Volume. XXIV, No. 42
Sunday, 18 April 2010


Be Strengthened by Christs Grace


Introduction

 
Every Christian needs God’s grace to live a fruitful and victorious life. The good news is that God has provided His people with sufficient grace (2 Cor 12:9; Mt 10:19-20; Lk 21:15; 1 Cor 10:13, 1Cor 15:10; Col 1:28-29; 1Tim 1:14; Heb 4:16). The bad news and also the problem is that rather than seeking God’s grace, Christians often turn to the world to seek for help. Pro 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (cf. Pro 12:15, 16:25, 30:12; Gal 6:3; Eph 5:6; Jam 1:22) We all need God’s grace because we need to be spiritually strong to deal with myriad of problems and issues in life, but we cannot rely on the wisdom of this world to fix our problems or to cope with those challenges. If God says that His grace is sufficient for us, then we had better take His Word seriously and live like and act like we believe it! Let us, therefore, consider how Christians can be spiritually strengthened by God’s grace and implications relating to our daily living based on the thirteenth chapter of the book of Hebrews. 
 
An Established Heart with Grace (v.9)
 
"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." (v.9)
 
It is interesting to note that the writer of Hebrews seems to suggest that if our heart be ‘established’ or ‘strengthened’ with grace (Heb 13:9b), we would do fine. Bear in mind that the ‘heart’ the writer meant here is the spiritual heart, not physical heart. Heart is the centre of our thinking, feeling, willing, hoping, fearing, trusting, longing, raging, grieving and rejoicing—in other words, our inner self. This is why Paul prayed for the Ephesians that they might “be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” The question is: Are you strong? Is your spiritual heart strong? Is your inner you strengthened with God’s grace daily? If your spiritual heart is not strong, it is good for your heart to be strengthened with God’s grace just like your GP would also advise you to strengthen your physical heart with healthy diet (and moderate exercises). And God’s grace is our spiritual diet! However, the writer of Hebrews also cautions the readers where to turn for strength of heart and where not to turn—turn to spiritual diet, ‘not with meats which have not profited them that have been occupied therein’. (Heb 13:9c) Bear in mind that the writer of Hebrews is not prohibiting his readers from eating meat or flesh. The word ‘meat’ means foods consumed in the context of rules of diet and ritualistic meals. The writer of Hebrews is saying that there is no benefit for those who obsessively observe rules or diet or ritualistic meals. There are many religious and secular food routines people practice today. Religious food routines like fasting, vegetarianism and various kinds of abstinence. And there are the secular routines of food supplements and vitamins and antioxidants and organic diets, and fat-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, chemical-free foods. While not all of the observance are bad (i.e. such as some nutrition supplements), but many a times these observances, either religious or secular, become obsessive as the writer of Hebrews also points out. It is unfortunate to find some believers today believe that observance of some ritualistic dietary practices and secular dietary observances have profound and dominant influence on their spiritual and/or physical well-being. Yet, what does the Bible say? The Word of God says that it is far more important for a Christian to be strengthened by means of grace or God\'s favour and spiritual blessing!
 
Are You Being Strengthened with Grace Daily? (v.10)
 
“We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” (Heb 13:10) 
 
If a Christian wake up in the morning and feel guilty and defiled because of something ugly thing he did yesterday, or feels like a failure because of how poorly something went yesterday, what would he do? The "strange doctrines," the writer of Hebrews says, might suggest, "Eat a good breakfast. Get the right nutrition pumping through your blood. Do some exercise and get out into the sunlight."But God says, "Get your heart strengthened by grace. On a morning like that, eat grace for breakfast." By the way, the word ‘strange’ does not simply mean ‘peculiar’ or ‘weird,’ but it denotes the idea of different or varied or alien or foreign from true biblical teaching or from what God has sanctioned, just as Proverbs warns the readers about ‘strange’ women (Pro 2:16, 5:3,5:20, 6:24, 7:5, 20:16, 21:8, 22:14, 23:27, 23:33,27:13)—the suggestions coming from the world are always diametrically in opposition to God’s!
 
But how should a Christian ‘eat’ grace as his spiritual nourishment? Consider verse 10. Picking up on this issue of being strengthened by grace and not foods, the writer of Hebrews says, "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle". The writer is referring to the priests in Jerusalem who have rejected Jesus as their Messiah, but who go on "serving the tabernacle" which was meant to point to Jesus as the final sacrifice and the cross of Jesus as the final altar of sacrifice (Hebrews 9:26; 10:12). So the altar he has in mind is the cross where the final sacrifice was offered once for all for our sins by our Lord Jesus Christ! There is where our spiritual nourishment is found—there is the table where grace was prepared!
 
If we want to know where our ‘breakfast of grace’ was prepared, the answer is found in verse 10. The ‘breakfast of grace’ was prepared ‘on the altar’ (Heb 13:10a) of the cross where Jesus died for our sins. Therefore, if we want to be strong in our heart with God’s grace, when our heart is groaning with a sense of sin and failure, before we go to the kitchen to eat food, go to the altar to eat the blood-purchased grace of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘hope’! What is the ‘forgiveness’ and ‘hope’? Why are they importance for us as our ‘daily breakfast’?
 
Taking in Forgiveness and Hope (v.11-13)
 
“For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.” (Heb 13:11)
 
In order to understand this verse clearly, we must know the background of this verse. The writer of Hebrews explains that on the ‘Day of Atonement’ (yom Kippur) in Leviticus 16, after the blood of the sacrificed bull and goat is taken into the holy of holies, and sprinkled there to cover the sins of the people, the bodies of the bullock and the goat are taken outside the camp and burned. Note the similarity in description between Heb 13:11 and Lev 16:27."And the bullock for the sin offering, and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the holy place, shall one carry forth without the camp" (Leviticus 16:27) Why should those bodies be taken outside the camp and be burned? Because these sacrifices are not eaten, as with some other sacrifices. The nourishment the people received on the ‘Day of Atonement’ was ‘forgiveness and hope,’ not meat or food!
 
