Psalm: Coram Deo – Weekly Meeting, Week 5

Psalm 46

This Psalm was written in the context of war; Jerusalem was under dire threat. Here, the Psalter urged us to trust God and to have confidence in Him during difficult times and in any situations that we are facing. It is repeated several times in the refrain: the Lord Almighty is with us.

Psalm 46 can be divided into 3 parts.

1) V1-3 God is exalted in the earthquake.

When you know your God, and you have a fear of the Lord, you no longer fear anything else. “an ever-present help in trouble” implies that our experience of God’s help in the past helps us to not fear because we believe that He will help us just like He has in the past.

2) V4-7 God is exalted in the city.

Here, the Psalter talks about man-made disasters like wars. The city of God is secured, not because her walls are strong but because God is within her.

3) V8-11 God is exalted in all the earth

In these verses, the Lord is described as a warrior, bringing peace by destroying the destroyers.

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. If God be in our hearts, by his word dwelling richly in us, we shall be established, we shall be helped; let us trust and not be afraid.

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Psalm: Coram Deo – Weekly Meeting, Week 3

In this week’s meeting, we visited one of the most important Psalms, which is Psalm 19. Here, we are again reminded of Coram Deo.

Specifically Psalm, the biblical faith isn’t only about our spiritual life.

Most of the time, when we talk about the Christian faith, we reduce it to an area concerning only our spiritual lives. We make a distinction between our spiritual life and secular life. So what is the spiritual life? It includes the “churchy” activities we do such as bible study, reading the bible, prayer meetings, worshipping at church, etc. How about the secular life? It involves our daily weekday activities in university, work, and leisure time. In other words, the secular life is anything apart from the spiritual life. However, according to the bible, such distinction does not exist. The bible does not teach us that some aspects of our life are spiritual and some are secular. Every aspect of this life is spiritual. Everything is done in the presence of God. God is sovereign over every aspect of our lives, be it church, university, government, relationships between parents and child, etc.

Therefore, our life is either secular or spiritual. A spiritual life is a godly life, whereas a secular life is a worldly life.

God created human being and nature, and is thus sovereign above all. Humans are able to understand nature but nature is not able to understand humans.

Are humans then able to understand God? The only way humans can understand God is by God revealing Himself to us. How does He reveal Himself to us? (i) general revelation (ii) special revelation. There are three big divisions in Psalm 19. Verse 1-6 talks about God’s general revelation.

In verses 1-6, God reveals Himself to us through His creations. All his creations proclaim His glory. No one will dispute the fact that nature is beautiful. But due to the corruption of humans’ hearts by sin, some deny the existence of God and thus not everyone will agree on creation.

That is why God gave us special revelation (v7-11), which consists of the written word of God and the Word who became flesh: Jesus Christ. General revelation is not sufficient due to the presence of sin. As John Calvin said it, sin is like the sickness of the eye.

If you pay attention closely, verses 7-11 contain six parallel sentences and every sentence refers to God as Lord. In the general revelation, the psalmist refers to God as God. Here, he used Lord. This is because Lord is the covenant name, and only His children use it. Also, the word Lord is always in the same position, depicting poetry at its best and reflecting and revealing the perfection of God’s words.

Verses 10 and 11 talk about the meditation of the psalmist, which contemplated on how valuable the word of God is (cf. Psalm 119) and verses 12-14 talk about the believers’ responses.

In summary, Psalm 19 started with the heavens and skies, and finished with one person before God, teaching us that we should live our entire lives in the presence of God according to His word.

Psalm: Coram Deo – Weekly Meeting, Week 1

Coram Deo

Psalm 1

Coram Deo. This is the topic that will be discussed in REF this semester. What does it mean? Coram means “in the face of” or “in the presence of”, and Deo means God. Together, Coram Deo means “in the face of God, in all aspects of our life”. It covers all aspects of life and is not restricted to only the church, our prayers or our fellowship with each other. He should be the most eminent one in our life.

Martin Luther once said that Psalm is the mirror of our hearts. The book of Psalms contains many emotions, and this is because it is a book about humans. Psalms contains many metaphors. For example, a righteous man is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season. What does it mean for a righteous man to be like a tree planted by streams of water? We could picture him to be firm, stable, mature, fruitful, and prosperous. Another example of a common metaphor found in the bible is used to describe God as king. It means God is powerful; He rules over us, He is sovereign, wise, resourceful, glorious and just.

