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C.P.F.

Date: 10 July 2022

Speaker: Ps Daniel Tan

Sermon Text: Colossians 1:1-14


(No video recording for this sermon, please read the below sermon transcript)



Transcript

Introduction

Blessed Lord’s Day to all. Let us continue to praise and thank God for His grace and goodness to Hermon these 34 years.


I’m currently reading a book edited by Professor Tommy Koh titled – 50 secrets of Singapore’s Success.


It is insightful to read about how Singapore Airlines, our Hawker Centers, our edicational centres like ITE and Poly and our toilets have made the list.


But I want to highlight this morning our Central Provident Fund system. In the book, it’s the 15th success story and I was surprized to note that the CPF act was established way back in 1955.


It started as a retirement system to replace the pension scheme and according to the article, has developed into the bedrock of social security in Singapore.


The Mercer CFA Institute Global Pension Index report examined 39 retirement income systems covering almost two-thirds of the world's population.


In 2020, it ranked Singapore 7th overall and the best in Asia.


To me, CPF enables all Singaporeans to save a little each month so that we have adequate funds for housing, medical and our retirement needs. And the great thing is that our funds actually grow over time because CPF pays interest.


It is the little but consistent effort each month that allows us to reap the benefits in the distance future.


And I would like to submit that our faith journey can be somewhat like the CPF system. And so this morning, would like to use the acronym CPF – Christ Proclaimed Faithfully, to share from Colossians 1:1-14.


What we are enjoying and benefitting from today, are the God-enabled sacrificial contributions from Hermonites of old.


And so what we should do in the present is – in full dependence upon the Holy Spirit, to play it forward - engage in spiritual C.P.F, so that many more Hermonites in the future will benefit.


On this special occasion , may I share from Paul’s thanksgiving prayer to the Colossians. As we celebrate 34 years and our 4th lap may Paul’s prayer for the young church, be an encouragement for us this morning.


Christ - Gospel grace

In Paul’s prayer, we see that he reminds the Colossians believers that they needed to give thanks for Christ. Christ who is the good news of God’s grace.


Colossae was a Gentile city with a significant Jewish population. It is approximately 200 km from Ephesus.


Now Paul had spent over 2 years teaching and discipling at Ephesus and so likely he would have evangelize and discipled the pioneers of the church in Colossae.


Col 1:2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father …. who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

In v2, Paul begins by addressing them as ‘Saints’. This means they are holy ones, people who are set apart and consecrated.


To the Old Testament Jew, ‘saints’ were always only applied to the covenant people of God, all descended from Abraham. Only the Jews were God’s chosen people.


So, Paul is saying to his audience, to the believers in Colossae, you all are saints. Chosen people of God.


The Jews already hated the Samaritans who were half Jews how much more would they despise the Gentiles.


But Paul is saying, if you are a believer in Christ, whether you were a Jew or a Gentle, you are a saint. You are set apart and chosen by God.


You may be living in a pagan society, where there is moral decay, the worship of idols, under persecution, yet remember you are a saint.


Everyone wants to be in the ‘in’ group. The popular, the majority, the winning team. The Colossian believers felt like outcast in their society.


But Paul says, in Christ you are part of the ‘in’ group. You are part of the cosmic ‘in’ group. You have a glorious inheritance awaiting you in heaven.


So don’t look at your current situation with natural eyes. But with the eyes of faith, see that you are privileged.


Believers of Jesus Christ are saints, included as God’s people.


If you are a believer in this ballroom today, you are a saint. It does not matter your gender, your race, your social status. We are all saints.


And how do you know you are a saint, it is when you keep on trusting in Christ Jesus each and every day.


How significant is being a saint?


Lk 10:19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

We just went through Luke 10 recently. Jesus said to his 72 disciples, don’t look at the miracles you can do in my name. That is what the world sees, and definitely, what would alleviate you in their eyes.


However, Jesus instructs, rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven.

Even as we thank God for the achievements of Hermon, let us rejoice more in the fact that all our names are in the Lamb’s book of life.


