22 Mar Gospel-transformed community
6 Brothers,[a] if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load.
6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Good evening all, welcome to Rock Sydney international. My name is Ellis and tonight is very special, I have the honour to preach together with our beloved brother, Josh. Since tonight will be his very first time preaching in RSI, so please please please help me to cheer on him and encourage him. I’m sure we will be blessed by him tonight.
How many of you have ever been misunderstood? Either by your friend or your girlfriend/boyfriend or parents? husband and wife? Your boss? Even from those you are not really close with! Your assignment group member in uni?! Ugh I don’t like group assignment. I always belong to the group of people who prefer individual assessment! Who’s with me!? General rule – those who prefer so are those who actually work within the group. Haha. But can we agree that in general, relationship is hard? Everyone struggle with relationship, whatever form that is. Dealing with people is not easy, we have our own temperament. During our courtship, ko Edrick and I fought A-LOT. We were extremely different persons back then. He was super easygoing and whatever, I was super caring and clingy. So you would imagine how challenging it was. Praise God, by His grace we made it! I would never forget that Ps Yosia mentioned to me after our wedding day. He said “there were days, when I wonder if you guys would ever made it”. It was that hard! Do you know why? Because naturally in relationship, we are either one or the other. We are either diplomatic or direct, we are either straight-to-the-point-don’t-care-what-people-think kinda person or overly-thinking-and-sensitive-about others kinda person. We are either too logical or too emotional. It’s challenging because we are often not wise enough to relate to the other person as they need to be. We are not flexible enough relationally. But tonight, we are going to learn about how the Gospel truly transforms the way we relate to one another.
The book of Galatian was written by Paul to the churches in Galatia. Paul was perplexed because they were embracing different gospel. The false teachers in Galatia were preaching that it’s not enough to just believe the gospel ,they must also follow certain laws & traditions. Paul was like “wait wait wait.. first of all, this gospel message that I preached came from Jesus. The moment you add something to it, it becomes betrayal to the gospel. You are not justified by obeying the law but rather by putting your faith and trust in Jesus Christ! The laws are good and wise, “love your neighbour as yourself”, but the Laws don’t give us the power to obey. The law only says NO to sins, but Jesus actually put sins to death on the cross. Gal 5-6 talks about how gospel transforms us who believe in Christ, through the power of the Spirit. Paul talked about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and he purposely continued to Galatians 6. As we live by the spirit, our lives will produce the fruit of the Spirit. One of them is love for God and others, which fulfils the law of Christ.
One of the greatest evidence of Gospel transformed life is love for one another. Forget about big signs and miracles! Just look at your relationship with others. Paul talks about 2 kinds of relationships, relationship within the community of faith and relationship with everyone.
- Gospel transforming the community of faith
If salvation is by grace, how then do we live together as sinners saved by grace?
Let’s look at v1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Pay attention to the word Brothers, that means Paul is addressing this amongst the family of faith. General rule of thumb, it is usually not wise for Christian to confront non-christian about their sinful behaviour. Timothy Keller says that it is not only ineffective to talk to someone who doesn’t have Jesus about their sins, but it is also distortive. Because Christianity is essentially a relationship to a person. You don’t go correcting or trying to restore somebody whose life is not centered on Christ. They need Jesus before they need correction. So clearly, Paul is talking about restoring your brothers and sisters in Christ. If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. This does not mean we need to confront anyone whom we see sinning. It’s not a reckless call to be super duper critical. But if you see that your brothers/sisters are blinded in sins, they are caught in a repeated pattern of sin, we are to confront them. It is a responsibility of those who are spiritual means anyone with Holy spirit inside of them. It’s not just the responsibility of your Pastor, or your MC Leaders. Luke 17:3 If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.
