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15 Oct 2023

Let’s Get Dressed For Church! [Colossians 3:12-17]

Overview

The emperor in "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Anderson went about his royal procession without any clothes on. The Christian however must have his clothes on, according to the Apostle Paul. But Paul is not talking about physical articles of garments, but spiritual qualities befitting the new life in Christ. In Col 3:12-17, Paul talks about. 1. Grace. Before we look at what we are to put on, Paul reminds us of why we are to put on- that we are richly favored and graced by God. 2. Garments. Paul shows us the 8 qualities that we should have. Just as we are to put away the grave clothes of sin, we are now to put on grace clothes of holiness and love. 3. Goal. The goal is that God's people will be united in peace and thankfulness unto Him. 4. Gospel. The word of Christ must saturate the people of God in order for us to arrive at the goal.

The word of Christ must saturate the people of God in order for us to arrive at the goal.

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As a church, we have been looking at the book of Colossians in our sermon series, and so today we come to Colossians 3, verses 12 to 17, and let me start with a story.

In 1837, there is an author called Hans Christian Andersen, and he wrote a story about an emperor who commissioned two men to make a new suit for him. As it turned out, the two men were swindlers. But when it was time, the two men said to the emperor, Sir, your suit is ready. This suit is made of very special material. This material can only be visible to those who are smart. The emperor, obviously, couldn't see anything, but not wanting to look stupid, he says, alright, let me put on this beautiful suit, and he walked along the streets in his procession. The story is The Emperor's New Clothes, when he actually had no clothes.

As Christians, we must not follow the emperor in this story. We must have our clothes, and we must put on the new clothes. That's what the apostle Paul said in Colossians 3 and verse 12. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience. The word put on is one word in the Greek, which means to clothe and to array yourself.

So Paul is invoking the metaphor of clothing, of garments. He says as Christians, we should put on new clothes. I'm not talking about articles of a garment, physical articles like what you see today, but it's about spiritual qualities and values. So I've entitled the sermon today simply, Let's Get Dressed for Church!

So what is this dressing all about? We will take a look at this passage. This is about a Christian's dress code and attire. But before we go into the garments and the articles of the garments per se, let's begin with an understanding of why we should put on the garments. So we begin with the concept of grace that is found in the text before us.

Paul says, put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved. So it seems as if before we would go right into what we are to put on, we've got to see why we are to put on what we are to put on. Why should you have new clothes? Because you have a new identity, because you are now God's children. Because you died with Jesus and you are raised with Jesus. You are a new man and you are wonderfully graced. You are wonderfully loved. You are wonderfully favoured by God. You are God's chosen ones.

It speaks of our tremendous privilege. We are a privileged people out of millions, Paul says to the Colossians. You have been chosen by God. And this introduces us to the doctrine of election. Election is what God speaks about. He chooses people to belong to Him. Just like how He chose Israel out of the various nations, God chooses people who will belong to Him. And He chooses people not because of anything in that person. Not because the person is smart or rich or powerful or charismatic. God chooses based on His own sovereign choice.

1. Grace

And so we, who are chosen, are a very privileged people. And you are chosen to have a new position. You are chosen to be holy, to be set apart. Previously, you are an enemy of God. But now you are holy, set apart, belonging to God. And not only are you privileged, not only are you given a new position, you are precious to God. You are beloved. He sets His love upon you.

And all that is Paul saying, this is the amazing grace of God. Remember who you are, remember you are loved and therefore put on new clothes. You have a new identity.

This is a picture of Prince George of the royal family. I dare say Prince George would not be caught walking around in beggar's clothes. He can't, he shouldn't. Why? Because he's a prince. He should dress according to a prince. And it is the same for the Christian. You are God's child, chosen, holy, beloved, therefore dress appropriately. So we go then to look at the specific articles of the garments.

