Date: 8 January 2023
Speaker: Ps Luwin Wong
Sermon Text: 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 Peter 1:23-25
Good morning everyone, and a blessed relatively new year. Now, whether you have been a member of our church for a long time, or you are a recent visitor to our church, we’re glad you’re with us this morning. So welcome to Hermon at Henderson.
What you see on the screen is not a picture of Hermon, it’s a picture of our premises at Henderson. Mt Hermon is the people, the church, the gathering of believers who have committed themselves to one another as a local body of our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s what a church is about.
Now, as a community of believers, Mt Hermon has a mission. We’re not just here chilling out, killing time until we arrive in heaven, we’re not driftwood just floating around aimlessly, no, we are on a mission, we’re oriented towards a particular vision, we exist purposefully.
And Mt Hermon’s mission is this – it is to glorify God by being and making disciples of Christ Jesus. Our mission as Mt Hermon is to glorify God by being and making disciples of Christ Jesus.
To phrase it another way, we want be like Jesus in this world, and bring the world to Jesus. We want to be transformed into the likeness of Christ, transfer others into the kingdom of Christ?
But how do we do it? How do we glorify God by being and making disciples of Jesus Christ?
This is will the subject matter of our sermon series in the month of January. We’ll take 4 sermons to flesh our ministry approach as a church in order to fulfil our mission to glorify God by being and making disciples of Jesus Christ.
The ministry mindset we will adopt is based on a metaphor. The metaphor of the Trellis and the Vine, which also serves as the title of our sermon series. What is the Trellis and Vine about? I’m glad you asked.
When you want to grow a vine, you have to build a trellis. Otherwise, the vine would be a tangled up heap of leaves on the ground, it’s not good for the vine. So to grow a healthy vine, you build a sturdy trellis. Here’s the crucial thing to note. You construct the Trellis with the Vine in mind. You do not build a trellis for the sake of the trellis, you build the trellis for the sake of the vine. The vine is the point. If you are a wine maker, and you walk through your vineyard, you want to see healthy, luscious vines, you want to see fruit on the vine, that’s the whole reason for your business, you aren’t really about the trellises, apart from the fact that you need them to grow the vine.
Everything we do in Mt Hermon falls into the category of either Trellis work or Vine work. Either building the trellis or growing the vine.
In Hermon’s context, what is the vine? What is our business, what is the fruit that we want to see? It’s this: it’s to glorify God by being and making disciples of Jesus Christ.
That is our vine. Our Trellis is support structures that enable the vine to grow. Purchasing a building, renovating it, equipping it with livestream capabilities, rostering praise leaders, allocating rooms for Sunday school, hiring staff, booking flights for mission trips, submitting our annual reports to the auditors, all of it necessary, all of it good, but all of it done, not for its own sake, but to support our mission to glorify God by being and making disciples of Jesus Christ.
A more memorable catchphrase for vinework in Hermon is to “move people to the right”. All the way to the right being Jesus Christ. We aim to transfer those outside to be in Christ, and we want those in Christ, to be like Christ. In other words, to be and make disciples of Christ.
Everyone exist somewhere to the left of Christ, some further some nearer, we want to keep moving people to the right.
We engage and evangelise those we want to bring to Christ, we establish and equip those who are in Christ. These are still abstract categories. Practically, how do we move people to the right? There are four things we need to do.
Proclamation – We need to proclaim the gospel of Jesus.
Prayer – We need to prayerful depend on the Spirit to help us.
People – We need everyone to participate, and not just spectate, in this mission.
Perseverance – We need to persevere, because vine work is difficult work.
Our four-part sermon series will cover each of these 4 Ps in turn. Proclamation, Prayer, People, Perseverance.
And today, we’ll unpack the first P of the series. Proclamation of the Word.
Our outline how the message this morning will unfold:
I’ll make three statements about what Proclamation accomplishes.
Then we’ll look at several bible passages to support these statements, so we know it’s not just Pastor Luwin coming up with these ideas, but it is in fact what God is saying about it.
And I’ll conclude by offering three implications for Mt Hermon, in relation to the task of Proclamation.
So, we’ll look at what Proclamation does, where do we see it in the bible, and what does it mean for us as Mt Hermon BP Church. That’s a lot to cover, I hope you all had a full breakfast this morning, which included coffee.
Why don’t we pray before we dive in. Let’s pray.
Heavenly Father, in your word and by your Holy Spirit, show us, convince us, and convict us of our duty to proclaim the gospel of your Son, Jesus Christ.
In whose name we pray, Amen.
Alright. What does Proclamation do?
The proclamation of the Word creates the church. It transfers those outside into the kingdom of Christ. It makes disciples.
The proclamation of the Word unites the church. It brings us together, it makes us one, we are together in this mission.
The proclamation of the word matures the church. It is the way we grow into the likeness of Christ. It helps us follow in the footsteps of Jesus. It’s how we be disciples of Christ.
