Christ Alone: The Inclusive Gospel of Christ – Rev. Augustin

Slide2

In the world of the first century, the gospel encountered many kinds of people.

Many of the cities that the Gospel encountered were actually quite cosmopolitan, with different races, and different classes, of people interacting in their daily routine. There were Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, slave and free, masters and merchants, rulers and the ruled – all sorts. Even with all this intermingling there were still strict rules – slaves could not sit at table with their masters, for example. The rich would not patronize the same shops as the poor. The nobility jealously guarded their bloodlines and heritage. It was a society that had many divisions and inequalities. In order to belong, one had to have certain prerequisites.

The Gospel of Jesus was radical because it was inclusive. There were no prerequisites. As Paul puts it, in Christ there is no Jew and Gentile, slave or free. The salvation of Christ was available to all, and not just a special few. The rich and the poor alike could hear the gospel, turn to Christ and believe.

But the inclusive nature of the gospel did not end there. The gospel of Jesus was the great leveler. Rich and poor alike sat at the same table for the fellowship meal. Slave and free alike sang together and prayed together. The same water that baptised the nobility baptised the common folk as well. All ended up in the same church with no divisions, only Christ. Jew and Gentile alike were co-inheritors of the heavenly inheritance.

That is not the end of the story, however. The Gospel of Jesus was not just available to all and level all differences, it also created a new people – a Christian people. As Peter put it, once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God – a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. As Peter preached on the first day of Pentecost, the list of countries mentioned there reads like a who’s who of the nations in that time. Yet out of all those different backgrounds, 3000 people were baptised that day and the church was born – a church with one people – a people belonging to God.

Great beginnings, indeed. Sadly, of course, since then we have come a long way in putting back those pre-requisites, raising those divisions, and segregating the one people into many different kinds of people. We have to wonder sometimes whether we are committed to Christ alone without demanding pre-requisites, insisting on divisions or even raising ourselves one over the other. How could we? For we are all in the same boat, equally sinful, equally needing Christ alone.

Christ Alone: The Distinctive Offer of Christ – Rev. Augustin

Slide2

As the gospel went out into the known world, it encountered people from all kinds of religions and philosophies – particularly people from a Greco-Roman religious background. Many of the religions that the gospel encountered concerned man trying to placate the gods.

The greco-roman gods were a capricious lot – given to mood swings, internal bickering, eating, drinking and generally more concerned about themselves than about the world. The most a person could hope for was, even if the gods were not in favor, that they would leave him alone. Thus, a person’s religious obligations would consist of placating the gods with the right rituals, sacrifices, etc. so that they would not be inclined to zap him when in a niggly mood!

When the philosophers came in, they began to reject the idea of religion in favour of man’s ability to make his own way in this world, in effect trying to provide answers for the questions of life without resorting to religion. But for many people, relying on their minds to provide answers did not work out so well either and they were left empty without any source for help.

Into this space came the very unique and distinctive gospel of Jesus Christ – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, may not die, but have eternal life. The distinctiveness was in three very bold and radical truths.

Firstly, God loved the world. Unlike the gods of the time, God, the Father, loved His creation. He was not absent. He was not busy with His own agenda. He was not indifferent. He actually loved His creation. This was a radical notion at the time.

Secondly, God’s love was so great that He took the initiative to reconcile man to Himself. The Christian faith was not about man reaching out to God, it was about God reaching out to man.

Thirdly, this gospel was for ‘whoever believes’ – no other qualification was required. For those gentiles who were attracted to the message of the ‘one God’ of the Jews, the most they could hope for was to be proselytes. They could never be ‘Jews’ – and by extension, God’s true children. But here was God taking the initiative and saying – you do not need to be ‘pre-qualified’ – race, religion, righteousness, circumcision, etc. This invitation is for all.

Powerful indeed was this very distinctive gospel of Jesus in the context of the first century. Powerful indeed is this distinctive gospel in our own times.

