Great is Thy Faithfulness
There are many hymns sung in churches. But one of the greatest hymns of our century is “Great is thy faithfulness”.
ne of the greatest hymns of our century is “Great is thy faithfulness”. Because this is our anniversary month, it is crucial we are reminded today of God’s faithfulness in our lives.
God’s faithfulness builds faith.
Because this is our anniversary month, it is crucial we learn about God’s faithfulness. Not only to remember what God has done but to know that God’s faithfulness builds faith.
Whatever season you are in, whatever circumstances you are in, whatever situations you are in, whatever problems you are in. God is faithful. He is faithful in every season, circumstances, situations and problems. When God is faithful to us, our faith arises.
The Bible says when we are faithless, God is faithful. But when we see God’s faithfulness in our lives, faith rises. When we see God providence, faith rises. When we see God’s deliverance, faith rises. When we experience God’s healing, faith rises. When we experience God’s power, faith rises.
Whatever season, whatever circumstances, whatever situations, whatever problems, whatever needs. God is faithful. He is faithful in the past and He will be faithful in the future.
God’s faithfulness builds faith.
“Great is thy faithfulness” was first written as a poem. The author was Thomas Chisholm.
It was first written as a poem.
Thomas Obadiah Chisholm
Born in 1866. Thomas came from a poor family and went to a rural school.
MPP: Pentecost is about God’s empowering, God’s uniting and God’s commissioning. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered, united and commissioned. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift to every Christian today.
Born in 1866. Thomas came from a poor family. Because his family was poor, he could only go to a rural school. Then at 16 years old, he became the teacher of the rural school. He only received primary school education.
By 21 years old, he became the associate editor of his hometown weekly newspaper, The Franklin Advocate.
When Henry Clay Morrison, founder of Asbury College and Bible school , came to Franklin for a Revival in 1893, Chisholm attended in order to report on the revival for the paper. He got more than he had planned when he accepted Jesus into his heart and would follow Christ for the rest of his life.
Today is Pentecost Sunday.
With his background as associate editor of The Franklin Advocate, Later, Morrison invited Chisholm to move to Louisville, Kentucky. Once there he became the editor of The Pentecostal Herald. His dream was to serve God in full time ministry.
How many of you are Pentecostals? [raise hands] How many of you know you are Pentecostals? [raise hands] How many of you don’t know and don’t care? Don’t raise your hands.
So in 1903, he became an ordained Methodist Minister. But due to poor health, he was forced to resign. He then moved to New Jersey and began selling life insurance, while remaining active in his local church.
He suffered from health issues the rest of his life. There were periods of time he was confined to bed and unable to work.
We are Pentecostals and we are a Pentecostal church.
Due to ill health, Chisholm was only able to serve one year in the ministry. After leaving his ministry in Scottsville, Kentucky he and his wife relocated to Winona Lake, Indiana for the open air. After a time in Indiana, he then moved to Vineland, New Jersey where he sold insurance. He suffered from health issues the rest of his life and had periods of time when he was confined to bed and unable to work.
he and his wife relocated to Winona Lake, Indiana for the open air. After a time in Indiana, he then moved to Vineland, New Jersey where he sold insurance. He suffered from health issues the rest of his life and had periods of time when he was confined to bed and unable to work.
Pentecost Sunday is a significant day for all Christians and Pentecostals around the world.
For the rest of Chisholm’s life, he would suffer from health issues. For prolonged periods of time he would be restricted to his bed and unable to work. During these periods Chisolm would write poetry, much of which he would exchange with his good friend William Runyan, a Moody Bible Institute musician.
So what is Pentecost? Why should we celebrate Pentecost? What does Pentecost mean for you and I today?
Chisholm was a very humble and introspective man. He sometimes described himself as, “Just an old shoe.”
› Pentecost definition
One of the poems Chisholm shared with Runyan was what would become the great hymn of the Church, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” It is said that Runyan was so moved by the Chisholm’s words that he sat down that very day composing a melody to go with the lyrics.
