Christ’s Finished Work – Deliverance

Deliverance, in charismatic and Pentecostal circles, refer to the ministry that sets people free from demonic oppression and activity in their lives. Deliverance in this narrow sense is definitely one of the benefits of receiving Christ’s finished work. It is quite clear from Colossians 1:13 that God has delivered us from the kingdom of darkness under Satan’s rule, to the kingdom of light, under the lordship of Christ.  “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son”. In the next chapter verse 15, apostle Paul gave the basis of this deliverance as the finished work of Christ: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Satan was defeated by Christ through his death and resurrection, and we Christians are no longer under his dominion or power.

Other attacks of the devil

Deliverance is not merely being set free from the demonic oppression. We also do not have to be afraid when we go through trials and temptations because the devil has no power over us. During such times, as in the case of the Christians apostle Peter wrote to, the devil prowls around persecuted Christians like a hunter after its prey, seeking to devour them, but if they dug in, endured suffering and persecution, and resisted the efforts of Satan to coerce them to give up our faith, they will be victorious (1 Peter 5:5-9 compare with 1 Cor 10:13).

Deliverance includes overcoming Satan’s fiery attacks on our mind and body. Jesus was attacked in his mind, appetite and desires during his forty days fast, and it was his faith in God that delivered him from the devil’s lies. In the same way, deliverance for all Christians can come through putting on the whole armour of God and fighting the fight of faith, and victory is possible only because of Christ, who is our shield, sword, belt, breastplate, helmet, and shoes (Eph 6:12-17).

Other kinds of deliverance

By extension, deliverance includes our deliverance from the coming wrath of God on the day of judgment (1Thess 1:10), from the power of sin in our life (Rom 7.23), from the power and influence of a world-system that does not bow to Christ (Gal 1:4), and from earthly enemies and persecutors(2 Tim 4:18).

The Old Testament has a more physical idea of deliverance and the main one was God’s rescue and deliverance of the people of Israel out of danger, death and bondage to slavery in Egypt in the Red Sea miracle. Of course this event pointed to Christ’s salvation of people who are slaves to sin, death and the devil. However, the physical and practical aspects of deliverance is for us as well.

The meaning of deliverance in the Old Testament was defined by the experiences of people in trouble and this includes sickness (Ps 107:20), fears (Ps 91:3), troubles (Ps 50:15), persecutors (Jer 1:7,8) and enemies (2 Sam22:1), and most relevant to us in these days of Covid-19 pandemic – deliverance from plagues (Ps 91:3). Israelites have experienced countless deliverances in their lives and so describe their God as the Deliverer (2 Samuel 22:2; Ps 40:17). We Christians can experience all these too, because it is in God’s nature to deliver and rescue and save his children. Christ’s finished work is an expression of God the Deliverer, and we should not limit our expectation of deliverance to spiritual blessings only, but to include the practical day to day occasions when we need his intervention and rescues.

(This is part 4 of a series: “A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”)

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Deaf Faith Fellowship: praying for healing and deliverance

So what is it like to preach to the deaf congregation?

This year, I made myself available to preach in the other congregations’ services. So I was given a date to preach in the deaf church. I would have a sign language interpreter. So I got the sermon on prayer ready and sent it to her so she could familiarise herself with the vocabulary. Actually, Mui Kheng was so good it was not necessary.

I found this out because at the last moment (on Saturday) I felt I needed to change the sermon and quickly sent her the new script. However she did not receive it but it did not affect her interpretation at all. She was that good.

The deaf worship is unlike what anyone would imagine. Its not silent worship. Its  almost an energetic dance with hand actions and loud drum rhythms. It awakens you. It shakes you up. You are amazed and puzzled: if they cannot hear why such loud drumbeats. I found out they can feel the vibrations and rhythm. Hmmm.

 

I preached about how Jesus cast out evil spirits from a man in the synagogue and how he came to heal and deliver people under attack from evil spirits. After the message, I read out a list of illnesses and ailments that I believed the Lord wanted to touch and heal. Many came out to the front for prayer. They were so open and hungry.

We took our time to patiently pray for each one, working with translators. I had requested Rev Mary and Ginny to be present to pray for the sick and they were gracious and eager to minister to the sick with faith and compassion. We formed three prayer teams, each of us with a sign language interpreter, and it took us 45 minutes to pray for everyone.

