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:

Sermon: Signs – Leigh

CountdownToDoomSunday2014a

This morning, Leigh shared a message based on Job 14:1–6, I Thessalonians 4:13–18, and Matthew 24:15–28 as part of the sermon series #CountdownToDoomSunday 2014.

Leigh

The sermon takes a look at Jesus’ proclamation of “Signs of The End and His Coming Again” in the Gospel Reading and has us think about them in three ways:

  1. That these signs can be understood as signs of completion. God is at work in History. We are a part of His Kingdom work – joining Him in what He is already at work doing – seeking the Shalom of our lives, our neighbors and the world.
  2. That these are signs of hope. Paul’s message to the Thessalonian church centers on the Second Coming of Jesus as a Source of Hope. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can also believe that, when He returns, we would see life again. We do not grieve like people who have no hope.
  3. That’s why, perhaps, the most relevant understanding of Jesus’ signs is to see you and I as signs of Jesus First and Second Coming.

As such, the challenge before us is to live out as Signs of God’s Kingdom – living with the end in mind.

The sermon then ends with a challenge and participation exercise: How do you want to be remembered?

  • Write three things that you want to see in your eulogy.
  • For a fuller exercise, consider writing out your eulogy to be read out by someone at your funeral.

Leigh’s slides are available here:

#CountdownToDoomSunday 2014

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As we move towards the end of the liturgical year towards Doom/Christ The King Sunday, we will embark on a series of thematic Scripture Readings to guide our hearts and thoughts in preparation.

(Doom Sunday – also known as the Feast of Christ The King – is the last day of the church liturgical year. “Doom” in old English meant “Judgment” or “Destiny”. The whole month focuses on the 2nd Coming of Christ and the Final Judgment.) 

DATE TIME EVENT READINGS SPEAKER LEAD WORSHIPPER
2 Nov 10 am 3rd Sunday Before
Doom Sunday
OT: Jeremiah 31:31–34
NT: Romans 13:11–14
Gospel: Matthew 21:1–9
Pastor Augustin Leigh
9 Nov 10 am 2nd Sunday Before
Doom Sunday
OT: Job 14:1–6
NT: I Thessalonians 4:13–18
Gospel: Matthew 24:15–28
Leigh Sia
16 Nov 10 am Sunday Before
Doom Sunday
OT: Daniel 7:9–14
NT: I Thessalonians  5:1–11
Gospel: Matthew 25:31–46
Pastor Augustin Alpha
23 Nov 10 am Doom Sunday OT: Isaiah 35:3–10
NT: II Peter 3:8–14
Gospel: Matthew 25:14–30
Pastor Augustin Leigh

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