Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan
Sermon Title: Relational Discipleship
Scripture Text: Hebrews 10:19-25
Let us draw near …
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope …
Let us consider how to stir up one another …
19 Therefore, brothers,[c] since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Blessed Sunday morning.
As I look around, there are only 15 of us in this big spacious sanctuary that can sits 600. With over 200 of you participating online from homes.
This is unnatural right? This pandemic has really stretched the fabric of our shared community.
On Monday 19 July, the Straits Times gave us a wistful picture of what many had hoped will continue. The ability of up to 5 persons to have in-person dining.
The article begins with “it has been said that food is the most primitive form of comfort. And then the pandemic turned the tables on what now seems like a treat – getting together over a meal or drinks”
Building relationships over meals is a natural human activity. But it’s happening so infrequently that it is now seen as a treat. But such interactions have proven that we’ve actually been craving for such relational needs.
This pandemic has really caused an upheaval to what is normal. It has taught us not to take for granted the ability to meet together.
And we have realized also that though technology can help mitigate, it cannot replace.
Today, within a space of a week, we are moving instead downwards. From 5 to 2 and now no more dining in. And this is going to be, we pray only till 18 Aug.
As Dn Pang Wee has written in today’s editorial (which I highlight commend), that Science and Society have proven right the timeless truths of Scripture. Humans are made for embodied relationships.
Scripture records for us that God in Christ displayed incarnational ministry – Emmanuel : God with us.
And so, the Church, which is the body of Christ, can only thrive when we are connected physically with one another.
Today’s sermon is the 3rd of 4 sermons relating to our transition to Henderson that the Lord has guided us to schedule.
The first was in May. Through 1 Corinthians 12, Ps Luwin exhorted us that we are many members in one body.
And at the end of the sermon, he gave a pointed application. “If you are a member of Mt Hermon, it would be a very strange thing to even consider the question, “Should I stay or should I go, when Hermon goes to Henderson?””
And Ps Luwin thought the best of us, for he ended with –
“Because the members of Mt Hermon know better than I thought, they love better than I imagined, they are more united than I assumed. For they hold fast to a biblical gospel, they walk in step with the Holy Spirit, and they see the need for each other …. they recognise that though they are many, there is not one too many, for the many are one in the body of Christ.”
Our 2nd sermon was by Ps David from Joshua 3 recently on 11 July and he encouraged us to get our feet wet. And by doing so, we will put ourselves into a position of experiencing God’s miracle for Hermon.
Today, I do not intend to add any more to the reasons why we should move as one body to Henderson. Instead, I would like to share from Hebrews 10 on the type of community we desire to build in Hermon at Henderson.
And I pray that this would resonate with you, that relational discipleship depends on not some of us but all of us.
Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
Our passage today begins with the word ‘Therefore’. And so the context is what has gone before.
And for those of us who are familiar, our passage this morning is the bookend of a large segment that began in Heb 4:14.
Heb 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
So ‘therefore’ is a summary of what does it mean for Jesus to be our great High Priest. And thus what we are to see in 10:22-25, is the implications of the truth found in the verses between Heb 4:14 to Heb 10:18.
So it means, if Jesus is your High Priest, then these 3 points are instructive for you.
May I highlight 2 verses to help us appreciate the context even more:
Heb 7:24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
What Jesus our eternal High Priest has done for us is to us for all eternity. And He then draws us near to God as our divine intercessor.
Heb 10:11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
No more sacrifices for our sins, Jesus’ once for all sacrifice at Calvary paid it in full. God’s wrath upon mankind is fully satisfied.
And so today’s passage tells us – brothers and sisters, family of God, we can enter the Holy of Holies, the very presence of God because we are covered with the blood of Jesus Christ.
When we talk about discipleship, we speak firstly about the entry into discipleship and we are reminded from Hebrews that it is found in none other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
To be a disciple of Jesus is free due to God’s amazing grace. But it was so, so costly. It required the incarnation of Jesus the Son of God and His humiliation on the cross.
Church, the Gospel is only good news when we understand that it is impossible on our own to enter the Holy of Holies. It took Jesus’s death to pave the way for us.
And so, because Jesus lovingly sacrifice His life for you and for me, what God now expects of our response must not be seen as a chore.
Instead it must be a joyous response to the wonderful gift we have received.
And this joyous response is done by each one of us, together in a faith community – therefore brothers and sisters, since WE have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus.
