29 Jan 2023

The “Big Why” Of Christianity [2Corinthians 5:11-15]


We all need motivation to get things done. Figuring the "why" is as important as settling on the "what" we are to do. The Bible speaks quite a lot about the motivations of the Christian life. Paul gives us 2 motivations in this passage. 1. The Fear of the Lord. In light of the Bema judgment by Jesus, Paul would not be complacent, but made it his life aim to please Him in faithfully preaching the gospel. He worked out his salvation with fear and trembling. He was intentional to evidence (not earn) his salvation in the fear of the Lord, who will render to every man according to his works. 2. The Love of God. Paul carefully evaluated the love of God in sending Jesus to die for him. He concluded that his new life in Christ must be lived for His savior. And it is this love that motivates the Christian. We love Him, because He first loved us. These two motivations are like two wings or the twin engines of a plane. Life will not take off without one or the other. May you progress in this new year to higher ground as you fight hard to keep the "Big Why" of Christianity fresh in your mind!



Sermon Transcript

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I’m glad today to return to 2 Corinthians and Chapter 5. We're looking at the subject on of motivation today. Let me start with a picture. Some days it's hard to find motivation. Some days motivation finds you. Motivation is all important, isn't it? And I, I guess we all understand it, especially if you are a student. The difference between a good student and maybe not so good student is oftentimes found in motivation. One student finds it very important to work hard, he or she is driven to study and then the other student though very smart, just don't find the drive or the reason why he or she should study.

Maybe for many of you, you’re past the student age, you may apply this to exercise. We know it's good to exercise but somehow I don't feel that motivated to exercise. Motivation is all important and I think that's equally true for the Christian life as well. The Bible tells us what we are supposed to do. But do you realise that the Bible also has quite a lot to speak about why you're supposed to do what you're supposed to do. So this morning, I’ll like to help you. I’ll like to be an encouragement to you. In 2 Corinthians Chapter 5, we're going to explore the big why of Christianity. What is that driving force for Christian faith?

When I was younger, my dad, he would tell me with regards to religion,“信就好,但是不要迷信”. In other words, it's okay for you to believe in certain form of religion, but don't be obsessed over it, don’t be engrossed. Don't go all out for it, just be moderate - almost like a dietary advice : eat all things in moderation, so believe in moderation.

But if you were to go and interview the apostle Paul, he would give a radically different perspective. In this text we read for example, in verse 13, for if we are beside ourselves, it is for God. The word beside ourselves means to lose one's mind. In other words, Paul is saying, for if we are crazy, we are mad, we are ‘xiao liao’ (meaning gone mad in Hokkien dialect), it is for God.

In other words, when people look at Paul's life, they say this is a nutcase. He's crazy. Look at the way he gives his life. Look at the way he's abandoning all. Look at the way he is all out for Jesus. He is mad. To Paul, there is no such thing as moderation. He's all out, he’s radical, he’s extreme. He lays down his life for Jesus. Why? Why does Paul do what he does? What drives him? What's his motivation?

In the text before us, I think I observe two motivations for the apostle Paul. And I liken this passage to be like a hamburger. The two motivations are like the two buns, and in between, is that patty or that meat which is the whole emphasis of the book of 2 Corinthians. So he talks about his motivation and then he returns to a little reference to the defence against the accusers toward him before he comes back to motivation Number two. So this is the simple hamburger structure for sermon this morning.

Let's dive right in to motivation Number one - what's Paul's motivation for ministry, for risking his life, giving his life for the sake of the Gospel? Motivation Number one is the fear of the Lord. It's obvious in the text in verse 11. Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. So Paul says his ministry is one of persuading others. Persuade others with regards to what? Well, we got to look at the whole journey of 2 Corinthians thus far, I will not turn you to those verses. But he has been speaking about the truth, the Word of God, the New Covenant, the Gospel.

So, Paul has been teaching and preaching and really centering himself in this truth, word, New Covenant Gospel. He says, this is what we persuade others about, about God's Word, about the Bible, about the Gospel, about the promises of the New Covenant. And the word persuasion speaks about effort to help people understand, to be able to contextualise the truth of the Gospel to in a way that people can easily receive. He wants to help them understand, overcome barriers of understanding. So Paul says, this is my ministry. It's about the truth. It's about the Gospel, helping people grasp and it's not an easy work, because there will be persecution and opposition as we read many times in the book of Acts.

