GOSPEL part 3

WHAT MAKES THE GOOD NEWS “GOOD”? (pg 2)

Wow! I hope that trip through BAD NEWS country didn’t ruffle your feathers too much, because from here it’s all GOOD NEWS. To give you a better picture of the essence of the Gospel (good news), I will use this iconic Bible verse below as a template to layout what makes the good news GOOD.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16]

I. For God so loved the world…

God’s love for us is the core of the gospel. The reality of which surrounds us day by day, as revealed in the Bible. Scripture after scripture, His love is seen in the awe of creation. It shows His love is steadfast, unchanging and a great comfort to us. Even to those that reject Him, He shows His love.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:9]

How could everyone come to repentance? God knew mankind was in trouble because of sin. He knew that mankind needed a bridge to span that great chasm that separates us from Him; a bridge that no ordinary human being could ever build.

Enter JESUS CHRIST.

II. That He gave His one and only Son…

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]

This is a BOLD declaration. How do we take in this incredible statement? He is either a liar or a lunatic… Or He spoke TRUTH which, by the way, is undeniably supported by the Bible; most especially the four Gospel books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John).

How was Jesus to pave the way to God? What was He to do?

Do you recall this verse? For the wages of sin is death… [Romans 6:23]

Sin had to be paid!

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God… [1 Peter 3:18a]

By dying for us some 2000 years ago, Jesus COMPLETELY PAID the penalty of our sins.

But how could he, a man, do this? Because Jesus was the only man that walked the earth with no sin.

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. [1 John 3:5]

How could a man be with out sin? Jesus is also God!

In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:1,14]

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save… [Zephaniah 3:17]

What other proof do we need to know that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah and our only Savior? The final proof was His resurrection.

…regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. [Romans 1:3-4]

So, Jesus is the BRIDGE that connects us to God. Where do we go from here?

III. That whoever believes in Him 

I have reiterated time after time in this Gospel blog that there is nothing you can do to pay for the penalty of sin. However, we still have something to do. Good news is, it is not to pay for the penalty of sin. Our loving God took care of that.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]

So, what is our part?

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. [John 20:31]

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” [John 14:1]

“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved…” [Acts 15:11a]

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” [Acts 16:31]

The dictionary defines ‘BELIEVE’ as accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of. For myself, this is GOOD NEWS on a personal note. You see, the Lord made sure that our part was something that you and I are capable of doing easily. All God asked of us is to BELIEVE Him… to BELIEVE in what His Son did for us.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.

IV. Shall not perish, but have eternal life

What happens next? This next phase is in God’s court.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. [John 3:36]

What is eternal life?

When Scripture speaks of eternal life, it refers to the gift of God.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:23]

The gift of eternal life comes to those who believe in Jesus Christ, who is Himself “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The fact that this life is “eternal” indicates that it is perpetual life—it goes on and on and on, with no end.

It is a mistake, however, to view eternal life as simply an unending progression of years. (After all, in eternity, time has no meaning.) A common New Testament word for “eternal” is aiónios, which carries the idea of quality as well as quantity. In fact, eternal life is not really associated with “years” at all, as it is independent of time. Eternal life can function outside of and beyond time, as well as within time.

For this reason, eternal life can be thought of as something that Christians experience now. Believers don’t have to “wait” for eternal life, because it’s not something that starts when they die. Rather, eternal life begins the moment a person exercises faith in Christ. [www.gotquestions.org/what-is-eternal-life]

What makes the good news ‘GOOD’? The personal knowledge of being with God in eternity is by far fantastic.

Meanwhile, for as long as we are still walking this world, there is another effect to our lives that I know will astonish you. We will cover this in my next post. Until then, I offer you the verse below to analyze and meditate on.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

GOSPEL part 2

WHAT MAKES THE GOOD NEWS “GOOD”? [pg 1]

In my last posting, I asked…

Do you want your name to be in the book of life?

But how? This is where the GOSPEL come in.

The Gospel in Greek is ‘euaggelion’ which means ‘good news’. In the Bible, the term ‘gospel’ appears about 99 times. In essence, it is the sum total of God’s message for all of humanity; a message of salvation.

But yet a greater number of people have rejected His gospel… His good news. I include myself some 40 years ago. I heard His message from many who willingly shared the gospel to me but deep down I could not connect.

For myself, I could not connect because I did not believe I needed salvation. I’ll reserve my detailed testimony for later posts. For now, let me just say that my mind was changed for the good because of what I discovered from this question:

What makes good news ‘GOOD’?

Again, for myself, it was when I understood how the BAD NEWS affected me, I saw the true value of the gospel and I acted upon it. So, from here, we have to seriously look at the bad news. This is not going to be easy because each of you have to take a very hard look at your own spiritual condition.

In my last post entitled, ‘DOES JESUS KNOW YOU?’, in the end of the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus gave a ‘nutshell’ picture of a prophetical end time scenario of those people who pleaded to enter eternal life. They thought they were secured but instead they were rejected by Jesus.

“I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” [Matthew 7:23]

Ouch! I don’t think anyone want to hear that! But Jesus intended everyone to seriously take heed especially those who were first to hear of it on the Sermon of the Mount. You see, his audience, some 2000 years ago, stood on a small mountain not too far from the ancient city of Capernaum, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, all believed that because they were the ‘chosen’ people, they were ‘OK’ in God’s sight. Every Jewish child grew up with this basic principle.

