Archive for May 2018

The Gospel Saves, Sustains and Secures.

May 29, 2018

Sunday 27th May 2018.

GracePoint Church, Kikuyu

Series: 1 Corinthians.

Text: 1 Corinthians 1: 4-9

Theme: The Gospel Saves, Sustains and Secures.


When I was in high school I crafted a name and bestowed it on myself: Victor. A lot of the people who went to school with me still call me Vic and have no idea that it was not my official name. Nowhere in any official documents did the name Victor appear. I made it up when I entered form 1 and it stuck. When I think about it, there are a few reasons which could have led me to want a new name.

  • Teenage/Adolescence Identity Crisis. I wanted people to know me by a more colourful name, one that maybe spoke more positively into my future.
  • Hiding/Concealing the true me: Maybe I did not want the true ‘me’ to come out. Most likely I wanted to hide – after all I was many miles away from home (it was in the same county)
  • I wanted change, to break from my past. I craved a new ‘me’. Inwardly I wanted transformation and thought changing the label would do.

Like me, you probably have multiple identities but who are you primarily? What most defines you? What identity shapes your character most. The question of who we are is deep and speak volumes about us.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul opens with a surprising identity. As we saw last Sunday, He calls them God’s holy people, those sanctified in Christ even though when we read the rest of the letter we wonder whether those terms were really descriptive of them. In the verses we are considering today we see the dynamic that qualifies the use of the terms ‘holy’ and ‘sanctified’ the Gospel.

Teaching points

  1. The Gospel Saves – mliopokea neema katika Kristo. V 4 and 9

In a very interesting way Paul, opens and closes this section by stating the most important thing that the Corinthians needed to know – That they had received grace from God through Jesus Christ and that they had been brought into fellowship with God.

Paul is about to have a hard conversation Corinthians and begins by reminding them of their identity – they had received grace from God in Christ Jesus. The gospel had given them a new identity.  But the Corinthians also had other identities.

They could have taken pride in their Greek nationalism. After all the Greeks were the ‘cultured’ or ‘civilized’ people in Paul’s day. In fact, anyone who was not ‘Hellenized’ (the big word for Greek culture and way of life) was said to be ‘Barbarian’ – a rather unpleasant term that looked down upon others as unrefined in their way of life more or less like ungwana na ubara in the coast.

They could have taken pride in their education. Greeks were at the top of learning in their day. Greek thinking and Philosophy dominated the world at the time so much so that even after the Romans conquered them in battle, Greek education and influence continued. People, including Paul and all New Testament writers spoke Greek.

In Corinth, there could have been another source of pride. Their buildings and advanced architectural forms. To this day the Corinthian column stands as a memorial of Greek influence in building and construction.  People are very proud of buildings.

Corinth was also a port city. A lot of business happened there and certainly there could have been pride in business acumen. When Paul was there he did some work as a tent maker together with his Companions Aquila and Priscilla.

Those in Corinth who were feeling proud in their thinking (Chap 1 v29) are rebuked to remember that they have merely received grace from God and have nothing to boast about. They can only boast in the gospel (31). For there is nothing that they had that were not given to them (Chap 4:7).

What is it then, changes ordinary people, proud of their culture and achievements, lost in sin and self-centeredness, wallowing in rebellion and self-righteousness to be described as ‘holy’ and ‘sanctified’?

The gospel is the game changer.

In verse 4, Paul thanks God that the Corinthians had heard the gospel: ‘given grace in Christ Jesus’

Paul knew that because he had worked among them for 18 months and had seen fruit from that work. Those who had converted and become followers of Jesus now needed to know that their one, true and lasting identity was that they were recipients of Grace and their contribution to their salvation was nothing more than their dirty, sinful, rebellious souls.

Through the good news of Jesus Christ preached to them, they had received God’s unmerited favour and become Children of God. No longer were they primarily of Corinth but their citizenship was now in Heaven. Paul thanks God for the gospel as it had made them a new, holy, sanctified people of God. Now they had ‘fellowship with His son, Jesus Christ our Lord’ What a difference that makes!

Application1: The Gospel changes everything! Delight in it.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

Ephesians 2:1 -10 (NIV)

Surely we were those who were lost. By God’s grace we have been found in Christ and brought to peace with God so that we can serve Him.  May we be challenged to know and delight in the gospel – Christ’s complete work, God’s grace revealed to us. Our only response is worship.


  1. The Gospel Sustains. V5 – 7

Paul reminds the church in Corinth that in Christ they have been given every spiritual gift. They are lacking in nothing. What good news to hear for every believer in Christ!