God uses metaphors concerning the things that we encounter in our everyday life (i.e., king) to help us understand Him. This is because He is the only God and there is none like Him that can be used as a reference to describe Him. But why don’t we describe Him using adjectives such as “cruel, dictator, has many wives, fat, abusive”? These are the adjectives which describe many of the typical kings that we have/had in this world, both in the present and in the past. Apart from that, we also learn, through these metaphors, the true definition of every aspect of our life based on God’s standard. Men are corrupted by sin. Culture is like the air that we breathe. It is embedded in us. It is like fish swimming in the water; they wouldn’t feel wet, just as we wouldn’t realise that we are living a life that is corrupted by sin. Thus, we have to, based on God’s standards, critically question the secular society that we live in, where everybody accepts everything so easily.

In Psalm chapter 1, we can see that there are 2 kinds of people and two different ways of life that lead to two different fates; the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. In verse 1, the psalmist rejects the totality of evil. He describes the Christian life as a life that is “counter cultural”, because everything is affected by sin in this world. We can see in verse 1 that a righteous man does not think like the wicked does. Not only does he not walk with them, he also does not stand in the way of sinners and will not sit in the company of the sinners. From “walk” to “stand” to “sit”, we can see a progress of conformity to the world. To sum it up, despite a lot of peer pressure, a righteous man will not let himself be influenced by other people and conform to the wicked patterns of this world.

In contrary to verse 1, verse 2 is written in a more positive light. A righteous man does not only “meditate” but he also “delights in the words of God” (the Psalmist also writes in Psalm 19 that the word of God is more precious than gold and sweeter than honey). To “meditate day and night” implies that the word of God becomes the focus of our life. It is equivalent to constantly thinking about something at every moment. Verse 3 then continues to describe what a righteous man is like; “tree by streams of water” and “yields fruits”.

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Compared to the righteous man, we see in verse 4 that the wicked is rootless and useless, like “chaff that the wind drives away”. In Psalms 92:12-15, we can see that the righteous will still bear fruit in old age, and they will stay fresh and green. There are only 2 kinds of people in old age — full of integrity or full of despair. Verse 5 and 6 show the fate of these 2 kinds of people. God intimately and continually watches over the righteous, and they will be preserved until the day of judgement. But this is not so for the wicked, for they will be cut off. These verses serve not only as a warning for the Israelites in those days, but also for non-churchgoers and for us, His chosen people, despite not being Israelites in the biological or geographical sense.

The assembly of the righteous in Christ will be saved (v5), but the way of the wicked will perish. May we always be filled by the presence of God and be moulded to be more like Him.

REF End of Semester 2 (2015) Outing

We are having our outing next week! YAAAY!!

We are having this outing to collaborate together with REF Monash University so the members of REF of both universities can get to know each other and by knowing each other we can build and help our fellow brothers and sisters. We will be doing fun activities both in Monash campus (Clayton) and UniMelb campus (Parkville) to familiarise ourselves with both campuses. There will be activities which will require brains and brawns and certain skills which may prove useful to improve your social skills but cooperation will be key in our activities. It will be relaxing as the main aim for this outing is fellowship but the activities will be great and unpredictable!

For those of you who live in the city (or its surrounding), please gather at Flinders Street Station by 9am, but for those who don’t live in the city and/or want to go to the Clayton campus directly, please be there by 10am. For more details, please contact Fernan or Jason (phone number on the poster). Please register to Fernan if you want to join the outing.

We hope you guys can come and have fun with us, and for those who are still having their exam(s), we wish you all the best and glorify God with your results! 🙂

Thank you!

REF OUTING EDITED

SOLI DEO GLORIA (Sem 2 – Week 12 Summary)

“If you find yourself with a desire that no experience in this world can satisfy, then the most probable explanation is that you were made for another world.” – C. S. Lewis

Soli deo Gloria is a Latin term for Glory to God alone.

What does glory to God alone mean? Simply put, it means that whatever we do in our lives should ultimately be for the glory of God. Now, that sounds simple and is not too difficult to understand, isn’t it?

Do you however, know that it is not only what humans do which glorify God, but all that God does is also for His own glory? Yes, it is true, you could see it for yourself in Ephesians 1:4-6, 11-13. From these verses, we can see that our salvation is not the ultimate purpose of God’s doing. It is penultimate, meaning the second to the ultimate. The ultimate purpose is for His glory. This indeed is not a very common thought that people have and many often find this concept strange and stumble upon it.

