2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 9
Monday 13 December 2021

Are you someone who is simply an Almost Christian Or an Altogether Christian?

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”. Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Reflection

The Second part of this sermon Almost Christian, outlines to us what it is to be an Altogether Christian. It is no secret that John Wesley labored for years in striving to earn and merit salvation by every sort of religious devotion and good works. It brought him to a place of futility and utter despair. In other words, he was an almost Christian for many years before he understood what it is to become an altogether Christian.

So what more is needed in order to become an altogether Christian?

A) You must be in love with God. The first commandment is “love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all my mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). This love fills the heart, fills the emotions, fills the soul, fills the whole of one’s personality. If you love the Lord your God in this way, you are continually rejoicing in God your Saviour (Luke 1:47). Your delight is in the Lord who has now become everything to you, and you thank him for everything. Whoever is in love with God in this way is forever saying to him, “What else have I in heaven but you? Since I have you, what else could I want on earth?” (Ps 73:25) You are dead to the way of the world and of the flesh. You are dead to pride of every kind, for love has no place for pride.

B) You must love your neighbour: Jesus said, Love your neighbour as you love yourself. (Mark 12:31). If anyone asks “who is my neighbour?” we reply “everyone”. Friends and enemies alike, even the enemies of God, we must love them as much as Jesus loves us.

C) We must have true faith. There are different kinds of faith. True Christian faith is not only to believe in the truth of the bile and the creeds, but also to trust that we shall be saved from damnation by Jesus. When you believe that your sins have been forgiven and that you have been reconciled to God through the merits of Jesus, then you will find a new love in your heart. You will be ready to obey God’s commandment mentioned above (A) and (B) above. This is the faith which purifies the heart from all sin and fills it instead with undying love towards God and those around you. A love which does the work of God, rejoicing in every opportunity of helping others, a love which joyfully endures the reproach of being a Christian, and bears whatever trials God allows the forces of evil to inflict upon us. Whoever has faith, working by love, is not only almost, but is altogether a Christian

During this advent period, let’s invite this Jesus Christ into your heart. Awake from your sleep and call upon him. Do not let the busyness of the season to stop you from calling upon him. Cry to God, day and night, until you know that you can trust him and can say “My Lord and my God! (John 20:28). Keep on praying and do not give up until you can look up to heaven and declare truthfully, “ Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (John 21:17)

2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 8
Friday 10 December 2021

Are you someone who is simply an ALMOST CHRISTIAN?

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”. Paul replied, “Short time or long – I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.”

Reflection:  What does it mean to be an Almost Christian?

1. Almost Christian is someone who is honest. Someone who has a worldly honesty. They practice a sense of fairness. He/She does not oppress the poor nor rob or steal from others.

2. Almost Christian is someone who is truthful and charitable. By worldly standard, someone who is does not lie and show love for others.

3. Almost Christian is someone who is outwardly religious. He has an outward appearance of the sort of godliness which is described in the gospel. He is not a hypocrite but someone who genuinely does not do anything that the gospel forbids such as using vulgar language, keeping Sunday as a day of rest, keeping clear of all sexual immorality, avoiding gossip, etc.

4. Almost Christian is someone who go to church or pray often.

5. Almost Christian is someone who is sincere and strive to do God’s will for His sake.

In summary, being an almost Christian means that you must decide to please God in every way, deed and word, in things done and things not done. The aim of pleasing God must be the guiding principle if anyone is to aspire to become an ALMOST CHRISTIAN. By now you will ask, “How can you get this far and yet be only an Almost Christian? What more is needed to be an Altogether Christian?” John Wesley’s answer is derived from his own personal experience and the bible.

Reflection

You may have all the above and it might be the case that you are still an Almost Christian. More is needed to be an Altogether Christian. May God shines his light on your heart to move you from an Almost Christian to an Altogether Christian.

2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 7
Thursday 9 December 2021

Preach this Gospel during the Advent Ephesians 2:8

It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith

Reflection The final part of this Sermon is John Wesley’s conclusion to urge believers to preach this gospel at all times

Q: If people cannot be saved by their own works, will this drive them to despair?

A: Yes it will and it ought to because they cannot trust in the merit of Jesus until they have completely renounced their own. On the contrary, this is the only teaching with any comfort in it. It is comforting to all self-condemned sinners. It is comforting to know that whoever believes in the Lord will not be betrayed by him. “You are stained red with sin and I will wash you as clean as snow (Is 1:18).”

Q: Why is it so important in preaching this doctrine as a starting point?

A: “God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no other foundation can be laid (1 Cor 3:11). So the foundation and beginning of our preaching must be that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved.

Q: Not everyone will be saved, should we preach this doctrine to all? A: To whom then are we not to preach it? The poor? The uneducated? The young? The rich? The respectable? For the command of Jesus is to go and preach the gospel to everyone (Matt 16:15).”

Benediction

Satan knows that faith alone can overturn the foundation of his kingdom. This is why he stirred up earth and hell to destroy those who first preach it. He did his very best, by means of lies, threats to frighten Martin Luther away from reviving it. Though you are weak, you need not fear that strong man, Satan. You will defeat him and overthrow him. You will march forward under the leadership of Jesus, the captain of salvation, conquering until all the forces of evil are destroyed and even death are swallowed up in victory.