Of course, all of that was meant to point to Jesus Christ, the final sacrifice for sin and there was a lesson in that. The writer draws out the comparison in Heb 13:12 with Lev 16:27. Heb 13:12 says, "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate." In other words, Jesus has fulfilled the sacrifices of the ‘Day of Atonement’. They are completed in Him; they find their final meaning in Him. And the meaning is: All there was to eat on the ‘Day of Atonement’ was forgiveness and hope in Jesus Christ! That\'s all there is to eat from the altar of Calvary where the body of Jesus was consumed with suffering!
 
When you feel like a ‘failure,’ when you feel ‘discouraged’ and ‘hopeless’ and even ‘unworthy,’ don\'t turn to food and a set of secular advise that come with it. It\'s a strange or alien or worldly remedy, and verse 9 says, it has not benefited those who walk in it’. What we need is the ‘spiritual food,’ God’s grace of forgiveness and hope in Jesus Christ. If we go to food or listen to secular or worldly advise, it only makes things worse, especially when it becomes an obsession. Instead go to the altar of grace. We have an altar. We should go forth and enjoy a feast of God’s grace (Heb 13:13). Did Psalmist David say, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies…” Go to the altar, and there is food! And the food is God’s all sufficient grace: the grace of forgiveness and the grace of hope. The only way to be strong is to come back to this table again and again on the daily basis!
 
Conclusion:
 
Dearly beloved, whenever we wake up in the morning and feel guilty and defiled because of yesterday\'s ugliness, and hopeless because of yesterday\'s failure, our heart needs to be strengthened by God’s grace: forgiveness and hope. We have forgiveness because of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross; we have hope because Christ has promised to save us until the end! If we come back to God to draw both of these graces, forgiveness and hope, our hearts will be established or strong, and we will be able to carry on another day! My friends, if you do not enjoy the forgiveness of your sins or have hope of eternal life, I urge you to turn from foods and secular advise which cannot satisfy or save you, and put your trust and faith in the person of Jesus Christ who has provided sufficient grace to all those who ‘labour and are heavy laden,’ for He will give you rest (Mt 11:28)!
 
Ps Weng
 

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Announcements
*Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Dn Edwin D’Mello. Next Lord’s Day: Team Leader: Sis Suzanne Lim
*Anyone wishing to give feedback about the Family Bible Camp is invited to attend this special meeting at 12:30 pm.
*Please invite your family, relatives & friends for this Gospel Rally Meeting next Lord’s Day. Invites/flyers on the literature table.
*Please note:There is only Coffee & Cookies after Worship Service next Lord’s Day.
*New photocopier required urgently. The cost is about $9,000 (including GST).
*Hope Bookshopin Room 8 upstairs. Opening hours: Sunday, 12:30-1:30pm. Enquiries to Sis Sarah Carpenter.
 
Looking Ahead
*24th Anniversary Thanksgivingon 20 June.
*AFG Bible Camp/Retreatin 11-14 June.
*Vacation Bible School, 12-16 July.
 
Praise & Thanksgiving
1. Journey mercies:Bro Bruce & Sis Marilyn Huggards (Melb); Bro Simon & Sis Demelza Ting & Hannah (Adl); Bro Chris Budiman (S’pore/Adl); Sisters Grace Seow (Syd/Adl) & Purdee Yeo (Adl) & others who have travelled.
2. Church activities - over the past week.
3. Daily mercies, protection & guidance.
4. Completion of Radio- & chemo-therapy Bro Winston Selvanayagam.:
5. God’s infallible Word preached today.
6. Recent university graduates- Sisters Joyce Chen, Ethel Chung & Michelle Lee.
 
Prayer Items
1. Health & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren; Rev Stephen Khoo, Dr & Mrs S H Tow; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Colin Creaser, Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Jonathan Liao, Len & Richard Pearson, Moses Tan, Winston Selvanayagam, & Fred Volvricht; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Lydia Fan, Myung Ki (UK), Choon Fong Lee (KL); Fiona & Lehia Paauwe; Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson; Aranka Rejtoe, Corinne Teng; Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; & others in affliction.
2. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & ministry (Phnom Penh & Kandal Province); Pr Zhang & ministry (Sihanoukville).
3. Laos Missions - Bro Surish Dharmalingam & family.
4. iSketch&Tell Studio - Pr H S Lim (Melb).
5. IBPFM (USA)- Board, missionaries & funds.
6. Ps & Sis Ki & ministry in New Life BPC (Lond).
7. Hopefulsin S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
8. God’s guidance & help: Bro Richard Tee (Melb) & Sis Mag Yu (S’pore).
9. Study in Sydney:Bro Joshua Chung.
10. Journey mercies: Bro Bruce & Sis Marilyn Huggards (Adl); & others travelling.
11. New Photocopierfor church - urgent.
12. Bro Richie & Sis Myra Hornung(Mindanao).
13. ACM & Session Electionin August.
14. God’s protection & guidance: Bros Yick Ho Lam & Rexson Tse in Kopiam (PNG).
15. Job - Sisters Xandrea Cai, Marion Chan, Judy Li, Corinne Teng.
16. Gospel Rally next Lord’s Day - Speaker, organisers & Salvation of those who attend.
17. Good health in pregnancy- Sisters Josephine Wong & Demelza Ting.
18. Final stage of pregnancy- Sis Bernadette Ng: for normal delivery.
19. Assignment- Miss Annie Li.
 
 
 
 

 

 

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PO Box 398, Fullarton, Adelaide, South Australia 5063