Dr Mark Chan of TTC, one of the speakers at the BGST 3rd Annual Conference on ‘The Message of the Cross Today’, here gives a ‘trailer’ for his presentation.
Growing up as a teenager in church, I was told that I needed to lead a balanced Christian life. Based on the description of Jesus in Luke 2:52 as one who “grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men”, I was encouraged to develop my intellectual life (“wisdom”), physical life (“stature”), spiritual life (“favour with God”) and social life (“and men”). Like slices in a pie chart, each of these requires attention from me; and it is my duty to ensure that the different spheres are well balanced.
I have since come to the conclusion that such a formulation of the Christian life is fundamentally mistaken. Framed in this way, the spiritual life is but one among other equally important parts of life.
But God cannot be confined just to one slice of life. His Lordship demands the lot. He wants to be at the centre from which everything in our life flows; and he is the circumference that gathers and holds all that we are together, giving our life both shape and coherence.
Relationship with God permeates and undergirds everything about us. There is a spiritual dimension to our intellectual life – our scholarly pursuits are carried out in his strength and for his glory. There is a spiritual dimension to our physical life – to walk with God is to care for the body that does the walking. And there is a spiritual dimension to our social life – for when we love God with all our heart, we will love our neighbours as ourselves.
Everything about the individual disciple revolves around God and his will.
God’s interest, however, extends beyond just the individual. To be sure, each person is deeply loved and important to God; and nothing brings more joy to the Father’s heart than when a sinner returns to him. But more is involved in God’s redemptive work. It has as its goal not only the reconciliation of sinners, but also the realignment and restoration of all things. It is to accomplish this divine purpose that Jesus the sacrificial Lamb went to Calvary.
Everything about the world, and everything about life as we know it, is thus implicated in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
There is a cosmic and holistic dimension to God’s redemptive work in Christ. Just as Christ undergirds and infuses every aspect of the Christian’s life, so the salvation that the Father has secured for us in Christ and made available through the Spirit is aimed at subjecting everything in the world under the Lordship of Christ. This is none other than the message and reality of the Kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed and inaugurated in his life, death and resurrection, a Kingdom that will be fully actualized when history expires at the feet of Jesus.
The Kingdom of God is neither a utopian dream nor an attempt to impose Christendom upon the world. For at the heart of the Gospel is the huge paradox of seeing the Lion in the Lamb, and the crown of God’s kingly triumph in the cross of Calvary.
The cross is not just an icon to aid private piety. It is the epicentre of God’s active redemptive transformation of the world in history. The death of Christ has worldly ramifications; and the truth of the cross is at heart a public truth that orientates the Christian engagement with the realities of life on this side of glory.
Dr Mark Chan
You are invited to attend a BGST Public Lecture
‘The Message of the Cross Today’ (1 Cor. 1:17–2:5)
Speaker: Dr Douglas Milne, Principal, Presbyterian Theological College,
Venue: Zion (Bishan) BP Church, Main Sanctuary (1st Floor), 4 Bishan Street 13
Date: Friday 23rd September
Time: 7.30–9.00 p.m.
Admission is free
This public lecture forms the first part of BGST’s 3rd Annual Conference, on the theme, ‘The Message of the Cross Today’