Let’s look at what the bible says about each of these propositions.
1. Proclamation Creates.
Ps David gave our new years day’s sermon last week, and he spoke on Genesis. The beginning of the year, the beginning of the bible.
And he pointed out that in Genesis, in the creation narrative of the world, there was a repeated refrain, “God said”.
Gen 1:3. God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
How did God create? He spoke. He proclaimed. And he brought creation into being. The heavens and the earth. In the same way, his word will create the church, a new entity, that is not of this world, but that belongs to the new heavens and the new earth.
We see this happening in Acts. We will be preaching through Acts this year, so we’ll have a more in-depth look into this. But today, I will simply surface a few passages in Acts, that makes plain the connection between the Proclamation of the Word and the Creation of the church.
ACTS 2:40-41 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them… So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Who were baptized, who were the three thousand souls that were added to the church? Those who received the word, the preaching of Jesus Christ by the apostle Peter.
ACTS 4:1 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. How did the five thousand come to believe and be added into the church? They heard the word.
ACTS 5:42 – 6:1 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus. Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number…
What happens when every day you do not cease to teach and preach Jesus Christ? The disciples increase in number, you make disciples.
ACTS 6:7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
The word of God increased the number of disciples multiplied. It’s not just a correlation. It’s causation. The cause: proclamation of the word increases; the effect: disciples multiply.
ACTS 11:19 men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
Men preached the Lord Jesus, and a great number who believed in their proclamation, turned to the Lord.
ACTS 16:30-32, 34 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house… And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
The Philippian jailer asked the question, what must I do to be saved? The answer, believe in the Lord Jesus. How to believe? They spoke the word of the Lord, and he believed in God.
ACTS 17:3-4 “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.
Paul and Silas proclaimed Christ, and the result, a great many Greeks and not a few of the leading women became disciples of Christ.
ACTS 19:20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
The book of Acts is the account of the birth and the growth of the Church. How did the church come to be, how did it grow in number, how did it prevail under hostile circumstances? We can point to men who played a key role: Peter, Paul. We can highlight the miracles that they performed. We can credit the martyrs who gave their lives for the movement: Stephen and James. But this is how the book of Acts commentates on it, when all is said and done, it boils down to this:
ACTS 19:20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily. Where the Word is, there the church will be. Where the word is proclaimed, the church is created.
1 PETER 1:23-25 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
Perhaps the clearest expression of this truth is found in 1 Peter 1:23-25. We are born again, we are re-created into the image of Christ. How? Through the living and abiding word of God.
What is this word of God? It is Gospel of Christ that was preached, proclaimed to us. That’s how believers are born again – through the preached word.
That’s point one. The Proclamation of the Word creates the church.
Point two. The Proclamation of the Word unites the church.
Now, it is by no means obvious that when you add 3,000 one day, and another 5,000 another day into the church, that all these people, from different cultures and speaking languages, with different sizes of ego and different ambitions, it is not obvious at all that they will be united in one heart and one purpose for very long.
It is by no means a guaranteed that they will not fall prey to pride and suspicion and hostility and end up fragmented as a movement, rather than united for the sake of Christ.
How can the church with so many different then remain united in mission, to stay on course in discipleship and to fulfill their calling to reflect Christ in this world?
The answer the bible gives is to proclaim the word. The word unites the church.
EPHESIANS 4:3-5 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit… There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all…
The church does not have to manufacture unity. The church is inherently united. The Spirit unites us. All we have to do is maintain our unity.
Look at the many ways we are one as a church – body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God. And what made us one? We are called. How were we called, were called by the Word. The proclamation of the Word brought us to Christ, and to one another in Christ.
TITUS 3:9-10 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him
If there are anyone in the church who want to dispute endlessly about secondary and irrelevant issues in the bible, Paul tells the church to have nothing to do with him. Get him out of the church. Why? Because our unity is dependent on the Word. Pointless, foolish arguing about the Word leads to division. Where the word is clearly taught, rather than endlessly disputed, the church is united.
2 JOHN 9-10 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
The apostle John says the same thing. Christian unity is found in the teaching of Christ. Whoever tries to be part of the church, but does not bring this teaching, do not receive him, do not even greet him. Have nothing to do with him. Why? Because Christian unity finds its center of gravity in the Word. The Word determines our unity.
EPHESIANS 4:11,13 he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God
Paul tells us the Christ gave the church the apostles, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, that is, all the offices engaged in the proclamation of the word – Christ gave them to the church, for what purpose?
So that we can attain unity of the faith. Why would teaching be important for this to happen? Because our unity of the faith is bound up with the knowledge of the Son of God, in whom we have placed our faith.
If we want fulfill our mission to glorify God by being and to making disciples of Jesus Christ, to move people to the right, we must pull together, we must orient ourselves in the same direction, we need to be united in the mission, only then can it be done. And unity only happens through the sound proclamation of the Word.