So Paul, why do you do what you do? Why do you preach the Gospel, persuade others about the Gospel? Why do you do it? He says it's because of the fear of the Lord. Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. Now we then ask ourselves, what is the fear of the Lord?

Now, most people, if you were to just lift this verse, and you give it to them right away and then ask them what is the fear of the Lord? I think they will easily quickly tell you, Oh, the fear of the Lord is God's awesomeness and terror in judging sinners. Because we know that God will judge sinners severely. We therefore persuade them with regards to the Gospel.

So that's one way people look at the fear of the Lord. We persuade because of God's judgement. Because God's judgement of sinners is fearsome - Oh! knowing the terror of the Lord! Some people then also say, No, that may be the case but another possibility is knowing the fear of the Lord, we use it to persuade others. So we persuade using the fearsome judgement of sinners by God.

In other words, we tell them about the consequences of not believing in Jesus Christ. We tell them about how they will end up in fire and brimstone. We preach hell fire sermons, so that they may be scared out of their wits and turn to Jesus. These are two alternatives or possibilities people have come up with, but I humbly beg to differ. I don't think this is what Paul is saying.

The reason why is, now I'm not saying that these two statements are wrong statements in and of themselves. They are truth. It is true that God will judge sinners severely because God's wrath is going to be poured out upon all sinners. It's true that we can tell people about how terrible it is to lie or to fall into the hands of an angry God like Jonathan Edwards would have preached. But they are not the truth of this text. So they are true elsewhere but I don't think that's what Paul is saying in this text. The reason is because of the context. It was interesting just now in our catechism meeting - we must understand the Bible based on its grammatical, literary and historical context. The context is very important.

So the key word here I think that will lead us away from these alternatives is the word therefore. We got to understand the fear of the Lord in the context of what is said before this because of the word therefore - it's linking something up. So what happens before verse 11 is obviously verse 10. Verse 10 says, For we must all appear before the judgement seat, the Bema, that raised platform for a judge to pronounce judgement.

We will one day, all of us by the way, we must all including the apostle Paul, including those who are in church, those who publicly identify themselves as Christians, and with the world, with people all over, we must all appear before the judgement, the Bema Seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body in his lifetime, whether it's good or evil, and therefore, therefore, is linking the fear of the Lord with the judgement that is to come. So this is not about a judgement against sinners only. This is Paul speaking. Therefore, knowing the judgement that I will face, we all will appear, I persuade us.

This judgement is going to be based on one thing, and one thing only. How will Christ judge every single human being? Whether you've been to church? Whether you have a Christian name? Whether your IC has Christianity as your religion? The only criteria that will be judged - You will be judged for is what he has done. In other words, the judgement of Jesus Christ on that Bema Seat will be based on works. Let me say that again. You will be judged based on your works.

Wow! This church is getting heretical. This church is teaching salvation by works. This church is moving away from the Gospel. Aye please, we are Gospel Light Christian Church. We must hold true to the Gospel alright! Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ, saving us from our sins purely by grace, not by our deservedness. We are not saved by our works. We are saved by grace. But those who are saved by grace will be evidenced by their works.

And so on the Day of Judgement, it will be a very objective judgement, where it will be based on what he has done. Not saved by works, but will be judged by works. That are the consequences of those in grace or under grace.

But let me move on and I think you'll be clearer in a while. This judgement by works is not a novel idea by Apostle Paul. It's not new. It's found in Psalms, for example, and that to You O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For You will render to a man according to his work. It's going to be just in that sense, it's going to be based on his works. And then we read in Matthew Chapter 16, the Son of Man is going to come with His angels in the glory of His Father and then He will repay each person according to what he has done. Not based on what his name is, not based on whether he's gone to church, not based on whether he calls himself a Christian or not. It's going to be based on his life works, what he has done.

We read again in Jesus in John saying, Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear His voice and come up. Those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgement. That judgement here is punishment. Again, it's based on what men done, good or evil. Paul elsewhere says, He will render to each one according to his works.

