22 Feb 2017
A Gospel-centred Missional Church Pastor Paul Choo 19 February 2017 All Churches should be Gospel-centered. Gospel Light is a Gospel-centered church that preaches the Gospel faithfully and tries its very best to stay focused on declaring God's Good News. Many churches are distracted by their many pressing needs and the issues of the day and have lost this focus. Gospel Light's Gospel-centeredness must not end with the Gospel being declared faithfully from our pulpits only but must also continue to be declared by Gospel Lighters wherever they are. Gospel Light must not only be a Gospel-centered church but must strive to be a Gospel-centered Missional church!
All Churches should be Gospel-centered.
Gospel Light is a Gospel-centered church that preaches the Gospel faithfully and tries its very best to stay focused on declaring God's Good News. Many churches are distracted by their many pressing needs and the issues of the day and have lost this focus.
Gospel Light's Gospel-centeredness must not end with the Gospel being declared faithfully from our pulpits only but must also continue to be declared by Gospel Lighters wherever they are.
Gospel Light must not only be a Gospel-centered church but must strive to be a Gospel-centered Missional church!
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Now, at Gospel Light, Pastor Jason has done a great job at telling us that this is a gospel-centered church. But a gospel-centered church is automatically also a missional church. So today, I want to speak on Gospel Light as a Gospel-centered Missional Church, and I hope at the end of this message, we will understand what it is to be gospel-centered and what it is to be missional. Now, let me share with you some of my conversations recently. Now, in the past, when two pastors meet, you know what we always talk about? It is obvious right? The standard thing: “how's your church, how’s your ministry?” This is like the opening; it is like “how are you?”, right? But in the last two months, conversations have been quite different. Usually they will ask, “how's your building?” And then you say, “it's completed”. Then the next thing they will say is, “how's your building fund?” And then you say, “well, thank God! Through God's people, it has been settled. It has been paid”. And then the next question is, “how much loan did you need to take?” Then when the answer is like, “Well, through God's people, it has been given”, they still quite can't quite get it. It's like, “how much loan did you need to take?” So we didn't need to take any loans from many commercial lenders. God provided! And then the immediate question is, “how did you do it?” It's like you have got some secret, you know? You're like the kung fu master, you have got something hidden. “How do you do it?” I said, “God provides through his people”. And then the questions start coming. “Do you have to preach a lot of messages, pressuring people to give?” I say, “You know, Pastor Jason, he, even if you ask him to pressure people, he wouldn't do it.”. It's not his nature to do it. “How about you?” I said, “You know, in 30 over years of preaching, I think I have not preached on giving more than five times in 30 years.” I don't like to preach on giving. Why is there a need to preach on giving? Then the next question is, “what about tithing? Do you keep an eye on how people give their tithes?” I said, “We don't even teach tithing in this church! It's a free-will offering.” And it's like, it sort of confuses them completely. And I just keep saying, “God provides!” - that's the way. But a few weeks ago, I began to think. I said, “That's not a very good answer.”. That's not a very good answer, though it's a correct answer. It still leaves people baffled. It leaves people questioning how in the world you raise over $40 million in this short span of time. You don't even have that many people here. How do you do it? And then I began to think and I said, I think to be fair, I need to give a better answer the next time.