2. Garments

Secondly, the garments that Paul is speaking about. He speaks about compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. A superficial quick glance at this list will remind us that this is actually very different from the list of sins that Paul talked about in verse 5 of chapter 3 and verses 8 and 9 of chapter 3, where Paul says, in the past, you guys lived in sexual immorality, evil desires, passions, covetousness, which is idolatry. You lived in anger and malice and slander and foul speech and lies. That used to be the way you behave. But now you are to behave in a totally radically different way.

And so he says, put on clothes, array yourself. Because I've already told you earlier in chapter 3, in verse 8, that you are to put all away. You are to take away the old clothes, put on new clothes. When you came to church this morning, you put off your old pyjamas and you put on new clothes for the day. And so as a new creation in Jesus Christ, dress appropriately.

So if I may put it in a simple way, Paul is saying here, put off your grave clothes. The clothes, the kind of behaviour you used to adorn yourself when you were not yet God's child. But now that you've come to Jesus, put off those clothes and put on your grace clothes, new clothes that are found in Jesus Christ.

So he says, let's put on compassionate hearts. The word there is literally the intestines of compassion. People in that time like to describe emotions to be located in your bowels. You know when you're worried, you're anxious, you feel that your bowels are churning. Or you say, my stomach is tied up in a knot. So that's sometimes where you feel.

So he says, I want you to put on the intestines of compassion, the bowels of compassion. That you're easily moved with the needs of those around you, that you are merciful. That you're touched with struggles of others. So put on compassionate hearts, put on kindness. The word there means benevolence or goodness towards others. You are predisposed towards others' needs and you want to help them in their practical struggles.

He says, put on humility. The word there means a lowliness of mind. It means you are not thinking much about yourself, you're not full of yourself. You esteem others more important than yourselves. Previously, you are filled with self-absorption, your passions, your desires, your covetousness. But now, think more about others than yourself.

Have meekness. Meekness means strength under control, not easily provoked, not irritable, gentle.

And then he says, patience. The word there literally means to suffer long, or long-suffering. Instead of being quick-fused, you bear with others, you suffer long.

So this is the command, the imperative, put on. And these are the participles, these are the qualities you need to put on. These are at least five things, but Paul doesn't stop with the five things. These five nouns are supplemented with another two verbs or action words where he says, bearing with one another. It's almost like those qualities don't just hang out there in thin air as concepts, but practically speaking, it will look like this, you will bear with one another.

But these are still part of what we have to put on, to bear with one another. The word bear means to put up. There's a beautiful Singaporean word for the word bear, and that is the word tahan. I think it captures the concept very well. We are to tahan one another, because sometimes I see one, or you see me, you also bei tahan. Cannot take it ah, but the Bible says you are to tahan, you are to bear with one another.

You know why we have to bear with one another? Because really we bei tahan one. We are irritating people, we, we rub people the wrong way. Yes, we are saved by the grace of God, yes, God gives us a new heart, but there is still that fleshly sin principle in us, and we can still sin and offend one another.

So if you think that if you come to church, you will be in utopia, nobody is going to disturb me, everybody is like an angel, you are mistaken. Because Paul obviously knows that even amongst the Colossians, they will irritate and offend one another, and we are responsible to tahan one another.

Can you do me a favour? I like to do this all the time. Ah, can you look at the person beside you, and just say, hi, my name is, so let's start easy, hi, my name is, well done, bear with me, because the next thing I want you to say is, please bear with me, because I'm not very nice.

Ay, you all don't dare to say ah? You all don't want to say ah? You don't admit so, is it? You ask my family, you ask my kids, and they will probably tell you, my, my dad not very nice. He has his problems. We have all our issues. We still struggle with the sinful flesh.

And I think church must begin with that realisation, that we are not a perfect bunch. We are a redeemed people, blood washed, but we are still under construction. So we will be offending one another. And the Christian ethos involves that understanding so that we can be compassionate, meek, patient, to bear with one another, tahan one another.