Christ alone!

Welcome BLC Council 2015-2017!

Today, we held the installation service of the BLC Council for the 2015-2017 term.

BLC Council 2015-2017:

  1. Augustin Muthusami, Pastor
  2. Leigh Wong, Chairperson & Education
  3. Rubini Murugesan, Vice Chairperson & Missions
  4. Ooi May Jean, Secretary & Community
  5. Elaine Kong, Treasurer
  6. Jamie Wong Zie Wei, Worship
  7. Anand Addepalli, Building Maintenance & Stewardship

It’s been an interesting journey to get here. God, in His wisdom and faithfulness, has brought together some of the most unexpected people for the good of His work through BLC, in some of the most surprising ways!

For the previous council members who have served, we thank you for your dedication, faithfulness and contribution towards the work of God’s kingdom through our BLC Family. The incoming Council is blessed to be able to build on a very solid foundation laid out by the previous Council members!

For the incoming council, we pray for them; that God’s wisdom, love and grace will cover them and their loved ones – even as they serve the BLC Family in the areas of responsibility that they have been called to.

(Click on the linked names for a profile on each Council Member)

Pentecost Sunday Sermon: The Holy Spirit – Oil, Water, Wind, Fire – Rev. Augustin

Today is Pentecost Sunday.

Pentecost (Greek: Πεντηκοστή [Pentēkostē] means “the fiftieth [day]”) is the fiftieth and last day of the Easter season. This morning’s service celebrates the sending of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. We also recognize it as the “Birthday of the Church”.

It was lovely to see the altar decoration – especially our lightbox cross – set up for today’s celebrations. Special thanks goes to Mei Li for helping us with this.

PentecostCross

Drawing from this week’s lectionary readings, Pastor Augustin’s sermon today reflected on four symbols used in the Bible for the Holy Spirit: Oil, Water, Wind and Fire. Each symbol represented the way the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of believers.

WP_20150405_10_43_43_Pro

May the unceasing faithfulness of God finish His work in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Happy Pastor’s Day 2014, Rev. Augustin!

This past Sunday, we commemorated Pastor’s Sunday and thanked God for Pastor Augustin‘s ministry with us. It’s been four years since he answered the call to become our Pastor.

This year, we presented Pastor Augustin with a giant card featuring our written thoughts and prayers for him, along with a wonderful portrait by Komeil!

GiantCardAndPortraitByKomeil

PortraitsAndWishes

We then followed up with prayer by the Church Council as well as an “interview” by John, our Council Chairman.

PastorInterviewPastorsSundayPrayer

Thank you for your ministry to us, Rev. Augustin!

(Photo credit: Mei Li and Elaine K.)

Bible Studies & Prayers at BLC

alkitabberitabaik

We’re pleased to announce two opportunities for Group Bible Study sessions at BLC!
1) Bible Study On Corinthians
Sue Hasslebring will lead a study on Corinthians, starting this Sunday, 13 July at 8:40am. Please contact her via rumahpapa[dot]admin[at]gmail[dot]com, if you would like to participate. For this Sunday, 13 July, she will start by exploring Acts 18-19:1, followed by I Corinthians 1 the following Sunday, 20 July.
2) Bible Study on Faith, Life & Discipleship
Pastor Augustin will be lead a group study on ALTERNATE Wednesdays beginning 16 July. The group will meet from 8:30pm and end by 10pm. This is to provide an alternative to those of us who might be looking for a study/teaching group on weekdays. We will be exploring Faith, Life & Discipleship from a topical, biblical and doctrinal perspective. If you are interested, please contact Pastor Augustin via rumahpapa[dot]admin[at]gmail[dot]com so that we can make arrangements.
3) Sunday Morning Prayer Meeting
We are meeting for prayer at 9:30 am every Sunday morning. Do come and join us as we pray for the church, for each other, for the nation and the world.