The word restore in its Greek original word refers to setting a dislocated bone back to its place. Very very specific meaning. Speaking of dislocated bones, I cannot NOT mention this. What else come to my mind other than the incidence of RSI Camp 2018. It was a day 2 of winter camp, Ps Yosia was playing soccer with the boys. I was in the kitchen preparing for lunch, and suddenly some boys were rushing running from afar towards me and shouted, “ELLIS ELLIS, KO YOSIA!! YOSIA DISLOCATED HIS KNEES”. Amongst those boys, was my kind-hearted husband running towards the kitchen. He innocently grabbed the FIRST AID KIT. Only to realise that there was literally NOTHING he can use to handle a dislocated knee. He was so innocent – bless his heart. When we came to approach Yosi, he was sitting on the grass hopelessly, with his knee cap turned to the side. So we called an ambulance, and it took an hour and a half for the Ambulance to come. During that time, I could see from Yosi’s face. The first 30 minutes he looked fine, still chatty, smiley and calm.. I was actually impressed. But the next 30 minutes he started to get really really quiet, looked abit pale and worrysome. Obviously he was in so much pain. Eventually the paramedics arrived and they gave Yosi a happy gas to ease his pain before putting his knee cap back to place. He was taken to hospital and checked. Happy days. The rest is history we will never forget for the rest of our lives. Right? Haha.
OK enough of the story, back to preaching. Everybody knows a dislocated bone, right? It’s juuuuuust a little off, but a little is enough to cause a searing pain to the whole body. And Paul used that word intentionally here as we talk about sins. Timothy Keller said that many of us mistakenly think that sin is like a bullet / wood splinter, something foreign that shouldn’t be in the body at all. But, Paul is trying to explain that sin is actually like a dislocated bone. The bone is part of our body, it belongs to our body but it’s not in the right place where it is supposed to be. Our biggest problem is never the things we shouldn’t be doing. Our main problem is the good things that should be in our lives but we elevate them more than it should be. E.g. relationship is good. But if it is dislocated, you’re enslaved by it, it causes tremendous pain in your life. Approval, it’s good and you should have it in your life but when you put it as your source of your identity, it will squeeze you and exhaust you. So many other things, sex, power, control, comfort. They should be in your life, but they are dislocated.
And this is important. When you talk to somebody about their sins, Paul tell us how do we do that? Gently. It’s going to be painful. There is no way putting back dislocated bone without pain, but it’s a healing pain and everything you are doing has one purpose – to heal not to wound. That means your tone, your words, the way you say things, the time you choose to speak, everything is intended to heal that person, not to harm. The purpose of our confronting is one – to restore our brothers. Which then leads to what Paul says next – Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
You would be gentle ONLY IF you constantly watch yourself from temptation. Temptation to what? Temptation of feeling superior toward your brother. We are sinful by heart, and many many times, when we confront other’s sin, we are so easily puff up like a rice cracker thinking that we are better than them. Oh yes we don’t say this out loud but deep inside our heart, often always, there is a slight feeling that says we are better than them. Watch your heart – If you come after somebody but deep in your heart, there is a part of you that say, ‘I would never do anything like this”, Timothy Keller says, don’t even try. You will never ever do a good job in confronting your brother UNLESS you feel just as weak spiritually as that person. The moment we begin to feel even the slightest sense of superiority, we are missing the point. We will end up destroying not restoring. This job ain’t easy. Unless we are given the wisdom and eye to see our own proneness to fail by the HS, we won’t be able to restore our brother. Those without the HS will never be able to do this. That’s why Paul says this is for those who are spiritual – with HS inside of them.
V2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. We all have burdens – either temptations, or struggles, or burden of sins. Particularly when you confront your brother’s sins, we don’t leave them alone! They are limping! We are called to help them walk. We are called to carry each other’s burden. We are never intended to carry our burdens alone. Many of us don’t want to admit our burden, we are too proud to admit it. ‘I am going to look as if everything is OK, I don’t need people around me, I can do this on my own’. Well, if you see yourself according to the worldly standard, you seem like a capable and confident person, but if you see it from the biblical perspective, it’s totally the opposite. The bible says we are weak without one another. When you carry each other’s burden, it is not about how good we are, or other’s so weak that they’re needy. It is the understanding that God has graciously given us a season where I can be strong when you are weak. There will come a day where I too will be weak and needing your strength. So, it is not about what I can give you, but it is about what I have received first from Christ – the comfort, the strength, the forgiveness, the grace that Christ has given me – that is what I want to offer you when you are weak. Bearing each other’s burden fulfils the law of Christ, it means we are following the example of Christ. Isaiah 53:5 He was crushed by our iniquities, upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Do you know why it is possible to us to bear each other’s burden? Because Christ has first carried our greatest burden – punishment of our sins. He was crushed by our inequities.