And you know, what if they really do something bad against me, they sin against me? Then Paul says, and if one has a complaint, the word there means a fault against one another, a quarrel against one another. What do you do? The Bible says, you forgive each other. The word forgive there is not the word usually used, which means to send away, but it's the word charizomai, which means to show grace. And in this sense, we show grace to each other in not saying, I want you to pay. I'll make you pay. No, you, you forgive, you show grace.

And to some, this looks absolutely impossible, because right now in your mind, when the preacher says we are to forgive one another, you say, I will forgive him, him, him, her, her, her, but I'll never forgive this person. In Chinese we say, 他化成灰,我都记得他. You know those Chinese Kung Fu shows, even if he turns into ashes, I will still remember him. You will never let go. You say, I can't, I can never forgive him. What do you do?

Well, if you say you cannot, this is what the Bible says, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. You see, this is tying back to what we started off with in chapter 3. Paul says, you died with Christ in chapter 2, and so you died to the elemental principles of legalism, but you are raised to new life, and this new life is to seek the things above, and to seek the things above means to seek obedience to Christ in daily life.

So we are to forgive, because we submit to the Lordship of Jesus. And here is the additional motivation. You forgive someone, not because you can forget what he has done to you, but you remember what you have done against Christ, and what He has forgiven you in.

So instead of being fixated on the person's sin against me, Jesus is saying, God is saying, remember how I have forgiven you, and you must forgive. That's what it means to worship. That's what it means to submit to Jesus. It's what it means to be a Christian. It's not doing what you like, it's doing what God wants. These are the things you put on as new clothes. The emperor had no clothes. As a Christian, we must put on these clothings.

And if this 7 is not enough, it's almost as if he says, let's bring it all together, when he says in a subsequent verse, but I put it up there, and above all these, put on love. Above all these. It's almost like the picture of a belt or a girdle in those days, where it is used to hold all the pieces of clothing together. Or you may say, it's like that robe that you place over everything. And above all these, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. I think this refers to the binding of the church together. I will not bore you with the details, but I think this refers to how love, together with all these clothings, articles of the garments, are necessary for the uniting of the body of Christ.

New person, new identity, new clothes. That's how we should live.

There is a good question people ask, alright, so I know I need to do this because the Bible says so, but how can I have compassion, kindness, humility today? It may seem easy for you now, but if some irritating person comes into your life, you say, I need to be more compassionate but it's hard. How do I do it? I would say, in Colossians 3 verses 12 to 17, Paul does not say how you should do it. He just simply lays down the fact that you have to do it. He doesn't say how.

So I can't quite squeeze a how from the text here, but I think it will be pastorally helpful to maybe have a little understanding of how we can practically put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience. And to make it easy for you, I kind of summarize them into A, B, C, D. Very easy to do.

The first thing, if you want to put on compassion or kindness or humility, the first thing to do is A. A stands for acknowledge. Acknowledge, I can't do it. And this is super important. Because if you don't start with acknowledging, I can't do it, you would say, God commands me to do this, so I do this, in your own strength, which is the flesh, and it profits nothing. It's you.

Acknowledge

You see, the Christian life is not necessarily properly understood, you living your life. The Christian life is Christ living His life through me. So it begins in a place of dependence, and it begins with the acknowledgement, I can't do it. Very hard for Singaporeans to say that, because we always have this can-do-it spirit. But when it comes to spiritual life, I can't do it is the right spirit. So acknowledge, I can't do it.

Believe

Then B stands for, A is acknowledge, I can't. B is buay sai. Not buay sai lah. A is acknowledge, I can't. B is believe God can. It's to believe that God can. After all, God is the One who loved us when we were unlovely. Christ lives in me by faith. I look to Him. I believe He can live His life through me.

Call

And so I do what is important in C. I acknowledge I can't, I believe God can, therefore now I practically cry out to God or call out to God in prayer to say, Lord, help me.

Do

And then finally, D stands for what? Depend? A, B, C is depend already. D is do. The Nike slogan, just do it. But your just do it must come after your A, B, C hor. Because if you don't have A, B, C and you just rush into just do it, it's pointless. It's in your own weakness. But you start with your A, B, C, I think it's fine. You say, Jason, why are you so chong hei? You just, just pray and do lah.

