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AMiA: 2004 Winter Conference - Archbishop Yong Ping Chung

14th January 2004

The Most Revd. Datuk Yong Ping Chung
Archbishop & Primate - Anglican Church in South East Asia

The Fourth AMIA Winter Conference
Destin, Florida

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Opening Address

Theme: Rediscovering the ancient/future Faith:
"Setting My People Free"

Readings: Genesis 3:1-19, Romans 5:6-11, St. John's 1:1-14

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him, all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly host,
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

We gather in Destin, Florida tonight at this opening service of the 4th.
AMIA Winter Conference to worship God. We join the heavenly hosts and all
the saints in every generation to sing the songs of ever lasting praises
and thanksgiving as recorded in Revelation chapter 5:

Holy Holy Holy
Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come

You are worthy, O Lord
To receive glory and honour and power
For you created all things and by your will
They exist and were created,

You are worth to take the scroll
And to open its seals
For you were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by your blood.
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
You have made us kings and priests to our God
And we shall reign on the earth.

We gather to proclaim to the whole world.
Blessing and honour and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne
And to the lamb for ever and ever.

We gather here tonight to testify to the great and mighty works that God
has done in our lives as individuals and as a Mission. Indeed we testify
that there have been renewal and revival taking place over and over again
among our churches in AMIA. We want to praise and thank God for His loving
kindness and wonderful grace.

We gather as a community of faith, redeemed through, and set free by, His
precious blood, to wait upon the Lord for His words. With eager and sure
expectation, in the context of vibrant worship, warm and intimate
fellowship we want to explore the theme of this conference:
Rediscovering the Ancient /Future Faith:
"Setting My People free

Our theme for this Conference was prayerfully chosen to draw our attention,
to provoke our thoughts and to challenge our spirits. It is a timely
theme, especially in a time like ours. When the whole of Christianity is
being challenged undermined and attacked, the people of God need to
rediscover once again the essence of our faith, the truth about God Father,
Son and Holy Spirit, and the reality about ourselves and the world we live.

John in the Island of Patmos was bewildered by what was going on around
him. He asked what would happen to the church, God took him back to where
it all started - the Throne Room in Heaven -

Come up here, and I will show you what
must take place after this. (Revelation 4:1)

But before that at the end of chapter 3 of the same book He says -

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
says to the Church"

The Spirit is the Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised His disciples and all
of us who are His followers. He said in John 14:26-

the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father
will send in my name, will teach you all things,
and will remind you of everything I have said to you

We, the people of God must be reminded that our beliefs and actions must be
judged solely by the Word and the Spirit. We must never trust in ourselves
alone neither should we allow our interpretations to rule our lives and our
church. Jesus Christ and His Word are the ultimate authority for us and
for His Church. What has happened to our Churches is that the absolute
authority of the Bible the centrality and the uniqueness of Jesus have been
so camouflaged by many man made elements through the history of the church.
We have allowed the contemporary cultures, the secular human desires, the
worldly philosophies, together with the Canons and constitutions and
whatever, to blind us of the Faith that was once for all entrusted to the
Saints. Today we are here to rediscover the truth and the essence of our
faith. We want to pray that this Winter Conference 2004 will help us to
rediscover our ancient /future faith. We pray the TRUTH will set all our
people free to declare that:

Our God is greater than any of these. Our God is Sovereign. He is GOD.

Let me illustrate from the culture I know best, i.e. the Chinese culture.

In the Chinese culture the dragon is a very prominent feature. The Chinese
dragon holds a very important position in the hearts and minds of the
Chinese. Consequently it has great influence in the arts, literature, music
architecture, etc. Basically, in the Chinese mind the dragon represents
what is powerful, prosperous, glorious, strong and authoritative. The
Emperor was considered the direct descendant of the dragon and therefore he
was responsible to heaven for the harmony on earth. If you look at the
paintings of the dragon in each Dynasty you will see the gradual evolution
of the dragon. Bit by bit as the years went on you see different elements
added on to the dragon. Today, you will find that most dragons would have
the claws of an eagle, the paws of a tiger, the ears of an ox, the head of
a camel, the neck of a snake, the horns of a deer, the scales of a large
fish and it even has the eyes of the devil. You can almost see the Chinese
imagination and the Chinese superstition joining forces to create a vivid
symbol that was to be worshipped and adored. What men desired and longed
for they added onto their object of worship. What they themselves have
invented and created was used to fulfill their own desire and longing.
Eventually they cannot separate the real from the imaginary. They are
enslaved by their own understanding and followed their own desires of the
flesh and they lived according to it and gave their lives for it. If you
start stripping off all the added features of the dragon, interestingly
there remains a tiny little seemingly harmless snake. Unfortunately for
them, the symbol of their hope and aspiration was so camouflaged that many
could not see the evil they were building on and the hopelessness of what
they worshipped. As they get deeper and deeper into it they get more and
more trapped in it. There seems no way out.

