INTRODUCTION TO THE 5 SOLAS OF THE REFORMATION (WEEK 1-SEMESTER 2 SUMMARY-2015)

This semester, we will dive in and discuss the topic: 5 Solas of the Reformation which are: Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be the Glory). Along with TULIP, these are crucial principles to the Reformed Theology. However, in this first meeting we didn’t dive right into the principles just yet. Instead, to start things off, Reverend Budy gave a lecture on the historical context of Reformed Theology. Why bother learning about something that happened such a long time ago? What does it have to do with us, Christians living in the modern world of the digital age? Well, it has to do with everything. Those who cannot remember the past are bound to repeat it. Let us be wise and carefully observe the past that God has set before us.

There are three main points guiding us in the first meeting, the first one being the fact that Reformed Theology is a Christian Theology. Reformed Theology is deeply rooted in early Christianity. It is a theology that you can trace through the Reformers, the Church Fathers, and eventually the Apostles themselves. Just like the early Christians, Reformed Theology accepts the Bible as the infallible, authoritative Word of God. Reformed Theology recognizes and associate with the creeds and councils of early Christianity, which are the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Council of Constantinople, and the Council of Chalcedon. Church-going Christians would be familiar with the Apostle’s Creed: a summary and a confession of what we as believers of Christ believe in. It is one of the oldest creeds that have been guiding the Church. According to Church traditions each of the Apostles contributed to the articles of the Creed, although it seems that the Creed emerged several decades after the end of the Apostolic era. That is beside the point though—what matters is its content and significance throughout Church history. The Nicene Creed (325 A.D.) was conceived through the Council of Nicea, to counter the false teachings of Arius. He taught that while Jesus was divine, he was not God and was instead God’s first creation. The council was the first major effort to gain consensus for what Christians believe in, and through it the conflict started by Arius was cleared, asserting that while Jesus is a ‘Son’, he is also God Himself. The Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.) followed years later, and was held mainly in response to the controversies regarding the divinity of the Holy Spirit. The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) is the last major Church council that Reformed Theology recognizes and accepts (the outcomes of later councils contradict the truth of the Scriptures). The main issue in dispute in the council was the two natures that existed in Christ. Through the council, it was affirmed that God was truly God and truly man—the two natures exist unchangeably, invisibly, and inseparably.

The second point is that Reformed Theology is a Protestant Theology. Reformed Theology is a theology rooted in the Protestant Reformation in 1517 when Martin Luther separated from the Roman Catholic Church. Up until then, the Bible’s authority within the Church has been compromised. Yes, it was recognized that the Scriptures were authoritative—but so were church traditions and decisions by the Pope, they claimed. Salvation is not gained only by grace alone, but also through hard works. Protestants, however, insisted that only the Bible has such an authority, and that salvation is through grace alone. Hence the 5 Solas: we know that we are saved because of the Bible, which shows us that we are saved by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, all for the glory of God alone.

The final point is that Reformed Theology is a Reformed Theology. The Protestant Reformation was one started by Martin Luther (although there were pre-Reformation figures like John Wycliffe and John Huss who proclaimed Scriptural authority), but John Calvin is arguably the most important figure to have taken part in it. Some people say that Luther was there to bring down the false doctrines and teachings that have been clouding the Church up until then, and Calvin was there to build the Church back up with solidified doctrines and strong commitment to the Scriptures. It was from these two men that two Church denominations originate: Lutheran and Reformed. As it can be seen rather blatantly, this is where Reformed Theology came to be. Although that does not mean that Reformed Theology should be treated as ‘Calvin’s teachings of Christianity’ though. When the term ‘Reformed’ is used here, it means ‘reformed according to the Word of God’. So no matter what, Reformed Theology is a theology that, in principle, keeps reforming itself according to the truth of the Bible—Calvin just merely affirmed this reality.

That about wraps it up. We hope that through this trip throughout Church history you may come to know more about the faith we hold dear to and are set to learn more about the 5 Solas in the following weeks!

