Going home

Pastor David Yonggi Cho, the Senior Pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church died on 14 Sept 2021, age 85. He had retired in 2008. The church with 500,000 members founded by Cho is the largest Pentecostal Church in the world. Cho opened the church in 1958 and by 1964, it already had 3,000 members.

A Singaporean mega church pastor called the late Yonggi Cho a true father of faith, and a true hero of faith. He was indeed a true hero and father of the Christian faith whose walk with Jesus Christ greatly impacted millions and the entire Korean nation.

Not surprisingly, the Singaporean church pastor has forgotten to mention that although Cho labored and founded the largest evengelical charismatic church, he was also a convicted criminal. The world may not remember him as a hero but one whom, as a father, tried to protect his corrupt son for decades before he and his son were convicted in 2014, for a serious crime of embezzling millions from the church in 2002 to help his son which Yonggi hid despite rebukes from several church elders.

On Feb 23, 2014 after the guilty verdict and suspended jail sentence, Pastor Cho declared “through this suffering, I’ve learned a homework. An individual shouldn’t possess anything besides health… Status, fame, authority, money.. These are all matters that are outside the body and unworthy of any pursuit”.

Pastor Yonggi Cho was caught because a group of 28 elders from his Yoido Full Gospel Church had earlier stood up in public against the pastor with the allegations in Sept 2011 which the court later found to be true. The elders were then sacked by the church for refusing to withdraw the allegations. Perhaps these unamed ones are the true heroes of faith, the whistle blowers.

My mind drifts back to my many gay Christian friends who died due to the condemnation of the Evangelical charismatic churches in Singapore. Perhaps these are the true heroes of faith because the still believed that Jesus Christ is Lord, God and Saviour until the very end. They had gone through much sufferings. Their funerals were short and quickly held and few remembers them anymore. What was their sin? Surely they did not embezzled tens of millions?

At the end of his life, Cho realised that a life of simplicity and simple faith in the Kingdom of God is much to be valued rather than a life of glory, fame, status and wealth.

A “hero” of liberal faith who also died this week is Bishop Spong of Episcopal Church of Newark Diocese. He was the Left wing hero against the foundational Christian faith based on the Bible as the Word of God declaring Jesus as the way, truth and life as God and Saviour whom he vehemently rejects. Many of my friends are like him and attends church, churches which are often devoid of power and presence of the Holy Spirit to save and touch lives because Jesus Christ is rejected, a church by name only.

In his book “Christianity must change or die!” published Apr 1999, Bishop spong called for Christians to reject the basic foundations of the blibical Christian faith including the resurrection, the Bible as the Word of God, and virgin birth. Instead of expelling their Bishop, Spong became a hero for the Episcopal Church who had plunged into apostasy during the prior 50 years. The Christian Right in the Anglican South used the issue of gay rights to condemn the Episcopal Church, which was a red herring instead of condemning the heresy of Spong

Twenty two years later, at his death, Spong was not wrong but identified the wrong church. The church is dying but it was mostly his Episcopal Church who had rejected Jesus Christ death and resurrection who are facing imminent death and steep decline. With just over 500,000 in church Sunday attendance and declining at a steep rate, it had fallen to being smaller than Yonggi’s charismatic evangelical church when it had hitherto had 2 million attendance in the 1960s, and was the major mainline church in the US. Spong raised his fist against the Cross of Calvary, and the Holy Spirit was taken from the church.

By 2009, ten years after his book, Spong already knew his call for the death of the Evangelical charismatic church was fake news and it was his own Episcopal Church that was facing death. But the Anglican South responded not by condemning the grave heresies but using gay marriage as the scapegoat as a weapon against the Episcopal church. Hence, it gave Spong the opportunity to declare victory in his famous manifesto of 15 Oct 2009 where he declared gay rights will soon prevail against the Christian Right, and he became a champion of the weak against an unrighteous hypocritical Christian Right. And victory did come…

1. Gay marriage was legalised in South America (Brazil in 2013)

2. Gay marriage was legalised in Europe (France 17 May 2013, UK in March 2014, Germany 01 Oct 2017) .

3. Gay marriage was legalised in the US in June 2015.

4. Gay marriage was legalised in Asian Pacific nations (New Zealand 18 Aug 2013, Australia on 09 Dec 2017, Taiwan 24 May 2019) .

