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The Church as Community

Let’s begin with a quick exercise. The Bible uses many word pictures and metaphors to describe the church. What are some descriptions that come to your mind? What do they say about the church?

A common theme among the metaphors is the preciousness of the church. She is bought with God’s own blood (Acts 20:28). She is one body with Christ as the head, fitted and held together by the participation of each precious joint and part (Eph 4:16). The church is the household of God, a holy temple in which God’s Spirit dwells (Eph 2:19-21). She is being prepared to be the radiant bride of Christ (Rev 19:7-8).

The Bible also says many things about Christians in the church. As we come to Christ, the Living Stone, we are also like living stones built together into a spiritual house (1 Pet 2:4-5). To each Christian is given spiritual gifts for the common good (1 Cor 12:7). We are fellow children under one Father, fellow slaves under one Lord, fellow ambassadors of one gospel, fellow inheritors of the Kingdom of God together with Christ.

The church therefore is not a building, although it may meet in a building. It is not an obligation to fulfil on Sundays, Christmas and Easter. It is not a matter of picking and choosing which style or sermon suits my needs better. It is a precious, blood-bought community that centres around the worship of God and exists to the praise and glory of God. It transcends age, language, ethnicity, geography and time.

It is a life-giving community that draws its own life from Jesus and the Spirit that proclaims life to those around them.

It is a loving community that intentionally pours out love to others because it has personally experienced the radical love and grace of God.

It is a discipling community that is grounded on the Scriptures and equips each member to grow unto maturity in Christ.

It is a serving community that identifies giftings, and that provides space for each person to use their gifts to serve others. It encourages and empowers one another to fulfil their callings within church and in the world.

It is a multiplying community that seeks and supports the advancement of God’s kingdom in Singapore and beyond.

It is a Spirit-filled community that depends on the power of God and delights in the presence of God.

It is a global community where local expressions of church are joined to the worldwide body of Christ in mutual encouragement, learning and prayer.

The church, at its core, is thus a gathering of people saved by grace whose potential is greater than the sum of its parts. If you are a Christian, you have been joined to this community, this body, this building, this household whether you realize it or not. And the church does best when every joint contributes its part that it is gifted for. Will you?

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Daily Devo

Daily Devotional Journal

Scripture:
2 Thessalonians 2:3-7
Fri, 30 September 2022

Invisible Coming of the Antichrist

Observation:

What is the relationship between “the man of lawlessness” and “the mystery of lawlessness”?

Deeper Reflection
WHILE “THE MAN OF LAWLESSNESS” IS RESTRAINED FROM appearing, “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” (v.7). “The man of lawlessness” and “the mystery of lawlessness” have one thing in common: “lawlessness.” In the Bible, a “mystery” is something that God has hidden but reveals at the right time (cf. Eph 3:4-5). The “man of lawlessness” will appear in “full force and openly to all eyes”50 as the final antichrist as prophesied in Daniel 11:21-45. But this prophecy is to be fulfilled “in an unexpected manner” – unknown in the Daniel 11 prophecy – and hence, a “mystery”51. Paul has insight into this “mystery”: “Paul sees that, though this fiend has not yet come so visibly as he will at the final end of history, he is already at work in the covenant community.”52 “The mystery of lawlessness” is the “unusual invisible coming”53 of “the man of lawlessness”. Behind the visible “mystery of lawlessness” is the invisible “man of lawlessness”.“Lawlessness” is violation of the Law of God – the Ten Commandments, as well as civil law, for governments are “established by God” (Rom 13:1-4). But still, injustice prevails insidiously in the justice department of certain nations. Jesus has predicted that in the last days, “lawlessness is increased, and most people’s love will grow cold” – in how human beings are increasingly being treated unkindly and unjustly (Matt 24:12). In the context of Paul’s warning, “Do not be deceived” (v.3), the “lawlessness” refers to the activity of the antichrist through “his deceivers, the false teachers”54. The aim and effect of this “lawlessness” is “the apostasy” (v.3).
50 G. K. Beale, 218 51 G. K. Beale, 218 52 G. K. Beale, 218-19 53 G. K. Beale, 219 54 G. K. Beale, 219
Application:

What does the reality of “the mystery of lawlessness is already at work” mean to me in my discipleship journey?

Prayer:
Write a prayer to God as your response from your meditation on and application of the Scriptures.
Prayer Pointers:
  • Give thanks and praise
  • Pray for SGI leaders: To be strong in the Lord amidst the lawlessness of the world
  • Pray for significant people
  • Pray for those in need
  • Pray for self

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