Paul says in V3-5 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. 5 For each will have to bear his own load. But the world approaches relationship in a totally opposite way. Instead of carrying each other burdens, the world calls us to show our superiority to others. By nature we are competitive why? Because we are prideful. This is a result of sinful nature in us. We take pleasure when we are better than someone else. We think we are doing well when we are better than others. We feel like we don’t do so well when other’s doing better than us. We constantly look around, constantly comparing ourselves and we’re applying the same approach in church!
Paul is saying instead of comparing yourself to other people, compare yourself to Christ Himself. He is the True Standard of all judgment. David Platt said, when you expose your thoughts, your actions and your heart under the holiness of God, then you will begin to see yourself rightly. He says, it is so easy to compare ourselves to others, but to put our thoughts and heart before the Holiness of God and see how they are so far away from God-honoring and Christ-exalting – we find ourselves in need of grace and mercy before the Holy God. We will see how far we fall short. And in that process, we discover a capacity of grace and mercy to now show to other people. Only when we see ourselves rightly before God, we will see others rightly. Only gospel-produced humility can help us to bear each others’ burdens.
Researchers says that in order for us to love others, we have to be good at loving ourselves first. They say, the higher your self-esteem, the better you will treat others. On the contrary, Roman 7:18 says ‘For I know that nothing good dwells in me’. John 15:5 ‘ Apart from me you can do nothing’. Contrary to the world view, we love others not by feeling good about ourselves, but by realising that there is nothing good in us apart from Jesus Christ. We need Him for every good thing in us, we need him to truly love others. David Platt says, ‘what we need is not high self esteem, but high Christ esteem’. HOW TRUE! Instead of focus on yourself, focus on Christ in you. The bible says that as we fix our heart and affection on Christ, in the process, He will produce in us thevlove for each other and we will begin to understand what it means to genuinely love one another. You see all these are not produced by our own, it is the work of Christ and HS inside of us – that’s how the Gospel transforming the community of faith.
Thank you, Ellis! Now we are going to move to the second point – how Gospel transforms our relationships with everyone. The next couple of verses that we will look at are a set of interesting verses. You have verse 6 that no one really talks about and verses 7 – 10 that everyone loves to talk about. I know we’ve had a couple of sermon points on it in RSI before, but hands up if you’ve heard a sermon about paying your pastor? Yeah, thought so. Hands up if you have heard a sermon about reaping what you sow? Boom, there you go!
After knowing how the Gospel transforms us within the community of faith, Paul continues with a specific example to put into perspective what a healthy Spirit led relationship looks like.
In verse 6, we read 6 Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Since Paul is addressing the churches in Galatia, he uses a common yet important relationship that could be found in every church, the relationship between those who receive the Word and those who give the Word. For us today in RSI, we can see this relationship exist between the pastors of this church and us members who come to attend the services.
As we already heard from Ellis about the importance of burden bearing in the church, what Paul says here is that each member of the church has an obligation to contribute to the well-being of their pastors. I can see Ps Yosia look quite happy after hearing that; maybe he planned for me to preach this sermon as a subtle message for RSI? But yes, pastors have burdens too and we need to be able to materially support them in whatever capacity we can.
If you’ve been with us for some time, you would know that our pastors have invested most if not all of their time into studying, preparing and delivering the Word faithfully to this church. A most recent example is our own Senior Pastor, Ps Sam and Ps Yosia spending a full 2 weeks in Bangkok to further study and understand the Gospel. All this is on top of their dedication to pastoral care and keeping a watchful eye over the sheep entrusted to them, that is the church. Martin Luther once wrote “it is impossible for one man both to labour day and night to get a living, and at the same time to give himself to the study of sacred learning as the preaching office requireth”. Because of this, our pastors are burdened in that they don’t have the time to make a living like many of us can through our day or night jobs. They can try of course, but they wouldn’t be much alive after, or they would compromise in their delivering of the Word faithfully.