May God bless, and to Him be the Glory!

-Jordan Franz

Registration H-1

Slide1

TODAY! The last day for registration : The Scandal of Melbournia! We will close the registration in 1 hour (3.00-4.00pm) .

For those of you that had registered earlier, groups had been divided and in the span of 1 hour (from 3.00-4.00 pm), the coordinators (Yuliana Widjaja, Yi Jin, Yi Ni and Della Averill) will contact you! If you didn’t receive any notice, contact Nadia Tan (0450881194)

Hope to see you soon!

REF committee

Week 12 Shout-Out!

REFnewLOGOHello Everyone!

This is it! The last week of Semester 1! Assignments, exams, and chilly weather must have made everybody tired and restless.

In this week, we will wrap up our Weekly Meeting : The Paradoxes of Christian Life and Bible Study : The Foundations of Reformed Theology. This is our last chance to ponder together this exciting topic! Let us put aside our heavy heart, and come to enjoy to His wonderful Words!

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Colossians 3:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

REF Committee

THE BEATITUDES (WEEK 10 SUMMARY-2015)

The beatitudes are the first part of the Sermon on the Mount and are another feature in the bible that signify the paradoxes of Christianity. Today, we would only be discussing two out of the nine beatitudes.

Blessed means truly happy. It is of course not wrong to desire happiness, but how do we obtain it?

Matthew 5:1-4

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. In order to understand what poor in spirit means, let us look at Luke 18:10-14:

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.

 

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

 

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalted themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The tax collector is an example of someone who is poor in spirit. He realized his own condition before God–powerless, lacking, hungry and thirsty (not in the material sense). Realizing that we are worthless, powerless, and incapable of doing anything apart from God humbles us and makes us become more and more dependent on God. Humbling ourselves before the Lord allows us to see how desperately we need His grace. Therefore, when we receive His grace, all the more when we are weak and powerless, we feel blessed.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. What does it mean to mourn in this context?

Mourning is a process that follows after being poor in spirit. Due to realizing our condition before God—the sinners that we are, we mourn for our sins and the sins of others. The only way a person can truly repent and turn away from sins and turn towards God is by realizing his true sinfulness. Because knowing that he is forgiven by God and is given eternal salvation even though he is a sinner gives him full joy.

-Della Averill

Strong AND Weak ( WEEK 8 SUMMARY-2015)

Today, the discussion concerned another aspect of the Paradoxes of Christianity – Strong & Weak. It was based on 2 Corinthians 11:16 – 12:10.

In order to understand the meaning and grasp Paul’s message behind these verses, we first need to know the context behind it. What was currently going on between Paul and the church in Corinth was that he was facing against false apostles, of which he called the super apostles. These super apostles claimed that Paul was not a legitimate apostle. However, as we could see from 11:21-28, Paul argued that he could boast whatever those super apostles boasted about, even more actually.

On top of that, Paul mentioned something else in 12:2-4 :

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know – God knows. And I know that this man – whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knowswas caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

Many commentaries argued that this man was Paul himself, because further down chapter 12 in verses 6-7, Paul said that :

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.

No one else could possibly boast about such great things. Therefore, in order to keep Paul from being conceited, he was “given a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment him” (verse 7). Paul was a very strong man who had encountered and endured the toughest of hardships and obstacles, and yet even this thorn caused him to “plead with theLord to take this thorn away from him” (verse 8). However, the Lord’s reply was :

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

What does this mean? To answer this question, we can bring this back to the cross, which is actually the point of the highest weakness. However, the cross becomes the greatest place to showcase God’s grace and power, because that is where God overcame the greatest power on earth – death.

This is the reason why Paul “will boast all the more gladly about his weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on him” (verse 9).

