OOPS Series Part 4 - ... But Don't Be a Disgrace to Grace (Pastor Tan Seow How)

Today was a special day... Service was shifted around because we made room for the church to be able to watch the live telecast of the State Funeral of Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.... 

But I will save that for another post, for now... here are the notes from the sermon. 


Last week, we spoke about the grace of God... 
There is grace for the disgraced. This is best illustrated in

John 8:2-11
"... Go and sin no more."

Jesus did not stop at "Go"
While "Go" is empowering and liberating, Jesus continued on to say "...sin no more"
That brings a good balance. 


Sometimes the grace of God can be misused and abused.
"No matter what I do, Jesus will forgive you" is technically true. BUT if our heart and attitude is that "there is a loophole that we can take advantage of to keep on sinning", then that is an abuse of grace.

Romans 6:1-2 (NLT)
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?

Grace is not a license to sin.
In fact, Paul was careful to describe that though grace has its benefits we ahould be careful not to abuse it.

Titus 2:11-12
... Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly..
"Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is not just pardon. Grace is power."
- John Piper
Grace is not the lowering of standards or higher tolerance of sin.
When Jesus came, He didn't lower the bar; in fact, He raised the bar and standard of holiness. 
Take adultery for example. In the OT, you had to actually do it, but according to Jesus, you just need to look at a woman lustfully and you have already committed adultery. 

We may not be perfect but can try our best to bring glory to God.
We can be more loving, forgiving, responsible at home.
We can be more hardworking, excellent, responsible at work. .

John 8:6-9
Jesus wrote on the ground with His finger twice...

What did Jesus write?
While we can only speculate because the Bible doesn't say exactly... 
One observation is that Jesus wrote with His finger... 
Jesus' finger is the finger of God... 

When was the last time the finger of God wrote something for men?
What was it that the finger of God wrote?

Exodus 31:18 (NKJV)
And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God

God gave Moses the 10 Commandments. The Law. 

When the Pharisees saw the other commandments and knew they were just as guilty, they were convicted by their conscience and left.

While Jesus was demonstrating love, Jesus did not diminish the law.
Grace and law go together. 
Jesus said, "I did not come to diminish the law but to fulfil the law."

To throw away the 10 commandments just doesn't make sense.


A family has rules. (eg. don't steal from each other, don't scold your parents, etc.)
A church has rules. (eg. cannot sleep around with each other's wives, etc)
A society has rules - law.

Law is necessary to prevent chaos.
Rules are meant to protect
Without rules families become dysfunctional and society will disintegrate into anarchy.

Conditions are emotional blackmail, strings attached, terms. 
Conditions say "If you are good, then I will love you."

God's love is unconditional.
We are accepted before we achieved.
We are approved before we accomplished.
There are rules in the house of God but no conditions.

Grace doesn't mean there are no rules, 
but rules do not mean that God's love is conditional.

When we break rules, we will face the earthly consequences of our foolish decisions and actions. But God's love doesn't change. The problem is that when we are faced with the consequences of our sins, we think that God loves us less. 

For example, if a Christian man has an affair and his wife and children are upset with him. If this man prays and asks God to make the situation normal again, but it doesn't happen - the problem is people think that means God is punishing him for his sin. Don't connect the two. 
Don't mistake the consequences of yor sin as the punishment for your sins.

This post is dedicated to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew... #GetWellSoonLKY

One part of service that really touched me was when we prayed for founding father Lee Kuan Yew.... I really do hope that he will get better and be able to be with us for SG50... It would be so sad, so different, to celebrate our nation's 50th without him... 

< Update > 

I write this after Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has passed on... The whole church has just been writing their memories of him and you can just see Instagram flooded with their thoughts on how LKY shaped and changed our nation and many generations... As a nation, our hearts are heavy at your passing but we remember the legacy and we know that you stand among the great men who walked the earth and changed society for the better. #thankyouLKY #rememberingLKY #HOGCremembersLKY

OOPS Series Part 3 (Pastor Tan Seow How) - Grace for the Disgraced

So, I was really excited for this week because of the topic - "Grace for the Disgraced" and the question to think about was... "What would Jesus say to Lance Armstrong?" "How would Jesus treat him?" - thought provoking right? 

So, here's the summary. 


If we have the right image of Christ, then we will live right as Christians.
How would Jesus treat Lance Armstrong? (probably the most disgraced athlete of all time)
We can get a clue from a person in the Bible who was disgraced... 