What do saints receive, Paul says in v2, we have received grace and peace from God our Father.


Grace is God’s unmerited favour. To be a saint is to receive God’s grace and when we have received grace, it is followed by peace - Shalom.


Peace because we are reconciled with God, thus we have wholeness. And God’s peace is also a peace that surpasses all understanding, and it will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


Shalom for the 1st Century challenges the Colossian believers are going through. And shalom for the 21st Century challenges we continue to face today.


May God’s peace guard our hearts in Hermon even as we wait upon the Lord for our final regulatory approval.


Now to further appreciate that we are saints, who have received grace and peace, we need to be reminded of the context in which we have come from.


Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

This is what we are before Christ. We are enemies of God, trapped in the domain of darkness due to our sin. There was a rejection of God’s ways and therefore a terrible destiny that awaits us.


Paul reminds us that we were powerless to do anything about of situation.


Therefore, thanks be to God that Christ came and through His death and resurrection on the cross, Paul says He has delivered us, He has transferred us, He has redeemed us.


In Christ, God has delivered us into His kingdom. Now we are saints, now we have received God’s grace and God’s peace.


Now and always, let us rejoice that our names are written in Heaven.

At 34, may we be reminded anew of who Christ is and give thanks for who we are in Christ.


I submit, when we rejoice foremost that our names being written in heaven, our hearts will keep burning with gratitude, till we celebrate another anniversary.


Proclaimed - Gospel witnesses

Col 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother …. 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

C for Christ and C.P Christ Proclaimed. Gospel witnesses.


Since Jesus said that being a citizen of heaven is cause for rejoicing, then we need to give thanks for all who have proclaimed Christ.


In the Straits Times on 12 September 2020, of a 60-year old educator was nearly scammed of $35,000. This educator saw a pop-up message on the computer saying it was "at risk" and that help was needed.


A scammer, impersonating as a Microsoft technical support employee kept the educator on the phone for two hours. During which, the scammer managed to get the bank details and arrange a transfer of $35,000.


Thankfully through the quick action by the police, the money was eventually recovered.


The issue at hand is who is genuine and who is not.


There were false teachers confusing the Colossian church in Philemon’s home. Against this, Paul thus had to establish his credentials in 3 ways.


Firstly, I’m an ‘apostle of Christ Jesus’. I’m the ‘sent’ one. And I’m sent by Messiah Jesus.


So, Paul speaks for and on behalf of Christ Jesus. Paul comes in the authority of the Messiah.


Secondly, Paul’s ministry is ‘by the will of God’. The will of God is God’s sovereign decree.


And so, Paul’s communication to the Colossian believers is the expressed authoritative instruction of God the Father.


And finally, Paul says ‘and Timothy our brother’. Timothy will become Paul’s point person to the church in Ephesus a few years later.


Timothy was a young and gifted pastor whom Paul left in Ephesus to guide from doctrinal error and false teachings.


Paul’s credibility is further backed up by a trusted apprentice who is solid in terms of his theology.


Someone who in the near future, would be within range for them to even consult since Ephesus was only 200 km away.


Now Paul with his authority established, endorses Epaphras in v7 - what you have learnt from Epaphras is credible, its genuine.


Epaphras is a beloved fellow servant and a faithful minister of Christ.


Paul vouches for Epaphras whom the Colossian believers are very familiar with. What Epaphras says is on point. Stick with it. He is a credible servant of Christ.

So what might the appropriate response from the Colossian believers be?


I submit, they can to respond in 2 ways. Firstly, since it comes from God, receive it with reverential obedience.


Secondly, be thankful that God speaks so clearly to the Colossian believers through his servants like Paul, Timothy and Epaphras.


Since Scripture is God’s communication to us, let us thank God that Scripture has been preserved over 20 centuries.


And for the many pastors, elders, leaders and godly members who have taught faithfully from it.


May I just share 1 implication for our consideration – let us be expositional listeners.


We give this book ‘What is a healthy church member’ to all our catechumens. And the first mark is to be an expositional listener.

An expositional sermon is when the main point of a sermon comes from the main point of a particular passage of Scripture.


