Grace News Issue #4 2016 - Finishing Works
In tandem with the actual rebuilding of GBC, Grace News’ metaphorical church now has the foundation, the structure and the internal connections. What is still lacking are the finishing works. Some might say that these are just cosmetic, but our outward presentation is not something that can be dismissed out of hand. The ‘software’ is just as important as the 'hardware’, especially when it comes to attracting non-believers to the gospel. What might be the spiritual equivalent of finishing works? We think of the fruit of the Spirit, practical love, gifts put to use, the living and working out of our faith. The idea of finishing well also comes to mind – the seeing through of the things we start in God’s name.
Pastor Arnold Wong picks up the baton and runs the final lap in more ways than one, as he reminds us in his article below that finishing well is a result of the consistent faithful input of God’s word and dependence on Him in all our challenges. Grace News would like to take this opportunity to thank Pastor Arnold for his regular faithful contributions over the years. His quarterly articles always provide a strong biblical foundation for the issue under discussion, and are always turned in on time and with an exact word count (not a small achievement, as many writers can testify!) Thank you Pastor – we are truly grateful.
Finishing the Race
In August we had the pleasure of watching athletes compete in the XXXI games of the Olympiad. It is impossible to forget some of the stunning performances by athletes in their specialties. One of the biggest highlights was witnessing Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal winner take the podium. The games gave us many memorable moments and life lessons to treasure.
Paul often used athletic metaphors to teach spiritual truths. In fact, as he faced his eventual martyrdom in a Roman prison, he used the athletic metaphor to summarise his life. No matter what our age or status in life these three descriptions are worthy characteristics to embrace in our spiritual lives.
First, Paul says, “I have fought the good fight”. Paul looks back on his life and ministry and says he has fought well or put in a full effort. The word ‘fought’ literally means to engage in conflict in an athletic contest or in a military conflict. It goes without saying that every believer is engaged in a spiritual battle with the forces of evil – within themselves and in the world (Eph 6:12-18). In Paul’s life he experienced all kinds of attacks – personal and physical (2 Cor 10:10; 11:23-27), philosophical and theological (Acts 17:15-34; Gal 2:4). He knew what it was like to be “afflicted in every way but not crushed…persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed” (2 Cor 4:8-9). Every believer needs to remember they are in a spiritual battle every day of their lives and they must fight long and hard with the grace and resources that God supplies (2 Cor 12:9; Phil 4:13).
Secondly, Paul says, “I have finished the race”. Paul says he has completed the course laid out for him by the Lord. Finishing is important – maybe even more important than winning. In order to finish well in our spiritual lives, we have to set aside all our burdens and the encumbrances of sin that may hinder us, run with endurance, and keep our eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:1-3). We have to keep focused on winning an imperishable crown from the Lord (1 Cor 9:24-25). Every believer needs to remember to finish the plans and purposes God has set for their lives by overcoming every obstacle that will prevent them from happening.
This brings us to the last clause, “I have kept the faith”. The word ‘kept’ means to keep by guarding or to watch over. The word ‘faith’ refers to convictions based on hearing. This means Paul stayed true to the gospel and guarded and taught its truths as God revealed them to him. He identifies this in other passages as ‘sound teaching’ (1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:13). Every believer must stay true to the truths of God’s word by knowing, understanding, applying and passing them on to future generations.
So let’s live a life worthy of the Lord by fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith.
Read past issues of Grace News:
Issue #3 2016 – Relationships and Community
Issue #2 2016 – Being Built Up in Christ
Issue #1 2016 – The Importance of Being Rooted in Christ
Issue #4 2015 – Commitment: In for the Long Haul