Friday, May 25, 2007

Grace and Thanksgiving

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 13th May 2007 in GRIIS. It was preached in Indonesian and I personally translated to English. I am not very sure if Newton Life preached the same message this week, because this message is in conjunction with faith offering for the church construction project in Indonesia.

Passage: Psalms 136:1-20

The psalm speaks of God’s unchanging attribute and of His works. Common grace is given before we ask and we enjoy it every day but we never realize it and always take it for granted. Common grace include things like talents, health, intelligence, sunlight, opportunities, etc. They are the graces God gives to both believers and unbelievers. But they are so common that they are no longer appreciated. When do people realize they have been given common grace? Normally it is when they lose it.

The concept of common grace comes from Jesus Christ. In Matthew 5, Jesus said that the Father in heaven causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rains to the righteous and the unrighteous. Christian ethics surpass all other philosophies and religions.

Common grace permeates to all fields of human life. So great and universal it is that we cannot feel it. People who do not realize God’s grace need to be cut off from grace so that they learn not to despise it.

We need to change our mentality. We need to receive difficulty as it is. We need to see grace as something we do not deserve. Even when we face difficulties and are disciplined by the Lord, it is God’s grace. In our poverty, sickness and difficulties, God is still gracious. Pure gold needs to go through fire. Nobody will be successful and mature without training and examination. As Socrates said, an unexamined life is not worth living. And Mencius said that if you are given a mandate from heaven, you will be allowed to go through all kinds of sufferings and tribulations to prepare you for the task.

Our reaction towards God’s grace determine the direction of our future and the shaping of our character. We should not face difficulties haphazardly but to face them consciously and with a clear direction. The sentences we speak to ourselves when we face difficulties will determine our future. During such times, we have to learn to self-dialogue using the principles we have learnt from the Word.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, also went through sufferings. Who are we to be exempted? Seeing what He has gone through for us, we should go through everything with a heart of thanksgiving.

Who are those that can feel God’s grace? They are those who feel themselves unworthy. Who are those that know their unworthiness? They are those who can see Christ’s sufferings. Who are those that can see Christ’s sufferings? They are those who are touched and enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

A heart that has been touched by God’s grace would respond in thanksgiving. David prayed in one of the psalms, How can I repay God’s grace? It is also a general principle that those who never remember others’ goodness can never be a good person. And whatever we have is from God.

Later on, David said that he would lift up the cup of salvation. Like David, we can preach the gospel among the unbelievers as an expression of our thanksgiving to God.

This cup of salvation was originally the cup of wrath and Jesus Christ drank it all for us. The cup is later filled with grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace (Heb.10:29) who applies Christ’s salvation unto us. We drink of the Holy Spirit. We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit until our cup overflows (Ps.23:5). In this way, when we minister to others the flow is very natural.


At 4:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Jesus Christ, the Son of God, also went through sufferings. Who are we to be exempted? Seeing what He has gone through for us, we should go through everything with a heart of thanksgiving. "

Most people would say that if one lives righteous life, one deserved a good life (i.e. exempted from 'unnecessary suffering'). But as Christian, we see that Jesus lived a perfect life, and yet he died miseably. Who are we to think we deserved a better life ?

At 2:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for posting. Yes, it is what Rev Tong has preached in Newton Life Church. It is always powerful in his speech. But most of the time we may forget of what he said. hence writing is the best way of memorizing.


At 11:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following was quoted from:
The Godly Man's Picture (drawn with a Scripture pencil)
by Thomas Watson

Question: What shall we do to be thankful ?

Answer 1: If you wish to be thankful, get a heart deeply humbled with the sense of your own vileness. A broken heart is the best pipe to sound forth God's praise. He who studies his sins wonders that he has anything and that God should shine on such a dunghill: "Who was before a blasphemer, an a persecutor, but I obtained mercy' (I Tim 1:13). How thankful Paul was! How he trumpeted forth free grace!
A proud man will never be thankful. He looks on all his mercies as either of his own procuring or deserving. If he has an estate, this he has got by his wits and industry, not considering that scripture, "Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth" (Deut 8:18). Pride stop the current of gratitude. O Christian, think of your unworthiness; see yourself the least of saints and the chief of sinners, and then you will be thankful.


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