So according to the author “we are expositional listeners when we are listening for the voice and message of God as revealed in his word. We are listening to hear God speak to us the things he has in his omniscient love written for His glory and our blessing. Listening for the meaning of a passage of Scripture, and accepting that meaning as the main idea to be grasped for our personal and corporate lives as Christians.”


2 benefits I would like to highlight.


Firstly, because we are able then to hear clearly the voice of God and not that of man, the transformative power of God’s Word can work in our lives.


We truly can walk worthy of our calling. For we are hearing accurately our Shepherd’s voice.


Secondly, expositional listeners encourage faithful preachers. When the congregation is expecting God’s Word, it will make us preachers work harder to hear more accurately God’s voice.


You all will be the protection against false teachers for you have trained yourself to listen for Jesus’ voice.


Now, even as we thank God for all who have spoken God’s word to us these 34 years, we want to also acknowledge that Gospel witnessing is team ministry.

A preacher or teacher does not minister alone. And Paul too had his team.


Col 4:7 Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9 and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.

Now Gospel work of proclamation needs support for it to flourish. These are not insignificant.


Paul was writing this in prison and so someone had to take this letter to Colossae and to read it out. In Colossians 4, we see that it was carried and read out by Tychicus and he was accompanied by Onesimus.


Now Paul wrote 2 letters to the Colossians and the 2nd letter is found in our bibles under the heading Philemon.


The significance of the letter to Philemon is that the church in Colossae was meeting at his home and that Onesimus was previously Philemon’s slave who has run away.


As we thank God for those who proclaim the Gospel, we must also thank God for all who serve like Tychicus.


Members who take on the service of ensuring that the proclamation happens.


Members who often work in the background, who often do not receive any credit.

On our 34th let’s rejoice and give thanks for everyone who has served in one way or another like Tychicus.


Finally, in the midst of Gospel proclamation, we have the reconciliation of Philemon the slave owner and Onesimus the run-away slave.


Onesimus could have received the death penalty for what he did, but Paul says in Christ, now Philemon and Onesimus are fellow saints.


It does not mean the consequences of Onesimus past actions are just simply forgotten or swept under the carpet. No, Paul says he is willing to pay what Onesimus owes Philemon.


But after restitution, can restoration happen?


When Christ is proclaimed, the Gospel shouts that we have been reconciled with God. When Christ is proclaimed, the Gospel exhorts also, reconciliation with one another.


Reconciliation can happen, because we are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We all have received God’s grace and peace, we all have been qualified to share in the heavenly inheritance.


On our 34th anniversary let us give thanks that Christ is proclaimed.


That Christ is proclaimed by those He has appointed to preach and teach Scripture.

That Christ is proclaimed when many others support the ministry of the Word.

And that Christ is proclaimed when His love flows through us as we reconcile with one another.


Faithfully - Gospel growth

Finally ‘F’ – Christ Proclaimed Faithfully. The continue desire for gospel growth. Growth not in quantity but in quality.


Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;

Paul gives thanks to God that the Colossians believers were in Christ. And in his prayer, he prays that they will continue to grow in the quality of Christ-likeness.


2 things I would like to observe with regards to be faithful – firstly applied knowledge and secondly persevering power.


  • Applied knowledge


I hope we are all somewhat familiar with my favourite phase from a Singaporean Pastor - ‘God’s Word applied changes lives’.


And the emphasis is on the word ‘applied’.


God’s word is known very well by Satan and his kakis, but due to their rejection, it does not change their lives. So too, if we do not apply it in our lives, we will not be sanctified.


So, Paul prays that the filling of the knowledge of God’s will is to be seen in walking in a manner worthy of the Lord.


What is the impact of knowing Christ in every aspect of our life’s journey?


Since ‘God’s word applied changes lives’. The diligent study of God’s word is necessary and good, but it will all go to waste if we do not apply it.


The illustration of Joseph with Potiphar’s wife is an apt one.


Gen 39:6 Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

Joseph knew as a believer, what was God’s will and he obeyed it even when obedience to God might cause him his life.