But don’t get me wrong, the primary focus here isn’t to make our pastors rich. Bearing the burden of the pastor is vital in our mission to declare the Gospel. As Ellis said before, false teachers had infiltrated the churches of Galatia. Not only did people begin to believe the ‘gospel+’ message, but the faithful preachers were being neglected and became limited in delivering the message because they couldn’t provide for their daily necessities.
We ought to be a church that cares for those who preach the Word not because we have to, but because we want to see the Gospel faithfully declared to all nations.
The healthy church will see the pastors assist the congregation in its spiritual growth through the faithful sharing of the Word and the congregation providing the necessary support to its pastors to continue in the faithful sharing of the Word.
2) Gospel transforming our hearts
Though it’s common for churches to have verses 7 – 10 looked at in isolation and with no connection to the previous verses, what Paul has to say in these verses is equally important to understanding how the Spirit transforms our heart and impacts the relationships we have with the people around us.
He begins by giving a stern warning in do not be deceived: God is not mocked. The Greek word for ‘mocked’ is “mook-tay-rid-zo” meaning to sneer or turn your nose up (to show disgust or a disregard), try sneer at your neighbours now …yeah some of you are naturals! When I came across this verse I couldn’t help but think why Paul needed to give a warning to the church. Surely the Galatians didn’t need to be told not to mock or sneer at God right? After all who in their right mind would do that to God? You’d be crazy to mock the God of the universe!
Paul’s warning relates to a certain law of the universe called the Law of the Harvest. What he ultimately says is don’t kid yourselves in thinking that you can outsmart God, by saying you’ll do ‘A’ but your actions do ‘B’ and still expect an outcome of ‘A’, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. This is a well known principal of Christian life and it holds true. You also don’t even need to be a Christian to have heard this saying as well. You reap what you sow.
Like me, some of you like to do the gardening, although if you’ve been to my house, I seem to always be stuck in just cutting down bamboo. But for those of you fortunate enough to find some time to grow plants (or if you’re like Edrick and Ellis grow a coffee tree), you wouldn’t expect a produce a healthy fruit or crop without first having to nurture the seeds and then maintain the saplings over the seasons right? Maybe for others in 2020 you want to hit a certain health target. My MC would hate me for guilt tripping them like this, but would you be able to achieve that awesome 2K20 toned body aesthetic if you were having a Maccas run every couple days? Those not in denial or in my MC will say “of course not!”. Well just like our spiritual lives, we can’t say we’re all about the Gospel and what the Gospel implies in our lives if at the same time, we live our lives satisfying our fleshly desires instead of a living life cultivating the Spirit. We know to bear one another’s burdens in whatever capacity, be it financial, material, emotional or spiritual, yet often times we don’t do it not because we don’t have the resources, it is because we don’t believe that it ultimately matters. So don’t be deceived! Our actions have serious, long-term consequences!
So like the Galatian church we too need to be warned of the consequences because our sinful heart is continuously struggling with itself. We can see this inner conflict in our hearts when Paul identifies two outcomes in verse 8, 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Theologian John McArthur paints a good picture of what Paul says in his description that “the Christian has only two fields in which he can sow, that of his own flesh and that of the Spirit”. But what do these two fields have to do with my heart? This has everything to do with your heart and as Gospel People, we can’t we blind to this.
If you have your bibles, cast your eyes back merely half a page to Galatians 5:17 “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” This is the struggle that our hearts are facing every day, every hour, every minute, every second and it is tied to our thoughts and actions. As we live in a fallen world, we will automatically draw towards and be tempted to act in the ways of the flesh. For example, girls, the second you look at another girl in church styled better than you, you can’t help but envy them. Guys, the second you watch those international movies on SBS past 10pm instead of listening to Ps Yosia’s podcast, you can’t help but lust. Guys and Girls, the second you start binge watching CLOY and it becomes an everyday priority over devotion, you can’t help but idolise Son Ye-Jin or Hyun Bin oppa. But as believers, we have available to us the Spirit and are called to live a life led by the Spirit. This conflict we find ourselves in between the flesh and Spirit provides us with an opportunity to stop and check what we’re sowing, and where we’re sowing. We have this Spirit conscience that Paul describes, keeps us from doing the things we want to do. I’m pretty sure if we were left to our own devices, without God’s gracious intervention with the Spirit, we’ll continue on the path of sowing to our flesh that will ultimately lead to our destruction. Since these two lifestyles are completely at war with each other, what then does it mean to sow in either the flesh or Spirit?
