Sunday, 21 September 2014

Hebrews 8: The Two Covenants by Dr Thomas Chung

For anything in transition to the new, how much do we retain of the old? In Acts of the Apostles, the church was in transition from a Jewish church to a Gentile church.
Under the old covenant, two ministries were raised up to lead the people:
-priesthood: represents man before God
-prophet: speaks on God’s behalf, God’s spokesperson
When Jesus died on the cross he carried our sin, not his own sin. He carried our sin, was made sin, and become a curse. Because he was sinless, his death was not for his own sin but for ours. Through His death and resurrection he fulfilled the roles of priest and prophet under the new covenant. Being God he could represent God perfectly, and being man he could represent man perfectly. Jesus could not have been an earthly priest in the order of Levi (he was not a Levite), but instead according to the writer of Hebrews He is a heavenly priest in the order of Melchizedek. Thus we see an old covenant concept which found its fulfilment in the new covenant.
Through Jesus’ death and resurrection we are freed from the law. Does this mean we can live in sin under this freedom? No! The new covenant did not do away with the laws of the old covenant. Jesus himself said He came not to destroy the laws, but to fulfil them. The Old Testament moral laws reflect God’s character and need to be followed, but the ceremonial laws are obsolete with the new covenant. Whenever we break any moral laws, our conscience automatically tells us that God is not happy. Our conscience is used as a way for God to speak to us, and we should let it be shaped by the Word of God.
"Put in their minds and write them on their hearts (Hebrews 8:10)". What was written in tablets of stone is now written in our hearts. The Law of God under the Old Covenant was external. However, it became internalized under the New Covenant. The new covenant is within us, it forms part of our very souls. The New Covenant is a heart thing and that's what faith is all about. Ultimately this is a question of the heart; is there an inner transformation by the Holy Spirit – is the person born-again? This means to die to ourselves and live again through the Holy Spirit.
"For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another (Hebrews 8:7)".The Old Testament laws prevent man from becoming worse, but could not reverse the process. Just like salt preserves food by stopping the process of decay, but cannot actually return the food to freshness.  In this aspect the old covenant was inadequate. At best it merely acted as a deterrent and gave knowledge about the sins of the people. The laws reminded people of their sins, but could not remove them. It became their judge and their prosecutor. The law could not save anyone. Only the blood of Jesus could save. The old covenant was a signpost to direct man, and the new covenant supplies the power to make the journey.
"They will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (Hebrews 8:11)". The Lamb of God (Jesus) was slain for us for all eternity. The old covenant was restricted only to the Jews, but the new covenant would be given to everyone. God’s justice was poured on his Son who bore our sins, so that the mercy of God was shown. In doing so, justice was carried out and His mercy was shown. Justice met with mercy on the cross. We can come before God with assurance that God accepts us if we are in Jesus. The old covenant restricted us from God, and the new covenant tore the curtain which has been keeping us from God. It promises eternal forgiveness and gives us complete inward cleansing. It procures our redemption, purifies our conscience and sanctifies our service.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Acts 16 by Ho King Swee dated 7.9.14

The subtitles of this sermon are :

1. Paul's second missionary journey
2. Paul's ministry at Philippi, Macedonia

Paul's second missionary journey

1.  Paul strengthened the church in Phrygia and Galatia V.1-5

A. Addition of Timothy V.1-3
B. The strengthening of the churches v.4-5

2. The ministry in Macedonia

a. The call to Macedonia 16:6-10
   b. The ministry at Philippi 16:11-40
        i) Lydia was converted 16:11-15
        ii) Slave girl was delivered of a spirit of divination 16:16-18
        iii) Paul and Silas were imprisoned 16:19-24
        iv) The jailer was converted 16:25-34
        v) Paul and Silas were released 16:35-40

The main theme of Act was the continued work of Jesus by His Spirit through the church.

Paul’s life and mission was specifically destined by the Lord

Acts 9:15: But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
16: for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."

Paul's second missionary journey

Paul strengthened the churches in Phrygia and Galatia v.1-5
The addition of Timothy  v.1-3

Why did Paul circumcise Timothy? Because of the Jews living in that area who knew his father was Greek.

Paul strengthened the churches in Phrygia and Galatia v.1-5
The strengthening of the churches   v.4-5

The letter from Jerusalem concerning circumcission.

Paul's ministry at Philippi

The ministry in Macedonia
   a. The call to Macedonia 16:6-10
Why did the Holy Spirit forbid Paul and the team to go to Asia and Bithynia?           Bro. Ho suggested that may be some one was already there or the Lord had other plans.

b. The ministry at Philippi  v. 11-40
            i) Lydia was converted   v.11-15

    ii) A slave girl was delivered of a spirit of divination v.16-18

Why did Paul cast out the spirit after the slave girl had followed them for many days?

iii) Paul and Silas were imprisoned  v.19-24

16:25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them

 Paul and Silas still could rejoice in prison!
Can we rejoice always in all circumstances?

2. The ministry in Macedonia 16:6-40
     b. The ministry at Philippi   v.11-40
        iv) The jailer was converted   v.25-34

“What must I do to be saved?”

 v) Paul and Silas were released   v.35-40

Why did Paul insist the magistrates apologized to him and Silas publicly?

Paul’s life and mission was specifically destined by the Lord Acts 9:15: But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16: for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."

Paul always prayed to listen to the Holy Spirit.
He committed and submitted himself to the Holy Spirit to accomplish his life mission.

Paul knew what was his life mission?

Do you know your life mission?

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Act 15 by Gan Tuan Boon dated 31.8.14

Bro. Gan started his sermon with the explanation of the three strands cord which is not easily broken.
He quoted the following:
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
“Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
A threefold cord is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12 b)
There is synergy in working together.  Like 1 + 1 is greater than 2.
The Three Folds Testimony of the Gospel of the Gentile
These are from Paul, Peter and James.
1.       Paul received a revelation directly from Jesus that mankind are saved by grace through Christ
   Paul received the revelation of God direct from Jesus Christ ( Galatian 1:12 )
Saul before his conversion was a religious teacher who persecuted believers of Jesus Christ.  He even obtained letters of authority from the religious authorities to persecute the Christians in Damascus (Act 9 ).  As he was on his way to Damascus a bright light from heaven flashed on him and he was blinded. A voice said, “Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?”  God spoke to a disciple names Ananias who lived in Damascus to lay his hands on Saul to heal him of his blindness. After that he went to Arabia for three years.
Paul’s Authoritative Claim of the Gospel
“I want you to know, brothers and sisters,  that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” (Galatian 1:11-12)
Potion 1 : Contents of Paul’s Gospel
"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures“
 (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Potion 2: Contents of Paul’s Gospel
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
 (Romans 10:9)
Potion 3: Contents of Paul’s Gospel
”For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.”
 (Romans 1:16)
In Act 15:1 People from Judea went to Antioch and taught that believers can only be saved if they were circumcised according to laws of Moses.  So there was a dispute.  There was a debate with Paul and Barnabas regarding grace verses Law.
Paul’s testimony of his transformed life underscored the credibility of the Gospel.
Peter’s first evangelistic sermon
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38)
Peter received a revelation from God that Gentiles are saved by grace ( Act 10 ).  This was the vision he had of a large sheet containing all sorts of animals and reptiles and God instructing him to kill and eat, but Peter refused because he will not eat anything impure.  But God said do not call anything impure that He had created.
And while Peter was pondering over the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you.  Peter was led to Cornelius’s house where he preached the Gospel to the Roman Centurion and his household.  They received the Holy Spirit.
The dispute regarding how the Gentile believers should do led to the Jerusalem Church Council Meeting ( Act 15:4-12).
Peter’s address Act 15:11-16 “Brothers, you know some time ago God gave me the privilege to share the gospel with the Gentiles. God showed He accepted them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us. He did not discriminate between Jews and Gentiles, for He purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you want to test God by putting the burden of Law on the Gentiles, which we and our ancestors are not able to bear. No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
Lesson: We need to rely on the Holy Spirit as Peter and Paul did to chart our evangelistic thrust.
James received a word of wisdom from the Holy Spirit that Gentiles are saved by grace.
Jame’s address to the Council:
(Acts 15:13-18) “Brothers, listen to me! Simon Peter has told how God first came to the Gentiles and made some of them his own people. This agrees with what the prophets wrote,‘I, the Lord, will return and rebuild David’s fallen house. I will build it from its ruins and set it up again. Then other nations (referring to Gentiles) will turn to me and be my chosen ones. I, the Lord, say this. I promised it long ago.’ ” ( Cross Reference: Amos 9:11,12)
James’ Conclusion:- Gentile believers are saved by grace through faith in Jesus without the need to observe the Mosaic Law
Gentile Christians should observe 4 Jewish ways of life out of love (Acts 15:19-21):-
1.        Do not eat food polluted by idols 
2.        Do not eat blood of animals
3.       Do not eat the meat of strangled animals
4.       Do not indulge in sexual immorality
The elder of the Jerusalem Church wrote a letter informing the Antioch Church of the Council’s decision (Acts 15:22-29)
The letter containing the decision of Jerusalem Council was read in the Antioch Church (Acts 15:30-5)
Paul and Barnabas had a sharp dispute over John Mark (Acts 15:36-41)
Barnabas took John Mark and sailed westwards to Cyprus.  Paul took Silas and travelled northwards to Syria and Cilicia.
 Lesson: Christian conflicts are inevitable but we can resolve them in the light of God’s will and love
Despite the big row, Paul and Barnabas did not quit their ministry.
Peter’s vision from God
Paul’s revelation from Jesus
James wisdom from the Holy Spirit
This resulted in the Church Council formalizing three fold testimony of the Gospel to the Gentiles.
This is summed up as follows:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— not because of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)