Why can't you just say that? Can lah. But you know in PSLE mathematics, you show your workings, got marks mah. So better to break it down to have marks one lah. Not just pray. Pray is almost perfunctory, almost like, to people's mind, it's unnecessary. But no, if you break it down, you realise it's actually very important. I can't, God can, so let me ask Him and I don't just stay at asking and wait for a feeling. After I ask Him, I will do. And trust that as I do, the miracle of empowerment comes through.

So, when you meet with your irritating colleague, or you meet with a difficult care group member, or you are speaking with someone you don't like in church, you're tempted to blow up, you're tempted to disengage. But you remember Colossians 3, and you say, Lord, I need to put on these garments. I can't, but You can. Lord, help me. And show compassion and then show kindness. Show patience. Bear, tahan, forgive. That's what it means to put on your clothes today.

So let's get dressed for church. Why? Because Paul reminds us we have been graced, privileged to be in a new position, precious to God. We are to put on the garments, garments because we are to put off the grave clothes of old and we are to put on the grace clothes for today, by A, B, C, D.

3 Goal

And there is a goal behind it all, and the goal is given to us in verse 15, when Paul says, and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. The word, or the phrase, peace of Christ, is often misunderstood. When people look at this verse, they like to look at this phrase to say, oh, I know what verse 15 is all about. It's when I am deciding between taking up a job in IBM or taking up a job in Google, I pray. And when I have peace that it will be Google, I will choose Google. That's how God leads me.

That's how people understand the peace of Christ ruling in their hearts. It's a subjective feeling in the heart when they have to make a certain decision. But I don't think that's what Paul means here. In fact, in our care group yesterday, as we were discussing this passage, we came up with a few possibilities for peace in the Bible. It can be the peace you enjoy when you first trusted in Jesus. It can be the peace that is spoken about in Philippians 4, when you're anxious or tempted to be anxious, you pray and the peace of God guards your heart. It can be an objective, positional fact that I have peace with God through Jesus Christ. I'm no more an enemy. But there are many kinds of peace. What peace is referred to here?

I think, based on the context and based on the subsequent phrase here, let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. This is what we are called to. We are called in one body to peace. And this peace, is peace, I think, with one another. So this peace of Christ is not about some subjective feeling in the heart, but it's about the objective harmony in the church. We are called in one body to such a unity, harmony and peace amongst God's people.

So, putting it in writing, the peace of Christ here is not a subjective feeling of rest in the heart when you are making decisions, but the peace of Christ here is referring to an objective outcome of harmony and unity in the body of the church.

Then what about the next phrase, rule in your hearts? The word rule is a very related word with the word rule or disqualify in Colossians 2:18, let no one disqualify you. The word rule is actually the word umpire. An umpire in a game says in, out, red card, yellow card, disqualify, stay in the game. So Paul is saying let this peace of Christ, this goal, this objective outcome of harmony in the church, umpire in your hearts, decide how you are going to make decisions.

So, I think the main idea is that God's goal is for His people to make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. I'm borrowing the words from Ephesians 4. But this is what He's calling the church to do, that we will make every effort to strive towards peace in the church. In other words, when someone offends me, I can do two things. I can try to forgive, to bear, to resolve. I may warn him of what he's doing, may be sinful and destructive, but I will try my best not to blow the matter up. Love, charity covers a multitude of sins.

Or I can choose to say, you irritate me, I'm going to give it to you, I'm going to tell this and that, I'm going to tell pastor, I'm going to blow this matter up. I'm going to sue you till your pants drop. You have two ways of dealing with the problem. What should you decide? Well, this is how we should decide. This is that overarching principle we must bear in mind as Christians, that in the body of Christ, God has called us to peace, one with another, and therefore, it should be the umpire to decide how I should respond from here.