What Bishop Spong did not realised that God used his unbelief to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world. The end of the world was not some remote village, but the inner cities with her gay outcasts. The Bishop became a true hero for the marginalised. At the end of his life, he became a true hero not of faith but of the unnamed and forgotten that God was not the anti gay God of Israel potrayed by the Christian Right. The Bishop has long rejected blibical Christianity where Jesus is Lord and Saviour even though part of a Church.

How does God of Israel sees them? the heroes of the Christian Left and Right? How does God sees us?

Firstly, we are defined by how we respond to Jesus Christ as God Almighty, Saviour and the resurrected Lord. Without our sins being forgiven and borned by Jesus Christ, we are unforgiven because we cannot save ourselves whether good works or Right living. By default we belong to Satan as part of the fallen world. There are many Bishops and churches who are unbelieving and were never saved since they do not believe in salvation nor eternal life in heaven. In the last days, the wheat and weeds are easier to distinguish.

Secondly, we are defined by our brokenness and humility, understanding God’s grace in our lives with a lack of hypocrisy and absence of self righteousness. God doesn’t see the millions taken by Yongi Cho because the blood of Christ has cleansed him. We do not give grace to others, because we don’t open our hearts to the fullness of God’s grace.

Many Singaporean churches are famous for wearing white against gays. It was not surprising that Kong Hee didn’t mention the criminal conviction of Pastor Yonggi Cho because he didn’t understand that his fall led him to a very much deeper brokenness, humility and understanding of God’s love, grace and mercy. Yonggi cho had failed badly even sacking the 28 elders who had confronted him. God’s grace was always there. All is washed clean in Christ redeeming blood at the Cross of calvary.

Thirdly, we are not defined by what we do for God or how we have sacrificed much, but our walk with God through Jesus Christ in the dark valleys of the shadow of death despite grave challenges to our Christian faith and Christ centered beliefs. Does God sees a Billy Graham or a Benny Hinn much more than a child of God? In fact, God sees the unknown ones living daily by faith in the risen Lord in view of their challenging circumstances highly rather than Christian pastors who lived in castles and fly first class.

At the end of his life, I believe that Pastor Yonggi Cho realised that all he did for God, the fame, the status, and all, did not matter much personally because it was the work of the Holy Spirit and not him, rather more important being in the kingdom of God. He was much broken and humbled, a true hero of faith and of the Kingdom going home.

Going Home

Many times in my childhood, we traveled so far, by nightfall how weary I grow. Fathers arm would slip round me and gently he say, my son we’re going home.

Going home, i’m going home. That’s nothing to hold me here. I’ve caught a glimpse of that heavenly land, praise God, I’m going home.

Now the twilight is fading and the day soon shall end, I get homesick i’m farther from home, but my father has led me each step of the way and now I’m going home.

Why Jesus had to go through Samaria

Many Christians preached about the divorced woman in Samaria that Jesus deliberately visited in the heat of the mid day whose love and compassion for the sinner is contrasted with the law based Jewish religious zealots of the day. The liberals took a step further by talking about Jesus accepting minority groups, but conveniently ignored that the Samaritans did not worship pagan gods but the God of Israel. There is however, a far deeper meaning for Samaria represented a deep shame for the Jews and the lost into history of the 10 tribes who had never returned.

The Northern kingdom of Israel was exiled by the Assyrians in 722 BC. In the Southern Kingdom of Judah, the Jews were themselves a returning remnant. Judah was exiled by the Babylonians in 586 BC, and returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in 538 BC during the Persian rule of Cyrus. The Jews found that the Samaritans were camping in their land in the North where Israel had been whilst they were gone with local Jews intermixed with Gentiles. This was a deep insult and betrayal, a divorce per say. They were considered traitors against the Jews.

When Jesus went to Samaria, He visited Sychar, near the field which Jacob gave his son, Joseph. The Northern Kingdom or the Kingdom of Samaria is synonymous of the Lost tribe of Israel which once resided the area as part of the Kingdom of Israel having their capital in the city of Samaria. Sychar was on the main road between the sea of Galilee in the far north near Golan where Jesus has his ministry and Jerusalem.

