1. SERVING THE LORD 2. THE 1517 REFORMATION: SOLA SCRIPTURA, SOLI FIDEI, SOLA GRATIA (PART I)
From the Board of Elders
Dear Members in Christ,
Serving the Lord
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10.
Some of us erroneously believe that once we are saved unto salvation we need not do anything other than attending the Lord’s day Worship service. We already have the ticket to Heaven why is there a need to do His work in the Church and vineyard?
According to the Scripture we are saved by the grace of God, not to idle away, but to serve “For we are his workmanship…” Ephesians 2:10. Each one of us is also given at least one spiritual gift to serve the moment we are saved “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” 1 Peter 4:10.
Each one of us is also a member of the body of Christ. For the body to function harmoniously and effectively, each member must work together cheerfully, peacefully and in a coordinated manner to the glory of God. “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:4-8.
We are to minister to one another, to build up the body of Christ and for the work of salvation to lost souls in the community around us and beyond. This is God’s desire for us.
Some of us may not know where to start serving. Our spiritual gifts may not be obvious and difficult to identify. We can pray to God that He will reveal to us our spiritual gifts. Whilst waiting, we can begin serving in any ministry that needs immediate attention. God in His own timing, with the passage of time, will show us our gifts and enable us to serve Him profitably and effectively.
An example: Moses when he was called by God to lead the Israelite out of Egypt, he trembled and was not sure whether he was up to mark to serve God. However, Moses obeyed. We know that God had already prepared Moses by equipping him with the relevant gifts of skill and resources. Indeed, from the Bible, Moses was successful in leading the Israelite into the trans-Jordan side of the promised land.
Every believer should start serving and remember that it is more than just serving others; it is also loving them: “... by love serve one another” Galatians 5:13c. Serve God with the right heart. Serving with a wrong heart is deceitful and wicked. God is not pleased.
What are the Ministries that you can serve in the Church?
1) Visitations 2) Choir 3) Music 4) Sunday School teachers 5) Missions 6) Greeters, Ushers, Offering Stewards 7) Kitchen 8) Audio-Video (PA) 9) Library/Bookroom 10) Website Administrator 11) Interpreter/Translator 12) Others.
Serving the Lord may also take other forms as well: getting a meal for a member or just picking up a phone to say “hello” etc. As we go about serving God, let us do so with a spirit of humility and brotherly love … not with hidden intent but for the testimony and glory of God.
Elder Choe TS
The 1517 Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Soli Fidei, Sola Gratia
The Impact of the 1517 Reformation on the Church’s faith and practice (Part 1 – The Scriptures)
The ground shaking event which was initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 in Wittenburg, laid the foundation for the doctrinal basis of the entire Protestant world. At a time when the church was steeped in doctrinal error and superstitions, the 1517 Reformation brought light and life to the spiritual life of the people of God. As Bible-Presbyterians, Reformation Sunday is a time for us to remember the brave men who risked their lives that we may practice the faith once delivered to the saints according to the truth taught to us in the scriptures. More importantly, what is the legacy that has been left to us by the Reformation fathers? In this three-part article, we will examine some of our practices in devotion and worship which stems from the truth revealed to God’s people during the 1517 Reformation.
1. The Scripture – God’s inspired word
The Reformation brought the realization of the paramount importance of the written word of God. The scripture takes the central position in our faith. Sola scriptura – Latin for “by scripture only” was one aspect of the Reformation theology. The principle given in the Bible is that all scripture is given by inspiration of God (1 Timothy 3:16). The word “inspiration” means “breathed”. It is a way of describing the act of speaking. Just as when we speak, we exhale through our vocal chords to form words, the very word of the scriptures are “God-breathed,” i.e. they are words given by God. The Apostle Peter records how these words are transmitted from God to man, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). Thus, the words of Scripture are not the invention of men, but God’s very words to His people.
2. The impact of “Sola scriptura” on the preaching in Reformed churches
What does this mean for us in practical terms? For the believer, the Bible is the authoritative guide in all matters of our life and faith. In the pre-Reformation era, it can be observed that the pulpits in the churches were constructed to one side of the sanctuary. For instance, in the very well-preserved church in Geneva where John Calvin was the pastor, the pulpit is a raised balcony accessed by a spiral staircase. This is typical of churches and cathedrals constructed before the Reformation. In present day churches, the pulpit is placed in front of the sanctuary, it is elevated and it is placed centrally. The central place of the pulpit reinforces the idea that the Word of God is exalted above the ceremony and liturgy of worship. For the believer, it is clear to take heed to the message in the preaching of God’s Word. For if indeed we adhere to Reform theology, and we believe that every word of Scripture is God breathed, then the preaching of God’s word on the Lord’s Day is God’s message for our application.
3. Practical Ways of Obeying and Honouring God’s Word
There are some practical steps we can take which demonstrates how highly we esteem the preaching of God’s Word. One way is to take time to meditate upon the weekly Lord’s Day sermons. During the sermon, when you are moved by a certain passage from scripture, mark out a key verse, and meditate upon it through the Lord’s Day. Like the psalmist we ought to cry out, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day” Psalm 119:97.
Let us not be satisfied with just a weekly feeding of the word of God. Our reading and devotion ought to be a daily practice. Begin our day with a reading of the portion of God’s Word. There are many good tools to help us in our daily devotion. May the knowledge of the word of God help us to have sweeter and closer walk with God and Saviour Jesus Christ. May His name be glorified.
(Part II – The 1517 Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Soli Fidei, Sola Gratia to be continued next week).
Dn. Lim Seh Beng