You know, I think as Christians, we, we learn so much about how we are saved by grace through faith that we also, not also; we sadly, regretfully, kind of blocked out these verses because they confuse us, you see. Saved by grace, then you tell me I’m judged by works. And so we kind of reject these things and we don't recall these words. But I’m fishing them out for you to see that we are saved by grace, and those who are saved by grace will be changed in such a way in that their lives will evidence work.

And therefore on that Day of Judgement, it will be very obvious who are those who truly belong to Jesus and those who are not. So God will render to each one according to his works. To those who by patience in well doing. These people they do well, they obey God because they are seeking glory and honour and immortality. To these people, God gives eternal life. They are those who believe in God, in Jesus, in the Gospel, and they will be evidenced in such a way.

And then those who are self-seeking, they do not believe the Gospel. They do not obey the truth, but they obey unrighteousness. There will be wrath. And so, when we look at these verses in the body of truth of the Bible, we then can understand Paul saying, we will one day all appear before God in the judgement seat of Christ, the Bema of Christ. That judgement is going to be based on your works. It's going to be based on what you have done in your life. It's going to be based on what I have done in my life, Paul says.

And therefore knowing that it's going to be such an objective judgement and that I cannot fool God and that He will be righteous to punish or be gracious to bless. Knowing the terror of the Lord, the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. The logic therefore is, Paul is motivated by the fear of the Lord in judgement. He is saying, knowing Jesus' Bema judgement for him, will be objectively based on works, he aims to please God in preaching the Gospel faithfully.

He's not going to be complacent. He's not going to say, Oh, I believed in Jesus. I said the sinner’s prayer some years ago, I'm okay, I'll just cruise along in my life. No, he says, knowing that it's going to be based on works, I will be diligent, all out in pleasing God, serving Him faithfully in the Gospel ministry.

Paul is not saying that he earns salvation by his works, but that he evidences salvation by his works. Paul is not saying we work for our salvation, but he does want and endeavour to work out our salvation, with fear and trembling. I think these are very important things to clarify in one’s mind. Because you, if you if you slip over to either side, you are not going to live a productive, faithful, God pleasing, Christian life.

So just that you are clear, Paul is not teaching saved by works because we are all saved by grace. But he does say that we will be judged by works that come with grace. So he will not allow any complacency to creep into his life but he shows urgency to evidence his salvation, with obedience to God. Maybe the best verse that would just summarise all this is Philippians 2:12. It is God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure and it is my responsibility to work out my salvation with fear and trembling lest I turn out to be a hypocrite.

I was in the US a month or two ago. We drove from place to place and we came to a particular inn or lodge or hotel. When we got in, I found I thought I saw something interesting from a distance and you can see at the top of the building is this little thing. Can you see that right in the middle? I got a bit closer and realised it’s an owl.

I thought, wow US is really interesting – the owls also come out in the daytime one. I think usually I see owls under shelter, in the shade. And so I thought it's really interesting. Wow. I observed it for a while. It didn't quite move. I'm not sure, I couldn't throw a stone or whatever. I may be guilty of vandalism. So never mind, I will check it out tomorrow.

So the next day I came, I got out and I saw the owl still there. Never move leh! Wah, this owl learn tai chi or what, can stay there for a long time and then it dawned on me - this is a statue or just a figurine, it’s not alive. How do I know it's not alive? How do I know it’s not alive? It has not moved. This thing can’t move! I know it has no life because there has been no change. I may be looking at some owls this morning. You don’t move, you don't change but you call yourself an owl.

On that Day of Judgement, the CCTV of your life will be shown. And for all your years of coming to church, your CCTV picture like that one – don’t move, no change. And on the Bema Seat of Judgement, Jesus will say I never knew you. Why? No works. No fruit, no change, but but but but. No works. No change. Wrath and but don't ask me why the hotel put the owl there. I didn’t ask them, I’ve no idea why.
Just like I don't have no idea why some people come to church and are happy to play that pretending game. It doesn't help you. Now, if you're here because you want to seek the truth, that's fantastic. But if you're here thinking that mere attendance is going to please God, you've got it the wrong way. Now, mind you, the owl does not need to move to make it alive. Okay. You can you can cut the wings and the feet and you can move it but it doesn't make it alive, right? But it is, and it is when it is a lie that it can really move.