Sychar was also the place where Abraham first entered Canaan from Babylon, and where God first revealed Himself to Abraham in Gen 12:6 and 12:7. In the last days, the God of Israel will be revealing himself to the lost northern tribes of Israel which Samaria represents.

Forgotten amongst all the focus on love and Jesus’ compassion on the outcasts, was that Samaria was the place where the exiled 10 tribes or the Northern Kingdom of Israel had previously resided in 722 BC. Essentially, Jesus was talking to a remnant whose faith was wilted down to the Torah, or the five books of the bible, and to Mt Gerizim instead of the temple Mt.

When Jesus entered into Samaria meeting the divorced woman with five husbands, it was a spiritual reflection that Samaria a type of people representing the Northern kingdom of Israel being divorced from Judah and had intermixed with the Gentiles and their faiths. Hence, Jesus meeting the woman at the well goes to a very deep level of the women bringing up water to serve the living God hence reconciled the sins of pagan worship of the Northern Kingdom. It was an act of reconciliation by God of Israel to the “lost tribes”.

Jesus did not reveal to Nicodemus, a learned Jewish theologian that He was the Messiah, but rather to the Samaritan women. He sought Jesus in the middle of the night, whilst Jesus sought the woman in the middle of the day. The Samaritans had deserted and betrayed Israel and even after their return did not stand as one against the Roman rule of Jerusalem. But the woman accepted Jesus in the light of day whilst the Jews rejected Jesus only coming in the night.

Why did Jesus have to go back to Jerusalem? It was His decision to be crucified. When Jesus made His way through Samaria, likewise when Jesus returns, He will also return via Samaria, ie the return to the God of Israel of the lost tribes who are now mixed with the Gentiles. In the last days, Jesus will reveal Himself to the lost tribes many who are now worship pagan gods.

We are now at the threshold of history. Judah returned in AD 1967 (2 days or 2,000 from the fall) to Jerusalem where the God of Israel had gathered the remnants of Judah from Europe. It was 70 years after the birth of the Zionist movement for the return in 1897, just as it was 70 years from the birth of Jesus to the fall of the 2nd temple with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. The land was wrenched out of the rule of the Ottomans in 1917 and 50 years later in 1967, the return of Jerusalem. The period of 50 years of grace of world peace and peace in Israel from 1973 to 2023 will soon be over. The next 20 years from 2017 to 2037 will be world shaking, just as the world trembled from 1897 to 1917, from Zionist Conference, through WW1 and the capture of Israel. The events will be centered on the missing tribes in the middle east.

Incredible tribulation is coming upon the nations who have conquered, exiled and persecuted Judah and Israel. The God of Israel is shaking the nations for their return including the lost tribes from the ends of the world whilst shaking the Romans, Ottomans, Persia, Assyrian and the Arab Calipths. For the return of Jesus would also have to come back in the way of Samaria where the Holy Spirit is moving.

The meaning of town Samaritan Sychar where Jesus visited is “the End”. The woman had 5 husbands representing the fact that the lost tribes went to bed with many other nations until their unique existence with their first husband, who is the God of Israel, had almost been lost in history. So as we see a stirring up of the lost tribes by the God of Israel there would be havoc in the land and downfall of great nations and powers, just as the nations had hitherto conquered and destroyed Samaria and Jerusalem and exiled her peoples to the ends of the World. The return of the lost tribes and tulmultous events in the next decades will shake the nations and bring down many faiths.

Jesus will again go out to find the lost sheep and redeemed the deep shame that the Jews had suffered by the loosing the entire kingdom of the North, or the Kingdom of Israel, whom the modern namesake of Israel bears her name from yet not having any of the returning remnants. But the God of Israel, the Messiah, will visit the lost tribes and bring them back from Mt Gerizim to Mt Zion in Jerusalem. Jesus took the very little water that the woman could give from a well that really doesn’t belong them, and return gave her ever living water. This is God’s amazing grace to the remnant.

The End is coming, and Jesus is reaching out to the Lost tribes of Israel and they will repent and return, for the building of the 3rd temple is near. For God is faithful and a God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with an everlasting Covenant. It was Jacob’s well that the Samaritan women took from, essentially reminding God of the Abrahamic Covenant when Jesus drank from the well. Great wars and tribulations are coming.