The high priest made sacrifices on behalf of Israel in the Old Testament. Jesus sacrifice himself on behalf of the church which is His body.
Church, our faith in Jesus is personal. He is Lord and Redeemer, but it is not private. We, together as one body, enter into God’s presence.
Therefore, in Hermon, we believe Scripture teaches us that Christ and the Church go hand in hand. We cannot be a disciple of Jesus without being part of His body.
In Hermon, we seek to be faithful to God’s revealed truth and I pray that this is a community you desire to be part of as well. Because you too are a disciple of Jesus.
Let us draw near ….
Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Now that we know the significance of ‘therefore’, our first response must be ‘let us draw near to God’.
Do we yearn for a deeper relationship with God? Our God who did all that we now understand in the phase ‘therefore’ of Hebrews 10?
We should right? After all we are reminded of how we have been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus for a relationship with our Triune God.
So as disciples of Jesus, do we yearn for God?
Hebrews 10 says, we should yearn with a true heart in full assurance of faith with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
It means as disciples our open access to God is not based on who we are of what we have done.
But it is based on our faith in Jesus, whose blood is sprinkled on us and whose blood washes us white as snow.
May I address here those who have not be regular in Hermon, those even who have been away from Hermon for a long time. And I pray that God will lead you to click this YouTube link.
Have you been away, because you don’t feel close to God, or maybe you feel, that you have not lived well enough for Him?
Can I offer you these words from Hebrews that show us that the blood of Jesus is sufficient for you to draw near to God.
If you feel cold towards God, then may His sacrifice warm your hearts. The Gospel reminds us that we all have been saved from the dominion of darkness into God’s marvellous light.
There is a place of full release, near to the heart of God. A place where all is joy and peace, near to the heart of God.
We want to begin serving Communion, but due to Phase 2 (HA) now, we will have to wait a while. But when we next remember Jesus’ sacrifice, let not the devil tell you that you have not lived well enough to join us around the Communion table.
No, come back with a true heart in full assurance of faith.
Because as we partake of Communion, we are acknowledging that only by grace can we enter, only by grace can we come. Not by our human endeavour but by the blood of the Lamb.
Going full time in 2006 was a struggle for me. But I thank God for the many brothers and sisters here in Hermon who have walked with me in prayer.
By their actions and words, they have helped me to drawn near to God. Enabling me to lay my burdens at His throne of grace. Helping me to yield more and more of myself to the Lordship of Jesus.
To these Hermonites, I thank you that I can experience v22 because of you. And you still are so vital as I continue to make many mistakes in ministry and in life. For you continue to encourage me to draw near to God.
Hermonites, my experience is not unique. Hermon desires to live out v22. Let’s do it together.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope ….
Heb 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
We will all be called home to glory one day. Many Hermonites have already gone before us. We are now saying goodbye to one of our sisters.
And at many of the funeral wakes, one passage of Scripture which is aptly read is from:
2 Tim 4:7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
We hold fast to the confession of our faith with 2 Tim 4:7 in mind. We want to have lived for Jesus till the end of our days on earth.
The first words we want to hear as we cross over to be in the presence of our loving Saviour is ‘well done, good and faithful servant.’
The Olympics is on. Many sports have competitors competing as individuals, running, swimming, shooting, fencing.
Yet what we have is Team Singapore. No athlete gets to qualify for the Olympics on their own. Even at the games, they rely on a team that ensures they are in the best possible position to excel.
We have training buddies, coaches supporting with a team of nutritionists, physiotherapists and psychologists. Not to mention the sponsors, parents and sports associations.
The Christian journey is no different. We do not walk alone. We journey together.
Now, the Christian hope is not an attitude of depending on favorable fate. No, it is dependence on a person, Jesus Christ.
And so, Hebrews says do not waver for He who promised is faithful.
Yes, Jesus, His life, His promises, and His sustaining arm are what our hope is built upon.
But how often we forget all that. Often, because we do not remember, so we let go, we do not persevere.
Thus, it takes our Worship Leader to remind us at our Sunday service that we should build our hope on Jesus when he gets us to sing:
To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
For my life is wholly bound to His
Oh how strange and divine, I can sing, “All is mine”
Yet not I, but through Christ in me
It’s when we are feeling down and not holding tight, that we need a fellow Hermonite to pray with us over the phone. And through the prayer, remind us of God’s promises from Scripture.
