FES Lecture Series (2)

This is the summary that I made from the 2nd lecture. This one might be a little messy, since personally I think that the breadth of what Prof. McGrath talked that night was very large, hence I can’t take down all of them in the note. Again, please correct me if there is anything wrong inside the notes =). Anyway you can order for the video recording through FES as well.


Truth that can be Trusted: How the Gospel can Change the World

In what way can I serve God? Let us turn to Mark chapter one, where we find the story of Jesus, when He call His disciple. He said these words and these words only: “Follow me.” He didn’t say anything else. Just a simple, plain “follow me.” What is so special about Jesus that made them follow Him and abandon everything only by that simple words? All of us may have different answer based on our experience. This answer reflects our understanding which gets deeper and stronger as we keep following Him.

This lecture wants to talk about the reality of God, that he is real and able to transform all of us. Look at Paul. Remember that he once prosecuted the believers, and look how God changed him, by simply having a relationship with God. We need to maintain relationship both horizontal (through fellowships, church, friends, bible study group, etc.) and vertical. Friends and community encourages us to follow Jesus deeper. Christianity is not a ‘lonely religion’ but a journey together. Vertical relationship keeps us reminded on who we are and who God is. Christianity is not about us, not about comfort, not about avoiding risk, but about having God throughout our lives, even in the midst of difficulty, as is expressed by the Psalmist: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, ESV)

In talking about God we are not just talking about ideas. We are talking about living reality. Just like a house built on a rock is able to withstand the storm (Matt. 7), we are to build our house of faith on what is secure. We might build it based on status, academic result, financial or any other, but what is immovable, eternally secure, and absolutely reliable is God. The case of Marxism is a good example. Marxism was very common in the period of 60s to 70s, almost everyone is Marxist. But look at today – it is very hard to find them. It was like a mere passing wind compared to the word of God. God is the eternally secure foothold, because it is the truth. God’s truth.

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Cor 2:1-5, ESV)

Paul is talking about the living reality of God’s Word; our faith should rest in it, not about human knowledge. These Words are where and what we can take as our stand. We can’t let the Gospel trapped in the previous generations; we need to keep reflecting it in our life.

Today we are living in a post-modern world where argument, unlike in the modern world, are not how we can show the truth to others. Just look at the TV advertisements today; it is not giving argument anymore – they are focusing on image. Today people are more interested in stories, story about who we are. Let others hear your story! Why are we telling our story? There are at least two reasons for it. First, when we tell our story, we are telling on what is real in our life, including the joy, happiness and transformation. Secondly, by telling our story, we are telling them that this story about God is real. This implies that when we are talking to others we are saying: “This could be your story.” We are not needed to be good with words; we just need to tell our own story. Show it not only by your words, but with your life. Let others see the difference between the world and Christ even before you start to talk.

However, we need to also talk about the attractiveness of our life in this post-modern world as well. John 4 tells us a story about the Samaritan woman sitting beside the well. The conversation between Jesus and this woman tells us that people are thirsty and they are looking for something that can satisfy them. Christ is able to give it to them – and actually, only He can give it to them. Similar story are found in John 6:48 where Jesus proclaimed that “I am the bread of life.” Other food may satisfy us for a while. But He can keep us going and going. Christian Gospel can answer their question abundantly. Christian Gospel is the truth and is relevant. We don’t need to make it relevant or make it a truth anymore. It already is.

Christian faith meant to take a journey. All of us is in a journey. We are growing wiser a deeper about our understanding of God. Remember Abraham when he was called out to an unknown land? He kept on following Him even though he didn’t understand it. Why did he do so? Abraham knew that God has a reason on why He wants him there, and because he knew that God is with him in his journey. God is guiding and using us as we journey. We don’t need to finish our journey for God to be able to use us.

Remember also the story of the Israelites. They need to wander in the wilderness before they can enter the Promised Land. Why did God want them to wander first? Because this wandering enables them to grow; it teaches them about the understanding of God and finding their identity as the people of God, preparing them for what is ahead. We may encounter difficult times in our lives, but through them we grow, and remember that He is with us.

Remember as well the Israelites when they are in exile. Psalm 148 reflects the condition of their hearts so perfectly, where they are wondering whether they will be able to go back to Jerusalem. Many Christians use this framework to make sense of life. Our original home is Heaven, we are in exile in this world, and we are longing for the future when we are able to go back. Here in the exile, we need to spread that hope to everyone around us.

All of us need to go deeper in our faith. Remember the film Titanic where the ship hit an iceberg and sinks? An iceberg may look to be small in the surface, but what we see above the water surface is merely 10% of what it originally is. Most of the ice is located below the sea water. Christian faith is just like this iceberg. There are so many wisdom and knowledge hidden beneath it. The message of the Gospel is simple: “God loves you.” But when we go deeper we see that there are a lot of things we discover, and it may be hard to understand, or even impossible for us to understand. But through these hard things we can get the full view of who God is, what He has done, and what He will do. Yes, God is a mystery. But He is not irrational. Rather, God is so big that we can’t grasp Him completely. We are not able to grasp the living reality of God. But it will enable us to stretch our minds.

Go deeper in your faith, explore things, and find out more about the truth. In example, think deeper about the cross of Christ. What does it mean? It symbolizes many things if you search about it in the scripture. Find what it meant in our life. There are many in our culture that hasn’t experienced life because they are too afraid of death. What can we give to them? Christ’s cross deal with human sin. That’s the message our culture need to hear.

Our life is a journey, a journey with others and with God. We need to help each other grow upwards. We need to help each other discover what God wants for us. God loves each of us passionately, and He wants something from each of us. We need to find out about it. Whoever you are and wherever you think God wants you to be, remember that He equips us and He is always with us. Just like what he said to Joshua.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9, ESV)

Let there be light!


There was a time when I lost my desire to write and to share. There was a time when I didn't see the point of doing a blog to express my thought. I am who I am though, inconsistent as I am in doing this blog, but I do want to share and I do long to write. Today I'm giving it another go. Fingers crossed. But I still wish that "Let there be light" is the message that I convey.
  • January 1st 2012, Kristo