15th Anniversary Service - Is GLCC A Truly Christian Church?

Scripture: Matthew 11:2-6

Sermon preached at Gospel Light Christian Church, Singapore

on 24 November 2002

Introduction: When we began 15 years ago, we took almost a year to find a suitable name for our church because we wanted a meaningful name that would remind us of the reason for our existence. We chose "Gospel Light" to remind us that evangelism is the main reason for our existence as a church. Then we added "Christian" to remind us that we are a body of born-again Christians - not the typical denominational church which is an organization made up of many people who join through natural birth and affiliations. Though we are basically a Baptist church in our doctrines and practices, we resisted using the time "Baptist" because we wanted to honor Christ and remind ourselves that we bear His name and, therefore, must be Christ-like.

Recently we learned that Christ lives in us (Galatians 2:20) and wants to live through us. We also learned that He is more than a role-model for us to follow and more than a supporter who helps us to live like Him. We know that He actually lives in us through the Holy Spirit (also called the Spirit of Christ), so that He might live through us. We know that Christ came to serve (Matthew 20-28 "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister...") and to evangelize (Luke 19: 10 "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost"). Therefore, any Christian who is not serving and evangelizing is out of God's will. A Christian is one in whom Christ lives. A good Christian is one whom Christ lives through. A good church is one in which Christ's life is clearly seen.

Characteristic of a Christian Church - its effect: Most people identify a Christian church by its architecture, staff, worship, activities and members. When John the Baptist sought "proof" that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, Jesus told John's disciples to tell him that "the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear the dead are raised up..." (Matthew 11:5). In other words, Jesus identified His ministry by its effectiveness rather than by its religious activities. Most religions (including "Christianity") are identified by their religious activities - which do not change the lives of their followers.

While we believe that God can easily heal the physically blind, lame, leper and deaf, we realize that their social, moral and spiritual "equivalents" are far more common and destructive. Many people are blind to their own faults and to the hurts they inflict on others. All are blind to their sin, its eternal penalty and its remedy (Christ!). Mary Christians are blind to their worldliness and its remedy (Christ!). Sin separates us from a holy God, as leprosy separates a leper from society. Leprosy is uncommon but "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Those who are socially, morally and spiritually "lame" (eg. through depression, bitterness, addiction to sin) far outnumber those who are physically lame. Those who are deaf to advice and teaching far outnumber those who are physically deaf. Can Gospeliters say to those who mock Christianity, "come and see the lives that have been MIRACULOUSLY changed!" Even John the Baptist was "offended" (Matthew 11:6) by the simplicity of Jesus' life and ministry. How could the Messiah have no organization, impressive building, training, title and religious rituals to perform? He did not even carry a Bible nor have a scripture reading before He preached! The true Christian church is simple in its form but awesome in its impact on lives, unlike the false Christianity (and other false religions) which are impressive in its form but does not change lives.

Characteristic of a Christian church - its unique activity: All religions have their set of regular religious activities, which me usually conducted in special places. Generally speaking, those who are poor physically (eg. paralysed), financially (eg. bankrupt), socially (eg. outcast), morally (eg. drunkard) and spiritually (eg. no religious background) do not come to these places. Jesus Christ went everywhere (Mark 6:56) and preached anywhere (eg. synagogues, fields, homes). In other words, He went where the masses were because He knew that the "poor" were unlikely to come to religious places. Jesus told John's disciples to tell John that He was indeed the Messiah because "the poor have the gospel preached unto them" (Matthew 11:6). This prophecy identifying the Messiah (Isaiah 61:1) which Jesus quoted to identify Himself (Luke 4:17,18 "And when he had opened the book he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor... "). The Lord indeed reached out to physically handicapped (eg. blind), racial outcasts (eg. the Samaritan woman, John 4), moral outcasts (eg. Matthew the tax-collector), social outcasts (eg. lepers), etc. The vast majority of those He reached were poor. And the vast majority of converts were the poor (James 2-5 "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith..; "I Corinthians 1:26-30).

Conclusion: Is GLCC going to be an impressive church with impressive activities and facilities and members, that will attract "nice" people looking for a "nice" church? Or will we always strive to reach out and preach the Gospel to the poor? Will we be a true Christian Church or just another "church"?

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