If pride was an issue among some of the Corinthians, no doubt a sense of inadequacy was also a reality. No wonder there were divisions among them as well as lawsuits. Some might have doubted their own spirituality and others about their status in life as single or married people. They sent some people from Chloe’s household (v11) to enquire from the apostle about these and other questions.

One of the greatest sources of discontent among people, even in a church family is low self-esteem. When we have a sense of inadequacy we become insecure and lack confidence. Paul remind Corinthians that in Christ they have everything they need. Nobody should intimidate them by a superior gift, by some new knowledge or wisdom because in Christ they have everything.

Application 2

Today, we need to hear the same message as the Corinthian church – that we are not lacking in anything as we eagerly await the return of our Lord. We don’t need a special prophet, or some special word or experience because we have Christ as fully and sufficiently revealed in Scripture.

That grace is available to us today. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness as we wait for our Lord.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Titus 2: 11 – 14 (ESV)

Illustration – Tim’s prayer in 2006 ‘Thank you Lord that we need nothing because in you we have everything’ I found it odd at the time. The gospel affects how we pray.

  1. The Gospel Secures V 8, 9

Paul reminds the Corinthians that the Lord will keep them firm to the end. V8 and 9a

If they had been saved by grace surely it will take the grace of God to sustain them. He says to them that God is faithful- who called them into fellowship with his son Jesus Christ

How will they stay on as God’s holy and sanctified people?

The question of assurance is big for every believer. No doubt the Corinthians wondered about their faith soon after the apostle had left. They needed clarity about a number of things and perhaps felt the need for the apostle to come back among them.

You know that feeling after a great spiritual experience may be after a challenge weekend in high school or after a conference or ‘revival meeting’. That longing to be with a mentor or a friend who has helped you though in some way. We feel needy and vulnerable. We wonder if we will survive. Will the new church hold or die off?

Confidence in our Christian walk can potentially come from many sources. It can falsely be on built around conversion experience, time (since our conversion/decision) gifts, fame (reputation) or the church we attend. Not so for Paul. Only the gospel will keep us going to the very end. Surely the way in is clearly the way on.

Sometimes we think we can ‘outgrow’ grace. Some have this false idea that we are saved by grace but sustained by good works. That is not the gospel. We will always need grace. Grace to follow, grace to serve, grace to love, grace to obey, grace to bear fruit.  it is grace through and through.

What a reminder that we need to hear in these shaky times! Our God is faithful through the changing times and seasons.

Application 3:

The Christian journey is a walk of faith, not one of morality or religious practice, it is only by grace that the Christian will conquer his or her enemies: the flesh, the world and the devil.

May we know that the Lord will sustain us to the end. The Christian hymn writer John Newton sang of the gospel in these amazing words ;

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.


The gospel is sufficient to secure us in Christ and present us blameless on the last day. May we delight in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ for it saves us, sustains us and secures us. May our identity be firm in the Lord.


Rev. Harrison Mungai Macharia



Preaching 1 Cor 1: 1- 3

May 25, 2018

Theme Sentence: God calls His Church to be his sanctified people in Christ Jesus.

Intro: What is the nature of the church?

There is an article I came across recently that perhaps captures the state of the church in Kenya. The article is written by renowned Daily Nation columnist Josaya Wesonga titled ‘The Devil on the Cross: How the Church in Kenya lost its Religion’ It was published some time last year and it had the following to say about the church:

In Kenya Christian lexicon, “getting into ministry” is one of the most abused terms. “Getting into ministry” can be likened to a get-rich-quick scheme, with many broke and busted types taking this ministry route, not to fish for man, but for mammon…


Nowadays, politicians have taken the rule right out of Moi’s handbook; they have made it a habit of attending church services on Sunday, kneeling on the altar and being anointed, even if the previous day they were on a hate-mongering murderous mission.
When a leading minister was asked in 1992 which party he supported, he replied that the Bible instructed him to support AGIP, which was an acronym for “Any Government in Power”. However, supporting AGIP – aka Kanu – was a quid pro quo arrangement. In return for their support, these ministers and their ministries got land, miscellaneous state favours, unchecked access to State House, cash handouts and money during church-building harambees.

According to Josaya and indeed many observers of the Kenyan church scene, the church has been on the decline. No longer is she the ‘pillar and foundation’ of truth or indeed the custodian of national values or its conscience. The same pursuit for power, wealth and fame that is found outside the church seems all too familiar inside.