And so, we are reminded that God’s eyes are on the sparrow and He watches over me.
It’s when we are struggling with our parenting and a CG members shares an article on the testimonies of other parents from a Christian website to encourage us.
Then, we seek to keep on praying for our children, keep on holding the Gospel hope in front of them.
We are going through the book of 1 & 2 Kings. Through the life of Prophet Elijah, we see that at the valley of his ministry, God not only provide food and rest, God also provided team ministry.
Solomon, Israel’s wisest king, wrote in Ecclesiastes
Eccl 4:9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, together. Church we need one another to remind each other of God’s faithfulness.
So, in our gatherings large and small, when we are singing God’s truth, we are not just affirming what we are singing, but we are also reminding each other of these truths.
I may have had a smooth week, but as I hear my fellow Hermonite sing with heartfelt emotions, and because we are in the same CG, I know what he is going through, then the words become his testimony:
When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Saviour loves me so, He will hold me fast.
I don’t know about you, but I need siblings-in Christ to constantly remind me of God’s promises.
This is the type of discipleship we want to have in Hermon. Let’s do it together.
Let us consider how to stir up one another ….
24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
In Christian living, we have these 3 key elements of Faith, Hope and Love. And I trust you see them shining through in today’s passage.
We now come to the third element, that of love.
Hebrews says ‘therefore’, because of Christ our High Priest, we His church are to respond by stirring up one another to love and good works.
To consider means to think long and hard about it. It means, you seek God about what He wants you to do together with the Hermonite community.
It means serious thought goes into it. It means asking God for a burden, a passion.
May I just share 2 recent incidences as examples.
Firstly, as we transit to Henderson, our Young Adults have already been speaking with our Community Service team to sense the needs in Henderson.
They are asking the needful question – how can we be a blessing to the community? How can God use us to shine for Him at Henderson?
Secondly, a few individuals have been discussing, how can we equip our members with formal theological education. It’s one thing to prepare the hardware, its another to prepare the software.
Equipping takes time and yet it is so necessary to be a good witness at Henderson.
These individuals understand the Ephesian 4: 11-13 mandate. How the leaders of the church are to equip saints for the work of the ministry.
I thank God for all these Hermonites. They seek to love all in Henderson. They seek the welfare of Henderson. They seek for Hermon to bring glory to God and to magnify His name.
But all these passions will not materialize unless v25 is lived out – not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.
Love and good works basically means that the action verb is seen in action.
In Hermon, we have 3 platforms which are available for us to stir one another. And when we participate in these 3 platforms, it enables us to encourage each other and not to neglect to meet.
The biggest platform is the Sunday Service. But because it is a more formal structure, it has some limitations, to being interactive.
The next more intimate platform is our Covenant Group. And this is the key platform for our thrust towards Relational Discipleship.
Here we can truly engage our Head, Heart and Hands. There is lots of room for mutual interaction and this is, the building block for the larger platform.
And then within our CGs we are building 3-2-1 fellowship groups. 3 persons, meeting for 2 hours once a month.
At the Sunday service, we can encourage the community in drawing near to God, in holding fast our confession and stirring one another to love and good works.
But it cannot make it applicable to our individual situations sufficiently.
In the CG and in the sub 3-2-1 groups however, we can make it so much more effective and impactful. Not only is this a great platform to personalized applications of God’s Word, in the CGs we have the supportive network to help us persevere.
In our CGs we can live out Psalm 133:
Ps 133:1 Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! 3 It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.
Founded upon God’s love, unity of siblings-in Christ, will result in outward blessings. The Dew of Hermon will bless the mountains of Zion.
Let’s join together to build this culture of relational discipleship so that we become truly the Dew of Hermon.
Our text this morning ends with “and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
That day is the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. That day is fast approaching.
According to Matthew 24, leading to that day, life will just get tougher and tougher. It will become harder and harder to live as a child of God.
Mt 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
That means we need each others more. That means we need to be more inter-dependent.
We need to encourage each other more often, to draw near to God.
We need to remind each other more often, to hold fast our confession.
We need to exhort each other more often, to love and good works.
Church we need to learn together how to live today in the light of that day.
This is what we will be doing over the next 5 Sundays in CG Open Month.
May I appeal to all, join our CGs journey, help us mature this culture of relational discipleship.
Let us walk this journey together as Hermonites, and all the more so, as we see the Day drawing near.