Sunday, July 17, 2011


Life in a post modern world poses several challenges to Christians such as conflicting world views, pluralism, selfish political agendas, compromising churches, worldly Christians, unbiblical political leadership, a hedonistic and Harry Potter culture. In an interview on Christian world view Ravi Zacharias the world renowned Christian apologist was asked, about the uniqueness of Christianity. Ravi replied, “I am totally convinced that the Christian faith is the most coherent worldview around. Everyone: pantheist, atheist, skeptic, polytheist has to answer these questions: Where did I come from? What is life's meaning? How do I define right from wrong and what happens to me when I die? Those are the key points of our existence. I deal with cultural issues whether they may be in the Middle East, Far East, the Orient or the West. You raise questions in the context of their culture and then present Christian answers.”[1] In other words the answers to some of life’s most compelling questions can only be found in Christianity.

What made Ravi Zacharias an Indian-born, grown up steeped in Hinduism so convincing while many western theologians compromise? Is it his intellect or his firm belief in Christ? When we are faced with challenges for our faith how can we hold on to our Christian world view while fighting unbiblical and ungodly world views? Is this a new challenge for Christians of our time? No, the early Church in the first century too came under severe attack from heretics and skeptics. God is looking for an army of people who could stand up for Him and fight the enemy. How can we fight this battle for truth, yet remain compassionate towards people from other world views? In his letter to the Church in Colossae, the apostle Paul cleverly combats then existing heresies not by attacking them viciously but by highlighting the Supremacy of Christ and by laying down ground rules for wholesome Christian living. Let’s read Colossians 1:1-2.


I believe this short letter of Paul contains some valuable truths pertaining to our Christian living. A bit of background information will help us appreciate Colossians better. The very beginning of the letter suggests that it was written by none other than Paul. At the time of it’s writing in 62 AD Paul was a prisoner in Rome. Epaphras was one of the many that were converted through Paul’s preaching, who later took the gospel to Colossae. Furthermore, Epaphras had brought Paul a report of the church in Colossae which included many encouraging things, but also disturbing news of the false teaching that threatened to lead its members away from the truth of Christ which necessitated the writing of this letter. Like all Paul’s letters Colossians contain three Parts: An introduction, main content and final greetings. The first twelve verses are the introduction to this letter which in turn can again be divided into three Parts: Personal greetings, thanksgiving and prayer. Let’s look at a part of the introduction this morning.


Personal letters usually begins somewhat like: “Dear Martha, and ends with love or sincerely John” We write the date on the top right, sometimes we add P.S after the signature; we put it in the envelope, write the recipient’s and the senders address on the outside. That is pretty much the standard every where. Like wise, “The New Testament letters that were written by and/or attributed to Paul and the other Apostles usually follow the standard expectations of their day says, one New Testament scholar.”[2] Paul starts by saying “an apostle of Jesus Christ” shows that Paul was very Christ centered. The main theme of Colossians is Christ, the title “Christ” appears twenty six times. Paul greets the believers as saints (Holy) and faithful. Because of Christ’s substitutionary death and the work of the Holy Spirit they were not only declared but are continuing to be made holy and faithful in their lives as they were obedient to the truth.

It is interesting to observe that in all his thirteen letters Paul’s greetings contain two words, Grace (in Greek Chaires) and Peace (in Hebrew Shalom). What does this say about his readers? They were from both Jewish and Greek backgrounds. If Paul were to write a letter to our Church how would he address our congregation? Would he address us saying, “You bunch of idiots and hypocrites”? No! He would write, “I Paul, to the saints (holy ones) and faithful brethren in Christ who are at ECCOA, Grace and Peace from God our father. Are you surprised to know that you are a saint and you are faithful? When we look at ourselves we tend to have a poor and negative self image, but God sees us as holy and faithful not because of what we have done but because of what Christ has done and is continuing to do for us. What is being Holy?

When we hear the word holy we are frightened thinking that we can never reach that high standard. The word holy both in Hebrew and Greek means set apart, sanctified, or consecrated. Its fundamental idea is separation for the purpose and the service of God. In the OT the both the tabernacle and the temple were meticulously built. They were set aside for only one purpose that was for the presence of God to dwell. Nothing impure was used while constructing and nothing impure will enter into the place where God dwelt. The history of Israel tells us that due to their the glory of God (His presence) left the temple once, returned once, left again but never returned until Jesus surfaced on the earth many centuries latter.(Ezekiel 10)

When Jesus came to earth, it was like as if the presence of God came back to earth this time in human form. In John 1:14, “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The Greek for “made his dwelling” literally means tabernacled. This verse would have reminded John’s Jewish readers of the Tent of Meeting, which was filled with the Glory of God in the form of a cloud.(Ex 40:34-35). Jesus, made references himself being the temple of God.(John 2:19)

In the OT the presence of God dwelt in the tabernacle and temple, in the NT the presence of God dwelt in human form in Jesus, but where does God’s glory dwell now in the 21st century? Is it in this building or the house of the Lord as we call it? The answer is Yes and No. Yes in a way every time when we God’s people come together to worship Him we feel his presence filling this place, as promised in Matt 18:20, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst, (in that place), but just as a stone structure in itself, this place is no different from any other place. Then where does God’s presence really dwell or who becomes the carrier of God’s presence?