So let's be clear. We don't do works to bring ourselves to eternal life. It is when God gives us eternal life that there will be works. I hope that clarifies for you. So on that day, not everyone that says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven. But he that does the will of My Father. That's the objective marker. And Jesus would say I never knew you, depart from Me because you are always practising lawlessness. You never did anything righteous, God glorifying in your life.

So the Bible tells us about that distinction between the weeds and the wheat, the fakohs and the real deal. The Bible tells us about how there will be a separation of the sheep and the goats. They look somewhat similar, but they are very different.

The sheep, those who belong to God will be on the right hand of God, the favoured side of God. They will be blessed, they will be inheriting the kingdom because they are those with works. They gave, they welcomed, they clothed, they visited those who are needy, there are works that are God glorifying in their lives. And those who are goats are those who call themselves believers or followers of God when they are actually not because there is no works.

So whether we are at home, whether we are dead or alive, Paul says, we make it our aim to please Him. Because, because we are all going to be judged for our works on that final day. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade them.

You see the logic now? The fear of the Lord is to be contextually understood as God's judgement for Paul's life and in great respect towards that judgement, Paul says, I will not be sloppy, I will not be careless, I will not be complacent, but I will diligently work out my salvation with fear and trembling, in faithfully discharging my Gospel duties. That is the big why of Christianity for the Apostle Paul.

Let me ask you today - what about you? Do you today say, Oh, I, I believe Jesus. I go to church. I was baptised. Let me then focus on my worldly pursuits. Let me focus on my career. Let me focus on the hobbies I want. Because I am already saved in heaven. Is that the attitude that the Scriptures recommend to God's people? No. Diligently work out your salvation with fear and trembling, lest you turn out to be a hypocrite. That is true for the Apostle Paul.

Wow, if it's true for him, it must be true for me. The fear of the Lord that one day I'm going to stand before God and I may appear before Him with no works, that is a scary thought. So today I want to work out what he’s worked in, I hope that's true for you. Don't turn to turn out to be an owl, that statue, at the end of your life - that will be such a tragedy.

So we looked at the hamburger. The first bun is motivation Number one - the fear of the Lord. Therefore, just this one phrase, but this one phrase got to link up with the earlier verses. Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord in judgement of my life with respect to works, we diligently persuade others and leave all out, all in. Radical, extreme, nothing in moderation. This is what I want to ensure, Paul says.

Now let's come to the beef patty. Unfortunately, my burger not so balanced. The bun very big but the patty very thin. I'm just gonna say a word or two about the defence against the accusers. We have taken a long break from 2 Corinthians. So I want to remind you that 2 Corinthians is a lot about Paul defending himself against the various accusations from his accusers. It may be the false teachers who are influencing the Corinthians.

Throughout this book, you will find evidence that they are accusing him or pointing fingers at him, picking faults at Paul, saying Paul, your appearance is weak. You're such a small guy. You’re such an unimpressive looking fellow. Not like us, handsome, good stature. You, you are nobody. They despise him for his appearance. They despise him for his lack of eloquence or lack of charisma. They say that his speech is contemptible, nothing very intelligent, nothing very impressive.

They criticise him for his lack of letters of commendation that we looked at in 2 Corinthians 3, if I, if you can remember. They criticise him for his lack of miracles, not like those Judaizers, the false teachers who purport that they have a lot of miracles. They criticise him because he suffers a lot and say, how can the servant of God go through so much hardship? But Paul tells them actually it's the hardship that best qualifies me for ministry. It allows me to be intertwined with you guys. It allows me to be able to comfort you guys. This is the aroma of Christ that we are like the triumphal procession, remember.

Paul, in this episode, answers them one by one. They say that he's unreliable, say that he's coming but he didn't turn up and so on and so forth. Well, Paul had had to deal with these various accusations one by one. And so we come to these verses 11 and 12. He says, but what is but what we are. You can say whatever you want, but what we really are, is known to God. God knows we are. God knows our hearts. God knows our lives, and I hope it is also known to your conscience. I trust, dear Corinthians, as you recall how I was with you, how I ministered amongst you, how I lived amongst you, you would know who we are.