There's a Chinese proverb that says, 忍一时风平浪静,退一步海阔天空。Uh, simi lai eh? Uh, it means, when you tahan for a while, there will be peace. Because if you fight ah, there will be chaos, right? So the Chinese proverb says, 忍一时, bear a little bit, tahan a little while, there will be peace. 退一步海阔天空, when you are fighting in close combat, it's very difficult to see clearly, but when you take a step back, you see things more clearly, things will be easier. I think that's the idea there.

So instead of always trying to get your own way, to make sure the other person pays, the Christian ethos is that we may have to suffer and absorb that damage, that hurt, bear, forgive, so that the harmony of the church is maintained. We do our very best right here.

Because this is the overall context. In Christ, here, that is in Christ, though we are all from different backgrounds, though we are diverse, we are not to be disunited. The goal of Jesus Christ, the goal of God, is that people from different parts of life would be united as one miraculous, united, loving body of people. So we must do our very best to preserve this unity in the bond of peace.

Therefore, guys, put away these things. These former sins are what divides you. You used to think of selfish, individualistic perspectives. It's all about me, but now you think about the church. You think about one another. You think about our togetherness. God's goal is for His Name to be glorified, not just in our individual lives, but collectively. And we can't do that if we're always fighting and fractionating one with another.

So the goal, as what Paul says in 3:15, is that we would live in peace and unity and harmony. And I can't overemphasize this importance. You really got to see this. This is really important to God. It may not be so important to you in, at this point of time, but it is really important to God, and I hope you'll see it over time, that God puts a huge premium on the unity of the church, the togetherness of the church, the mutuality of the church.

He said in John 13:34, Jesus said, By this shall all men know you are My disciples, if you have love one for another. And when Paul spoke about Romans 12, urging the Romans to present themselves as living sacrifice, the first thing he mentions is love in the church, serving one another, that togetherness. And when Paul spoke about Ephesians, for walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, the first thing he talks about is the unity of the church. Being first means it's important, isn't it?

So it's really important that God's people are committed to God's people. Don't think of Christianity in your life to be thriving and well if you are just living in isolation. All you're interested in is to attend the service, you come in at 11:20. Because that's when the preaching starts. And once I pray Amen, you whoof, siam. And you don't want to talk to anyone.

You don't want to have any interactions because you want to stay holy. Jialat lah. You, you despise the people around you maybe, they're not as holy as I, why I talk to them? Or maybe you just can't be bothered enough. I hope that that's not your mindset. I'm saying that in jest of course, but I hope that's not your mindset. Because it's really important to God. It should be important to us when we have this new life and we are called to seek things above, lordship under Jesus in everyday life.

So let me ask you today, how are you committed to the body of Christ today? I'm not, I'm not asking you how committed you are to attending church service. That's not the point of Scripture at all. You can come for worship service and still not be committed to the people of God. I think the New Testament does not teach of a Christian who is dissociated from Christian community. They are assumed to be in Christian community, doing the one anothers and I urge you today to consider how you're committed.

You may say, last time I was very committed, know, I youth leader lah, I served in this committee lah, wah very on the ball. I'm asking you not last time, now. Worship is not about last time only, now, today. Aiyah, you know lah, COVID lah, COVID one, one plus year already. Can come back already, to all, all online, can come back, can mix, mix with people, can journey with people, can fellowship with people, already can already. This is God's goal, that we will be a community living in peace and harmony.

But that's not all. Because in verse 15, he adds on, and be thankful. Now, people have a hard time trying to relate verses 12 and 14 and 15 to 17, almost. They almost think that they are two separate parts, but I think they are quite the same and, or not they are quite the same, but they all end up to be the same and I will try to explain why. But be thankful launches us into a kind of a separate but related thought.

He says, be thankful and this is the main theme going from here to verse 17 because that thankfulness is repeated three times and when it's repeated three times in three verses, you better pay attention, right? Hey son, switch off the lights. Son, switch off the lights. Sounds familiar? Uh, son, switch off the lights. And if he says it three times, if your dad says it three times, you better switch off the lights.