So I thought, one of the reasons why God has always blessed us is because of this verse. Alright, this is from the King James Version, very beautifully said. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself” (Proverbs 11:24,25). The generous person shall be made fat; it doesn't mean this, right? It means prosperous. And God will bless the generous person, alright? He that watereth shall be watered himself. So I said this is probably the answer I should give the next time - that because this church has always been very generous with giving to mission. Some of you are new here; from our beginning like 20 years ago, we have always given a huge part of our offerings to missions. In fact, for the first 15 over years, we gave more than 50%, every year to mission. Some years, 80% and at some times, almost hitting 90% of what we collected went out into the mission field to people we hardly know and sometimes to ministries we have no clue what is happening. In a sense, we don't worry about the giving part. We just want to be generous because God has been so generous to us. So I thought that would be a good answer, tell them that “well, there is that scattereth, and yet increases”. And thank God for this church. We have always been generous. Even the last two years when building fund was there, the leaders of the church always said to me (I am the missions guy), “Just do missions. Don't worry, just do missions. Keep on doing the missions”. But then, I realized that the next question they will ask me is “Yeah, you say that you give so God blesses you. But how do you get people to give?” You know, for most pastors - I work with pastors and I train pastors from other countries, and I always ask them, “what's your biggest problem in ministry?” And always the answer is the first line, which is, “the hardest part in the ministry is to get people to be committed, get people to serve God, get people to give”. The hardest part in ministry is to push people to do something for God. And most pastors are wearied. They are really tired at the end of it. You know, imagine pushing people over time, and the moment you stop pushing, they stop, and you push them again, and they stop. And you know, if you've got 100 people, how many can you push? It's very tiring. And so I began to think, ‘How in the world does this church always rise to the occasion and give generously, not only of money, but their time, their talents, their treasures? Why is this church different? What makes us different?” You know, when I tell the pastors I don't have this problem, I don't believe in pushing anybody. I give them a challenge, I walk off, I go and sleep, and I let God do the rest. If they grab the opportunity, God bless them. If they don't grab it, they would lose that opportunity. What's the difference? Then I began to think when pastor Jason did this chart on what the gospel is. I thought that was brilliant. It articulates everything that we believe in. Now, if you are in Gospel Light, and you want to be part of this church, please remember this. This will take you five seconds to remember, alright? What is the gospel? It begins with God giving amazing Grace to us, which results in gratitude from us and then because we are grateful, we do things that glorify or we give things that glorify God. This is very simple. Okay, so just remember that chart there.
Focus on the Grace of God
Okay, and then I began to think, “why is it that this church gives deliberately, gives generously?” I think, and I'm convinced, it's because we focus on preaching grace, and not on pushing people, telling people what to do, but telling people what God did for us (not so much what we are going to do for God, which is going to be pretty automatic). When we understand the amazing grace of God, the gratitude will come in and a grateful person always wants to do something for the person who did something for him. That's natural. Even animals have that instinct, right? So we just focus on the grace of God. And I think that's what we have been doing this church from the very beginning. We preach on God's amazing grace, especially as seen in the Gospel. And the rest follows automatically, almost. Now let's just focus on the gray spot for a while. This message is partly gospel-centered and partly missional. Let's look at the grace part - God's amazing grace. You know, I first saw that verse many years ago as a little child. I was a Sunday school child and an ACS boy, but it didn't mean anything to me. It. was just a verse you memorized. 37 years ago, I saw that verse again. And when I saw the verse 37 years ago, April 1980, whoa, that verse hit me. “For God so loved the world”. And I was already a 33 year old guy, and I said, “It's so hard to love anybody. I'm sure you have that same feeling when you drive a car in the morning”. You love all those guys driving around you? “Hey, nice drivers, man. Great, wonderful! It is wonderful to be Singaporeans, right? See all these people with beautiful cars.”. You know, I mean, you can hardly even say one good thing about the people around you. You go to office, they say, “Whoa, wonderful. I love all my colleagues”. And you go to school and you say that? Man, we can hardly love a few people. And yet the Bible says God, the amazing God with super high standards, who sees how filthy we are inside, underneath all this facade, all this ‘looking so decent, so nice’. And now you know, God sees right through. And yet, knowing how filthy, how hypocritical, how horrible we are, God loves us. This blows my mind. And you know what kind of love? It is not just love, like, “Okay, okay, I'll tolerate this guy. I mean, he's my colleague so I will be nice to him, okay?” You know, we have to be decent to the guy. He didn't do that. He loved the world so much He gave His Son, His only begotten son. I think we can understand that. We don't need theological minds to figure that out. We can give things to people, give a smile, we can give some kindness, a handshake, a pat, some help. Now to give our son for someone? That's another story! And you know when I saw this verse 37 years ago, I said, “Whoa, this is not religion. This is about God's amazing love!” And he loves us so much that He gave His Son. You know, some people's idea of Christianity and God is that He loves you so much that He gives us 70 good years in this life, He gives you health and wealth for 70 years, and after that zaps you. That's not this God. This God says, “I love you in spite of who you are and how horrible you are. I love you so much that I give you my son who will give you eternal life.” That blew my mind 37 years ago, and it still blows my mind today. How can it be? How is it possible, except from a heart of God? Then I go on and see Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Bible says, He is the eternal Son of God. He has been from the beginning. In the beginning, all things were made by him. Without Him was not anything made that was made. Whoa. He is the creator of the world. 2000 years ago, he volunteered to come into this world, go into the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary. The God who created the universe goes into this little space, this dark little space, into solitary confinement for nine months to come out (the God of the universe) to come out as a three kilogram baby. Does that make sense? How can it make sense to little minds like ours? Why did Jesus do that? Why did he become from the eternal Son of God to be a little baby? Because he loves you and me. He was willing to be locked up into this little thing because he had a goal. This little thing 100% God and (listen carefully) 100% man. Mathematically impossible. Impossible. 100% God and 100% man in this baby. Why?