Doxology

Thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be praise, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honour, power and might, to our God forever and ever. Amen.

2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 6
Wednesday 8 December 2021

We are saved from what? Ephesians 2:8 Part II

It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith.

Reflection:  The fifth part of this Sermon continued to explain what this wonderful salvation delivers us from.

Q: We are saved from what? Further than saving us from all our past guilt and fear, we are also saved from:

1. We are saved from the POWER of sins. St John reminds his reader that, “So everyone who live in union with Christ, does not continue to sin. (1 John 3:6a). God delivers us from the power of sins through the presence of Jesus in our heart.

2. We are saved from habitual sins. Habitual sin is a dominating sin and sin cannot dominate a believer’s life. But sins cannot dominate in those who are believers. People who are born of God cannot say that they never sinned in the past, but they can rejoice that they have the power to not sin now through the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts.

Q: What is another word for this salvation from sin and consequences of sin?

A: Justification.

Q: So does that mean that this faith is opposed to holiness and good works?

A: No. This faith leads to good works and holy living

Reflection

Often we as Christians, still live a life without power. God does not just forgive all our past sins, He also send us the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us the power to break us from the bondage of sins. We have the power to flee from temptation and not to continue sinning. We ought to live with power and strength.

2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 5
Tuesday – 7 December 2021

We are saved from what? Ephesians 2:8

It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith.

Reflection:  The fourth part of this Sermon explains to us what this wonderful salvation delivers us from

Q: Is this salvation something that we can attain here and now?

A: Yes. This salvation is a present state. Something that we can attain here and now on earth. “It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith.” Here the Apostle Paul used a verb in the perfect tense to describe something already accomplished.

Q: We are saved from what?

A: 1. We are saved from the guilt of all past sin. We need to realise that every human being is guilty before God. But God said that he will pronounce us “not guilty” because of the redemption that has been made available for us in Jesus. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. He used his blood and our faith to remit our past sins and declare us righteous. “There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).

A: 2. We are saved from fear. We no longer look at God as a slave looks at his owner. Christians have been adopted by God as his children and they can call him “Father”. His Holy Spirit tells them in their heart that they really are God’s children (Rom 8:15-16). Although it is the belief of John Wesley that one may fall away from the grace of God and so lose the benefits of his promises, Christians are saved from the fear of doing so, thus he/she has peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 5:1)

Reflection

We no longer have to live in fear for all our past sins have ben forgiven once we accepted Jesus Christ as our saviour. In this season of Advent, we anticipate the first and second coming of Christ with peace and rest.

St Bernard of Clairvaux said “We know that the coming of the Lord is threefold: the third coming is between the other two and it is not visible in the way they are…. At the first, Christ is our redemption (birth), at the last, he will become manifest as our life, but in the middle way He is our rest and our consolation.”

2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 4
Monday 6 December 2021

What kind of faith do we need? Ephesians 2:8

It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith

Reflection: Part 3 of this Sermon talks about the type of faith needed in order to be saved.

Q: What kind of faith do we need to be saved?

A: It is not the faith of the non believer/heathen. Faith of a non-believer is a faith to conduct moral virtue, justice, mercy and truth towards their fellow creature. They do not trust in Jesus or trust in God through Jesus.

A: It is not the faith of the devil. The devil also has faith that is further than the faith of the non-believer. The Devil believes that there is a wise and powerful God who rewards graciously and punish justly. He believes that Jesus is the son of God, the promised Messiah and the saviour of the world. The Devil’s faith is simply an intellectual agreement about the truth of the collection of facts and idea.

A: It is not even the faith that the Apostles had when Jesus was on earth before his death and resurrection. They had power to work miracles and healing and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God. This faith is not saving faith.

A: Christian faith is more than all the above. We have to trust in what He achieved through his life, death and resurrection, we depend on him as our atonement and life and we hold on to him as the only way in which we can become holy, redeemed, wise and right with God. “If you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from death, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9) In a word, Christian faith is our salvation.

Doxology

Dear Lord, pray that we have a true Christian faith. The faith that trusts wholly in your life, death and resurrection. A faith that depends on You as our atonement and life. We hold on to You as the only way in which we can become holy, redeemed, wise and right with God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 3
Friday – 3 December 2021

How is God’s grace manifested? Ephesians 2:8

It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith

Reflection: Part 2 of his Sermon, Salvation by Faith talks about this grace of God that was manifested fully in person of Christ Jesus.

Q: Who can make amend for the wrong things we have done?

A: Only God can through his gifts including the gift of salvation. That gift of salvation is in the form of Jesus’ death and resurrection. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). It was while we still sinners that Christ died for us (Roman 5:8).

Q: How can I be saved and what do I need to do to be saved?

A: It is by grace then, that we are saved through trusting in God. Grace is the source of salvation and faith is the condition if we are to be saved.

Doxology

During this Advent season, we proclaim: Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Amen.