God says, be thankful, be thankful, be thankful. So the big idea in 15 to 17 must be about thankfulness. And I think the logic here is this. If you remember the former life of covetousness, idolatry, evil passions, foul speech, it's not a life of thankfulness, isn't it? It's self-absorption. But now that you are a Christian, don't be self-absorbed, be God-absorbed, be thankful. That's the idea.

Elsewhere, Paul says that the mark of the unsaved man is that he never thanks God. I'm not saying he never thanks his mom, he never thanks his father, he may, although I think children nowadays less and less do that, which is sad, but the unsaved person does not thank God. But now that you are a saved person, and now that we are a Gospel community, it's super important that we should be full of thanks to God.

And this is remarkable considering Paul is writing this letter whilst he is in prison. Very difficult circumstance, but he's urging the Colossians, be thankful, be thankful, be thankful. And all this is to be done in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This brings us back again to chapter 3, verse 1, about seeking things above, living under His Lordship. He's seated at the right hand of God, that's the place of authority and rule, and that's what it means for us to live today. It's not about a heavenly life next time, it's about obedience today, thankfulness.

But I can't finish the sermon and exegeting this text without going to a statement that is nestled in the midst of the repeated command to be thankful. And this verse, I think, is speaking about the Gospel. For Paul says in verse 16, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

So it seems almost that in order for God's people to remain thankful to God, there must be the flourishing of the word of Christ amongst the church. So he says, let the word of Christ, now the word of Christ, some may take it to be the sayings of Christ. So when you read your Bible, the red letter edition, the red words. Some people think that this is the words about Christ, teachings about Christ, and therefore it may expand from just the red words found in the Bible.

But whatever it may be, I think it may be closely or more closely related to what is said in chapter 1 and verse 5, the word of the truth, the Gospel, which Paul explains in verse 6, causes them to be fruitful. And I think the idea in chapter 3 verse 16 also is about them living a fruitful, meaningful, worshipful life.

And so perhaps the best way of looking at the word of Christ is that it refers to the teachings about Christ, the, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News of Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has done and what He has promised to do. So that's, I think, what Paul is saying, let this word of Christ, this word of truth, this Gospel dwell in you richly.

The word dwell literally is to inhabit, but metaphorically it is understood to be something that dwells in you to influence you. Whether you like it or not, when someone new stays in your house, the person will influence the way you live, right? You can't go to the bathroom the same way before the stranger came into your house, you can't eat the same way before the stranger came into your house, you can't prop up your legs on the table the same way before the stranger came into your house, the stranger will influence your life.

And when the Word of God dwells in us, it will influence our lives. And the idea here is not just to let it dwell a little at a time, but let it dwell in you richly, abundantly, stack it up, load it in. Paul says, let it saturate you, fill you, influence you. How? By teaching and admonishing one another. Teaching is more about the instructional aspect, admonishing is about the warning aspect. So we teach, we warn one another, and that's what I'm doing this morning, and I hope this is not just what I'm doing, but every one of us is doing something like this with one another.

In our care groups, in our discipleship groups, that's why community is important because we are called to do this. And it's in all wisdom, I think the best way to understand wisdom here is what Paul has already explained in earlier chapter, chapter 1, that in Christ it is hidden, all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom. So I think this is teaching, admonishing one another according to Christ, where there is the wealth and treasure of all knowledge and wisdom.

And this teaching and admonishing, Paul is suggesting, does not need to always be in a lecture form because you can do that in a musical form. Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Now, I don't think there's anyone I've read, neither can I, make a very clear distinction between psalms, hymns, spiritual songs. I think there are significant overlaps, however you want to cut it, but I think the idea is you can use music to teach and warn one another.

And perhaps I suggest to you, lessons that you learn in songs or statements that you learn in songs, stick with you a lot more than a preacher's preaching. I dare say a lot of you will forget what I preach, but you will remember what you sing. For example, if you go through a trial today, you will not remember what I've preached before about sufferings and so on or what you've read before, but you'll remember the song, It Is Well With My Soul. It is well, and you echo, it is well, with my soul, with my soul. And then you sing. And then you remind yourself of that reality that God works all things together for good to them that love God.

