Pastoral Perspectives

Did you hear from Solomon? (Part 1)

Nope, I am not referring to King Solomon but Rev Dr Robert Solomon in the recent Discipleship Series which he delivered on 19th and 20th August. We wanted to invite him to be our church camp speaker but he was not available. Instead, he counter proposed to spend a weekend with us, delivering the same number of messages as if he were invited to speak at a camp. Since we are celebrating our 25th Anniversary this year, we requested of him to speak on our mission statement – Love God*Make Disciples. That was how he came up with the 3 sermons: Savouring God’s presence, Sharing His Passion, Showing His Person. In this instalment, I shall focus on Solomon’s first sermon. I would like to use it as a spring board to reflect my own thoughts in a bid to reinforce and perhaps expand on what Solomon had spoken to us about.

Solomon said: “God is not looking for converts. He is looking for disciples.” To be a disciple is to be a follower of Christ. Many however may be contented with just being a convert. They have said the Sinner’s Prayer to invite Jesus into their lives. They would therefore consider themselves as Christians but their faith is compartmentalised. Religion is just one of the items on their ‘To Do’ list against which they check to soothe their conscience. There are however many other compartments vying for their attention – work, family, hobby, sports, entertainment, etc. When we receive Christ as our Saviour and Lord, the fact that we acknowledge him as Lord means that our faith cannot comprise of just one of the many compartments in our lives. It has to encompass our whole life, so that whether it’s in the area of work, family, hobby, sports or entertainment, we follow Christ; we ought therefore to be his disciples through and through. That is the difference between a convert and a disciple. God is looking for the latter.

As disciples, we have a relationship with God who is love. This God is not a solidary divine being. This God exists in community – Father, Son and Spirit. They are in a loving relationship with each other. The Trinity is therefore a community of love. Don’t be mistaken – God didn’t create human beings because he needs our company. He doesn’t need us because his community of love is perfectly self-sufficient. Rather, we can imagine God saying: ‘Our community is so good, why don’t we create and invite others to share in our love?’ That was the motivation for God to create us in his image, that we might be drawn into his love and participate in the loving relationship between the three Persons of the Godhead. The initiative is God’s. He says: “I will make him draw near, and he shall approach me, for who would dare of himself to approach me?” (Jeremiah 30.21) We were steeped in sin. How could the holy God draw us near to Himself? He has made it possible through the finished work of the second of Person of the Trinity. Jesus came into our world to execute God’s salvation plan, ultimately dying on the cross to crush the serpent’s head and rising from the dead to defeat Satan once and for all so that our sins can be forgiven and we can gain access into the holy of holies. It is the third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, who convicts us of these truths and invites us into the company of the Triune God. This reminds me of our mission statement: Love God. We can do so because he has first brought us into his company of love. “We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4.19)

How do we continue to cultivate this love relationship we have with God? How can we savour His presence? We do so by practising the presence of God. We want to be mindful of His presence in every facet of our lives. We want to be aware that God is all knowing and ever present. He has given us various means of grace for us to draw near to him. We however need to do our part in practising the spiritual disciplines that God has made available to us. All physical disciplines need hard work. No pain, no gain. God, out of his grace, has given us a spiritual gym with its various facilities for us to train up our spiritual muscles but if we don’t make use of the gym, however great this gift is, it will do us no good. Solomon said: “No one becomes holy accidentally. We cannot relax and laze around and expect ourselves to grow in holiness.” The inertia may be great but once it becomes a way of life, these spiritual habits will be natural and they provide platforms for us to encounter God and deepen our relationship with Him.

I would like to highlight 3 means of grace, 3 spiritual disciplines, which would garner a nod of approval from the Reformers too – Prayer, Scripture and Sacraments. Pray unceasingly. Pray in your going out and in your coming in. Pray before you open up God’s Word to read. Pray for wisdom to understand. Pray for courage to apply. Solomon said that in the deepest kinds of prayer, words are no longer necessary. Listening to God in silence also constitutes prayer. Regularly reading the bible on your own, studying it in a small group, memorising the Word, listening to sermons during corporate worship, meditating on his Word are all ways we can give God the opportunity to speak with us. Jesus taught the disciples on the road to Emmaus by opening God’s Word to them. When we undergo baptism and when we partake of the elements of bread and wine, we are reminded of God’s grace; we are reminded of the spiritual presence of Christ in our midst; our faith is deepened and our courage strengthened.  Sacraments are powerful symbols of God’s love for us. As we participate in them, they compel and propel us to be channels of His love to the world. 

In Christ, we have been drawn into the love shared by the Trinity. As we faithfully observe these spiritual disciplines and relentlessly pursue them, we will be able to cultivate an even greater intimacy with the Triune God. The more familiar we are with Him, the more rested we can be in Him even in the midst of the most terrifying storm. If we know God, we will know His attributes. If we know His attributes, we will experience His peace. Jesus said: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11.28)

P.S. If you would like to tune into Rev Dr Solomon’s series of messages on 19th & 20th August, please go to -> Worship with Us ->Audio/Video Sermons.

Rev Lee Kien Seng

September 17, 2017