This does not imply that we should pretend to be weak and not put effort into anything because we expect the Lord to do everything on our behalf. We should still try our best in everything, but at the core, we should surrender everything to Him because we should not be relying on ourselves. It is only by His grace that we are able to do or achieve anything good in God’s eyes.

How can we apply this in our daily lives? I am pretty sure that all of us have ever experienced a moment of extreme weakness where we feel completely incapable of doing something. However, in actual fact, you are actually strongest at that moment because at that moment, you rely on God instead of yourself. Being in situations like that allows you to truly experience God’s overflowing power and grace. Thus, just like Paul, when you are at this weakest point, you can declare that:

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Praying that this post might serve as a reminder for the all of you, of how His grace is sufficient for us and how His power is made perfect in our weaknesses, amidst our stress in facing this busy week and the weeks ahead that are jam-packed with MSTs and assignments. God bless you all!

Della Averill

Foolishness and Wisdom (Week 6 Summary)

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

Cross, to the world, is considered as a foolish thing. By accepting that, it can let us understand that what the price to follow Christ is. “But to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18b)

1 Corinthians 15:16-19, 30-32

The “eat” and “drink” here do not mean drunk and gluttonous. Christian life is not just against getting drunk and gluttonous, a life that is normal, comfortable, and simple, ordinary life without being troubled by the thoughts of heaven and earth. But that is when Paul said “IF the dead are not raised” (1 Cor 15:16). This is confirmed in verse 19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied”, if the dead are not raised. This is the life that we choose to live, a “foolish” life which others in general will see it as a “weird life”.

So why even if the raise of dead is not true, when we can still live a simple ordinary life, or even if it is not true, for the mere reason of “believing” and “following” Christ, there are already loads of “benefits” that we can get. If all these are just delusions, even when it is a delusion, it is not important in the sense that whether the fact that Christ did rise or not, we already “gained”, through for example, studying hard, be responsible, respect others and so on. So why did Paul say “we are of all people most to be pitied.”? (1 Cor 15:19)

The life of Christian is considered foolish because it is a life of suffering and to carry the cross. That is why Paul said “we are of all people most to be pitied.”

Romans 5:3-5

Our hope comes after sufferings, “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” (Rom 5: 3b-4). This is foolish from the point of view of the world, as ultimately we “die”.

Whoever wants to live a godly life, will be persecuted. When we are persecuted, we need to be reminded that Christ is actually the one that is being persecuted or hated, not us. Our joy is in the middle of sufferings, “we rejoice in our sufferings” (Rom 5:3a), we live a foolish life denying ourselves, which leads to the ultimate wisdom from God.

Are we living a simple, happy and comfortable life without any “sufferings”? Do we care for others when they have any burdens? Do we pray for them, or even help our brothers and sisters to carry or share their burdens? When we help to carry their burdens together, we “suffer”. But we find real joy in sufferings, with the strength from God, we sacrifice. But all these are foolish, from the worldly view, but for us, we do not see it as foolish because we understand, they are the wisest and best things for us that we can hope for.

We will not do anything if what we hope for is already in this world, because they are already in this world; but if our hope is the glory given by God later, we will suffer (that is when we choose to obey, to follow Christ, denying ourselves, carry the cross, persecuted).

– Lim Yi Ni

Week 4 QUESTIONS and ANSWERS!

Q1: (Justice and Mercy – last topic) Why didn’t God choose to save all people?

A: 1. If God saves everyone, the mercy is too heavily one sided, and justice is ignored. 2.There is also responsibility on us. Our free will. There is a difference between general calling and specific calling. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,…” (Matthew 11:28). Jesus did call for anyone, to come to Him. He also asked us to spread the gospel, “…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). So men also are responsible for what we choose. We are sinners, and so we do not care or we can even say that we could not, respond to God. In Romans 8, it says God is the initiator. He planned and predestined, and we HAVE to RESPOND as well. Thus, conversion to Christ can be understood by, repent and faith, both were initiated by God, but, we also have to respond to it by truly repent to God and truly believe in Him. So the covenant of God is unilateral, yet bilateral. Unilateral in the sense of the origin (He is the source), bilateral in the application when it is applied. Therefore the sanctification is 100% God’s work AND 100% men’s work. We work out the salvation what God has worked in. 3.Because God did not have to choose to save everyone. He has the power to choose anyone. Somebody might ask how is this just? To save some and at the same time leaving some? The answer is if we ask for just, everyone will be condemned, so that is already out of the question. It is mercy that we are talking here. 4.It is to show God’s justice.

