These are some immediate reflections as I listen (back) on sermons from CBCWLA, often resulting in brain hurting, always accompanied by caffeine. It’s a brain-dump and won’t necessarily be cohesive or coherent, most certainly won’t be exhaustive of all important parts, but will be personal to me. Here are the questions I’ll attempt to answer with each sermon I review:
- What sermon did I listen to today? Title/Link.
- Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
- What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
- How has it challenged my thinking?
- What practical applications can I take from it?
Full disclosure: I actually listened to this yesterday and did part of these reflections yesterday, but my brain hurt too much to process it all and I had a small group to attend before I could finish it. So here we are.
1. What sermon did I listen to today?
Singleness of Purpose (Part 2 of 2 of a series on Identity in Christ and Singleness) – p. Nick Hsieh
Unfortunately this recording did not start from the beginning of the sermon and I’d say about 1/3 of it was cut off. I got the sermon manuscript from p. Nick and would strongly encourage others to do the same, to read and follow along whilst listening to the recording. There is one part that he chose to cut out from his sermon message, which he left in the original manuscript that included examples of how people can and have lived out their lives with the principle of Christ’s Family First.
2. Summarise the key points in 1-2 sentences.
Both singleness and marriage are states in which we are to pursue the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, to live out the will of God, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. They both come with their own set of challenges, and NEITHER are goals or purposes of the Christian life, nor should either of them be venerated as an ideal, focus or priority because you can and should still accomplish the will of God in either of those states.
3. What did I learn this time that I didn’t catch/forgot about when I heard it the first time?
Here are some key quotes that really struck me (most of them are taken from the manuscript verbatim, though I’ve summarised some of the secondary bullets):
- It’s not whether you have a gift, but whether you are being a gift to the church. The question isn’t, “Do you have the ability to remain single?” The question is, “Are you exercising it?”
- The “gift of singleness” is not a spiritual gift. 1 Cor 12:4-6 seems to suggest it is equated with services and activities, rather than abilities.
- You don’t determine whether or not you have a gift based on whether you’re lacking a normal drive or desire.
- Having the gift of singleness or not is not determined by how strong your sex drive is.
- Everyone has the gift of singleness until they are married.
- [The] phrase “aflame with passion” (1 Cor 7:8-9) most likely pictures the idea of being consumed in or by sin (and its accompanying judgement).
- Typically in the Bible, fire is used to refer to God’s presence, His acceptance of a sacrifice, or judgement, but not passion in a positive sense – so whilst most people nowadays understand “passion” to mean something good, Paul probably means it to relate to judgement.
- What is good in Paul’s mind is to remain single – by which he means single and chaste. However, marriage is preferable to fornication for those who have chosen to engage in sex.
- We need to put marriage and singleness in right perspective as equally valid gifts from God, and stages of life from which to glorify Him and edify others, and Biblically, one is not better than the other.
- Each stage comes with its own set of challenges. Marriage is wonderful, but the effort and intentionality required to cultivate a solid marriage is bandwidth you no longer have to invest for the Kingdom.
- What do you call a marriage that doesn’t involve lots of time, effort and heart? A divorce.
- Justification, sanctification, the spread of the gospel, and the spiritual maturity of the church — these are all goals to which we are called as Christians. Marital status is not.
- Some places in the Bible that tell you what the will of God is:
- This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent. — John 6:29
- The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. — 2 Peter 3:9
- Paul says in a number of places that he has been made an apostle of Jesus Christ “by the will of God” — 1 Cor 1:1, 2 Cor 1:1, Eph 1:1, Col 1:1, 2 Tim 1:1
- 1 Thess 4:3, 1 Thess 5:18
- 1 Pet 2:15
- Eph ch 4 – purpose for which God equips the church and saints for ministry.
- Some places in the Bible that tell you what the will of God is:
- God has called us to a reconciled relationship to him through discipleship to Jesus Christ first and foremost.
- We can — and even should — change our circumstances if the opportunity arises to better match the values of the Kingdom.
- Can you imagine if our community were so focused on reaching the lost, discipling the saved, and living out the gospel that questions about whether someone should wait to date or get married were influenced by that urgency?
- Loyalty and belonging in a family is drawn from the father’s bloodline. Blood relatives are closer than even a spouse. Early Christians reflected this inclusion in the family of Christ by calling even their wives their sisters in Christ.
- In Asian culture, a wife did not take her husband’s surname because she was not considered worthy to be a part of his family. But we as Christians have a shared bloodline in Christ. Let’s not lose sight of the significance of that — we are a part of Christ’s family first and foremost.
- Have we in the church inadvertently played into that lie with our idolatry of marriage while being pejorative and silent to wards singleness? If singleness is unfair, then it’s no wonder marriage has become a right.
- God has called us to live out the gospel in such a way as to experience for ourselves and show the world that discipleship to Jesus Christ means belonging in a community where singles have value and singleness doesn’t mean a lack of intimacy and connection.
- If we would do that, then we would have something meaningful and even attractive to offer those whom we would call to live their entire lives in chastity.
Honestly I think there is so much there that I need to take another breather. I’ll try to finish questions 4-5 tomorrow.
Edit: part two is here.