O Church Arise
By Pastor Alby Yip
We are commencing a new sermon series on the Book of Ephesians that will lead to mid-November when we enter into the Advent Season. I am amazed by how God ordained the seasons and timings of all things. The preaching team did not exactly plan for the study of Ephesians to lead into the season of Advent as we were also exploring other books. As it is, the Book of Ephesians is about Christ and His Church.
How nice it is that we rediscover the glory of the Church so that we may proclaim the glory of Christ in the Advent Season. Perhaps a fitting anthem to this series would be that beautiful hymn, O Church Arise. The first stanza of the hymn is adapted from the great chapter on the full armour of God in Ephesians 6. It is a reminder that the foremost battle for the Christian and the Church is spiritual.
The most sinister battle the devil wages against the Church and Christians is through the sowing of lies. Lies that seek to divide Christians and Christians, Church and Church, and Christians and Church. The unifying call is to hear only the call of Christ our Captain. One Leader, One Voice, One Mission. The second stanza explains the mission. It is the call to love the captive soul and to rage against the captor, the devil.
Waging war against the captor is not some militant spiritual manoeuvres or rituals. It is to fight with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. It is to proclaim Christ in the hearts of man. Yes, there will be trials, but, the outcome is secure. I love the last sentence, “And Christ will have the prize for which He died; an inheritance of nations.” Hearkening to the Lord’s ultimate cry of triumph, “It is finished!”
Fittingly, the third stanza recounts the Gospel that fulfilled all these: the Cross, where love and mercy meet, where love overcame the sins of man; the death, the resurrection and the glorious day of Christ’s return where every eye and heart shall see Him.
The final stanza assures that His Spirit is our present help. What remains is for the Christian and the Church to continue to run the race, to serve with faith, not to tell a new story, but to retell the old story of the triumph of His grace.
And together with the saints of old, we hunger for the day when with Christ we stand in glory. “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
Come, Zion Bishan, let’s continue to be Christ’s City on a Hill and His Light to the Nations!