holding the “E” on the left, Abby, she is from Chongqing; the girl on the right is Lily, from Guangzhou; and the older one on the far right is from Dongguan. You know, when God told us this, all He said was, “Steve, do you believe me? Do you believe that this is from me?” And it radically changed our life, and it radically changed all five of our children. You know, if you go back to Luke 5, that last line, it says, “But because you say so, I will do it.” I will do it. I will do it. And we are talking about a life-changing moment; we are talking about someone that is going to change the course of history for you, generation after generation after generation embracing the love of the Heavenly Father. That is the Jesus we serve. And I think about what is in 2 Timothy, Chapter 4, verses 9 to 10, , you know sometimes we see those things, but we also see the things of the world, and it says,
“Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”
You know as you heard from John 20, it is about “believe”, it is about “believe”. So for you, today, when Jesus says, “Whom do you say I am?” we have not physically touched His hands, but we have seen Him, we have seen Him at work. We have seen Him in the lives of our friends, but for you, when your head hits the pillow, whom do you say Jesus is? Is He the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of peace, or is He just another great teacher? You know, for those of you that came not believing, we want to give you an opportunity to put your faith in Jesus today for the first time to say that, “Jesus, I give my life to you. I am a sinner in need of a saviour. I have betrayed you, and I want a relationship with you.” Would you pray with me?
Father God, we invite you into this place, and we pray that your Holy Spirit right now would just move in the heart of each person here, that your Holy Spirit would stir up those people that have been wanting that relationship with their Heavenly Father. Lord, today can be the first day for them to put their faith in you.
And if that is you, it is a simple prayer. You do not have to pray my word, you just pray God’s word that, “God, I am a sinner, and I want to believe in you today, I want to become a child of the King, a son of the Most High, a daughter of the King of creation. And I invite you into my life today.”
You know if that is you, the Scripture says, “Whoever confesses me before men, I too will confess before the Father.” If that is you, and you feel comfortable doing so, I am going to invite you to just stand right where you are at, and say, “Jesus, today, I am putting my faith in you.” So if that is you, I just want to invite you to stand now, and say, “Jesus, I am following you today.” Amen, amen, amen!
Now for some of you that are saying “you know, I am a follower of Jesus”, are you willing to answer Luke 5 today -- “Because you say so, I will do it”? What is it that God speaks in your heart? Is it about boldness of faith? Is it about sharing with a neighbour? Is it about reading scripture? Is it about knowing God more intimately? Is it about embracing the power of the Holy Spirit? Is it about doing something that makes absolutely non-sense, like it was for our family. You know we had two children, and God called us to adopt more. And we knew it was the voice of God. Maybe today, God is speaking something to you, and you want to have the faith to do it, you want to have the faith to stand and say, “God, I do not know how it is going to turn out, or how it is going to happen, but I believe in you that this is word from you, and I am willing to act on it.” Now I want to pray for you also, because I know there are many of you in this room, that is you, that God has been speaking to your heart, that God has been moving in your life, that God is putting His people around you. I want to take a minute and pray for you today also.
Jesus, we come to you for these people, Lord, that each one of us would be able to say that “Lord, because you say so, I will do it”, whatever it is. Lord, if it is from you that is where we want to be. Just like you called Joshua to step into a flooding river, and your parted the river, Lord, give us the boldness of faith to respond with “Yes, Lord, yes, Lord!” Lord, we would pray a thousand “YESes” before you even ask. Whatever you ask of us, Lord, we would do that. Jesus, bless those people, and show them what you have for them. Amen.
Ms Cathy, thank you so much for that encouraging words. And I hope today you saw one thing, you saw Jesus. You know from that beautiful song, you just say, “Yesu, Yesu…” it is the name above all names. If that is you, God is stirring up your heart, do not leave today without finding somebody from the leadership team or the worship team to pray for you. Let 25th September be the day that changes your life for ever, because this is the day that the Lord has made. And we are going to rejoice and be glad in it. Amen.
Written, edited and co-ordinated with the help from Katherine, Shirley, Yitian Kong and Franz, Proofread by Liu Laoshi, and the guiding of the Lord.
|Sermon: Seeing and Believing||video||audio||doc|
|Worship song: Everywhere I Go||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Everyone (Praises)||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Jesus||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: I Just Want You 你是唯一||video||audio||lyric|