Pentecost is a Greek word. It means "50th day." Pentecost is a Christian celebration fifty days after Easter Sunday.
is the basis of the chorus “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”
But why do we celebrate Pentecost? Because!
The first stanza speaks of God’s unchanging nature,
Without Pentecost, there is no Church. Without Pentecost, there is no fulfilment of the Scriptures. Without Pentecost, we will have no encounter with Christ today.
. . . there is no shadow of turning with thee; thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not.”
Why do I say this? Is it true? Think about what Pentecost is or What Pentecost means to you right now. Do you know what Pentecost is? Does it even mean anything to you?
, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” may well have played a role as well.
Let us go back to the Old Testament and understand the beginnings.
The first Pentecost is a Jewish holiday called Shavuot. For the Jews, Shavout is an important historical event with deep significance. Shavuot is still celebrated by the Jews today.
1. Shavuot commemorates the day when God gave the law to Israel at Mount Sinai.
The law was a marriage vow between God and His people. The law teaches the Israelites how to love God, worship God and walk in right relationship with Him.
And in the giving of the law…
2. Shavuot marks the day Israel was birthed as a nation.
After God delivered the Israelites from Egypt, Israel became a sovereign nation. They were free, no more slaves. They were God’s people. They belonged to God. Under God they were one people, the ones He chose to give His law to.
And at the same time…
3. Shavuot marks the very important wheat harvest in Israel.
During Shavuot, Jews offer the first portion of their wheat harvest to God.
This act of first fruit offering was to remember what God did for Israel in the past and how God promises to be the Great Provider in the future, because they now belong to God.
› OT/ NT connection
Now there is a meaningful connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament.
It is the fulfilment of 3 key OT prophecies.
In the OT, we see Israel often rebelled and disobeyed God. God told Israel to obey and receive blessings. Time and time again, Israel failed to obey. This prevented them from entering into an intimate fellowship with the Lord. They were unable to enjoy God’s full blessings. Then God, in his mercy, promised to send His Spirit upon His people in the prophecies of Isaiah, Ezekiel and Joel.
Isaiah announced that God was going to make his Spirit widely available. After judging his people, God would save and restore them. Pour out his Spirit on them like water on dry ground (; , ; ).
During the exile in Babylon, Ezekiel made the same announcement: God would wash his people with the pure water of his Spirit (), revive them by his Spirit (), and pour out his Spirit on them ().
Then Joel announced that God would pour out his Spirit on his people ().
After all these powerful prophecies, Israel went into a 400 years’ silence. No more prophecies. No more word from the Lord. The Jews started to lose hope in the prophetic prophecies. They did not believe that it come true in their lifetime. And yet, it did.
Then we come to the New Testament, , in the Upper Room.
1. The New Pentecost commemorates the day God gave His Spirit to His disciples at the Upper Room.
This Giving of the Spirit fulfils Scriptures.
God poured out his Spirit upon the 120 disciples. They spoke in tongues. The crowd saw the manifestations.
Peter explained to the crowd that the fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy has come to pass. He urged everyone to repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit.
In the Old Testament, God gave the law. In New Testament, God gave the Holy Spirit.
With the pouring out of the Holy Spirit in this new Pentecost, God fulfilled the 1st Pentecost when he gave the law. In the Old Testament, Israel could not obey God even with the law. Now, with the power of the Holy Spirit, every believer can fulfil the Law. Through the Holy Spirit, hearts are transformed.
› Human efforts vs Spirit
Why did Israel fail to fulfil the law God gave? Was God wrong? Was God insufficient? Why did we need a new Pentecost?
3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
We are sinners, born in sin, live in sin. The law is weakened by our sinful nature. That is why God gave of Himself through the Holy Spirit. Only God has the power to transform us from the inside out, to become more like him, to overcome our sinful nature.
The Holy Spirit helps us to glorify God by living of a pure and holy life. We need His Spirit desperately because we are desperately caught in sin.
And with the pouring out of His spirit,
2. The new Pentecost marks the birth of the Church
In the Old Testament, Shavuot marks the birth of Israel the nation. And now, the birth of the church.
