Essentials of Discipleship: Seminar 7

Dear church,

Last Sunday, Pastor Oliver Chia taught on the Gospel and sanctification, and how this interacts with God's law.

Through the events of the Exodus, God graciously rescued His people out of slavery in Egypt. God gave His law to Israel, and Israel was to obey God's law as an act of grateful obedience. Their obedience to the law did not earn them a relationship with God; in fact, God had already established the relationship with His people.

Similarly, today, we are, by God's grace, brought into a relationship with God and we are to obey His law in grateful response to God's grace in rescuing us out of sin. Our obedience to God does not earn or establish our relationship with God.

Unfortunately, in our fallen, sinful nature, we are all rebellious and we unable to keep God's law perfectly, even thought God did not make us that way (see questions 13 to 15 of the New City Catechism).

Jesus, who is in His very nature God, the only man who ever kept God's law perfectly, took the punishment for our sins and died in our place, taking away the condemnation we would have otherwise suffered. Through Jesus's act of substitution, we can be considered as having kept God's law and righteous in God's sight. In other words, Christ's perfect obedience fulfils the requirements of the Law on our behalf.

This is what Romans 8:1-4 teaches us:

"[1] There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [2] For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. [3] For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, [4] in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

For those of us who believe that Jesus has died for our sins, God gives the ability to obey Him and to keep his law (see Ezekiel 36:26-27, Jeremiah 31:31-34). This happens when the Holy Spirit dwells in those who are united to Christ and transforms us from the inside out.

Thus, question 32 of the New City Catechism asks: "What do justification and sanctification mean?", the answer to which is:

"Justification mean our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ's death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit's work in us."

In addition, having been redeemed by Christ and in growing to become more like him, our lives are to show evidence of this through the good works that we do (see question 34 of the New City Catechism).

In this short teaching video, Pastor John Piper explains further what the concepts of justification and sanctification mean.

There are many more rich resources on the website of the New City Catechism. We encourage you to make use of them.

Announcements

Please take note that there will not be any DS session on the next two Sundays as there will be a special church-wide care group activity on 30 August 2015 and the church anniversary celebrations will be held on 6 September 2015.

Our next DS session will be on 13 September 2015 when Elder Eddie Tan will teach on the topic: Who is God the Holy Spirit. Do join us then!

With love,
The DS Committee