1. Proclamation of the Word creates the church. 2. Proclamation of the Word unites the church. 3. Proclamation of the Word matures the church.
EPHESIANS 4:11-14 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children,
We have seen how Jesus gave ministers of the word to the church. And one of the reason he gave them to the church was for the unity of the church. There is a second reason. The other reason is the maturity of the church. So that the body of Christ will group up to mature manhood, no longer remaining as children, but maturing, growing up, transforming into the fullness of Christ.
EPHESIANS 4:20-24 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
The goal of Christian maturity is to become like Christ, and that involves putting off our old self and putting on the new self. Abandoning our way of living and following the way of Jesus, which is what being disciples mean.
How is that done? It is done by learning, by hearing, by being taught the Word. And so by learning and hearing and being taught, the spirit of our minds will be renewed. That’s how we become mature as disciples. It’s the Word that matures us.
COLOSSIANS 3:9-10 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
We see the same thing in the letter to the Colossians. Again, put of the old self, put on the new self. How is this done? It is done when we being renewed into the image of God, by what means? By knowledge. Our selves are being renewed in knowledge.
Knowledge in the bible always comes through the word of God. The word renews us, matures us into the likeness of Christ.
Perhaps the most well-known passage which connects the Word and Christian maturity is found in 2 Timothy 3.
2 TIMOTHY 3:14-17 But as for you, continue in what you have learned… which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
All Scripture, the Word of God, is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, to what end? So that man of God may be complete, also translated as mature, equipped for every good work.
It is the word that equips us, matures us, completes us.
And so Paul speaks of his ministry in this way:
COLOSSIANS 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
The proclamation of Christ leads to maturity in Christ.
So, to recap, three points about Proclamation.
1. The proclamation of the Word creates the church.
2. The proclamation of the Word unites the church.
3. The proclamation of the Word matures the church.
I hope we have seen these truths for ourselves in the Word of God itself.
So what implications do these truths have for us as the church of Mt Hermon?
There are three implications I see for Mt Hermon.
1. The Proclamation of the Word is the strategy of the church. (How)
As a church, we want to do so much, we want people to be more loving, less prideful. We want them to be more generous towards the needy, more forgiving towards their enemy. Less resentful, more tender-hearted towards their spouses. Less in love with the world, more committed to the kingdom.
How do we do that? How do we shape their hearts to be more like Christ? How do we get people to put off their old selves, and put on the new? God says, proclaim the word, renew their minds.
As a church, we want to do practical things, we want people to return to in-person service. We want them to arrive on time, we want more to serve in ministry, more to step up to leadership. How do we do that? There are many ways, but only consistent and reliable strategy the bible offers is to “proclaim the Word”.
Everything that the church wants doing, boiled down to their most fundamental motivations, can be done by the proclamation of word.
The word of God does the work of God in the church of God.
2. The Proclamation of the Word is the work of the church. (Who)
If the proclamation of the word is so central and essential to all the church seeks to be and to do. Who should do the proclaiming? A select few, or every single believer? This will be the topic of the third P of the series titled: People. But spoiler alert, the answer is everyone. Everyone needs to proclaim the word.
The pulpit and the formal teaching ministries of the church cannot exclusively bear the weight of all that the word is meant to do for the church. We need everyone to speak the truth in love, for the body to grow as it should.
3. The Proclamation of the Word is the point of the church. (Why)
When God made a covenant with Abraham, to give him a Land, and a nation of his descendants (that is, Israel) to whom God himself will be their God, and they his people – these covenant blessings although given to Israel, was not ultimately about Israel. It was about the world. They were chosen for a purpose: to be a light to the nations, to reveal God to the world.
“I will bless you and and through you”, God said to Abraham, “all the nations of the earth will be blessed”. Somewhere along the line, OT Israel lost that focus. They thought being chosen by God made them special for their own sake, and it became Israel vs the world instead of Israel for the sake of the world.
The church, the descendants of Abraham by faith, must be careful not to make the same mistake. The church exits for a purpose: to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth, to be salt and light in the world, to glorify God by being and making disciples.
“Follow me”, says Jesus, “and I will make you fishers of men”. How do you fish for men? You proclaim the word. The gospel is the bait, the gospel creates faith and transfers men and women into the kingdom of Christ.
We are not called to be a fish tank. Just swimming around blissfully, oblivious to the world, separated from those outside. They can come and visit if they like, but a fish tank does not go out and pursue fish. They merely exist. To be fishermen, you must fish. You must be proclaimers of the word.
That’s fine work. That is what God is doing in this world, moving men and women from every nation and language and culture to the right, closer to Christ.
God does it through the church. The church is God’s Plan A for reconciling the world to himself. Guess what? There is no Plan B.
Lets’s not lose sight of the plan, of our mission, of the reason we were created by the word to be the church.