John 8:2-11 (NLT)
but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

How would Jesus treat the disgraced?
Jesus would extend grace to the disgraced.

Religion vs. Christ

Religion catches sin.
Religion likes to expose and shame publicly. 
Religion likes to reject people.
Religion likes to accuse.
Religion likes to judge.
Religion likes to condemn.


Christ forgives sin.
Christ covers and gives dignity.
Christ accepts
Christ defends 
Christ acquits
Christ releases

How Christians live should inspire others, not make them feel guilty.

Romans 8:1 (NLT)
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

Religion says look at YOUR SIN
God says look at MY SON

Did you know that....
The Top 12 Greatest Fears
1. Public Speaking
2. Heights
3. Bugs, Snakes and Other Animals
4. Drowning
5. Blood and Needles
6. Claustrophobia
7. Flying
8. Strangers
9. Zombies
10. Darkness
11. Clowns
12. Ghosts

It's curious that people fear Public Speaking more than they fear zombies, ghosts, bugs and blood... This is because our greatest fear is to be judged... that is why we only sing in the shower and dance in the bedroom. We don't dare to sing and dance on stage because we fear being judged. 

Christ is not judgmental. 
The beauty of not caring if you are judged is that you are free to express your gifts and talents.. you will be free to be a leader, to share your story and tell other people about Jesus. 

Jesus told the woman, "GO"
Go is such an empowering word.
It says you are free, released, empowered. 

But more than "GO" Jesus said... "go AND SIN NO MORE"
(Next week's topic will be "Don't Be a Disgrace to Grace"... stay tuned for my next record of sermon notes! :)

OOPS Series Part 2 (Pastor Tan Seow How)

We're on to Part 2 of the new series!
This one really caused me to re-evaluate how I live my Christian life. 
I hope my notes do it justice so you can understand the concepts.


Do you find Christians judgmental? Have you been judged by Christians before?
Why are Christians so judgmental? This is very different from what we read in the Bible.
We don't want to be judgmental Christians — we want to represent Christ accurately. 
So, we need to understand... what did we Christians get wrong about Christ? 

We got it wrong about Christ because Christians have a Cause and Effect Mentality.
We apply the Bible with a Cause and Effect mentality.
We have turned the principles of God into formulas. We like formulas because we can understand them. 

John 9:1-3 (MSG)
"Who sinned his man or his parents causing this man to be blind?"

In vs 3 Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.

Jesus is saying we got it wrong because the disciples didn't react with compassion. 
Instead of having pity on the man who was blind from birth, they asked “who sinned?” — they were looking for someone to blame.
And Jesus said they were looking for the wrong thing. 

The disciples made the same mistake as so many of us make today. 
Instead of looking at the sinner, we should be looking for the God of Redemption. 
Instead of finding fault we should be finding love.

How do Christians translate God's principles into formulas?


(1) Sowing and Reaping

The formula in our minds: 

We think - if you sow, you will reap.
BUT we are so smart we try to make it work BACKWARDS. 
So, Christians will see a person who is NOT prospering and they conclude the person is not sowing. 
This is absolutely wrong!!
The principles of God work forward not backward.

(2) James 5:16

We convert the verse into a formula:

All this is good. We should confess our sins. We should pray fervently. We should be righteous. 
BUT It goes wrong when we work backwards...
When we see a Christian friend not healed or someone whose prayers not answered, we think the person didn't do one of the things listed...

Instead of having compassion or sympathy and stand with the person who is sick or going through tough times, we say things like "You need to have more faith" "You should pray more."

This is ridiculous!
It is as ridiculous as — if you have a fat uncle who died of a heart attack.
Then when you see a fat person you say "you will die of a heart attack."
Even worse is when we hear of someone who died of a heart attack we assume the person is fat or is unhealthy. 
That is wrong! There are people who die of heart attacks who are perfectly healthy!!

We begin to make assumptions of the Bible and work backwards!
Don’t assume!

Just because people are broke and bankrupt we cannot assume that the person is not tithing.
Just because someone is divorced we cannot assume that the person is a bad husband.
Just because a Christian couple's kids don't attend church we cannot assume that there was bad parenting.
We cannot work backwards.

Take for example... 
If someone is sick, the last thing people need when they are suffering is to hear “You need more faith” or "maybe you are out of God's will" or “God is humbling you" or "maybe God is teaching you something" 
God is our Father. No Father teaches through sickness. Christ is compassionate and caring. 