As God on the cross, He knew everyone of us
Why did God do this miracle? Why did Jesus sacrifice to be this little baby? Because this little baby had one goal. One goal, which was to grow up and go to the cross. 33 years later, he went to that cross and hung on that cross as God-Man. You say, “what's the big deal about that?” Because the only Savior you can ever have has to be God-Man. What do you mean by that? As God on the cross, He knew every one of us. You know, Pastor Jason, I guarantee if we give him a test right now (he's a brilliant guy) to name all the people here, he will fail. There are a few hundred people - he will fail; he is limited. Jesus on the cross is God! He knew every human being that lived, from Adam to the last guy. Jesus on the cross is God knew every sin of ours. I'm a pastor, I don't even know my own sins. Most of them I don't even know. Sins inside here (brain), crossing in my mind, evil thoughts crossing in my mind, evil looks looking at things I shouldn't see, saying things I shouldn't say, listening to things I shouldn't listen to and feeling things I shouldn't feel. Do I know all my sins? No. Paster Paul Choo, you don't even know your own sins? Yes, most of them I'm not even aware that they were sins. Pride and anger and impatience and all kinds of presumption and omissions and whatever. But you know, Jesus on the cross, he knew this guy (pointing to himself). He knew every single sin of mine in there (head), in there (eyes), in there (ears), in there (mouth), in there (heart). And you know what? As God, he didn't forget any. I can't remember what I did as a child. Confess my sins as a child? I can't even remember what I did last month. Often, I can't remember what I did last week. But Jesus on the cross is God. He remembers everything and forgets nothing. He saw everything and missed out on nothing.
Christ died for our sins: past, present and future
And on that cross, he took our sins, missing none. If every sin of ours is the size of an atom, an electron, I believe if we had spiritual eyes to see Jesus on the cross, there would be a mountain as high as the sky. He carried our sins; he missed out none. All my sins: past sins, present sins and future sins. You say, how does he even die for my future sins? I haven't committed them yet. You weren't born when he was on the cross 2000 years ago. He knew you. He knew you 2000 years before you were born because he is God. For God, the past, present and future are the same thing. He saw us 2000 years before we were born. He saw everything we would do. In spite of that, he loved us and he took every sin that we would ever commit. On that cross (listen carefully), every sin Jesus took because he's God. He came with a goal to take our sins, bear our sins. But as God, he cannot feel pain, he cannot feel shame, he cannot bleed, he cannot die. But as man, God-Man, as man, he could suffer for us. He could be a substitute for us. And the Bible says that all of us, everyone - you want to say God fair? The only fairness is all of us should go to hell. That's fairness because we are all sinners. If you're a judge, every criminal should be charged. A fair God? If you want just fairness without mercy mingled with fairness, we'll all be in hell. But you know what? In great mercy, Jesus went on that cross and took our place. All the suffering you and I should have in hell, God took it, condensed it, concentrated it, and slammed it on his son in a way you and I will never understand. I can tell you there was no discount, there was no cheating. God is just. And on that cross, He suffered for all our sins in a way you and I can never, never understand. That's why we need eternity. Eternity to grasp this God, to try to grasp this God who is bigger than eternity. You know when Jesus had paid for all our sins on the cross, every single sin, this is what he said. In English, he said, “It is finished”. But Jesus on cross didn't speak English. He spoke Greek. In Greek, he spoke one word, not “it is finished”. He spoke a very common Greek word, that the last time, ‘tetelestai’. ‘Tetelestai’ is one word which every Greek knew. It simply meant “fully paid”. It didn't mean ‘I'm dead’. It is not a medical word. It is not a word for a doctor to say ‘he is finished’. In Greek, the word is an accounting term; it's a business term that says your debt is fully paid. Just now we sang the song, Jesus paid it all. That's a song. So when Jesus went on the cross, this is basically what he said, “finished”! Tetelestai; debt paid! Basically, he said, “Mission accomplished. I came with one goal to bear your sins, and I finished”. How do you know it's true? How do you know is just not a boast? Because three days later, He rose from the dead. If he's still paying for our sins, he will still be in the grave. He won't rise. He won't be in heaven with God the Father. He rose from the dead. That's what makes our religion different from every other faith. It is about a God and His amazing grace, who loved us. It is not another religion. I hate religion. Listen carefully. I hate religion. Wars and problems and corruption and money comes from religion. Don't you ever say Christianity is another religion.
