The last whole month I’ve enjoyed the chance (and the discipline) to speak based on four of the five Solas. In fact, the pastors in our two districts in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor all did the same which I thought was a good idea. Here are the slides (in pdf) I used for each sermon đź™‚ I suppose minus me speaking the slides are like a jigsaw puzzle. So enjoy them as well as your imagination!
As I was preparing for this message I was struck how often our discussions on the Bible are adventures in missing the point of the Bible … which is to me getting us or pointing us to hear the “living voice of the Gospel”.
What struck me is the paradoxical nature of faith in its simplicity of trust and complexity in our experience.
I was amazed how Bono could relate Grace to our times … Grace is such a hard “concept” to grasp but does wonders in our life experience and spiritual quest!
I confess I can run away from this re-occuring theme of the person and work of Christ in my own life and ministry. While maybe to some the is an exclusivity in the tone of “Christ alone” which offends or at least hinders them, but for me even though I find some formulations of their understanding of Christ blocking people from appreciating his true mission and person, I’m constantly drawn to the concrete reality confronting me in and through Jesus Christ. The theological and rational aspects are in constant evolutionary learning and even change (other times it’s mostly a second naivete), I can not and will not deny some very real experiential (and even mystical) encounters with him which stretches the intellect, broadens the emotional capacities and deepens one humanity and spirituality. For me, Christ is not the end of all questioning. In fact, I think I’ve started more questions then finding answers. And the answers lead to new questions … I think a living relationship involves that.
I’m not too excited when Christians appeal to the Reformation to close down inquiry or shut down theological exploration. After the whole series, I think the best of the reformation is more about bubbles and even explosions of change and not the end of discussion. We might prefer some form of security – which often is a false one. Reformation Day for me reminds me not to me too complacent and keep an eye out of stuff which either has domesticated the faith and rendered it meaningless or distracted us from its liberating power.
Anyway, I wanted to keep this post short. Bob has already wiggled into the mood with Reformation Day Arbitrariness. I also stumbled upon this post (which has more to add on the reformation): A Decisive Moment Worth Singing About: Remembering The Protestant Reformation . My attention was captured by a lesser known hymn by Luther in the post which I shall use as an ending prayer for now:
From trouble deep I cry to thee,
Lord God, hear thou my crying;
Thy gracious ear, oh, turn to me,
Open to my sighing.
For if thou mean’st to look upon
The wrong and evil that is done,
Who, Lord, can stand before thee?
With thee stands nothing but thy grace
To cover all our failing.
The best life cannot win the race,
Good works are unavailing.
Before thee no one glory can,
And so must tremble every man,
And live by thy grace only. . .
Although our sin be great, God’s grace
Is greater to relieve us;
His hand in helping nothing stays,
The hurt however grievous.
The Shepherd good alone is he,
Who will at last set Israel free,
From all and every trespass.