Sowing in the flesh means to think or do actions that ultimately satisfy and gratify the sinful desires of our hearts. This will result in the reaping of corruption. This essentially means at the end, you’ll be as good as dead.
On the other hand, to sow in the Spirit is to think or do actions that are of the Spirit. In Colossians 3:1, Paul writes “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God”. So as a people who have been set apart from the world, seek the things that are above, things that are not of yourself or of the flesh, but of God. For when we sow in the Spirit, we will reap eternal life. Meaning that there will be a day, where we will live in union with Christ for all eternity.
But know that the consequences of your heart sowing in either the flesh or the Spirit don’t stop with you. How you live your life and what field you choose to sow affects the relationships you have, especially the relationships you have within the same household of faith. After all, what stops you from participating in burden sharing in the church? Pride. What stops you from financially supporting your pastor? Greed. But also, what stops you from holding a grudge? Forgiveness. What stops from being disappointed? Patience. As Gospel people, we ought to ask ourselves every day, what seeds am I sowing and what field am I sowing in? You can’t have both. You either die by the flesh or live by the Spirit. Again do not be deceived: God is not mocked, you will reap what you sow.
So 9 … let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Wow! This encouragement from Paul to not grow weary of doing good and to not give up, is as applicable today as it was in those days. Especially living in today’s technological age, we want everything and anything to be done now, we want it hassle free, we want same day delivery, we want to pay later, we want 5 – 6 – 7G, we want this, we want that and we want it now. But what we need to understand is that doing good, this is, doing things according to the Spirit takes time and will take time to bear fruit. It may take many requests to your friends or family before they come to church or it may take many catch ups with a brother or sister to see them restored. As Ellis said earlier, because producing the fruit of the Spirit isn’t something that we get automatically but requires timely cultivation we can get pretty weary and give up quite easily when sowing to the Spirit simply because we don’t see the result here and now. But Paul encourages us to keep sowing, keep doing the good work. RSI don’t lose heart in making disciples. Keep advancing the Gospel. Continue to bear one another’s burdens. Though we may or may not see the fruit today, fix your eyes on the future coming glory, for there will be a time in due season where we will reap a reward for our perseverance in doing good.
Paul then concludes with, 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Church, knowing that a time of reaping will come where we will share in our rewards; let us make the most of the period of sowing today. As we go about our daily lives, we are given many opportunities to do good to all people, especially to our brothers and sisters that are in the same household of faith. So be conscious and actively look for the opportunities to serve each other, to build each other, to carry each other’s burdens, even when it’s uncomfortable or hurts you to do so. We are our brother and sister keepers.
So there it is, Paul is calling us to love one another in our community of faith and to keep doing good. When you read Galatians 6, it may sound like a command ‘do-do-do’. However, Christ never commands us to do anything on our own. When we learn this passage tonight and putting it in context, we know that loving one another is not a work of flesh. It is the fruit of the Spirit. It is produced by Christ’s spirit inside of you. Every command of Christ is a call for us to trust Him who’s living and working in us. The reason why we can love others is because Christ has first loved us. The reason we can carry each other’s burden is because Christ first bore our sins and was crushed by our inequities, our greatest burden. The reason we can keep doing good is because Jesus who sowed perfectly, reaped destruction, so that we sinners, who sow destruction, could now sowed to the Spirit and reap the life we did not earn. So press on and persevere to do good to those around you, particularly those who are part of the same body of Christ. Know that it is Christ who sustains you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalms 73:26.
- Have you ever being misunderstood in trying to rebuke other Christian who is caught in transgression? What happen? What do you think you could do better?
- How can we bear one another’s burden in the midst of COVID-19?
- Read verse 5. Does this contradict verse 2? Explain. Hint: Read “For the love of God: volume 2” March 20 devotional.
- What does it mean to share all good things with the one who teaches? List some practical steps.
- “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” Give daily life examples on how we can sow to the Spirit.
- Why do we find it hard to not grow weary in doing good? What cause it?
- How does the Gospel speaks to our difficulty of question 6 and enable us to do good to everyone, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ?