There is a definition to the proverbial word ‘odyssey’. Most of us would be familiar with the great Homerian epic, ‘The Odyssey’, from which the word is derived. Notwithstanding the complexity of its plot, what stands out mainly about the odyssey is the experience of a long and eventful or adventurous journey.
Taking the illustration of an odyssey, Pastor Peter shared his personal journey from before, up to the time of his calling to start his new church. “For 35 years I was part of a denominational church which was both evangelical and charismatic. Then I was exposed to what grace really meant and everything fell in place for me. I realized we were majoring on the minors and missed out the centrality of Christ and His finished work. It was in 29th August 2009 that I was given the prophetic word to leave my previous church and form tNCC. Our first service was on 1st Nov 2009.”
Two basic principles describe tNCC’s “Odyssey in Grace”:
a) Strengthen by Grace (Hebrews 13:9)
b) Grow in Grace (2 Peter 3:18)
Pastor Peter stressed that we need these two principles working together. Otherwise it will be like rowing a boat with one oar, going around in circles.
Strengthened by Grace
When Jesus made His immense sacrifice on Calvary about 2000 years ago, He established a New Covenant with us; a covenant of Grace, and the incredible thing about this journey with God is that once you understand it, you see His Grace multiplied every day.
Under the Old Covenant, Forgiveness is temporal, our righteousness is derived from our self-works, and we are dead in our sins. The New Covenant trusts completely in God’s complete work on the cross, everything is about God’s righteousness, and we find a new life in Christ.
Taking an example, under the Old Covenant, forgiveness comes through the shedding of an animal’s blood, it was for a season, and it was a process that had to be undertaken at the start of each new season. When Jesus shed His blood on the cross, He dealt that day with all of our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice established a complete relationship between us and God.
‘Instead of focusing on whether ‘Once Saved, Always Saved?’ let us focus on our relationship with God, and let us remember that ‘Once a Son, Always a Son’,’ Pastor Peter encouraged.
In Matthew 5:28, there is a call to be perfect. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, and further in Galatians 2:20 and Hebrews 10:10, we are reminded again and again that this sanctification comes through the righteousness that is derived from Christ.
Thanksgiving Presentation : ‘How Great Thou Art’.
The New Covenant is all about new life for us. It is new life with Christ in usand also we in Christ.
Growing in Grace
How do the Church grow? Pastor Peter shared that the Church need to grow together. A small sampan can only go so far, but a Viking longship can travel the ocean. However, this is only possible if all the rowers in that longship are rowing in unison and without conflict.
The growth in grace is made possible through community. There are no lone rangers in the Church. When you treat others with grace, you are passing on God’s grace that is within you unto others.
Part of the tNCC congregation today.
Being in community means Experiencing God’s grace ourselves and through others, Extending God’s grace unto others, and Exercising our giftings that all may grow in grace. ‘We cannot grow in righteousness nor grow in our sonship. We can perhaps grow in consciousness of our righteousness in Christ and the privileges of our sonship. But we can all grow in grace.’
We grow in grace when we are in community with “one another”. Paul has 5 things to say about “one another in the book of Ephesians.
Ephesians 4:1-3 advise us to bear with one another in love andEphesians 4:25 instructs us to put away lying, instead being members of one another. This speaks about honest relationships, living the truth of the victory that Jesus has won for us and showing the fruits of the Spirit.
Pastor Peter also shared that because of Christ’s forgiveness on us, we can also have the strength to forgive others in the same way He did (Ephesians 4:32). True forgiveness in the Christian sense mean giving up the right to hurt others for the way they hurt us. ‘We can and will forgive others because God in Christ first forgave us,’ he imparted.
Lastly, Ephesians 5:19 also gives us the injunction to sing to one another (proclaiming the truth about Jesus) and Ephesians 5:20 gives us the important reminder of submitting to one another. ‘We need to have a proper perspective; my way or the high way?’ Pastor Peter shared. ‘We submit to one another because Christ first laid down His life for us.’
A brother giving thanks to God in his testimony, a regular practise at tNCC.
Moving ahead to the future, he implored the congregation to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith”. That way we would not be distracted but always major on Jesus.
Through numerous testimonies and my personal visits to tNCC, it is clear that there is a genuine excitement in the members of this church about their relationship with God and Christ. The community is strong, and there is a great heart and love for people regardless of their social background and disadvantages in life.