len
Chapter 20 of the book “What’s So Amazing About Grace” talks about gravity and grace, wherein Yancey pointed out that these are the 2 great forces that rule the universe. Whatever makes us feel superior to other people, whatever tempts us to convey a sense of superiority – that is gravity. On the other hand, grace is all about breaking the moral rules. It is making allowances for everyone’s faults, even though your mind thinks otherwise.

It seems unfair on my point of view to give grace. Wouldn’t it just tolerate the offender to do wrong, instead of allowing that person to reap the consequences of his/her action? How could that person learn how to straighten his/her acts if somebody just said “I forgive you” and never do anything other than that?

This gets me into thinking. The reason why there are many bad people out there is because there are good people who tolerate them. By this statement, I meant to say that good people just say, “Ok, you did wrong – I forgive you”. Forgive? That’s it? No other actions against it?

The moral rules tell us to punish the offender. However, Forgiveness breaks the moral rules.

In God’s point of view, it is entirely mind-boggling different. When you have been slapped in the face, Jesus said to give the other half of your cheek. When you are the offended, Jesus tells you to be the first one to make peace. It’s very strange, right?

While reading through the pages of the last chapter, I was struck by several points of Philip Yancey that really made an impact on my thought life. Here are the major things I have lifted from the pages:

• My pride still tempts me to put on the best front, to clean up appearances. (page 273)

On Sundays, people come to church with those smiles and serene aura that can fool anyone. But on weekdays, most churchgoers do not really live as a Christian – and I have seen a lot of that on others and myself.

• Church should be a haven for people who feel terrible about themselves.

But reality bites hard: the church becomes a place of condemnation for people who do not live up to their Christianity. In my case, I have been away from the church for 11 months. Of course I feel so guilty for not being able to attend fellowships and other ministerial activities. I hunger for the presence of my Christian brothers and sisters. But when I got there, I felt that I don’t belong there anymore.

In a split second, all eyes were on me –telling me things like, “Ayan kasi umalis alis ka pa ayan tuloy napala mo”, “Pupunta punta ng Manila pero hindi naman makapagtayo ng ministry”.

I already felt terrible about myself, and I accept it. But all these things said to me really hurt me so much. I went back to be cured, and to hear words of encouragement, and to feel love and acceptance.

I remember myself when I was still active in the ministry: I handled the music team, I preach at the pulpit once a month, I handle small groups, and I train would-be leaders. Back then, when I see someone that is not performing their “church” duties, I would become judgemental and say things like, “You need to put God first. If you put God first, you will never miss out any of your “church duties”. I even think things like, “Maybe that person did not really accepted Jesus Christ in the first place, that is why she could not live up to her Christian life”

I am so prideful and self righteous before, that is maybe the reason why God has allowed me to experience 11 months in the desert. At this point, I now know the feeling of someone who struggles to go back to God and be right back on track: because it also happened to me. And the last thing a struggling person wants to hear is condemnation.

• Once my view of myself changed, I began to see the church in a different light too: as a community of people thirsty for grace.

When I was starting out to know about Jesus, I was so immersed and dumbfounded by the fact that a sinner like me has still a place in God’s kingdom. But when I went deeper and deeper in my new found faith, I totally forgot that people come to church because they want to ease their burdens. I realized that the church must be a spiritual hospital for people, and not a hall of judgement where your sins and wrongdoings are magnified and judged.

• Perfect, sinless Jesus had every right to be repulsed by the behaviour of those around them. Yet he treated notorious sinners with mercy and not judgement.

This statement has really made an impact on me. I knew some people who are capable of doing things such as stealing, lying, and other forms of unclean acts. But instead of ushering them to Jesus, I just stay away from them and being careful not to mingle with them. I thought to myself, If I mingle with them, I might sooner or later join them in their acts so I should just hang out with my Christian friends.

However, I realized (from reading this statement) that I AM TOTALLY WRONG ABOUT MY THINKING AND ACTUATIONS toward those people. Jesus himself hangs out with what society considered as outcasts. But I do the opposite. Instead of judging them, I must show mercy and compassion. A realization just occurred to me that people do bad things as a result of their rebellion. They just act out what people have been judging them.

SUMMARY

We tend to forget that Christianity is all about reaching out to people and show them compassion, love and acceptance. The sad thing is the more we come to know more and more of the God’s Word, we keep ourselves farther and farther away from people. That is the reason why a lot of people are “allergic” to Christians. We must not count the unworthiness of a person, but try to magnify the hidden goodness in a person’s heart.

A lot of people will discourage us, but we must not be tired of giving forgiveness. If Christ has been very generous of His forgiveness and mercy, why can’t we do it? Just like what the book says, “We should hate the sins in others in the same way we hate them in ourselves: being sorry the person has done such things and hoping that somehow, sometime, somewhere, that person will be cured.”

So what’s so amazing about grace? For me, what is so amazing about grace is that this righteous God, who has sworn that He will punish sin and execute justice, has nevertheless seen fit to extend it to a sinner like me.