Why is that so? The reason is obvious – we don’t like people who draw attention to themselves and who are constantly seeking compliments or praises. The bible itself refrains us from being proud, and doing things with the goal of glorifying our own names. We are in fact taught to be humble. So why did God say that everything we do is for His glory alone and why is it that all God does is also for His own glory? Even C. S. Lewis, before converting into a Christian, stumbled upon this concept and wrote that, “It seems to me that God is a woman who lives on others’ compliments, insecure, and deems self worthy only when praised.” Erik Reece, the writer of An American Gospel, also had trouble accepting and understanding this concept. He said, “Who is this man? He is a stranger and we don’t know him, and yet he said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”. Who is this egomaniac, how could he say that we should love him more than the people closest to us?”

God says that He is the God of love. But how is it possible that He loves us when everything He does is ultimately for His own glory? One way to comprehend this concept is by looking at the words of Augustine:

“You (God) have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”

This implies that we have been created for Him. Hence, when God tells us to glorify Him, it is good news for us. Why? Just imagine witnessing something beautiful or enjoying something great (taking in a beautiful scenery, eating delicious food, reading a great book), and yet not being allowed to express how you feel? Isn’t shouting out praises and expressing our awe, admiration, and joy the natural thing to do? And doesn’t doing these complete our joy? God has made us for Himself and put inside us a longing to reach out to Him. Thus, when we enjoy God – His presence, His love, His being, His blessings – and thus glorify, worship, and praise Him, we are actually doing it not only for God’s glory, but also for the fulfilment of our own joy and longings and for our own good.

“God is more glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” – John Piper

SOLUS CHRISTUS (WEEK 10 SEM 2 SUMMARY)

Solus Christus (meaning Christ alone).We are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone

– Ephesians 1: 3-14

– Our saviour has to be both man and God; throughout history, there is only one person who is both man and God, Jesus Christ. If Jesus Christ is only man, he is a sinner and cannot be raised from the dead. In addition, he has to be born not according to the will of a man or woman; therefore, he must be supernaturally born. If he is only God, God would not be able to justify sinners as God cannot die or be condemned for the sins of human beings. When he is truly man, he is then able to die representing sinners and also to be raised from the dead (only for those who believe). Only in Christ, he is the only way for sinners to be justified.

– In Christ alone: how can we receive what he had done when he died on the cross? We can only receive when we are united in Christ. We are united with him in faith alone by grace alone. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit gives us faith and unites us in Christ.

– Several aspects of salvation that Christ hath graciously given believers who have faith in him: redemption, reconciliation, sanctification, glorification, conversion (which includes repentance and faith), regeneration (Holy Spirit regenerate those who are in Him, giving a new life in Christ) → this can only be received for those who are united in Christ.

How can we be united in Christ? (Ephesians 1: 3-14)

  • God always elect/predestined us in Christ. 
  • It is also important to understand that God did not decide first to save his people from their sin and then later to bring in Christ to execute the salvation. 
  •  Everything we receive: spiritual blessings, inheritance, and salvation it is only in Christ. 
  • Christ is the fulfilment of the whole bible. Rituals, covenants, recorded disciples, prophets, apostles mentioned in the Old Testament; Christ is the peak of the fulfilment, which is often implicitly expressed in the writings of the Old Testament.  

2 Corinthians 4:6 New International Version (NIV)

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

Regarding the bible verse from 2 Corinthians 4:6, there were 3 major cultures that collided in the 1st century. The first was the Jewish culture; the Jews persistently looked for light/enlightenment. The Greeks were famous for their philosophers and philosophies; therefore, they were concerned about knowledge, they looked for wisdom. The final culture would be the Roman’s and they were concerned about glory and honour. All three (light, knowledge and glory) are portrayed in Christ alone.

Semester Break Fellowship Gathering

Hello, everyone,

We have an event coming up next week! YAAY!

We will be having a fellowship gathering. Our fellowship gathering will involve watching a movie, playing trivia games, sharing our experiences and having dinner together with the purpose of much needed stress relief and to strengthen our bond as fellow Christians. Through this gathering we will have the opportunity to get to know each other and learn new things about each other. The movie will be relaxing yet eye opening. Our trivia games will be loads of fun and the winner will receive a prize! To add on to things we will be providing dinner and snacks for everyone so please do come if you are interested and register to the people responsible.

There will be a fee of $3 for REF members and $5 for non-REF members.

For more information, please contact Fernan (+61435005901) or Jordan (+61416437099)

We hope to see you there 🙂

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