At the end of it we felt satisfied and glad to be used of the Lord to bless the deaf congregation. Even if all were not healed and some felt only some percentage of progress, we pray the healing work will continue in their bodies, and that at least they had felt somebody cared, and God cared for them.

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Christ’s Finished Work: Salvation

For most Christians, the word “salvation” means the salvation of the soul from the wrath of God through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, with a careful reading of Scriptures we find that it is used of other things as well, such as being saved from physical drowning (Acts 27:31, Hebrews 11:7). We also discover that salvation has different shades of meaning depending on the context. 

First, it can mean salvation from the penalty of sin, referring to God’s once-for-all deliverance of believers from spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God (Rom 6:23). Christ’s finished work accomplished this deliverance from God’s wrath. “Since therefore we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9). Thus, all believers in Christ have been saved. It refers to a past action.

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Rivers of Life Church: still faithful to the vision

I miscalculated and arrived fifty minutes early at the industrial building for the Sunday service in the Rivers of Life Church, where I was the guest preacher. I joined the intercessors in the prayer room because fifty minutes is a long time to wait, so why not soak in his presence. Two elderly ladies were praying with zest and faith. As I listened, I heard what was on their hearts: the community outreach, the children, the pastors and leaders, Singapore government, the Sunday service, and for me too. I joined in and prayed for the young people in church. 

After that I had a brief chat with Pastor Justin (see above in the middle) who had stepped down as lead pastor and was shown into the office of Pastor Andrew Foo, who is the current lead pastor. All three walls of his office were filled with shelves from top to bottom, overflowing with books. Sign of someone with the gift of teaching. He remarked honestly, “I have not read all the books”. Of course, it’s the same with most pastors, we want to read, and book purchases and book gifts, fill our shelves, but our intention and desire fall prey to church needs and work most weeks. He quipped, “Even if I cannot read all of them, some say osmosis works when you are surrounded by books.” I was led to the front and took the opportunity to take a photo of the two pastors because I knew after the service I may not have the opportunity. Pastors are usually occupied on Sundays. Thankfully, he told me beforehand there would be time for lunch after the service, as I am a curious person. 

The service began with some intro music and the Lord’s Table, which they conducted every Sunday. They have these plastic containers with grape juice and a wafer at the entrance and as led, we partook of the elements. Some prophetic words were given by Andrew, and I know that many pastors from the Covenant Pastors fellowship are prophetic. Osmosis? More of iron sharpens iron, and transmission of anointing I believe. 

I must say the worship team was impressive each and every one of the members, but particularly the drummer. If they do transfers like in the English Premier League she will fetch a huge fee. Kidding. The worship was free flow and I could sense the presence of the Lord and it certainly emboldened my preaching. After the sermon, I gave the altar call as I usually do, and people responded, as the Spirit moved over them, and there were some manifestations of the Spirit in holy laughter and falling under the power. I then remembered the intercessors praying for the tangible presence of God in the room. God answered their prayer that morning. 

After the service I went off for lunch with Pastor Andrew at Han’s nearby and I must say it is always a joy to fellowship with pastors. So much in common to talk about I hardly remembered the taste of what I ate. I heard the story of his calling and marriage, how he was “charismatised” while a Presbyterian, worked with the late Canon James Wong for a few years, and counts my Tung Ling classmate Dr John Sim as a mutual friend, and even knows Rev Dr Kong Hee pretty well. He also worked with Dr Augustine Tan and learned a lot about the deliverance ministry. I remember Dr Augustine Tan of the early years of charismatic revival: he had a precious anointing, and I remembered him preaching in my home church too. I thought he was blessed to have had such mentors to work with and learn from. 

Faithful to the vision

I also learned about the steadfast dedication of members to minister to the residents of the rental flats in Henderson. It took many years of loving and patient work and relationship and trust building before some of the residents’ lives were transformed as they turned to Christ. I salute churches that do community outreach. It is tough work but precious in God’s eyes. I was impressed also with their partnership with a pastor in Medan, working with the locals there to plant and grow churches, and even helping to build schools. This ministry has grown and expanded to other parts of the island too. Ps Andrew himself went many times to do training of pastors and workers in Vietnam, Indonesia and India. The Rivers of Life church is fulfilling its destiny. The rivers of living water that Jesus promised to all who thirst and believe flows out of the church to needy people near and far away. They are doing their part in fulfilling the Antioch calling upon the Singapore church. I was very encouraged. 