Religion is man trying to reach God, Christianity is God reaching man
Religion is man trying to reach God. Christianity is God reaching man. It is not another religion. It is opposite, totally opposite! It's a God who loved us and came down and paid for us. All you fathers and mothers will understand this; you need no elaboration. What do you do for your kids? You sacrifice. You do all you need for your kids. That's what God is called a father, not a religious figure who demands you to pay homage to him, who demands you to pay him something before He talks to you and before He calls you worthy. A father doesn't do that. Today, whether your kid is born worthy or unworthy, beautiful or ugly, smart or foolish, you'll love that kid and you will do anything for that kid. That's what God did. And you know what, it is amazing! This is grace. We don't deserve it. None of us deserves it. Anyone of you here come and say, “how I can deserve the salvation?” You don't deserve it; you never will! Forget it. But if you can come and say, “I am here to just try to grasp what this Father in heaven would do.” No need to go to theology school. No need to wreck your brains with all kinds of strange theological words. What would a father do? Give His best. And so the Bible says - this blows my mind! “Whosoever believes in Him”, believes what Jesus did on the cross (took all your sins), “whosoever believes shall never perish”. You know you and I who are believers who believe in Jesus will never taste death, do you know that? If I got a heart attack right now and I dropped dead right here, my body hits the ground, this might shake and there might be a sound, and everybody, all of you, is going to say, “Oh, PC died”. You know, you see it! You see me die. But the Bible says that I cannot die. “Whosoever believes in Him shall never perish” - a high-class word for die. I will hit the ground, my body will hit the ground, this stupid brain of mine will hit the ground, my flesh will hit the ground but I will not die. As the body goes down, the soul goes up. As the body says, “Ah!”, the soul says, “hallelujah!” You believe that? How amazing to be a believer! Others will see you die, you will never experience death yourself. You can only see other people's body die. And your soul will either go to heaven or hell. There is no halfway place. You know, my friends when I see this verse “shall never perish”. 10 years ago, I had a heart attack. Was it scary? Yes, as a doctor, I knew I had 8% chance to live. I knew which artery was blocked. But you know, I wasn't afraid. My wife was right in front of me. It's almost like, “Hey, I'm going home!”. No more sweat, no more sorrow, no more tears. I am going to the real home. I have a good home in this life. But you know, life hasn't begun. Do you believe that? Does that verse blow your mind? “Whosoever believes in Him shall never perish, but have everlasting life”. You know, when you take your last breath on Earth, your immediate next breath is with God. There's not even a one second gap because it's everlasting. It is not lasting, break, and then lasting again. No theology required again. Everlasting means it never ends. My friend, does this blow your mind? I don't know about you. 37 years ago, I saw this. It still blows my mind today. How can it be? But you know what? It fills my heart. “Ah, John 3:16... Yeah, I know this verse. Yeah pastor, thank you very much”. How people cling to life! How people cling to life on this earth, when God has promised us something so amazing. Some of you are saying, “Well, Pastor, okay, I believe that, you know, but I'm 25 years old now. I'm not likely to die for 50 years. What do I do in the meantime? The gospel is like this passport and you talk about heaven. What about now?” All of you, hear this. Everyone, 25 or 55 or 95. Alright. See this verse - “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20)? Christ lives in you. You didn't receive a doctrine in your head. You didn't receive John 3:16 in your mind. You received Jesus as your savior, as your Lord and Master! And you know what? That to me is exciting. I have the best master in my heart. You know some people are actually scared of this. They say, “I don't mind Jesus as my savior but as my master? Whoo, scary!” You know, all of you here, you study, you go to school. For what? Why do you guys go to school and work so hard? Worry about PSLE, worry about ‘O’ levels, worry about ‘A’ levels - for what? So you get a good job, right? Why do you want a good job? So you serve a good boss, that's why! A good company. Everybody's looking for a good boss to serve. You know when you receive Jesus, you have the best boss. He's wise. He knows the future. He cares for you. He gives you everything that's right. Not everything that you want but everything that is good for you. Why? Because he loves you that much. You can trust him. He didn't die on a cross for you so that he can come into your life to mess you up. You know, my friends, this is the gospel - it is the passport to eternal life. Partner now! Everybody dreams of the right partner, the right partner; life partner, business partner, whatever partner. That's the best partner. He is yours, if you trust Jesus. Wow. You know, my friends, to me, 37 years of seeing the same verse. I can only step back and say, “Wow. Wow.”
