The 43th Session of the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference was held from 27th to-28th November 2018 at Masland Methodist Church, Sibu. During the opening service, the Bishop of the Methodist Church in Malaysia, Bishop Ong Hwai Teik brought greetings from the other annual conferences in Malaysia, especially Sabah Annual Conference. The SAC was recently established and had sprung from SCAC. Bishop Ong then preached on John 15:1-8, 16 with the title, “Prolific Fruit Bearers”.
He talked about his serendipity moments he had encountered while suffering from dengue fever. It was a moment of new discovery, leading to insights as he experienced the love of caring friends, the protection of God and road to recovery.
In his sermon, Bishop Ong urged us to think about the foundation of our call.
#1 The foundation of your call: the Christ on the Cross
The foundation of our call is Christ on the Cross. We are the fruits of the Christ of the Cross. Jesus has called us to bear fruits—fruits that will last. Christ is our only foundation (1 Cor 3:11). In His teachings, Jesus mentioned 11 times that we as His disciples should remain in Him and remain in God. Jesus is the foundation of our call.
There is the sufficiency and exclusivity of Christ: fruits that grow from/on the Cross. Jesus Christ goes to the Cross to die for us! He alone is the salvation for us all. Christ in the Cross is everything to us. Because of this, whatever we do is after the fashion of going to the Cross. As written in Luke 9:23 and John 12:23-24, the necessity of the cross is fruit bearing. We are called to deny ourselves, take up the Cross and follow Christ. However, the number 1 thing that stands between us and picking up the Cross is ourselves. Are you someone who serves the risen Christ exclusively?
#2 The origin of your call: picked by Christ
We have been picked by Christ. Jesus says that we do not choose Him but He has chosen us (John 15:16). The primary divine first cause choice and secondary human response choice is that we are children of God (John 3:5) and of service (Ephesians 4:11-12).
If we remain in God (John 15:4), His Word will remain in us (John 15:7), and we will obey His commands (John 15:10), which is a command to love each other (John 15:12). And we will then bear fruits that last (John 15:16). When we love each other, God’s command is fulfilled (John 15:17).
#3 The practical side of your call: how to bear fruits
The question is, how then do we bear fruits? Jesus teaches about abiding in Him. It is a conscious effort with dependence on the enablement of Christ. Our connection in Christ is an undetachable dependence, very much like a patient in the hospital depending on life support. We abide in Christ and pray in His name as basis of our ministries. The more we love the Bible, the more we will love God, and the more we love each other.
Bishop Ong concluded His sermon by reminding us that the ultimate end of bearing fruit is for the glory of God (John 15:8) so that by bearing fruits, we show ourselves to be God’s disciples. Bearing fruits that last is not dependent on seniority in age (1 Timothy 4:12, Psalm 92:14). There is freedom and power of resting in Christ’s abiding love, that He is committed to give all things that is good for me.
Reported by Rev Candy Liong