"We are the church of the Living God: This distinguishes a church from every other human gathering," reminds Pastor Daniel Foo. Photo by Eastman Childs on Unsplash.

If we see our church not as a building or a group of people, but as the household of God and its members as our spiritual family, how would we live our lives and relate to one another differently?

This is a question that Senior Pastor Daniel Foo of Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church (BBTC) posed in his sermon on “The Glorious Church”, based on Ephesians 5:26-27.

“The church is not just a social gathering,” he emphasised. “It is a gathering of the people of God – sons and daughters of the Most-High. The church is the house of the living God, and pillar and ground of the truth.”

Ps Daniel shared four “R’s” that define the members of the body of Christ:

1. Relationships: We belong to the family of God 

It’s sad today because we live in a consumer world, where people treat their local church like a consumer. 

Some people say, “I don’t like this church” or “That guy offended me, so I’ll go to another church down the road”. This is not biblical thinking. 

A family is a place of refuge, encouragement, discipline. This is why the church must be a web of loving relationships. 

The church is a household of God. Family dynamics and how to relate to one another is a divine mandate, not based on our own whims and fancies.

A family is a place of refuge, encouragement, discipline. This is why the church must be a web of loving relationships. 

The Bible says that love covers over a multitude of sins, a multitude of witnesses, a multitude of foibles, a multitude of people who face challenges in life  – pandemic parenting, the broken-hearted, the vocationally dissatisfied.

Diversity is important. A healthy church will attract certain unhealthy people as well as odd people, socially awkward people. But we belong to each other and we adjust along the way. There’s no such thing as a homeless Christian.

We fill in the gaps where needs are, and there is no condemnation if you step down from a ministry. We help one another, the strong coming alongside the weak, the weak receiving help from the strong.

As members of the church, we must learn to be in community. Wherever you are, enter into cell groups, mentoring groups, a band of brothers, a band of sisters – that’s how we grow.

We need to do all we can to pray for one another and minister to one another. Be it after the altar call, in your small groups or cell group. When you know each other better, you can journey with each other and confide in each other. And it’s very important that faith must always be exercised with love.

This is the Christian community.

2. Reality: We are the Church of the Living God

God is ­– present tense – at work. Jesus is our Saviour. The Father God dwells with us and we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the Church of the Living God: This distinguishes a church from every other human gathering.

We gather in the presence of God.

Where can you find God? Where can a non-Christian find God?

You must be able to find God in a gathering of the people of God, be it in a cell group meeting, worship service or youth church, because we carry the presence of God (2 Corinthians 6:16). God wants to dwell in the midst of His people. He wants to do great acts. He wants to save, He wants to heal, He wants to deliver.

You must be able to find God in a gathering of the people of God … because we carry the presence of God (2 Corinthians 6:16).

For those watching sermons online, if you are able, always gather together with fellow brothers and sisters as members of your church. There’s no such thing as a lone ranger Christian.

Jesus said so Himself in Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” 

1 Corinthians 12:7-10 tells us very clearly of the evidences of the presence of God. What are the “evidences”?

It is the manifestation of the Spirit of God that is present when the people of God gather. In 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, nine are listed: A word of wisdom; a word of knowledge; faith; the working of healings and working of miracles; prophecy; discerning between spirits; and the speaking and interpretation of tongues. These are evidences of the presence of God.

Let me show you an example.

There was a pre-believer, an undergraduate in one of the universities in Singapore, who tuned into our online service out of curiosity.

One of our prayer ministers released a prophetic word to her when she called in. She prayed for the person and then shared the Gospel with her before leading her in the Sinner’s prayer to receive Jesus as her Lord and Saviour.

There are many, many more testimonies like this that reflect the reality of the presence of God.

3. Relevant: We represent the Truth 

The Truth has to be real and relevant for our lives. It has to be relevant for living, for godliness, for studies, for relationships, for work, for wisdom, in all our coming in and going out. As believers, we represent the Truth ­– it stands in contrast to error, falsehood and even mistakes.

Where is the Truth ultimately?

To keep growing in the Lord, go back to the living Word of God.

It’s in the Word of God. And I want to emphasise here that it must be from the living Word of God. (John 17:17) 

And who unpacks the truth? The Holy Spirit, for it is called the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13). 

Jesus taught the Sadducees: “You are mistaken, because you do not know the Scriptures, which is the living word of God, or the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 22:29)

Revelation only comes by the Holy Spirit – to the seeking heart, to the renewed mind, to the believer, to the person who seeks after God, who surrenders to God. Because God has promised that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

We are to declare the whole counsel of God, as all Scripture is given by God. There is no single verse or fact that will give you all the answers. You need to know the weight of Scriptures, the mind of God, the counsel of the Holy Spirit.

Just as, in this pandemic, we maintain physical hygiene by washing our hands after getting home, we need to have spiritual hygiene. This means peace in our hearts and mind.

Momentarily, we may be jolted and stressed, but most of the time, we need to cast our worries to God and experience His peace.

To keep growing in the Lord, go back to the living Word of God (Proverbs 3:7-9).

The Word of God must edify, exalt, comfort, build you up in your relationship with God. It must strengthen your faith and keep you closer to God. We don’t just want to accumulate head knowledge. Jesus says you shall know the Truth and the Truth will set you free. Where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom.

4. Representatives: We manifest God in the world

The true proclamation of Christ must first be personally experienced before we can manifest Him and represent God. It must be real in our lives. Otherwise, it is just one message in and one message out. 

The Bible says we can give only of what we have. As we grow in Him, we share Christ with others.

The Church – you and I – are representatives of the Body of Christ. We manifest God in the world and Paul calls this the mystery of godliness (1 Timothy 3:15-16).

So how do we become representatives of God in this world? 

1. The truth we proclaim of Christ must be personally experienced

How do we handle money? How do we work? How do we approach trials In all this, we must be different. Why? Because God is with us. He is on our side. God wants us to experience Him in all His goodness and faithfulness so that we become a testimony of Jesus. 

2. The mystery of godliness is fundamentally about Christ, manifesting in and through our lives

Paul says in Galatians 2:20: “Christ lives in me.” And in Colossians 1:27, he says, “Christ in me, the hope of glory”. There is glory to come. Keep on praying, keep on persevering in our Christian journey, until Christ is formed in us.

3. We manifest God in the world where we live, as the salt and light of the earth

Be the salt to preserve the decay. Be the light that shines and do the good works, so that others will see your good works and give glory to God (Matthew 5:13-14, 16). Be a reconciler – God has given us the ministry of reconciliation. He has committed to us the Word of reconciliation. And God wants us to be ambassadors for Christ – to represent Christ, wherever we are.

Give of what you have

I know of a brother who has been in and out of Changi prison as a drug addict. Today, he has recovered completely. In fact, he is getting married – back to his first wife who left him when he was a drug addict.

There are many, many of such stories of people who have experienced the love of the Father. They experience the divine power, the power of the Holy Spirit, to enable them, to empower them to overcome, and to walk out of situations when they are tempted. The phrase “knowledge of God the Father” is an experiential knowledge. 

The Bible says we can give only of what we have. How are you and I experiencing God as Provider? How are you expressing God as Healer? It is when we have tasted the goodness of God and when we continually experience God, that we build faith convictions.

So as we grow in Him, we want to share Christ with others. We want to show His love, His compassion, as members of the church and ambassadors for Christ. 

And that’s something that every one of us can do. While we can’t do it for the entire world, we can represent God in our own world.

This devotional is adapted from Pastor Daniel Foo’s sermon marking the 35th anniversary of Bethesda Bedok-Tampines Church (BBTC) and is republished with permission.


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