That's what this Church must preach. We preach this amazing gospel - “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”” (1 Cor 2:9). This is in the Gospel. You're looking for religion? Wrong place. Plenty of religions: do this, do this, do this, and maybe one day you will get a passing grade and go to heaven. But with the gospel, it is totally mind blowing.
Focus on the gospel
Alright, let's come back to this now. How does that help pastors who are struggling? What do they do? What's the job of a pastor? Preach on giving? Preach that they show more gratitude to God? Preach that you got to glorify God? No, focus on this, man. Just focus on the grace. The rest will follow. This church must be gospel-centered otherwise, we will spend our time on a lot of good things but not the best things. People come from all over here, different backgrounds. Last week, we had baptism. Some said, “too little water” and one person, “some more water”. How much water do you need? Not enough? Next time, take a bigger bowl and pour on the guy's head. Some say the music is too fast, some say it is too slow. Whatever! Big deal. As I always say, big deal. You know what is a big deal? The grace. Gospel grace, do you see it? Focus on the gospel. There is a lot of washing, you know. People go to the rivers to wash, the massive rivers, to wash their sins away. There's a lot of water there. And there are some places where the music is amazing. Is that material? Are we going to have a church that is going to argue about all these things? Stop it! Focus on the gospel! That's the need of the world. That's the gift of God. So if pastors would just preach the gospel, gratitude would follow and gratitude leads to giving. A grateful heart won't try to hold back. It would be dying to give; literally dying to give. They would give their time, their talent, their treasures.
Grace means undeserved favour
Now, comes the next part. Okay, so the pastor’s responsibility is to preach the gospel grace. Alright, grace means undeserved favo. Tha is all it is; such a big word, grace - it is God's undeserved favor to all of you. Alright. When you understand that, this will start to work in your heart - gratitude. You start giving. Now this again, the Church must be careful here at this point, after people give. Because people will give but when the gifts come, if the church is not faithful, they can abuse the gifts. We've seen that too often. People want to serve God? Be my bodyguard! Serve God? Open doors for me! Follow me around! Make me be good. I can abuse it. It's easy. You're going to give gifts? Give it to me. I am going to buy a bigger house. I need a new car - my car is eight and a half years old. The CEO is coming up. You can use it. Gifts can be given. You can abuse it. Or even sometimes, you can use it poorly when gifts are given. When gifts are given by God's people, the best thing to do with it is make sure it's given for missional purposes. What do you mean by mission? <Mission is nothing more than saying, “I have a mission”. Just like Jesus had a mission to go to the cross, I have a mission to tell about God's grace. That's all it is. Is this church a missional church? Do you have a mission here? Is your mission to sit here every Sunday? Is that your mission? Well your mission is to come on Sunday, sit here, be challenged, hear more of God's grace, grasp it more, and then go out and tell the world about God's grace.
Thank you, You allowed us to be recipients of the amazing grace of God. Thank you for the gospel. Thank you, God, that we can tell the world about this good news. Life doesn't end when life ends - life begins. Teach us, Lord, to understand, to grasp and to declare. This is our prayer, Lord. May we be a gospel-centered missional church. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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