The best analogy that Paul gives in describing God’s people is a temple. I Cor 3:16, “Do you not know that you are a temple (lit Sanctuary) of God that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy and that is what you are.” When Paul addresses the believers either in Corinth, Colossae or us today, he addresses us as holy, meaning that just as the Tabernacle and the Temple were set apart for God’s presence to dwell, all the born again children of God too have been set apart where God’s presence can dwell and manifest through us. In other words our bodies become the temple of God; we are the walking temples of God. We can take God’s presence with us wherever we go.

What does this all practically mean for us today? If our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, then can we destroy our bodies, by doing so destroying the temple of God? What does it mean when God said, “if any man destroy the temple of God I will destroy him”?

It is an awesome privilege to be called “Holy” or set apart, but along with that comes incredible responsibility to keep this temple of God Holy and pure so that his presence can continue to dwell in us. In Cor 6:19, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you whom you have from God and that you are not own? For you have been bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body.” This scripture tells us a few things, firstly, let’s not forget that our body is God’s temple in which His Holy Spirit dwells. Secondly, our body is not our own we have been bought with a price which is the blood of Christ. In other words we are not the owners but stewards of our bodies. Thirdly, we are to bring pleasure to God or glorify him in our body, this is not a suggestion or a good idea but a command. In other words we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God.

What hinders us from glorifying God in our bodies? It is SIN. We may give all kinds of definitions of sin but in reality sin is nothing but disobeying God’s commandments. It is going against God’s will. How does sin enter our lives? It enters little by little; when we don’t deal with little sins in the end they have the potential to destroy our lives.

God wants to spare us from the effects of sin that is why he gave us boundaries not to cross but if we willingly cross them and sin then we hurt ourselves, just like when we put our hand in the fire it burns. On the other hand when we obey God’s commandments and learn to honor God in our bodies then we become God’s dwelling place and his presence will remain with us. The sins of our past is now behind us. We want nothing to do with that kind of a lifestyle anymore now that we are called holy. We now desire to know Christ, we will continue to press in to know Him as we study Paul’s letter to the Colossians. To know Him, is to love Him, to love Him is to obey Him! Amen

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Life is either a daring adventure or nothing said Helen Keller who was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Christian life too can be either a daring adventure or nothing; it all depends on what we make of it. As Christ’s followers who hasn’t gotten stressed out or frustrated over trying to figure out the will of God? We try to solve this mystery the way we solve a Sudoku or crossword puzzle. Mark Batterson notes, “But in my experience, intellectual analysis usually results in spiritual paralysis.” We try to make God fit within the confines of our cerebral cortex. We try to reduce the will of God to the logical limits of our left brain. But the will of God is neither logical nor linear. It is downright confusing and complicated.”[1]

If finding God’s will is downright confusing and complicated then how can any one ever know what God’s will is for their lives unless it is revealed to them? Who can reveal what God’s perfect will is for our lives? Let me introduce to you some one who knows, reveals and enables us to do our heavenly father’s will; He is the Holy Spirit. I liked the way Mark Batterson addresses the Holy Spirit as the “Wild Goose” which came from the Celtic Christians who called the Holy Spirit “An-Gedah-Glass” or the “Wild Goose”[2]

A wild goose chase is an American idiom which means, “A worthless hunt or chase; a futile pursuit.” But chasing The Wild Goose the Holy Spirit is never worthless or futile pursuit, in fact the opposite is true. The Celtic Christians knew how to call the Holy Spirit. In John 3:8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” The life of a Christian which is filled, controlled and led by the Holy Spirit is any thing but boring or static.

Just like the wind, the Holy Spirit takes us to places we have never been before, asks us to do things that we’ve never done before. It can be scary at times to chase the Holy Spirit but it is worth the chase. In our study together I would like to discuss the Promise and the work of the Holy Spirit and how we can receive Him. Let’s get started with the Promise of the Holy Spirit.


In life we often have to deal with broken promises. This becomes a major campaigning issue for the running presidential candidates. They promise about doing a better job than their predecessor. Well time only will tell whether they have kept their promise. But it is not like that with God, he has a perfect track record of making and keeping his promises. Josh 21:45, “Not one of all the LORD's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”

For no, matter how many promises God has made they are “Yes” in Christ, (2 Cor 1:20). One of such promises prophesied by the Prophet Joel around 900 B.C. We read in Joel 2:28-29, “And it will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. And even on the male and female servant I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Before His ascension to heaven Jesus told his disciples to wait for this promise to be fulfilled. Acts 1:4-5 “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." Has that been fulfilled or was it a vain promise? Of course not; it was fulfilled on the fiftieth day after Jesus went back to heaven. The Holy Spirit; the heavenly dove from heaven fell on God fearing Jews representing seventeen language groups in the world. The chase of the Holy Spirit began on that day. What is the work of the Holy Spirit?