I'm saying all these things. I'm talking about my ministry not because I want to boast or I want to look good in front of you. But I want to share with you these things so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. So I have to put up my defence, not for defending myself, but so that you may be able to defend others who accuse us and therefore accuse the Gospel ministry, represented by us.

For if we are ‘xiao’, if we are crazy, if we are mad, if we are out of our minds, it is for God. We do it for the sake of God. But if we are in our right mind, if we are sober and clear in our teaching, in our impartation of Gospel truth, it's for you. So whether it's for, however you say it, we are sincere before God and before man, before you. So that's a little reference again to his defence against the accusers. Not a lot like I said, my beef patty is very thin or you may need to go to another burger shop.

But let me finish my burger construction with looking at the last point here, which is the motivation Number two. And it again is very obvious - the motivation Number two is the love of God. So Paul says, For the love of Christ controls us. Why do we do what we do? Because of the fear of the Lord, and because of the love of Christ. Now when you look at the love of Christ, you can take it to be two options in the Greek grammar.

It can be the love of Christ - for me. That's why love of Christ. Or it can be the love for Christ. In the Greek, it can go either way, grammatically. So is Paul talking about Jesus’ love for me, that motivates me? Or is he talking about my love for Jesus that motivates me? Well, in this text, I think both can be true but in this text, it is I think, clearly, Jesus’ love for me. Why? Because the subsequent verses or statements say, it is about how Christ died for all. So this is about Jesus' love for me and almost all commentators agree to this and that's why in the ESV, it is translated for the love of Christ, not the love for Christ.

What motivates Paul? It's not just that terror, of possible, of entertaining the possibility that he may be a hypocrite; and therefore he diligently wants to work out his salvation. But what motivates Paul also is knowing how Christ loved him and died for him.

How do you know God loves you today? The Bible tells us the best evidence of God’s love for us is the cross of Jesus Christ. I hear many people speak this way. Maybe it's their Bible sharing or maybe it's their prayer request sharing. They say, Oh! I feel so loved because God just answered my prayer in ABCDEFG. I got this, I got that; I didn't get this, I didn't get that and I sensed God’s love. I said that’s very encouraging. That can be very true. But but I hope that people do not forget the bigger context - that God loves me because Christ died for me.

I think sometimes we get so all wrapped up with the immediate temporal things of this world, the little successes, blessings, breakthroughs that we forget. That the greatest demonstration of God's love is the cross of Jesus Christ. And if you should forget that bigger context, you know, it's very easy for you to be discouraged in your spiritual life.

I've heard many people say, Oh, Oh why, why God doesn't answer my prayer? Oh why God allows me to be sick, and they start to question God's love! I think it ought not to be so. Because you have an ocean of demonstration of God's love. And yes, you may add to that ocean with some drops of mercy that you see. But even if there should be no little drops of mercy, Oh, just drink in that ocean of love at Calvary’s cross, please.

In other words, I'm suggesting to you folks - do not judge God's love by the circumstances of your life. But judge God's love based on the cross of Jesus Christ. We look to the cross, and then we judge the circumstances around us. When we see the cross, we see God loves me. And therefore come what may, I say, God still loves me. How do you know that? The cross!

An X-ray shows a cancer. You say God still loves me. Why? Because of the cross! My business fails, has God abandoned me? No, look to the cross. Don't judge the cross by your circumstances. Judge your circumstances by the cross! Paul says, I know God loves me, because He sent His Son to die for me. So based on that, he goes on to say, therefore all have died.

Now this is a theological statement. Because you say, theological means this is a, this is a doctrine; this is a Scriptural reality, even though it may not be some, for many of us, a felt reality. I'm not dead what. What do you mean all have died; I'm still alive! I'm not on the obituary. I still move.

Ah! This is a theological reality, Scriptural reality, that when Jesus died, two things happened at least. When Jesus died, you can say Jesus died for me? Correct. He died for my sins, He paid for my sins, Jesus died for me. He's my substitute, He's my sacrifice, Jesus died for me. But it's also true theologically, not only did Jesus die for me, but I died with Jesus. In a most amazing way 2000 years ago, when Jesus died on the cross, Jason died with Jesus on that day.

