A Heart for God’s People
Pastor Eugene shares his heart for GBC, drawing reflections from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one of my favourite books of the Bible. It is wonderfully rich in doctrine, while also exuding much warmth and affection. The letter can basically be divided into two main portions: chapters 1 to 3 focus on theology and the truths of the gospel, while chapters 4-6 focus on the application of those gospel truths to life.
Ephesians thus shows us that truth and life are inseparable in biblical Christianity; both must go together. Knowing the truth without living it out leads to hypocrisy. On the other hand, trying to live a “good” life without believing the truths of the gospel results in legalism and mere moralism.
The church is God’s chosen community to display this nexus between truth and life. God has saved us to belong to Him. As His treasured possession, we are to be a living testimony of the gospel’s transforming power. As Paul writes in Ephesians, his apostolic ministry is focused on preaching “the unsearchable riches of Christ”, so that God’s glorious wisdom in bringing diverse peoples together through the gospel might now be made known “through the church” (Eph 3:8, 10).
The church is indeed central to God’s great plan of salvation. It is, therefore, a gracious privilege for me to be entrusted with greater responsibility in this local church. As Pastor Ian has announced, I will be taking on the role of Lead Teaching Pastor from January 2021. I’m grateful that Pastor Ian will continue to serve as an elder on the pastoral staff.
It is a joy for me to be a servant of the gospel with you all. Your fellowship in the faith has strengthened me, and I have had the opportunity to see first-hand God’s work in and through many of you.
My new responsibilities are too weighty for me to bear on my own. Hence, I am thankful to be serving in a team of elders comprising godly men who love the Lord and His church. We labour together, sharing the responsibility of teaching and shepherding God’s flock. “Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” (2 Cor 3:5)
What is my heart for GBC? It is that we continue to be faithful to our vision of being “a disciple-making church that transforms lives with the gospel and love of Jesus Christ”. What does this mean for us in practice? Ephesians presents us with a divine manifesto of who we are and how we are to live as God’s church, the body and beloved Bride of Christ.
- We are to be a worshipful community, marked by gospel-fuelled humility, gratitude and joy
Paul begins his letter with an extended expression of worship, praising the Triune God—the Father, Son and Spirit—for saving us by His grace. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” (Eph 1:3).
What will motivate us to worship God in this way? Such humility, gratitude and joy cannot be manufactured or manipulated by human means; they are the fruit of the gospel working in our hearts. We will want to praise God for His glorious grace, because He has “blessed us in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6). I pray for GBC to grow in gospel joy, as we with the eyes of faith behold more of Christ’s “unsearchable riches”.
- We are to be gracious community, gathered and transformed by the gospel
Once, we were “dead in sins” (Eph 2:1). But God, because of His grace, mercy and love, has “made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:5). God has graciously given us new life through His Son, in whom we are created for good works (Eph 2:10). Because we have personally experienced the power of the gospel, its impact will be felt in every aspect of our lives, including our marriages, families and work. Christ’s love will compel us to show grace, mercy and compassionate with gentleness and meekness. We will seek the good of others, forsaking pride, self-centredness and self-righteousness.
This gospel, which saves us personally and individually, also gathers and unites us as one people in a new community. In Christ, we are “no longer strangers and aliens” (Eph 2:19a). Rather, we now belong to Jesus and to one another, as fellow members of one spiritual family. The gospel forges the bonds of familial relationships between us, making us brothers and sisters in Christ. We will love one another, “as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Eph 5:2).
This is the reason why church membership matters. It is how we express our commitment to Christ and to one another. We are to follow Jesus together with other disciples. So, can I encourage you to join a local church if you haven’t done so? I would also like to invite you to attend the upcoming Church Matters class (Saturday, Oct 17, 9am-12pm) to find out more about what it means to be a member of GBC. Sign up here: https://tinyurl.com/17octchurchmatters-signup
- We are to be a disciple-making community, committed to one another’s spiritual growth
Having been joined to Christ and to one another, we are to view ourselves not as isolated individuals but as fellow members of the body of Christ. We have a shared responsibility for one another’s spiritual health because we are meant to grow as one body. Therefore, each of us is to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15a) to one another, so that the body “builds itself up in love” (Eph 4:16b). Spiritual growth is meant to happen in community, as we love and serve one another, for our mutual encouragement and edification. We commit to knowing and being known by one another, meeting regularly one-on-one, in care groups, and as a gathered church.
- We are to be a community on mission, prepared to go with the gospel
King Jesus has defeated sin, death and the devil. He now calls us to announce his victory by proclaiming the good news of his life, death and resurrection. We are in the middle of a spiritual war whose outcome is not in doubt—Jesus wins! Therefore, we can boldly fight in the Lord’s strength; the battle belongs to Him.
So, Paul exhorts us to be dressed for battle by putting on “the whole armour of God” (Eph 6:11). This includes putting on as shoes for our feet “the readiness given by the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15). These “gospel shoes” signify our preparedness to go with the gospel, wherever God calls us. We take steps to speak of Jesus. It may be across a room or corridor to talk to a family member, colleague or neighbour. Or, it may be across an ocean to speak of Jesus to those who have never heard.
We are gospel partners, not merely church attendees. God calls every one of us to strive side by side for the advance of Christ’s cause among the nations. We all have a part to play in the great task of making disciples.
We need encouragement from one another in order to press on. I’m thankful that this Sunday, for the first time in months, we will be able to have up to 100 attendees at our worship service. We will be hearing from Luke 13:1-9 about our common need for grace. May God prepare us to respond to His word with humble repentance and faith!
We will also be having an online newcomers’ meeting for new visitors this Sunday at 11am. Do join us if you’d like to find out more about the church and how you can plug into the community. You can sign up here. The meeting will be held on Zoom via this link.
Do also note that we will be having an English Congregation meeting on Sunday, Oct 18 at 11am to affirm Dr Tan Chong Tien as an elder. This meeting will take place online. Voting will take place only by proxy. For more information and to obtain a proxy form, please visit: https://english.gracebaptistchurch.sg/gbc-proxy-forms. Proxy forms have to be submitted to the church office at least 48 hours before the meeting.