The Church belongs to God, marked by His Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit, they were now One people. They were the ones God chose to give His spirit and call His own. The Church bear witness to the death, and resurrection of Christ.
Through the Holy Spirit, God reunited His divided creation as the people of God.
As one united body, they now had the power of the spirit to fulfil the Great Commission. Which leads us to mark the harvest of souls.
3. The New Pentecost marks the harvest of souls
First fruits illustrate the harvest of souls. It was God’s salvation plan for humanity.
With great boldness the disciples witnessed to those in Jerusalem. The disciples spoke about the wonders of God in foreign tongues. Each person heard the word of God in their own language! The disciples spoke with such power and anointing that 3,000 people came to the Lord that very day!
These people gave their hearts and lives to God that day. This harvest of souls represented the beginning of the Church. The first fruit is the harvest of men!
And now, after OT and NT, we come to TODAY. What does it mean to us today?
The Day of Pentecost is not the end of God’s work. It is just the beginning. Today, at Pentecost.
1. We are empowered
Today, we know the law and we have the spirit. We have the power to live the godly life that God intended for us. We are free, no longer slaves to sin. God has given Himself to us, through Christ’s redemption and through the power of the Holy Spirit. We can live a victorious life.
2. We are united
Through the Holy Spirit, we are now united as brothers and sisters in Christ. We may speak in different languages or be in different denominations, but we are one, because of the Holy Spirit. That is the power of God. He brings unity of His people because we belong to Him. Through Pentecost, we are all submitted and subjected to Jesus our Lord, our King, and our Messiah. He calls us His own.
3. We are commissioned
Through the Holy Spirit we are fully equipped to fulfil Jesus’ command to his disciples in
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”
We are given a command by Jesus to be His witnesses. That is our mission, to work on the harvest. We are now empowered to be witnesses of Christ’ death and resurrection. We are now commissioned to tell the world about Jesus.
Yes, you and I are empowered, united and commissioned today. But how exactly is that done? How do we know we really are?
Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at conversion. God makes us new and gives us complete access to the Spirit’s resources.
Conversion gives us access to all we need, but we still need to constantly seek more of God in our lives. The reason why people walk away after praying to receive Jesus is because they do not seek more of God.
We are not seeking a single experience but a continued relationship, a daily encountering of Jesus, and the experience of living out the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives.
› Human analogy of needing water
The moment we were born; we carry around 70-80% of water in us. Just because water exist in our bodies doesn’t mean we do not need water anymore. All through our lives, we need water to survive. We constantly need to drink water from a child into our adult life.
Our conversion is a one time experience. We receive God’s Spirit at conversion but we constantly need to draw close to God, seek God, commune with God, encounter God, living out the power of God. And we cannot do this without the work and power of the Holy Spirit.
At conversion we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. At baptism of the Holy Spirit, we live in the fullness of God’s Spirit. We are empowered, united and commissioned.
All of us today have an open invitation from God. He wants us to experience walking in the fullness of God’s Spirit daily. He wants to empower, unite and commission us.
The Baptism in the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to every Christian.
I am not talking about the feel-good sensations and warm fuzzy feeling. I am talking about God’s transformation to build our godly character so we become powerful witness to God’s grace, mercy and love.
God did not save us to tickle us but to transform us.
When we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, the evidence is the speaking of tongues.
› Tower of Babel and Pentecost
In , the story of the Tower of Babel. God pronounced judgement upon the pride of humanity. God confused the rebellious peoples with diverse languages they could not comprehend (). God pronounced a curse and punishment for their rebellious pride. The people were trying to usurp God's rightful authority and sovereignty over them. So God used tongues to cause disunity among them.
But the speaking of tongues on the day of Pentecost unites people of every nation, tongue and tribe to form the new people of God. Pentecost reverses the confusion that occurred at the Tower of Babel. At Babel, God used language to bring disunity. At Pentecost, God used language to bring unity.
God has united us. Not through doctrinal and theological distinctions. God united us through his Spirit. In this century, God binds us together through the outpouring of His Spirit.
Only through tongues can denominations lines be removed.