There is no doubt that the church has been infiltrated by all kinds of imposters, false teaching, fascination with power, miracles and what is falsely known as knowledge or wisdom. In the letter we are starting today, we come across a church that was very much like the Kenyan church today. One that was riddled with false notions of power, divided over leadership, spiritual gifts and immorality among many other issues.


What does the Lord to say to such a church? today, we open Paul letter to the Corinthian Christians and see God’s view of the church.


  1. The church is called by God, belongs to God and is sustained by God.


It is easy to imagine that the church is just another social institution more or less like government, civil society organisation or even business. After all, it has structures that are somewhat similar to those institutions. When Paul says in Verse 2 ‘The church of God’ the idea here is one that ‘belongs to’ meaning that church is established by God to display His grace and power through the Cross. We must call to mind that the church does not exist by the will of man or the goodwill of any government but rather by the will of God. Two reasons are clear from the passage:


  • It is His because he owns it: Our Lord Jesus said in Mark’s Gospel that he will build his church. He bought it at a price and it firmly and surely belongs to Him. In Acts 20:28 Paul admonishes the Ephesian elders to: Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.


  • It is His because He called it to being. God called the church into being. He is the primary and indeed the only actor in the establishment of the Church. Elsewhere in 1 Timothy 3:15 we learn that the church belongs to him and it is to be the pillar and foundation of Truth: if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.


  • It is His because He feeds it. He calls the apostles to feed the church and in this passage we see Paul is called, by the will of God to be an apostle of Jesus Christ. He is sent to proclaim the message and the Lord uses that as a foundation for the church in Corinth and indeed all over the world. Paul therefore has authority to teach us how the Church should look like, how her communal life should be and how those who belong in the church should live. We will be well advised to listen to him in the coming Chapters.



On many occasions in history, the church has been under serious threat both from inside and outside. Persecution in the Roman times threatened to extinguish it but the church thrives on. False teaching was a threat even in Paul’s day but the Church of Jesus Christ thrives on. The dark ages nearly extinguished the candle of the church but the Lord preserved the Gospel. Islamic expansion threatened the church with the sword but the church lives on. Western thought during the enlightenment dismissed the church as old myths of darkness but the gospel lives on. Communism threatened the church in China and the Soviet Union but today China has over 100 Million Christians. Brothers and sisters the church of Jesus Christ is no human institution.


The church is not ours. We cannot begin to imagine that we can own it or sustain. What a joy then that he uses mortal and feeble people to bring about His glory in the church. Let us not be anxious about the church. God himself is at work in His church and He will sustain it.



  1. The church is made up of sanctified people, called to be holy and united under the Lordship of Christ.

We find in verse 2 that the church is made up of sanctified people in Christ Jesus. The Church is called holy ‘set apart for the Lord’. There is an expectation for those who belong in the church. We are to be holy as the one who has called us is Holy. Paul addresses Corinthians as those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus. This speaks volumes about who belongs in His church.


It is striking how Paul in Verse 2 very specifically addresses his letter to an immediate audience in Corinth and to a wider audience all over the world. The people in Corinth were not random people, they were a real people who gathered in a real place in the Greek city of Corinth. The secondary hearers are you and I and others all over the world who call on the name of the Lord.


Two applications from this;


  • The church is local. There really is no such thing as a churchless Christian anymore than there can be a bodyless person. One must belong locally somewhere among a body of believers and play an active role in the welfare of the whole body. There is no room for spectators in the Church, we are all players. One cannot belong to some online community and call it church, or subscribe to some TV channel and call it their church. The Bible envisions a real community of sanctified people who gather regularly, in a given place for common worship.


  • The church is universal. The Lord is at work all over the world and throughout all generations reconciling people to Himself through Jesus Christ. We are united with others all over the world who call on the name of the Lord.


  • All are called and not just a few. There are really no special people in the body. There will be different roles but certainly the same Lord. Our distinguishing mark as Christians is not our denominational labels, style of worship, order of service or gift. The common denominator is this: Those who call on the name of the Lord. We can get the wrong idea about calling as being for a special few: Those who speak in tongues, those who preach, those who have had a very unique spiritual experience etc but that is not the case here: all Christians are called and sanctified in Christ Jesus as their Lord.



  1. The church is founded and sustained by grace and peace from God.


Paul prays for grace and peace for the Corinthian church in verse 3. This is what the church in Corinth so badly needed. When we think of what is to come in the rest of the letter, we cannot help but see how badly the church needed grace and peace from God.


