Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Good News

Had a bad bout of coughing fit the whole of the previous week. Was so tired from coughing that on Wednesday and Thursday (my morning shifts), I had more than 12 hours of sleep each day, and that wasn't enough. Still haven't recovered from it yet. My coughs last long. Tried three different type of medicines, and the traditional Chinese kind. All to no avail. Just succeeded in reducing phlegm and inflammation, but still couldn't prevent me from turning into a human machine gun. 

Anyway, as I told Jon (who is also coughing), this is a good chance for us to practice our gospel sharing while having a cough. We'll be flying to Philippines in mid-July to do classroom sharing of the gospel. And it would do good to practice doing so while having a cough, because who knows what we might get over there. We are still having practice sessions fortnightly and every time I go through the gospel in my mind, it is still as sweet as ever. The message that saved me.

The gospel is not about what Christians do and do not do. Not about going to church. Not about 'believing' in principles and stories. Not about doing the right thing over the wrong because God is watching and so on. Not so much even about going to heaven and hell. 

The gospel means 'good news'. But instead of giving you a set of ready-to-go directions on how to reach heaven, the gospel is really about God. God. God. And it's amazing that just by portraying Himself as who He is, the gospel has the power of salvation unto those who believe.

God is holy. And by holy we don't just mean 'sacredness', or 'aloofness from the world' or I don't know what else people associate holy with. God being holy simply means God is perfect. And perfect not in beautiful sense (which He is), but in terms of righteousness. God is good, God has no sin, God has perfect righteousness. If the standard for holiness/perfection is 100%, God is the 100%. If the standard is 1000%, God is is that 1000%. God is the standard for perfection. Not only He has no sin, but He hates sin. The Bible says God is of purer eyes than to behold sin (Hab 1:13). And God's standard for us is that we be perfect too, for He says, "Be you therefore, perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:48).

But the Bible has also said, "All men has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (Rom 3:23).  There is no one righteous, no not one (Rom 3:10). And not only God is holy, but God is just. God is the creator of the world, and He is also a judge. And according to the Bible, the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Wages indicates something one deserves because he has worked toward it. And death in the Bible refers to hell, or else referred to as 'the lake of fire', or the 'second death'.

What is sin? Murder, stealing, lying, taking drugs? Have you hated someone so much that you wish he'd die? The Bible says by doing so you have committed murder in your heart. Have your eyes lusted after someone's wife? The Bible says by doing so you have committed adultery. Such are God's high standards for perfection that no man is able to attain, for we are sinners by birth, and sinners by choice. And just like a person only has to kill once to be a murderer, to lie once to be a liar; a man has but to sin once to be a sinner deserving the wages of death. Heaven or hell isn't a state of mind. Nor is it a perceptive reality (it's as real as you think it is). It is not whether you think you are going to heaven or to hell that matters. It is the real state that matters, the absolute truth. Simon always quoted that truth is arrogant. In a way, it is, because everything 'else' has to make way for truth.

God could have just been holy and just and condemn the world to hell. Rightfully and justly so. But God is also love (1 John 4:8). The Bible does not just say God is loving - but it says God is love itself. And in John 3: 16 it says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a sinless human life on earth, so that He would become the perfect sacrifice/ atonement for our sins. To satisfy the justice and appease the anger of a holy God.

You see. It couldn't be anything less than God's only Son. To demand for a sacrifice less perfect and less worthy would demeans God's holiness and justice. It was the only way. And Jesus took all our sins on His shoulders on the cross, and said there, "It is finished." There on the cross were our sins: past, present, future. And on the cross God the judge dealt with His beloved Son bearing the sins of the world, our sins - thus Jesus' cry: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?". 

But that was not the end. Three days after His death and burial, Jesus was resurrected from the dead, conquering sin, death, and hell. Thus we see the greatness of the power of salvation - the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, can free us from sin, death and hell; and instead gives us the righteousness of Christ. For then we are righteous before God, not because of our goodness, lest any man boast, but because of Christ's own righteousness we wear when we put on Christ.

And John 3:16 says 'whomsoever believes in Him shall not perish but have ever lasting life'. And in Romans 10:9 it says, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved." Believing is not just mere head knowledge. Supposing you believe that chair A is able to hold your weight. Yet when sitting down you pull chair B alongside chair A and let both chairs support your weight instead, just in case one collapses. This doesn't show your belief in chair A. To say you believe in chair A, you rest your whole body, your whole weight on the chair. To believe in Jesus Christ, you surrender to Him your whole life. For Jesus himself said, "I am the way, the truth, the life. No one can go to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

If you believe in Jesus yet rely on fate, works, activities, people, other faiths, whatever other means to find reconciliation with God and to earn salvation, you do not believe. Believing is putting your hand on the plough and not looking back. Surrendering your life and your soul to Jesus, because you believe, you know, only He is able to save you from your sins.

Salvation is a gift from a gracious and loving God. And a gift, however highly priced cannot be earned, but is received undeservedly. And unless one receives a gift, the gift cannot be called his own. And so - God has given the gift of salvation to 'all who believe'. Everyone in the world. No matter how hopeless a sinner, how evil a man, what he has done in the past. If you repent and believe that Jesus can save you of your sins, you can receive this gift of salvation from God. It is not your call or prayer that saves you, but it is God who does.

Do you believe God can save you from your sins?

Do you believe God wants to save you from your sins?

Do you want God to save you?

The Bible says "Those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved." He is just a call away. He has already seen you and loved you undeservedly and prepared salvation for you. Will you call out to Him?

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