Only through tongues can racial lines be removed. It is the Spirit of God that binds His people together.
› We are empowered through tongues
Dr Simon Chan, my former lecturer in TTC noted that the baptism of the Holy Spirit brings a believer into deeper intimacy and revelation of the Triune God.
He explained that the Pentecostal experience of speaking in tongues is an essential element to prayer itself.
Praying in tongues can add new dimension to our prayer life. Prayer by nature is never a human initiative but a receptive response to the God who first spoke the word to us. Tongues are spontaneous words and is a response to God’s manifest presence. The experience of speaking in tongues is similar to experiencing of tears with sadness or joy.
The purpose of desiring this gift should be the worship of God rather than spiritual elitism. Using the gift of tongues in our prayer helps us to draw close to God.
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Thio Gim Hock
This is Mr Thio Gim Hock. Chief executive of real estate company OUE. He is 81-year-old today. He is both a CEO and an evangelist.
He was raised in a Christian family and went to church when young. He later stopped going to church because he did not really believe or understand what the Gospel or salvation meant. However he married to a Christian lady.
They also attended church services every week, but they would arrive late, fall asleep during the “dull” sermons, and leave early. Reading the Bible was a chore. He would nod off after reading one or two pages. Later on his daughter got saved while she was studying on Oxford. She came back to Singapore a changed woman.
His daughter brought Mr Thio to her church where he encountered the presence of the Holy Spirit during the worship service. Both him and his wife would often found themselves crying, despite their embarrassment. One day in 1988 when Mr Thio was 50 years old, he returned from work. Lock his bedroom door and went down on his knees. He said to God: “If what they say about You is real, I want You.” At that moment, he felt the weight of the Holy Spirit falling on him and he began to weep. During that time, the language of tongues came out of his mouth and he felt tremendous peace in his heart. “That was the day my life changed completely. God began to put a compassion for the lost and sick into my heart,” said Mr Thio.
After his intimate encounter with God, Mr Thio, then an executive director of Hotel Properties Limited, would hold lunchtime fellowship meetings in his boardroom where he would preach the Gospel and pray for healing for staff members who attended it.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit defined the reality of Jesus for Mr Thio. It brought him to a deeper intimacy and revelation of who God truly is.
The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not about being better than others. The baptism of the Holy Spirit about being better than you. The baptism of the Holy Spirit can deepen your experience with God so that you can be empowered.
› We are united through tongues
In God’s kingdom, power and unity go together. In , , the people were in unity.
› Charismatic renewal
In the last century God has been pouring out His Spirit on His people across nations and across denominations.
For us as Pentecostals, we trace our roots to the Azusa street revival
But elsewhere around the world, God was also pouring out his Spirit.
In 1831, tongues broke out at Edward Irving’s Presbyterian church in London. In 1963, many Methodist pastors and congregation experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Rev. Fred Morris, a Methodist pastor noted that the gift of tongues has been an inevitable accompaniment of periods of spiritual revivals.
He goes on to say that Tongues speaking is a real sign of hope for the Methodist fellowship.
THIS IS EMPOWERMENT AND HARVEST
The first Anglican priest to speak in tongues was Father Richard Winkler in 1956. Prominent Anglican leaders cited great spiritual revival with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
While traveling across Europe in 1963, popular Lutheran author Reverend Larry Christenson discovered a group of Lutherans had been speaking in tongues for around sixty years.
WE SEE HERE EMPOWERMENT
In the 1970s, there was a great spiritual revival in Singapore. the Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterian and Lutherans experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Before they were conservatives and non-tongue speaking. In fact some of them were even critical of the Pentecostal movement. But the God happened and many churches were touched by the Holy Spirit. Many people became baptized in the Holy Spirit.
In 1972, ACS Barker, the famous clock tower incident happened. A group of Methodist students broke out in tongues during their regular prayer meeting.
In 1972, the first Anglican bishop of Singapore was baptized by the Holy Spirit. A few weeks before that incident, Bishop Chiu had criticized the Pentecostal outpouring in the schools. Thereafter another Anglican leader, Canon James Wong experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
› Lionel’s Presbyterian church history.
