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President Lee Teng-hui Addresses at the Opening Ceremony of the Fifth Asian Baptist Conference
1997-07-15

Mr. Chairman, Brothers and Sisters:

Shalom.

I thank God for this opportunity to address the opening of Fifth Asian Baptist Congress. On behalf of the government and the people of the Republic of China, I would like to extend my warm welcome to the international delegates who have traveled far to attend this congress in Taipei.

This congress has gathered Baptist delegates from more than 20 countries and areas in Asia. With the noble objectives of broadening vision and understanding God's will, you have organized a very meaningful conference.

Ever since I took office as President of the Republic of China, I have often thought about how to disseminate the concept of "community" in order to build a more solid foundation for our development. The prerequisite for forming a community is the embrace of common ideals by all members in the group. We are all aware that each organization has its own special characteristics. Nevertheless, within a particular association, each member of the group must pursue common goals and directions. Individuals can rely on the support of the group to realize their individual prospects; and the community can pool the efforts of individual members to promote group harmony and progress. In other words, a community coheres individual vitality to form the basis for common ideals.

Applying this basic concept, we see that all Christians share a common faith, common worship, common status, common hope, common mission, and one Lord; therefore, the Church is a perfect community.

All Christians believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. A person is not a Christian if he does not believe in the divinity of Christ. All Christians enter the Church through baptism, use the same Bible, and embody the life of Jesus, thereby forming a true "community."

Although different denominations of the Christian Church differ in their orders of worship, they all attend Sunday service once a week, read from the same Bible, and sing the same psalms and hymns. Through regular worship, they receive the same Holy Spirit. Constant discussions of and obedience to the teachings of the Bible merge all Christians, everywhere and at all times, into one body.

All believers and non-believers, alike, are sinners. Because Jesus forgives the believers, they receive salvation. Just as Jesus forgives them, they should forgive others. As the Gospel according to Luke says, "Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." (Luke 11: 4) Therefore, the Holy Spirit encompasses the hearts of all Christians who constantly engage in spiritual reform.

Christians are waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus once told this story himself: "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten maidens, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, 'Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.' Then all those maidens arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, 'Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.' But the wise answered, saying, 'Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.' And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other maidens, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open to us.' But he answered and said, 'Verily, I say unto you, I know you not.' 'Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.'" Christians are not only a community sharing a common hope and awaiting the coming of Jesus Christ; but must ensure that their lamps have sufficient oil. Christians must remain alert and ready to welcome the Lord at any time.

Christians share the same God, the Holy Spirit. He not only guides us, but directs us to the best place and teaches us to do the best thing. When we encounter difficulties, he will deliver us out of our distresses.

Christians are a group of people who have reconciled to God by Jesus Christ. He called us to entrust the ministry of reconciliation to us; so that every one becomes "ambassadors for Christ." Jesus sent his disciples to spread the word of reconciliation so that everyone on this earth reconciles to God, reconciles to each other, and reconciles to the environment. This is the common mission of all Christians.

Brothers and Sisters: Under the guidance of Jesus, the Church is a perfect community. We are but the actual pillars of this perfect community. Having received the Grace of God, Christians must simultaneously magnify the significance of the "perfection" of the Church, be the salt of the earth, be the light of the world, glorify God, and positively contribute to society.

I wish the Congress success, and each and everyone, good health and happiness. Thank you.

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