Final Exam, Module 2: The Making Of A Leader
len

“Beyond Reasonable Doubt”
(An Exegesis of Philippians 2:14-15)

Natural Unit: Philippians 2:14-18
Next Larger Unit: Philippians 2
Literary Form: Epistle
Historical and Cultural Context:

A. Written to the believers in Philippi - Philippians 1:1.

B. The City of Philippi

1. Philippi was one of the major cities of Macedonia

2. Philippi received its name from Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, who conquered the city in 360 B.C.

3. Philippi became a Roman colony during the reign of Octavius. He and Marc Antony defeated Brutus and Cassius near Philippi.

4. Philippi was situated on the Egnatian highway, a major trade route through Macedonia. This would insure fast travel to and from the city to other parts of the Roman Empire.

5. It was a military and agricultural centre rather than a commercial city. Since it was not a commercial centre not many Jews lived in the city.

C. The Beginning of the Church at Philippi

1. It’s birth - Acts 16:9-15.

a. Paul was on his second missionary journey when he received the vision of the man in Macedonia - Acts 16:9-10.

b. Paul then sailed to Samothracia, journeyed to Neapolis, and then to Philippi - Acts 16:11-12.

c. Philippi had no synagogue because they have a very small Jewish population there. Paul went to the Gangitis River on the Sabbath, a place where Jews would congregate.

d. While at the Gangitis River, Paul met a group of women to whom he preached the gospel. One of them, Lydia, was converted by listening to Paul’s preachings.

e. Lydia’s own conversion led to the conversion of her whole household. The opening of her home to the missionaries provided a base of operation for Paul's work and a place of assembly for the young church.

2. It’s first conflict - Acts 16:16-24.

a. Paul and Silas were followed by a demonized woman - Acts 16:16-17.

b. After some time, Paul, desiring that people did not think that the woman was part of his “team”, cast the spirit out of her - Acts 16:18.

c. This angered her owners who then stirred up trouble and had Paul and Silas cast into prison after being beaten - Acts 16:19-24.

3. It’s first revival - Acts 16:25-34.

a. Paul and Silas, being in prison, sang hymns and praises to God - Acts 16:25.

b. God sent a strong earthquake which opened all of the prison doors and made the jailor think that all of the prisoners had escaped – Acts 16:26-27.

c. Paul reassured the jailor that all the prisoners were there, after which the jailor asked Paul how he could be saved - Acts 16:28-31.

d. The jailor then took Paul to his home, washed up their wounds, and as a result Paul preached to his whole household with the result that all of them believed as well - Acts 16:32-34.

4. It’s establishment - Acts 16:35-40.

a. Paul and Silas , being Roman citizens, made the magistrates of the city personally apologize and release them from prison - Acts 16:35-39.

b. Paul and Silas visited the brethren at Lydia’s house after they came out of the prison. Afterwards, they left for Amphipolis - Acts 16:40.

Culture:

Since Philippi was not a commercial center, not many Jews lived in the city. In fact there were not even enough to form a synagogue. The small number of Jews who lived there gathers at Gangitis River.

Textual Issues: none

Before and After:

Before: Imitating Christ’s Humility – Phiippians 2:5-13
After: Sending of Timothy and Epaphroditus - Philippians 2:19-30


Determining the Central Idea of the Text:

Words in the Text:

· Do everything without complaining and arguing

· Shine like stars

· Be blameless and pure

· Without fault

Connecting words: So that

CIT:

We should not fight among ourselves because it jeopardizes our testimony as Christians. We are the bearers of light, so the whole world must see Christ through our actions and dealings with each other. As children of God, the whole world must see unity and humility in us.

Application:

Knowledge: If we consider ourselves as children of God, we must show it to the whole world through our actions – by displaying unity with the brethren.

Grace: God wants us to be a light to this crooked and deprived world.

Relationships:

· With God – imitate the attitude of Christ – humble and obedient

· With Believers – conflicts may arise, but we must be able to resolve our differences and restore harmony.

· With Unbelievers – they should see us as role models of unity and camaraderie.

Guidance:

· Am I sowing discord, or unity in the church?

· Whenever there are conflicts in the church, do I add fuel to the fire, or do I stop it?

· Do other people’s views of me as a Christian make them doubt of my professed faith?

· Will my relationship with others be evidence for, or against me as a Christian?


Character and Conduct: Command to obey: “Do everything without complaining or arguing” (Phil 2:14)

Ministry to Others:

The people around us (unbelievers) are watching. Therefore, we, as children of God must live in unity, harmony, and love. When they see genuine love in us, they will be encouraged to receive the Gospel because they see Christ in our attitude and dealings with our fellow Christians.

Application Questions:
1. What difference would it make if right now I responded in faith and obedience to what God is saying to me?

If I responded to what the command says, I will be a living testimony of God’s love. As a result, I will be sowing unity instead of discord among my fellow believers in the faith. Unbelievers will also see that my faith is genuine and not only a fa├žade because they will see through my actions that I am really a child of God. They will say that I am a Christian beyond reasonable doubt.

2. What should I do and when will I do it?

Having unity in the church is not a one time event – it’s a continuous process. Conflicts will still arise, but I should be able to forgive easily and bear with the faults of others. I should see to it that I will not be adding fuel to the fire, but instead be an instrument of resolving conflicts.