In 1976 an event took place at a regular prayer meeting of a Presbyterian church in Singapore. The event was termed by some of its supporters as being similar to Upper Room experience.
While the prayer meeting was a scheduled event, how it panned out was completely unexpected. During the exhortation, many attendants experienced what was termed by them as extraordinary manifestations of Spirit. Eyewitness accounts stated that roughly three-quarters of the attendants experienced some form of “physical reaction”, especially when the words of “Lord, Lord” were said by the speaker at the conclusion of the sermon. The experiences such as weeping, falling to the ground prostrate, and speaking in tongues. People present at the event claim that these responses were completely unexpected and therefore identified with the powerful and surprising “intervention” of God’s Spirit.
The prayer meeting took on a life of its own. One of the drivers of this prayer meeting was Ps Rony Tan. This was before he started Lighthouse Evangelism and before he stepped into full time clergy. By 1978, this Presbyterian church sent Ps Rony along with 9 individuals to pioneer what is today the mega church - Lighthouse Evangelism.
With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit sweeping across Singapore, the movement positively brought churches together. There were divide between denominations and churches. Many worked together for big crusades such as the Billy Graham or Reinhard Bonke crusades. WE SEE UNITY AND HARVEST
God is still pouring out his Spirit upon churches and individuals today. Most recently.
In 1997, a conservative and traditional Anglican church, corporately experienced a supernatural encounter with God. During a church camp, the pastor and his members were “slain in the spirit” and spoke in tongues. This experience and manifestation of God was the first time in this church’s history.
The speaking in one heavenly tongue binds all people, all tribes and all nations together. It is a foretaste of heaven. All of us from different people group, tribes, nations will unite and worship God in one accord.
As Pentecostals, our theology, tradition and understanding of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift to the body of Christ. There are still many Christians who do not understand the privilege of having the baptism of the Holy Spirit. You and I are privileged to be witnesses to what God can offer to our non-tongue speaking fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
› We are commissioned through tongues
Through the Spirit’s empowerment and as a united body, we take Jesus’ message to those around us and to the ends of the earth. Biblically we must acknowledge that the importance in the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not the tongues speaking itself but the unity and empowerment for the great commission.
Church, do NOT we deceive ourselves! True Pentecostals must live our whole lives in the power of God’s Spirit.
You and I are united, empowered and commissioned by God.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”
The Lord wants to build his church. When there are signs, wonders and miracles, the gospel goes forth and spreads quickly. God wants us to seek him for the outpouring of his Holy Spirit.
He wants the church to be Baptized with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Speaking in tongues is the sign that tells the believer that he or she has received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit.
It’s like being water baptized. You will know there is the water experience. We cannot deny it. Likewise, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is evidence by tongues.
There is a purpose for you to be saved. It is to go out there and be in partnership with God to do His will and mission.
Pentecost is not about manifestations. It is not about the rushing wind, or divided tongues of fire. As important as it is, Pentecost is not about speaking with other tongues.
Pentecost is about God’s empowering, God’s uniting and God’s commissioning. Through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered, united and commissioned. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a gift to you today. God is inviting you to be empowered, united and commissioned.
› Altar call
1. Empower: Live godly holy lives to no longer be slave to sin and be free.
2. United: Salvation. If you do not yet belong to God, come and receive this gift and be united to god’s people. Broken relationships.
3. Commissioned: Have you felt like you have no power to share his goodness? You do now.
4. Baptism of the Holy Spirit - Not been baptised by the tongues. Today it is available to you.
Long-time Christian but not been baptized by the Holy Spirit. Your spiritual life is stagnated. You desire a deeper relationship with God. You desire for God to be real to you. Today is the day for you to receive a touch from heaven. Today is the day for you to receive God’s Spirit as He had promised.
Others, you used to speak in tongues. But you have stopped. Receive that infilling again. Step out to go deeper.
God the Father, who promised to pour out His Spirit on us
Jesus, the Baptizer of the Spirit and who commissioned us by His Spirit
The Holy Spirit, that empowers us and unite us