Paul says I am crucified with Christ. Now, no one crucified Paul physically but Paul was crucified with Jesus spiritually when Jesus died on the cross. That means, you and I today are no more slaves to sin. That means you and I today are no more obliged to the law in order to gain righteousness before God. I've died. I've died to the law. I've died to sin. I died with Jesus when Jesus died. That's a rich theological statement - implications are more discussed in Romans 6.

But Paul hurries on. His point is not so much to talk about this theological reality, but to move on to say, because he died for all those who live today, I'm crucified with Christ. Galatians 2:20 - Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ who lives in me. And the life that I live, I live by the faith of the Son of God. So Paul says, I, He died for all that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Him.

What motivates Paul? This understanding that God has sent His Son to die for him. And therefore Paul is set free from sin. He has now a new identity. He does not need to live for his old life, old ego, old self anymore but he can now live for Jesus and says, this is what I conclude. Knowing the love of Christ, this is what I conclude. This is what I - the word there is to thoroughly evaluate or to totally think through. The love of God motivates me, Paul says. I carefully evaluated how he died for me. And now that I'm dead and alive in Him, I must live for Him. So this is his conclusion, this is his reasoning, this is his motivation.

Like Isaac Watts, I think he would have sung - Love so amazing, so divine; demands my soul, my life, my all. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, by the love of God, that you present yourselves a living sacrifice.

I remember I was struggling in my Christian life many years ago. I mean just lacking passion, not serving much. Just not a good period in my Christian life. And I was wondering where that spark would come. I still want to serve God, I still want to honour Him but I, I can’t seem to find that spark. Do not know where to go but you know, just routinely attend services.

And I remember one evening. It was Good Friday night. And it was in our 360 building. I think for many of you who are old timers, you would remember that 360 building where Level One and there’s Level Two balcony - a very small balcony there. Today, no more balcony. It's all kind of sealed up to be a separate office. But I was sitting at the balcony, not wanting to be really with a lot of people. I can still remember the scene in my head - the walls are orange and so on and so forth.

And Pastor Paul was preaching and it was Good Friday sermon. And I would say it's not a fancy sermon. It's nothing really earth breaking or new. But it was just a sermon about the love of God in Jesus Christ. He was just elaborating about the sacrifice Jesus made. I've heard that, I think, a few times, to say the least. But you know that's how God works – it’s that old, old story. And I, and I on that day concluded afresh and anew - if Christ died for me and I’d died with Him, that's enough for me to live for Him, isn’t it.

Maybe today, like myself, you're not growing spiritually. In fact, you don't even sense a desire to, very much. You're just limping along, you're just playing your part, you're just turning up for services. But you have lost that fire, you’ve lost that first love. Hey, I want to say to you - Don't you give up! Fight for joy! Fight for a passion for Christ because there's nothing more important than that!

Maybe like myself, all you need today is to go back to the Bible; is to go back to the Gospel, is to look at the life of Jesus and to think and to evaluate for yourself, to seriously come and say, Lord, help me to see the Gospel, to see Your love in the pages of the Bible.

And mind you, I want to encourage you I've learned that the understanding of God's love is not a mere intellectual or academic exercise. It cannot be arrived in that way alone because I read in Ephesians Chapter 3 if you have time. This is one thing I regularly pray for in my prayer life - Ephesians 3, where Paul says, He bows his knee before God for the Ephesians. Why? That Christ may strengthen them in their hearts by the Spirit. That Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith. That they may be able to now comprehend the magnitude of God’s love.

In short, I understand that the real spiritual understanding and appreciation of God's love for me cannot be by my own brain. It's got to be the Holy Spirit strengthening me. And much as it is difficult for you today, come to God in the Scriptures, come to God in prayer. And I say to you, pray to God that He will help you grasp His love for you. That you will be able to drink in the oceans of His love, to drink in the Gospel, that you will be nourished in your heart. And there will be life beating again in your soul.