Among many works of the Holy Spirit I would like to discuss four major ones: Firstly, to convict the world of sin secondly to teach the believer and thirdly to be the abiding counselor, fourthly to guide the believer. The Bible teaches that all have sinned and have fallen short of the Glory of God, (Rom. 3:23). It means without any exception all of us are born sinners. But how many of us realize that fact? David realized it, in Psalm 51:5 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” If you are born into a Christian family and attend church you know you are a sinner but how would our Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, and Muslim friends ever know that they are sinners and they need to be saved? Who convicts them of their sins? It is the Holy Spirit who convicts not only them but the whole world of its sin. How does this conviction play out in an individual sinner?

In the court of law we have: The public prosecutor, who presents charges. The accused: A person charged with a criminal offense. The defense Attorney: Who defends the accused. The petit jury at the trail: Hears the evidence in a trail after many deliberations convicts the accused by reaching a verdict. The Judge: Conducts the trail impartially. Hears the witnesses, assess the credibility of the arguments and issues a ruling (sentence). In the heavenly court similar procedure happens. We have Satan the accuser, who accuses the sinner. The sinner is the one who has committed a sin. Jesus defends the sinner before the father, the Holy Spirit convicts the sinner and God the righteous judge pronounces either the punishment or the pardon based on their choice. In the court of law, a person may be convicted and condemned with a sentence but he or she can remain unrepentant and show it like Saddam Hussein. The scripture tells us what in I John 1:8-9, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” This applies to all of us except to Jesus, so if we claim to have never sinned, we become liars.

When the Holy Spirit convicts us of a particular sin we have a choice to make, we can either choose to confess our sin, ask God for forgiveness and repent from sin or we can harden our hearts, ignore the Spirit’s conviction, remain unrepentant and continue to live in sin. Ironically many people even after being convicted by the Holy Spirit continue to live in sin. But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Each time a sinner repents there is jubilation in the heaven, because one more soul saved from eternal destruction.

The second purpose of the Holy Spirit is to teach the believer the whole truth of God’s counsel. In a time where wrong is considered right and the right is considered wrong don’t we need some one to tell us the real and the total truth? That’s precisely what the Holy Spirit was sent to do in the life of a believer. Jesus said, “But the counselor the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) When the Holy Spirit comes upon you He will not teach any thing new which was not already taught by Jesus. When I read the Bible the Holy Spirit high lights certain scriptures to inspire, convict, encourage, correct, challenge and build my faith.

Where do we see the work of the Holy Spirit in Scriptures? We see it all through the Bible. There is a whole book called the Book of Acts which can be rightly called, “The Acts of the Holy Spirit.” All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Tim 2:16) Don’t only listen to sermons of people and form your opinions, even if they come from your pastor but test the scriptures like the Bereans who received the message of Paul and Silas eagerly but examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.(Acts 17:10).

The third dynamic work of the Holy Spirit which Jesus made sure to talk about when He promised the Holy Spirit, is that the Spirit would be our indwelling Counselor. We read this in John 14:16-18 ‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” I would say; you have to let this sink in for impact!! The Spirit will live with you and be in you!! Do we live with this reality? The Spirit makes God an abiding reality in our day to day life. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our life empowers us to live life in a whole other dimension. When we know he is with us we can face any situation in our lives.

The fourth work of the Holy Spirit is to guide believers in thanksgiving as well as in prayer. We read in Ephesians 5:18-20, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, Hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only does the Holy Spirit teach us to pray, He also teaches us to render thanks. One of the signs of a Sprit filled life is thanksgiving. True thanks giving us to the father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit. Our prayer has been that the Lord would send his Holy Spirit upon our Church so that our worship service, preaching of the word, prayer and intercession and the fellowship after the service will be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

It is adventurous to chase the Holy Spirit but it is far more exciting and rewarding to be controlled and led by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:6 reads, “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.”

In Romans 8:14 we read, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” In closing let’s look at how we can receive this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.


Jesus used some of the most basic necessities for physical living to highlight the necessity for spiritual living. We read in Luke 11:11-13, “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you then though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” This scripture tells us a few things, firstly, it is logical for children to ask their parents for food; we can ask the Heavenly father for the Holy Spirit. Secondly, food is essential for our physical living so as the Holy Spirit for our Spiritual living. Finally God is more than willing to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. What stops us from asking God the father to fill us with the Holy Spirit and receive Him by faith? It is our Pride. Let’s humble ourselves and ask God to fill us with Holy Spirit. Amen.

[1] Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase, Page2

[2] Mark Batterson, “Wild Goose Chase” Page 1