Paul thus elaborates for us what it means to walk worthy of the Lord.


Firstly, it means pleasing to God. Importantly it means not pleasing to me, but what is pleasing to Christ.


How very often instead, our prayers are more about God being our genie and granting our desires.


Secondly, bearing fruit in every good work. There must be visual evidence of tangible effort on our part for the Lord.


Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So Scripture implies, it’s our duty to seek God for the good works He has prepared for us. And may I submit that these good works would include the practical applications contained in Colossians 3 and 4.


Finally, increasing in the knowledge of God. God is so infinitely wiser and higher than any of us.


The more we know him, the more we realize that we know so little of him. And this should encourage us to continue to seek to know God more.


As a church we desire to preach the whole counsel of God. We want to journey through all the 66 books of the Bible.


Over the past decade, we have only done at most 30%. There is so much more that God desires to reveal of Himself to us.


Let’s stick together and encourage one another as we journey through the bible. Let us be faithful in seeking to know God’s will and to live it out.

  • Persevering power


To be faithfully proclaiming Christ we need to firstly be applying our knowledge. Secondly, to be faithfully proclaiming Christ we need to harness God’s power to be persevering.


Col 1:11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;

Power is something we are familiar with. Without electrical power, nothing in our homes will work. Our fridges will not be cold, our laptops will not be charged and our Wifi will not transmit.


So Paul says in v11, pray too that fellow believers will be strengthen with all power according to his glorious might.


But what is the difference? In society, power is never equally distributed, its usually binary. Either one party has it and another doesn’t.


However, in the faith, God’s power is available for all. All believers have access to it.

Our society, promotes that the power to live victoriously is found within us and can be achieved by our own efforts.


Scripture teaches, no, to live the Christian life is impossible to do by our own efforts. The source of power is external to us. The power is from God – his glorious might.


Paul writes in Ephesians that this power available to us is the same power that raise Jesus from the dead.


Eph 1:19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

That’s a power source like no other. That’s a power source that will never fail. That’s a power source that will never run dry. That’s a power source available to all believers.


So may we ceaselessly pray that we will all experience God’s glorious might in our daily lives.


And Scripture says, when we are empowered by God’s glorious might, it will result in us, having endurance and patience with joy (v11).


This, to the world would be an anti-climax. Why would we want power so that we can endure and be patience with joy?


Because, for the believer, we desire to walk worthy of the Lord and not to follow the world. And so, we are to have endurance to walk in the path of righteousness.


It’s to turn the other cheek when we have been attacked. It’s to seek to mend strained relationships in the church like Onesimus and Philemon.


It’s to live pleasing to the Lord by having patience, forbearance, and long-suffering of others.


Is God’s power for us just to bear it, to become resigned to the fact and to just to tolerant the situation or the people?


In case we think it is, Scripture says we are to instead endure and be patient with joy. And that is the key attitude.


How might joy look like?


Picture this - the apostles had been thrown into jail for preaching the gospel. They were threatened by the Jewish leaders not to speak any more of Christ. And Luke wrote of them:


Acts 5:41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.

That’s endurance and patience with joy.


It has been quite a journey for Hermon. We started off in Telok Blangah, moved to BBHQ, consolidated at CCK and now are here in Henderson.


I pray that the joy of the Lord will always be our strength even when we face challenges.


May we take heed to Paul’s prayer for the Colossians. That we can be faithful here in Henderson when as one community, we are living out applied knowledge and persevering power.


Conclusion

May God’s word from Colossians be an encouragement for us this morning as we celebrate God’s goodness and grace.


Singapore’s CPF Life tells us that when you regularly save, when you hit 65, you can get a constant income for the rest of your life.


Hermonites, if we continue to do spiritual CPF – Christ Proclaimed Faithfully, we and all whom God will make us a channel of blessing to, will enjoy God’s blessings for eternity.


The little we do each month, the sowing and the ploughing for the Lord, it will lead to a glorious harvest that will magnify His name.


May Paul’s prayer for the Colossians be our prayer for Hermon this anniversary.

Amen.

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