Volume. XXXIII, No. 5
Sunday, 29 July 2018

The Empowered Christian (Mark 9: 14 – 29) – Part 1

(This edited message was preached by Elder Colin Gan on The Lord’s Day 10 June 2018.)


When I listened to Elder David’s sermon last Sunday about “The Revival of the Nations”, I could not but praise the Lord for His assurance that this is the right topic He has given to me to preach today as they are related and one follows the other.  We both prepared our sermons independently without any collaboration, and so I can only attribute this relatedness in our sermons to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Elder David spoke about God’s glory being seen in us, the Church.  If this is to be so, then Christ-likeness must be evident in us and our Christian lives must be starkly different from that of the world.  If there is to be any revival that glorifies God, then it must begin with each one of us.  The Sparks recently studied about being “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” which all Christians ought to be, and we can only be so when we are empowered Christians.

What is an empowered Christian life?  Many of us may have different views of what such a life looks like, but if we look into Scripture, the common view would be one in which the fruit of the Spirit is clearly seen -  "... love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance ..." (Galatians 5:22-23); a life in which we are emboldened to witness for Christ and to glorify God; a life of faithfully fulfilling the work that God has called us to; such a life in which is clearly seen the evidences of the character of Christ in us.

Where does the power come from to live such an empowered Christian life?  If I said from within, I would not be wrong because as Christians the Holy Spirit resides within us; and He it is that enables us.  But, maybe we look at ourselves and say, "I wish I was like so-and-so who is so caring, so giving, so loving, so like Christ."  And maybe we then ask the question, "Why can't I be like that?"  We can, but we need to know how to go about it, and I hope this passage will help focus our thoughts on what Christ taught His disciples on empowerment.

Apart from our Scripture text today, the account of Jesus healing the epileptic man is mentioned in two other Gospels (Matthew 17:14-21 and Luke 9:37-42).  It is necessary to remember recent prior events to this account in order to understand it better:

  • Luke 9:1-6 - Jesus gave the 12 Disciples power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases as He sent them out through the towns to preach the Kingdom of God and to heal; and Scripture tells us that they were able to preach and heal everywhere.
  • Luke 9:10-11 - The Disciples themselves saw how Jesus taught the people about the Kingdom of God and His power to heal those who needed healing.
  • Luke 9:12-17 - The miracle of Jesus feeding the masses with five loaves and two fishes, and the leftovers collected after everyone had eaten their full filled 12 baskets.
  • Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-9, Luke 9:28-36 - Jesus was transfigured in the presence of three Disciples (Peter, James and John) up on a high mountain.

In all this the Disciples were definitely eye-witnesses to the events.  Many of the crowd that were following Jesus would have also witnessed the power of Jesus to heal and perform miracles as He went about His ministry - which was one of the main reasons they were following Him.  Bear this in mind as we delve deeper into our Scripture text.

  • Characters in the Story - A reflection on Empowerment and Disempowerment (vv. 14-22a)
  • The Crowd

The first thing we note as Jesus came to His Disciples was that there was a great multitude (a crowd) with them.  The crowd knew Jesus, because as He came, v.15 tells us that they ran to Him and saluted Him.  This crowd was likely comprised of people who had heard Christ's teachings and seen the miracles He performed before - how He healed the sick and how he miraculously fed the masses with just five loaves and two fishes.  They were enamoured with Christ because of what He had done and not who He was.  They followed Him hoping to be entertained or benefited by what further things He might say or what other miracles He might do.  It is no wonder that v.25 records that they "came running together", probably to gather round Jesus and get a better view.  This is our society, a society seeking celebrities that do spectacular things and entertain; even immoral celebrities are sought after as long as they are entertaining.  Maybe some of us decide to become "Christians" because we enjoy being in the various fellowship groups, or we love to hear sermons for the sermons' sake (like listening to poetry for poetry lovers), or because we find the doctrines interesting and like to have robust discussions about them. 

Could it also be that some of us are intrigued by the puzzling difficulties and seeming controversies in the Bible and enjoy the detective work in coming to a logical human understanding of the passages.  This crowd only follows Christ until something else catches their fancy.  If we are like this as Christians, there is no staying power in us to follow Christ.  Like the emotional nature of crowds, such Christians may be fervent for Christ one day and turn against Christ the next (remember the crowd that greeted and cheered Jesus as He entered Jerusalem and then turned about and shouted "Crucify Him" before Pilate?).

The crowd are like those who are Christians only when it suits them. They lack empowerment because they have no commitment to Christ, only to themselves.

  • The Scribes

Then there were the Scribes.  The Scribes were experts in the study of the law of Moses, belonging to the sect of the Pharisees.  They generally considered themselves wise and learned men who were skilled in the law.  Theirs was a three-fold function of:

  • Preserving the Mosaic Law.
  • Teaching the law accurately.
  • Being judges in the Sanhedrin (the highest Jewish court/tribunal/council) as they were entrusted with the administration of the law.

The Scribes contended with Jesus (and hence His Disciples) because He taught as one with authority and opposed the strict formalism they imposed on the people through the literal application of the Mosaic Law.  Jesus attacked their authority, their teachings and their practices because they were leading people away from God by their erroneous ways instead of leading people to God.

To me, the Scribes are like those who thought they had the knowledge of religion and godliness, but they were not empowered because they denied the power of that knowledge.

Can we see ourselves in the Scribes?  We may be serious Bible students because we like to show off our Biblical knowledge; we take pride that we are morally better than others and pass harsh judgement on them; we enjoy winning theological debates and such like; all of which only serves to puff up our pride.  Is everything only black and white to us in our dealings with others so that love and compassion are foreign to our hearts and thoughts?

Has the studying of Scriptures become so important that it has usurped the desire for a meaningful relationship with the Author, God? This is why there are theological professors today who are not Christians.  They have studied the Bible for the Bible's sake and missed the forest for the trees. They lead people astray because their interpretation of the Bible is based on flawed human wisdom.  These are the ones who Jesus will say on that fateful Day, "depart from me, ye that work iniquity."  Their power lies in letters and words that cannot empower us to live Christian lives, but only serve to condemn us.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Studying the Bible is important and every Christian must do this as a discipline; but it is studying the Bible for the wrong reasons or motives which I am highlighting here as detrimental to us spiritually.  We need to take heed that we do not allow our pride to entrap us as we study the Bible.

To be continued next week...

More Lively Hope



  • Welcome back Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki.
  • Special thanks to Sisters Sarah Lo & Purdee Yeo for their Missions presentation last Lord’s Day.
  • No BSAG meeting in August. Wednesday Prayer Meeting & Bible Study resumes.
  • All members expected to attend ACM on Sat, 4 Aug. Please come at 7:15pm so meeting can start on time. If unable to attend, please obtain proxy forms at Foyer & submit to Elder Colin Gan.
  • Today’s Fellowship Lunch is catered. Donation: $5 per person. Children under 5 years old free.
  • No BBK Class It will resume next Lord’s Day. Adult Sunday School resumes 12th Aug.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Volunteers. Next week: AFG.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Working Bees
  • God’s guidance for Hope BPC while Pastor Ki was away.
  • Journey mercies: Pastor Okman & Sis Myung Ki (Adl);  & others who have travelled.



  • Healing: For those who are afflicted.
  • Missions:  House of Hope (Cebu); House of Grace (Bandung);and  Bangladesh.
  • Southern Laos: Those who lost their loved ones and properties in the dam collapse.
  • Year 12 students as they prepare for exams.
  • Journey mercies:  Those who are travelling.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041