We see the outworking of God’s grace in calling and sending the apostle (v1) who then founded the church as we read in Acts 18. Even more importantly we see this grace in Christ Jesus. It is striking that in the 3 verses Jesus Christ is mentioned at least 4 times and that should call us to attention.

There is no church apart from the grace of God which is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Cross Ref: [For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich… ] 2Cor 8:9


He himself, Jesus Christ is our peace. He has bridged the gap between us and God and made us into a community of God’s people. The gospel is indeed the foundation of all things Christian.


Ephesians 2:14-22 (NIV)

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.



A few points to apply here

  • We are in by the Grace of God. It is purely by God’s goodness that we are His people. If we are not sure whether we are His, we can call upon His name today and be saved.
  • We are sustained by the grace of God. Paul’s prayer for Corinth is His prayer for GracePoint (those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord) – that Grace and Peace from our father and the Lord Jesus Christ may abound to us. Holiness will not be possible without the grace of God present among us and the peace from our God. If you are struggling in your walk with the Lord, you can call upon His name. His Grace is available to you.
  • We are to be a community of grace and peace. As those who have freely received grace and peace (reconciliation) we are to be a community of grace – loving one another, nourishing one another, submitting to godly leadership, united with one another, lovingly disciplining one another and together looking forward to the resurrection of the body.


Let us call upon the name of the Lord.





Rev. Harrison Mungai Macharia.

The sin of halfheartedness

May 9, 2018

One poignant memory of growing up was scripture memorization. Sunday school was little more than learning a Bible story and a memory verse for the day. The following week you needed to remember the lesson and the memory verse or else the teacher may not be too pleased with you. Some were however randomly selected especially from wisdom literature. Recently this one came to mind;

“Uria ukuona wa gwika na guoko gwaku, wike na kio amu kuu tuguthii mbiriraini gutiri undu wikagwo kuo, na gutiri umenyo na gutiri wiciiria”  Kohelethu 9:10

10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. Eccl 9:10

A number of lessons emerge from this words of Solomon.

  1. Whatever your hand finds to do: A lot of times we are choosy about what we devote our time and energy fully to and rightly so. The wisdom here is to do what is available and open to us in a particular way. It is not to attempt to do everything, but to do that which is ours to do rightly. There is lots for us to do at any given time from mundane routine tasks to demanding jobs – all of them are important tasks but whatever it is – polishing shoes, working on a business presentation, writing a funding proposal, planting trees, reading for children, cleaning the house or playing a game – we are to do it in a given way.

2. Do it with all your might: The temptation to be half-hearted about things is real hence the call to do whatever we are doing with all our might. I am persuaded that an all or nothing approach is probably the best way to approach life, work or relationships. Dabbling in this and the other not only leads to poor productivity but also misleads others as our intentions are never clear. Kenyans have this social pressure of not wanting to let down anybody and so we try to do everything. Eventually we spread ourselves too thin and our weight is never felt anywhere because we are everywhere. Might we need to heed Jesus’ words: Let your yes be yes and your no be no, anything else comes from the evil one. [Matt 5:37]. Is it any wonder then that Jesus calls us to love the Lord our God wholeheartedly (mind, body and spirit). Anything short of that is idolatry – we are either to have/behold/love all of him or none of him. We are not to be samplers of other ‘options’ out there. We are to be fully sold out to him or we are not His.

3. You will soon be dead: Solomon puts across death as the motivation for wholehearted commitment to work and it is a great reminder. Where you are going – It is clear here that human life tends towards the grave. I like the sharp contrast between life and death – nothing could be clearer or even closer to the human experience. It is a binary system – you are either alive or dead. Because you are alive, do things like you are full of life because you will soon be dead. Sadly we live in denial of the reality of death. But if you knew you will die (say tomorrow), what would you do differently? How might you spend the remaining time? Well, the Bible tells you plainly – you will die. (Think about that for a moment. I know you have promises in Christ and if he tarries, you will physically die). Life is short and therefore everything you can do is both urgent and important. You therefore have to be careful about what you say yes to. When you die you cannot think or blog or love your family. No you cannot share the gospel with that person, you won’t attend Bible studies or fellowships or go for missions. Nothing happens in the world of the dead. Do those things now – in the limited time you have.  It may be culturally inappropriate but we need that reminder before us all the time – that it is appointed for us to die and after that judgement/accounting. If you are struggling to love your spouse or children or being committed to your spiritual family – here’s something to jolt you out of your laxity and half-heartedness: you will soon be dead. Now wake up you sleeper!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24