Then I say to you, don't give up on Christian community - in CGs, in DGs, in your Bible study groups. Get together with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Because that's what the Scriptures tell us that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but that we are to provoke one another to love and to good works. I am immensely indebted to the brothers and sisters in Christ in my spiritual life. Really am. Without community, my spiritual life will be so much more impoverished. But because of you, it keeps me alive.

And you know that old fashion illustration of someone who came to a senior Christian and say, you know, I don't see the point of going to church. I don't see the point of being in Gospel community anymore. He kind of rambles on but that man, he did not say much. In fact, he did not say anything. He just took a pair of tongs, went to the fireplace, picked up a piece of burning coal, put it on the floor and left it as that. The young man sees the burning coal just die out. He gets the point.

I'm afraid many of you have taken the pair of tongs and taken your lives out of community and now you struggle. And you say I’m not growing. I don't know why I'm not growing. I hear the sermon but I’m not growing. But there are many reasons why but you can fight for it. And it's not something magical you need to do. It's coming back to the basis - Scripture, Word, community, prayer. Fight for joy!

The apostle Paul was a man who was radical, extreme - all in. What's his secret? It's found in the hamburger. He understands the fear of the Lord in judgement. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord as I will appear before the Bema Seat, I will not be slack. I will not be complacent. But I will work out my salvation with fear and trembling. I will faithfully discharge my Gospel debt.

And knowing the love of God, knowing that He died for me, I carefully evaluated all that. And now that I'm dead and alive in Him, I must live for Him. I think the fear of the Lord and the love of God are like the two wings of an airplane. You can't do without, you can't have one without the other, you don't fly well.

This is Chinese New Year, Day don't know what? Day 8. Day 8. I wish you “突飞猛进,步步高升”. Okay, I mean I wish you ‘quick progress and rise high high’. And the only way you can do so is if you have a good plane with good wings or twin engines of the fear of the Lord and the love of God.

I close with some wrong motivations. I, I think after exegeting this I just want to say very shortly. Let your spiritual life not be driven by legalism. What is legalism? Legalism is trying to please God or to earn your salvation by means of obedience. Now we need to obey. But we don't obey to earn salvation. That's legalism. So the Gospel absolutely destroys legalism and I think it would be dangerous for you to say, Oh, I need to earn my way to God. God will only be pleased with me if I obey. God will only save me if I obey. No, no, that's not what the Bible teaches. So not legalism.

I hope you do not serve God or be reading your Bible or pray so that you can boast before people. Oh, how many hours you pray, how many pages you've read, how many ministries you're in. All these things end up with nothing. Jesus said in Matthew Chapter 6. You do all these things to be seen of men, you have nothing from Me.

A third wrong reason is just to have a sense of belonging. I serve God because I want to have friends. It's good that you have friends when you serve God but that should not be your motivation. And certainly not because of guilt. The motivations on the right side are I think man centred motivations. The motivations on your left are God centred motivations. I pray you have God centred motivations for God-like living for the glory of God in this new year to come. May God bless you with grasping the big why of Christianity. Some days you've got to find motivation. Some days motivation finds you. I hope motivation has found you today. Let's bow for a word of prayer.

Father, we thank You so much that You gave Your Son to die for our sins. Our hearts are so prone to wander, our hearts are so prone to stray. I pray the prayer of the apostle Paul for the Ephesians. I bow my knees before You spiritually saying, Lord, strengthen us in the inner man by Your Spirit. Because we have no power to do this, but strengthen us in the inner man by Your Spirit that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith. That being rooted and grounded in love, we may comprehend the length, the depth, the height, the width of the love of God in Christ Jesus so that then we might be a people filled with the fullness of God.

O Lord help us not to be indulgent and complacent in our spiritual lives. But we will always be working out our salvation with fear and trembling. As we look back to the cross, and as we look forward to the Bema, may we be faithful in this trajectory of life. May we live for Jesus. May we be a people, passionate; a people on fire for You. Let it be said that Gospel Light is filled with people who are mad and crazy and out of their minds. Let it be said that there is a radical bunch who would live their lives not for themselves, but for their Master. May the big whys be sealed in our hearts today. Thank You. We pray all these in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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