Volume. XXXII, No. 12
Sunday, 17 September 2017

From the Pastor's Heart: Marks of True Church and Christians - Part 3

(This week, we publish the second main point of the message which was preached at the 3rd Anniversary Thanksgiving Service of Providence BPC on 13 Aug 2017)

Marks to notice
In last week's article, we have seen the challenges we may face as we try to discern the dangers coming from such challenges. Now we need to know how we can build our church to be God-pleasing and honoring body of believers, and to also discern the marks of true churches. I think that there are a few outstanding marks we must be able to find from a true church of Christ.

First, the true church honors Christ, Him only. I hope that this lesson is not too hard for you to understand. Think about Christianity, or Christian. If you and I remove Christ from them, then there is no religion of Christianity, and there is no Christian.

1) It is Christ who builds His church. Jesus says in Matthew 16:18, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The church is His church, and He builds His church. Therefore, Christ must come first above all things in His church. Our devotion must be given to Christ, not anything else, even the church. Even if we have done our very best to work for our churches, if we have not been right with Christ, then our devotion is not for the glory of our Saviour.

2) It is Christ who is the foundation of the church. 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

3) It is Christ who is honoured. John 5:23, "That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him." Therefore, the name of Christ must be praised and honoured in our hearts and worship.

4) It is Christ whom the Holy Spirit glorifies. John 16:13-14, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Thus, the Spirit filled churches and Christians will glory the name of Christ.

5) It is Christ who bought the church with His blood. Acts 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." By now, we must know that the ownership of the church belongs to Jesus. Thus, He is the master of His church. If a group or an individual called the church or Christian does not honour the name of Christ, then it is not church, and he is not a Christian. A true church is marked by the name of Christ.

Second, the Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is a natural extension of the first lesson we just studied. If Christ should be honored in our midst, we need to know Him. How can we know of Christ? Where can we find any information of Him? Is it dream or vision that teaches us about Christ? The answer is, in fact, provided by the Lord Himself.

1) Jesus says in John 5:39, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." This verse has dual purposes of the Bible, and encourages us to have a right attitude.

a. Two purposes are:
(i) For our salvation: the Scripture reveals us the way to go to heaven, or to have eternal life. We cannot think of salvation apart from the Scriptures or the Bible. 1 Peter 1:23-25, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:1 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

(ii) For the testimony of Jesus: Jesus said that the Scripture from which we may find eternal life testifies of Him. Therefore, if we want to know about Jesus Christ, we need to go to the Bible. In fact, the more we know the Scriptures, the clearer picture we may have about Him. It is absurd that we know Christ, though we do not know the Bible. We shall know of Him, as much as we know of the Scriptures.

b. A commendable attitude toward the Scripture is to search it diligently. We ought to search the Bible, not just casual reading but careful studies. If you and I are really serious about our faith and religion, we ought to study the Bible. If we do not know the Bible, then we may have wrong images of Jesus Christ, which will mislead us to untruth. Therefore, a faithful church is a studying church.

2) The Bible is full of Christ. Even the disciples of Jesus did not know Him well enough. When Christ was crucified and buried, all of them were sad and discouraged. Jesus appeared to two disciples after His resurrection, but they did not recognize Him. Jesus said to them in Luke 24:25, "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken."

a. They could not understand the death and resurrection of Jesus because they did not believe all the prophets have spoken, which refers to the Old Testament.
b. Jesus continued to say in verse 26, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Jesus is again referring to the whole Old Testament as a testimony of Himself. When we do not know, understand, and believe the Bible, we cannot know and understand Jesus properly. Therefore, a true church is a Bible-centred church. She is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15b).

So far, in summary, I have explained just two marks of true churches and Christians, and there are many more, of which I will comment in coming weeks. True believers of Jesus Christ are the ones who honor Him by knowing and believing in Him according to the Scriptures. If we put them together with all unmentioned marks of true church and Christians, we may summarize them in one statement. A true church or a true Christian is conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. In other words, a true church will be like Jesus Christ. A true believer will be like Jesus Christ. Thus, he lives according to the scriptures. A true church obeys the Word of God.

More Lively Hope



* Welcome to our pulpit: Rev Edward Paauwe.
* Hospitality Roster for Rev Hyun Choi & Pr Hai Seng Lim are at the foyer. Please have fellowship with them.
* Registration forms & pamphlets for Holiday Bible Club are available in the foyer.
* Helpers needed for Holiday Bible Club. Please see Dn John Wong if you can help.
* Cambodia Missions, 16-30 Jan 2018. Please see Elder Michael D Lee if you are interested.
* Kitchen Duty helpers - This week: Team C. Next week: Team A.

Praise and Thanksgiving
* New worshippers & church activities in the past week.
* Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki (S'pore); Rev George van Buuren (Adl); & others arriving safely at their destinations.

* Healing
* Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki; Rev Hyun Choi; & others who are travelling.
* Holy matrimony
* Health in pregnancy
* Year 12 exams



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