I also found out that Paul Ooi, the founder/entrepreneur of food and beverage business, Penang Place is the chairman of the church board and his daughter, Jemima Ooi, is amazingly used by God in missions in Africa.

I read what Ps Justin wrote in their website, “In early May 1996, God gave me a vision that He will bring together a people they will glorify Him by flowing together as his River of Life, blessing people through Christian Servanthood, Evangelism and Missions.” It has been about 27 years. I believe that they have been faithful to that vision. May they press on until they hear the Master declare, “WELL DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!” This is the bottom line that matters.

I enjoyed preaching at this church and beginning to get to know the pastors, the church and its rich history.  I drove back with a song in my heart. 

Do read about my other visits to other churches HERE.

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Visiting Nepal

It was a good sixteen years ago, in October 2007, when I last visited Nepal on a trek with friends on the scenic Poon Hill trail. You can see the old video HERE. Things have changed considerably in Nepal. We paid toll to communist insurgents to trek through the areas they controlled. Now they are a legal political party currently in power. Once the beloved royal family was in power, but not anymore. Then there was the great earthquake in April 2015, a very painful scar in the memory of the Nepalese. Over 8000 lost their lives, thousands were rendered homeless, and the World Heritage sites I had visited had been damaged severely.

This time round, I visited Kathmandu, a rural village and hiked up to a remote mountain village. The conditions were starkly contrasting. Shopping shelves were filled with all kinds of foods and goods in the city, but in the village there were only tiny family-run provision shops selling essential foodstuffs. Cafes were abundant in Kathmandu, and you get a wide variety of cuisine, but mostly Western, to cater to the tourists, and oh at so affordable prices for us foreigners: SGD$1.80 for decent coffee latte. Taxis were easily hailed in the city but in the small village only two vehicles were available for hire…. and forget about cafes. Opportunities for good schooling and jobs are better in the capital then in rural and mountain villages. The differences were obvious to me. 

It’s a beautiful country of grand mountains, golden grains, and abundant rivers and streams. The people are beautiful too: a hospitable people albeit weighed down by systemic poverty. This became evident when I travelled outside Kathmandu and talked to locals about the standard of living for the majority of Nepalese. It became clear when I shared in their meals, slept in their mud-houses, and used their squat toilets in the outhouse. I have not known such conditions in my childhood. I was born into the era of SIT apartment living, precursor to HDB flats. As much as I felt uneasy, the inconveniences were bearable for it was for a mere two nights. I recall looking at the young people in the remote mountain village and bemoaning the lost potential if they remained stuck in the mountains. This convinced me that student hostels in Kathmandu are a key help for rural young people to have a better education, increased chances of employment, and some hope of helping their family break free from poverty. 

I also met with committed Christians and we were mutually blessed as we shared with one another. I learned several things: 

  • Casteism exists in Nepal (despite its ban) and those in the lower castes are responding to the good news of Jesus Christ.
  • Nepal has a largely Hindu population of 30 million and proselytizing is forbidden by law. However, there are people turning to Christ, and suffering persecution from family and community is not uncommon.
  • The sharing of the gospel was at times accompanied by remarkable healings and deliverances, leading to whole families coming to Christ. 
  • The Nepalese Christians were hungry to know God and his word. Their worship and singing were infectious and inspiring even though I could not understand Nepalese.
  • Sadly, casteism is so ingrained in the culture, that Christians have generally not completely broken free from it, especially when it came to marriage. 
  • The people of God in Nepal need the help, the come-alongside partnerships with the churches outside of Nepal. They need humble spiritual input and prudent financial support, without donor conditions of wanting control and naming rights. 
  • I was inspired to hear about God’s grace among the unreached people, to witness the deep commitment of the gospel workers, and the simplicity of a movement free from institutional barriers. It felt like the book of Acts has come alive in Nepal. 
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