Q2: In John 3:16, the “world” that God mentioned, does it include everyone or only the chosen ones? So if only the chosen ones, then does it mean that He hates the others?

A: There are 2 types of love in the bible. He loved us beforehand. He foreknew us, but not only the cognitive knowledge, but also He loved us before everything. Can you say Jesus did not love Judah? No, He called for him, He gave him chance, power, and He showed him miracles. So the first love is the general mercy (sunshine, rain, everything that He created, all of us are able to enjoy), and the second love is specific mercy, which is His mercy towards His people.

Q3: Isn’t it not so good when we talk about the wrath of God to the new members? They will be afraid and go away.

A: Holy anger makes us understand more and make us more sincere to feel sorry and repent truly. Just like: have you ever experienced someone that really got very angry and furious at you, but you know it is because you really did something very wrong and that person truly care for you and really want you to change? Will the anger of that person make you feel more deeply sorry and repent, or if that person just show mercy on you and says it is okay?

Wrath and Love ( Week 4 Summary- 2015)

They are in some ways similar to “Justice and Mercy” that we had discussed last time, but “Justice and Mercy” is more of forensic and low, whereas “Wrath and Love” is more to personal relationship.

Referring to Romans 1:18-32, many churches nowadays choose to ignore or avoid discussing about the wrath of God, the justice and holiness of Him, and only talk about His love, His mercy and kindness. But from Romans 1:18-32, it is stated clearly in the bible that “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven…”. It is one of His attributes that we cannot ignore, just like how He is love.

Romans 3:25a introduces the term “sacrifice of atonement”. What does that mean?  What does it mean here in the Bible that Jesus is the “sacrifice of atonement”? The sacrifice of atonement literally means the sprinkle of the lamb’s blood on the seat by the high priest in the tabernacle once a year on the Day of Atonement for the mourning, repentance and ask for cleansing of their sin. To know what does “Jesus as the sacrifice of atonement” mean, there are 2 aspects that we will need to know:

  1. His blood that has been shed for us, to cover the sin of God’s people (the mercy seat). This is the manifestation of His love towards His people.
  2. The wrath of God is shown to us the sinners, but “…through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past through the forbearance of God…” (Romans 3:25). Though the lamb’s (Jesus Christ) blood, it’s averted/appeased.

God’s love to the Son is indefinite and the Son’s love to the Father is also indefinite. This can be seen in the bible that when Jesus is baptised, “a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased’”. The Son had always been calling the Father “my Father”, but the only time when Jesus did not call Him “Father”, was when Jesus was on the cross. “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The love of God (John 3:16) and the love of Christ are both shown powerfully on the cross.

Lim Yi Ni

Question and Answers

Hi everyone!

Difficult, confusing questions continuously arise in the weekly discussions. Yet the week after, we often find ourselves forgetting them. To try to avoid this, our newsletter and publication team is going to take note of these questions and post them on reformedevangelicalfellowship@wordpress.com. It will be answered in the following week, the weekly meeting.

Also, if anyone has any questions they’d like to ask Pak Budy (i.e. ethical questions and how Bible responds to it), please feel free to post them in the comment section below, or e-mail us at reformed.evangelical.club@gmail.com.

Questions that are not answered in the weekly meeting will be written in the newsletter. Be sure to check it out!

Proverbs 16:16 (NIV)

How much better to get wisdom than gold,
    to get insight rather than silver!