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

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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.

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

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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!

Sermon: The Bible Tells Me So – Leigh

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This week, as part of our ongoing series on the Reformation, Leigh shared a meditation on the theme, “Sola Scriptura“, or “Scripture Alone”.

Working from this week’s scripture lessons (Amos 5:6-7, 10-15Hebrews 4:12-16Mark 10:17-31), Leigh spoke about how declaring “Scripture Alone” as foundational to our faith meant encountering Jesus through the Bible and being transformed by that encounter.

The sermon recording (with slides) is available here:

Sermon Series: Reformation (#ReformationSeries2015)

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We will kick off our one month Reformation series, focusing on the four “Sola’s” – Grace Alone, Word Alone, Christ Alone, Faith Alone.

Why even bother remembering the Reformation? It was, no doubt, something that happened in Europe some 500 years ago. It was also something that was religious, but also had socio-political ramifications as well. But still, it was far removed from us. So why bother?

I see it as a reminder of those issues that are central to faith. And, I suppose, the very issues that underpin much of what goes on today. It is an opportunity to return to those core faith values to orientate ourselves anew as we face the various issues that life and society throws at us.

So do come join us at The Father’s House, Bangsar Lutheran Church, Sundays at 10 am, as we reflect together on Grace Alone, Word Alone, Christ Alone, and Faith Alone.

 

What does the Reformation mean for us today? Find out in this sermon series for October, that leads to Reformation Day on 31 October.

DATE TIME TOPIC READINGS SPEAKER
4 Oct 10 am Sola Gratia – Grace Alone OT: Genesis 2:18-24

NT: Hebrews 11:1-4, 2:5-12

Gospel: Mark 10:2-16

Pastor Augustin
11 Oct 10 am Sola Scriptura – Word Alone OT: Amos 5:6-7, 10-15

NT: Hebrews 4:12-16

Gospel: Mark 10:17-31

Leigh Wong
18 Oct 10 am Sola Christus – Christ Alone OT: Isaiah 53:4-12

NT. Hebrews 5:1-10

Gospel: Mark 10:35-45

Pastor Augustin
25 Oct 10 am Sola Fides – Faith Alone OT: Jeremiah 31:7-9

NT: Hebrews 7:23-28

Gospel: Mark 10:46-52

Pastor Daniel

If you’d like to follow or respond to the messages via social media, please hashtag it as #ReformationSeries2015. Find us at:

“A return…” – Happy Reformation Sunday!

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Starting off unexpectedly, Rev. Augustin kicked off his Reformation Sunday sermon with the trailer for The Return Of The Jedi!

Reformation Sunday is, in many ways, a return to Christ. The Reformation movement returned people from struggling in many ways to reach heaven back to the fundamentals:

  • Christ alone… Not the saints
  • Grace alone… Not works
  • Faith alone… Not sacraments
  • Scripture alone… Not traditions

Our challenge as Christians is to have a simple, but not simplistic, faith: If the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!

(It appears that Rev. Augustin is on a roll with the multimedia! The Reformation Polka also made its annual appearance!)

September Sermon Series: Temple of the Holy Spirit

(Pictured with her husband Zach, Emily’s the one on the right, just in case you were wondering)

This morning, we had the distinct pleasure to be blessed by Emily Shipman‘s maiden sermon at The Father’s House!

She wrapped up our September Sermon Series exploring different images of church and community, as found in Scripture, with a sermon about how the church family is also called to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

In our Old Testament (Ezekiel 37:1-14) she shared about how the Spirit breathes life into those dried up.

From the New Testament Reading (1 Corinthians 12:1-13) she shared about how spiritual gifts given by the one Spirit in unity “for the common good” – this is always their purpose. In fact, our common good is about unity in diversity, not despite diversity.

From the Gospel reading (John 14:15-27), she shared about how the Holy Spirit is promised as well as personal, with New Testament references showing how He leads believers, bears witness, loves, grieves, intercedes, cries out.

In fact, the Greek word for Him is παράκλητος, which can be understood as a court-room term for someone who advocates for the defendant, defends and strengthens when accused, offers counsel and aid, encouragement when depressed, grants assurance and hope.

The Holy Spirit is also the “Spirit of Truth” Who “testifies on behalf of Christ”. He inspires faith – which comes through the hearing of the Word of God.

Finally, tying it all together in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, Emily shared about how, in the context of Corinth, she preached about how our bodies joined with Christ as “the temple of the Holy Spirit” – united in goal, aided in our weakness by the same Spirit. As being filled with with the Holy Spirit, therefore, we should be the body of Christ in the world – sent out for reconciliation, forgiveness, proclamation, justice and to give in to things that destroy the body.