And maybe as you walk through a cemetery, you will sing, How can I fear, Jesus is near? You won't remember what PJ preached, but you'll remember the song. And you'll sing that song as you walk through that path, there are some things that are just more sticky in the minds when we sing. And there is a, therefore, horizontal dimension to singing, it's to one another. But besides that, there is also a vertical dimension with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

So guys, why would you not gather to sing? Why would you want to come in at 11.20am? Why? Because when you come in at 11.20am, you do nothing but sit and listen. But when you come in at 11 and you come earlier to prepare yourself to praise God, you are doing two things. You are doing your part to remind brothers and sisters in Christ about the truths of the song we sing. And you are singing to God in your heart with thankfulness.

So don't come late, don't leave early. Come early, leave late. It's as simple as that. Don't rob yourself, don't rob yourself of what it means to be part of the body honouring Christ and serving one another. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. We aim to be a Gospel-saturated ministry, a Gospel-centred ministry. And that's why all that we do must fulfil or must work towards allowing this Gospel to dwell in us richly.

So our worship services are centred on the Gospel, the preaching, the songs, the catechism. We want people to have the influence of God's Word in their lives. I hope your care group will be unashamedly about the Gospel, about the Word of God. I hope your care group is not about a Ji Chong Fun and a Chai Tao Kueh only. It's good to have Chai Tao Kueh and Ji Chong Fun, but the main objective is not feilowship.

The main objective is fellowship, worship in the Word of God, in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't turn your CG into a preaching seminar or just mere academic pursuit. Don't do that, of course, but it's doing Colossians 3:16. Because as we do that, we are better able to seek that harmony and peace one with another and we can arrive better at being a thankful people.

So let's get dressed for church. I hope you understand why the title now. It's for church, because it's this united church that brings glory to God and to be united, you need that right dressing. And so we need to understand grace, how we are first privileged, loved, set apart. How we today are called by God to put away the grave clothes of the old and to put on the grace clothes of the new. How we today must aim towards that goal of being a peaceful and thankful people. Because that's how we glorify Him and let us unashamedly go always towards the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let it dwell and influence and control us that we may glorify Him. I hope these words will be something you think about, pray through, and live out for His glory. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

Father, we thank You this morning. There are so many commands here but they are not burdensome, they are not unreasonable, but they are delightful, they are right. Because we can see how the world today is dividing over individualism and yet there is a better way to live, there is a counter-intuitive, there is a right side up way to live and that is loving one another in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As we are recipients of Your amazing grace found in the Gospel, help us all to resolve by the grace and power of Your Spirit, to aim towards that goal of being a peaceful and thankful body. That we may be deeply, resiliently engaged, involved and committed to one another. That others would see our love and know that we are Your disciples.

So we acknowledge our total inability to do these things and we call upon You to help us put on the garments of grace. May this church be always saturating ourselves in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May this new humanity as it were, this new Gospel-shaped community manifest the glory of Jesus Christ. O Lord, it takes far more than a sermon, it takes the power of Your Spirit. Mold and shape our minds, our thinking today, shape our behaviour, shape the way we make choices. May we live in daily obedience to the Lordship of Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us.

Father, this morning I pray about, I pray for those who are not yet Christians and I know it's easy for them to walk out of this and think that the way to become a Christian is to do all these things that we've mentioned. But Lord, help them to see it's not like this at all.

The, the Christian faith in Your Word has clearly been said to be not one where we do, do, do, do, do or we earn, earn, earn, earn, earn. But that the Christian faith is, it is finished. It is done, Jesus paid it all. Help them to realize that it is faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ that saves. So grant to men and women repentance and faith. Glorify Yourself through your Word. Help us to love one another. We pray all this in Jesus' Name, Amen.

 

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