If someone got into an accident and was knocked down and is injured... you don't ask if he crossed during the green man -- the cause doesn't matter.. We should just help. That is the heart of Christ.

When you see a young lady who is pregnant out of wedlock, it doesn't matter what happened, whose fault it was -- just help. What matters is now. God is a God of Redemption.

John 9:3
... neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in Him.

When there is a problem, don’t look for the sinner.
Look for the God of miracles who can turn the situation around. 

Some formulas to delete...

If you walk in the perfect center of God's will you will be blessed
-- we think if a person is blessed then he is in the will of God... Prosperity and blessing doesn't mean the person is in God's will... Poverty doesn't mean the person is out of God's will
-- when we see someone not blessed Christians assume the person is not in the center of God’s will or that the person was not obedient. 
We want to build a church to represent Christ as accurately as possible. 

When a Christian backslides, Christians think that the person's life will become miserable and he will one day come crawling back to church
-- When a person leaves church, God, like the prodigal son's father, is waiting for the person to come back
-- The heart of God is love and mercy not judgment and anger
-- It's not about right or wrong or “I told you so"
— While we were still sinners Christ loved us.

*** CLAUSE: It doesn’t mean that when people make foolish decisions there will not be consequences. We will not have heavenly penalties but there will always be earthly consequences. Our heart should be embracing and accepting. This is the heart of God. 

Romans 2:4
... The goodness of God leads you to repentance

Matthew 5:45
... God makes the sun shine on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Rain = blessing

We ask: How can God bless the unjust and the evil? Where is the justice?
Shouldn’t evil people be punished? How can you continue to allow Your love and mercy to be on these people? 
Shouldn’t Your justice be swift and sure? 
But in reality, there are times when bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.

There will be judgment but not now. 
The justice is in heaven. But for now He is showing His love and mercy. 

But Christians want the judgment now. 
We think this is unfair, because we want God's justice to happen now. But remember when we were bad... If God's justice was swift and sure we would have no time to be where we are now... That time will end but for now it is His love, mercy and goodness. As much as we had time, God is giving other people the time. 

John 3:17
God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world but that through Him the world might be saved.

If you think Cause and Effect...

(1) You will not be able to reconcile God and reality / life with the Bible. If you want to mature, you need to understand that it is not about Cause and Effect. Otherwise, you will think the Bible is just a moral code of ethics or that God is not just.

When you are confronted with reality, you need to accept the Sovereignty of God. He can bless the unjust. He can do what He wants. He is God. 

Matthew 5:45 "He makes HIS sun rise..." 
He is stamping His authority that the sun belongs to Him. 
Can you accept the sovereignty of God? 

(2) You will not understand the grace of God.

Some people decide to become judge and play god... They begin to "help God" to mete out justice or bless other people.. If you do that, your heart becomes harder and we become a cold, clinical Christian and we become more judgmental... Those Christians will want more of the God of justice instead of the God of love.

We need to leave the judgment, the timing and sentencing to Him.

(3) God refuses to be confined into a formula.

When we try to fit God into our formula and our box and He doesn't, we say that we won't believe in Him.
If we do that then God is not God. 
If you can fit God into the box then He is not God - we are god and He becomes a genie in a bottle.

God's style is the moment you box Him in, He will get out. God will not exist in our formulas.
When they boxed Him into an ark, He got out. 
When they put Him in the temple, He tore the veil, He got out.
When they put Him in a tomb, 3 days later He rose and He got out. 

(4) If we are not careful, we will become like the Prodigal Son's brother. 

In the older son's mind, he was the good son who deserved the party and the fattened calf. He was self-righteous. 
He couldn't understand the heart of God which is I love you who stayed at home but I also love the prodigal one... 
He saw life through “I deserve it; he doesn’t deserve it."

We are not the judge.
We are the witnesses of God's love, mercy, grace and power.

If we are like that, our hearts will be hardened. We will become cold and clinical.
The Bible said we ought to guard our heart because out of it flows the issues of life...
The most precious is our heart - we must continue to have a soft heart…
Every year we grow older we should be more like Christ, without a bitter or cynical heart BUT more loving, compassion and merciful.

It is not Cause and Effect but Christ and Effect.
When Christ is in our heart the effect should be that we are more loving, gracious, compassionate, caring, merciful, faith-filled...

James 2:13
For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. MERCY TRIUMPHS OVER JUDGMENT.

There is a higher law… 
Mercy triumphs over even right judgment.