2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 2
Thursday- 2 December 2021

What is God’s grace? – Ephesians 2:8

It is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith

Reflection – John Wesley preached the sermon, Salvation by Faith on 11 June 1738. He reminded Christians of this wonderful salvation that God bestows on those he loves. The sermon has been reformatted into Q & A format and divided into a few days of reflections.

Q: What is the meaning of God’s grace?

A: The word “grace” means free and undeserved favour. It is sometimes called free grace from God.

Q: What are some examples of God’s free grace?

A: It is his free grace that he created human beings. It is his free grace that he made human beings the dominant species. And it is his free grace that sustains us day by day.

Q: Do human beings have any automatic right to this free grace?

A: No.

Q: So there is nothing that we can do to claim that free grace?

A: No. Absolutely none.

Q: Can we do something good (good deeds) to claim the free grace?

A: No. Isaiah 26:12 said that, “Lord, everything that we achieve is the result of what you do.” In other words, even the good deeds that we do are a gift from God.

Q: Why do human beings unable to do anything to claim this free grace?

A: The human heart was originally created in the image of God. But it has fallen from that original state of goodness and is now COMPLETELY bad. The whole human race stands before God without a word to say, since we have no good works of our own, not even our good intentions to offer in defence. In fact, human beings are unable to do even a single good deeds by themselves, without God’s grace. Jesus said, “ A bad tree cannot bear good fruits. (Luke 6:43)”

Doxology

Thank you Lord for your free and undeserved favour. Without it, human beings can never attain this wonderful salvation that you have bestowed upon us. Amen.

2021 Advent Reading – Hope for the World: Advent with John Wesley

Day 1 – Wednesday – 1 December 2021

What is the meaning of Advent and why do we celebrate it?

Matthew 24:42-44

 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Reflection by the St Cyril of Alexandria – THE TWOFOLD COMING OF CHRIST

Let’s listen to the homily of one of the most celebrated Church Fathers in Christendom, St Cyril of Alexandria. He explains the twofold coming of Christ in the most succinct and concise way.

We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.

At the first coming he was wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. At his second coming he will be clothed in light as in a garment. In the first coming he endured the cross, despising the shame; in the second coming he will be in glory, escorted by an army of angels.

We look then beyond the first coming and await the second. At the first coming we said: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. At the second we shall say it again; we shall go out with the angels to meet the Lord and cry out in adoration: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

The Saviour will not come to be judged again, but to judge those by whom he was judged. At his own judgement he was silent; then he will address those who committed the outrages against him when they crucified him and will remind them: You did these things, and I was silent.

His first coming was to fulfil his plan of love, to teach men by gentle persuasion. This time, whether men like it or not, they will be subjects of his kingdom by necessity.

Our Lord Jesus Christ will therefore come from heaven. He will come at the end of the world, in glory, at the last day. For there will be an end to this world, and the created world will be made new.

Important Announcement: In-Person Meetings after Lockdown

通告:《救恩堂》实体聚会的安排

有关应对疫情的所有措施,务必以新南威尔士州政府的规定为大前提。】

至今新州政府还未针对“解封后”的“宗教场所/群体”之实际的运作情况作进一步的交代,经由执事会议讨论并议决,本教会在此情况底下所抱持的立场如下:

1、救恩堂诚邀所有肢体在“解封后”都一起回来参加实体的聚会(无论接种疫苗与否,一律欢迎),让我们继续连于主的爱中,彼此接纳、扶持,同奔天路。

2、救恩堂致力于响应政府疫苗接种的计划,鼓励肢体在没有其他合理的因素下(如健康考量)应当尽力配合并顺从在上掌权者,以达至利己利人的目的。

3、凡是参与救恩堂群体聚会的肢体,务必携带口罩,方得进入会场,并随时留意,保持适当的社交距离。

4、任何人都务必扫描“二维码”,以方便日后信息的追踪与跟进。

The policies adopted by CMC on combating COVID-19 follow the regulations and recommendations of the NSW government.

The government announced that the State will start to reopen once we reach the 70% people double vaccination target. For churches and places of worship, we can meet in person, subject to 1 person per 4sqm rule, with no singing. In transitioning from the lockdown, the NSW government has not made any clear rules for religious bodies and communities if everyone is not fully vaccinated. Under this uncertainty, the LCEC at CMC has decided the following arrangements after careful consideration:

  1. CMC welcomes everybody in the congregations to participate Sunday services and gatherings in-person at the conclusion of the lockdown. This welcome is extended to anyone regardless you are fully vaccinated.  Our intention has always been including all brothers and sisters in Christ. In His love we will accept and minister to each other in this spiritual journey;
  2. CMC endorses the State government’s recommendation of receiving the COVID vaccine. Unless you have sound medical reasons or special considerations, we encourage our congregations to get vaccinated as recommend by the government whose authority has been established by Christ. We believe the vaccine serves good both to ourselves and other people;
  3. When you come in to church for gathering, it is mandatory that you put on a face mask, observe social distancing and no singing;
  4. It is also mandatory for everyone to register your entrance by scanning the QR code. This will help the authority to track and communicate with people when necessary.

We will review the arrangement as the government provides more guidance.