Isn't this exactly what the world has done to Christianity? They have
camouflaged our faith so much that they are not able to see the truth that
belies them all. Through out the centuries, people have added their own
opinions of what they thought Christianity should be. Again and again the
invasion of contemporary cultures and the eagerness of the church to
accommodate the cultures slowly alters the essence of our faith. Hence
elements are added according to what they thought Christianity needed.
They have set out formats and rituals that were once used to enhance the
worship of God and made them the main focus of worship. They have distorted
the Scriptures. Some, like those picked up in the Book of Jude, have:

changed the grace of our God into a license for immorality and denied Jesus
Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."

While others have added rules and regulations that bind the churches to
certain earthly establishments and they have allowed that to be the
authority of the church. We need to go back to our roots - the ancient
faith. We need to strip off all the added parts of man-made Christianity
and rediscover once again the essence of our faith. We need to once again
see God as He is, in all His splendor and His glory. We need to go up to
the heavenly throne room, as John did, to fill our eyes with the
awesomeness of His holiness and to surrender totally to His perfect
sovereignty and to experience personally His wonderful, compassionate and
unconditional love for us.

We need to go back to the beginning. Even before the world was created,
God was already there. Our faith begins with God. Right from the first
chapter, the first verse of our Scriptures it says, "In the beginning
GOD…". Everything that God created was good. He was pleased with what he
made. He made man and woman in His own image and breathed into their
nostrils the breath of life. He loved them and wanted them to respond to
His love. He gave them the gift of Free Will so that they can make choices
and to respond to His love freely and to enjoy the creation in which He has
put under their care. All these God did because He loved us. Man
responded to God's love. But man also took advantage of God's love and
misused the gift of Free Will. He deliberately turned away from God and
desired his own glory and followed the desires of his own flesh. In another
word man rebelled and sinned against God. We saw how it all started in our
first reading of Genesis 3 tonight. It is still here today. We need to
strip off the fluffs of the worldly euphemism and acknowledge the Doctrine
of Sin. The Bible is very specific and clear. It calls SIN by its true name.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
(Roman 3:23)

In Romans 6:23 it also says "the wages of sin is death". Indeed Sin
separates us far from God and traps us into eternal damnation and death.

Let's face it; we need help! We cannot set ourselves free. We need a
Saviour to deliver us out of our bondage and set as free. God, in His
marvelous plans, has already provided us that help.

For God so loved the world that he gave
his one and only Son, that whoever believes
in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(John 3:16)

God sent His only Son Jesus into the world so that the world can have hope
again. Jesus quoted the Scriptures and declared His mission on earth. He
said in Luke 4:18-19:-

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
Because he has anointed me
To preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim
Freedom for the prisoners
And recovery of sight for the blind,
To release the oppressed
'to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.

Jesus did this by dying on the cross for our sins.

In him we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins."
( Ephesians 1:7)

But God demonstrates his love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
(Romans 5:8)

Once again through the blood of Jesus our relationship with God is
restored and once again we can call God "Abba, Father".

Jesus said
I am the way, the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me."
(John 14:6)

He is the only way because salvation can be found in no one else. He is
the truth, and the truth shall set us free. He is the life, for He has the
key to eternal life. This is Good News. And His command to us is:

go and make disciples of all nations
baptizing them in the name of
the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey every thing
I have commanded you.
(Matthew 28:18-19)

Yes, the World needs Jesus. The Anglican Communion needs Jesus AMIA needs
Jesus, your church needs Jesus, you and I needs Jesus. We all needs to be
set free from the bondage of sin. And Jesus is the only answer.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we are here precisely for this. The
Mission of AMIA is to go and tell the world about our wonderful Saviour.
Go and tell everybody that there is hope. Plant new churches for the love
of Christ Let us strip off all the fluffs of the man-made Christianity and
let us rediscover our ancient Faith together for the future for our
children and children's children. I pray that each one of us while we are
here will experience the awesomeness of the presence of God among us. We
truly be so inspired by the Spirit of God that we want to fall on our knees
and join the heavenly host and sing

, Holy Holy is the Lord God Almigthy
Who was, and is, and is to come,..

I pray that we will experience the love of God so intimately that His love
will compel us to live our lives in responds to His love. And His love
will give us boldness to witness for him and truly be the light and the
salt of the world. I pray that we will be filled with His compassion for
the lost that our desire in life is to share with others the Good News of
Jesus and to see others come into the Kingdom of God. I pray that we will
faithfully proclaim Jesus Christ and faithfully pass on the faith to the
next generation.

Through the rediscovery of our ancient faith God wants us to be set free to
move forward for the future. This is His promise for us when we take the
step of faith:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new
thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland… …to give
drink to My
people,

My chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim My praise.
(Isaiah 43:18-21)

Let us pray:

Thank you our Father in heaven for this wonderful promise
Thank you Lord Jesus for setting us free from all the bondages of sin and
the hindrances of our time.

Thank you Holy Spirit for reviving us, renewing us and en-powering us.
Almighty God Father, Son and Holy Spirit send us out from this AMiA Winter
Conference2004 to win this nation and all the nations of the world for
you .In Jesus precious and mighty name we pray. Amen.

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