But Jesus had a rude awakening for them.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:20]

Among the Jews of the first century, the Pharisees were the super-religious of the people. However, super-religious or not, they… as well as all mankind… have a SIN problem.

Buckle-up, people! This is going to be a bumpy ride for you. By definition, anything that goes against God’s will is SIN. And SIN is the core of the BAD NEWS part of this message and mankind… you… will be affected by it.

Sin fact #1: Everyone sinned…

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… [Romans 3:23 NIV]

…everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. [Romans 3:23 Catholic Bible – GNT]

No matter what we believe, we all have and continue to sin for as long as we are still in this world. And because we are not able to avoid sin, we fall short of God’s ideal.

Jesus described it as a great chasm between you and God… that is unreachable by you and me.

Sin fact #2: Sin = Death

For the wages of sin is death… [Romans 6:23 NIV]

For sin pays its wage–death… [Romans 6:23 Catholic Bible – GNT]

Here we go. This is going to be hard for you to take in. But keep in mind the truth of the word and take on a position in humility. (Trust me, this will free you. I’ll explain later in my other posts.)

Sin brings on death and it started with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. We are the inheritors of this.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned… [Romans 5:12]

What is Death? Death is the permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions or the end of life. We have seen it. We know about it. We fear it. And we eventually expect it to happen to us. There is no escape!

And by the way Romans 3:23 implements the term ‘wages’, because of sin we EARNED death. We deserve death!

Ouch! Take a deep breath for we had not reached the worst part of the BAD NEWS.

Sin fact #3: Sin = The Second Death

Death is not just physical! When we die, we don’t just cease to exist. When God created mankind, He created us in His image. That means (according to His word) we are not just physical creatures, we are also ‘SPIRITUAL’ like Him… well, not exactly like Him for God is without sin. Eternity is our destiny. The only question is DESTINATION.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. [Revelation 21:8 NIV]

But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars–the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. [Revelation 21:8 Catholic Bible – GNT]

The final place for sinners is the second death… that is HELL!

This is the place that every sane person should fear. But I have met a great number of people who have a nonchalant approach to hell. Some have even joked that hell was a place to party. I truly fear for them. The Bible provides a much more scarier description besides being the lake burning with fire and sulfur.

From the oldest book of the Bible (Job) to the last book (Revelation), darkness is consistently associated with hell. Job writes of a “land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder,” (Job 10:21-22) a “realm of darkness” (Job 17:13), even a “day of darkness” (Job 15:23). Other references throughout the Bible include:

“Realm of darkness” (Nahum 1:8)
“Thrown outside into the darkness” (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13;                                   Matthew 25:30)
“Blackest darkness” (Jude 1:13)
“Plunged into darkness” (Revelation 16:10)

For myself, this verse in Isaiah 66 scared me the worst. Boy, do I hate the thought of worms eating in me forever.

“…the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” [Isaiah 66:24]

To sum it all…

“Hell is total, conscious, eternal separation from the blessings of God. People think of it as a lake of fire and that certainly is a biblical image. Also, the Bible describes hell as lashing or scorpions or darkness where there’s great gnashing of teeth. There’s not just one biblical image of hell. Hell is a place for the soul of extreme torment by being separated from the blessings of God.” [by Bryan Chapell, Christianity.com]

In Hell, there is no reprieve… no pardon… and there is nothing any person can do. Just an eternity of ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’. (Matthew 13:50)

I truly hope you now understand how the BAD NEWS involves you.

In my next post, I will lay out for you why the gospel is GOOD! FANTASTIC! Until then, I offer you this iconic verse for you to analyze and meditate on. It will blow your mind.

John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

 

 

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 3

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

He went over to his desks and lit several oil lamps. He stared a long time at the top sheet of a stack of parchments. It was the passages of the suffering servant that he translated. Since the battle, his mind kept returning to that nagging desire for understanding ‘why the Messiah had to suffer so and die?’

The problem here is that this particular chapter seems to contradict all the other chapters that he had so far read of the Messiah in the whole book of Isaiah. The contradiction is that the Messiah is alive to usher in the new kingdom of which all of the nations will be affected. His logical mind tells him that since those chapters in bulk out weigh this one particular chapter, he should just disregard it. At most, if this is the passage that Jesus wanted him to find, then can it be that his task is to prevent it? That seems right, but yet, somehow in the deep recesses of his heart there is this lingering doubt in his logic. It was maddening.

He so wanted to speak to Jesus. On their way to Emmaus, they went through the town of Jericho. He made some inquiries on the whereabouts of Jesus. They said that he was there staying in the house of a tax collector that seem to have repented of his sins. But he and his followers left with no indication of where. Cornelius was tempted to swing by Bethany but he had to reach Emmaus by night fall. So, now, here he was unable to sleep trying to figure out an enigma.

He decided to read through the passages again.

On his third pass, one phrase seems to jump out at him.

If he would render himself as a guilt offering… [Isaiah 53:10b NASB]

He recalled that the guilt offering is an animal sacrifice for one to make himself right with God whenever that person sins. The ritual is for a person to symbolically pass his sins onto the animal by laying his hand on its head. Then the priests would slaughter it and offered its carcass on the burning altar. Cornelius knew he was forgetting something important; something about the animal. Oh yes, he remembered. The animal, whether it be a ram, an oxen or even a lamb, was to be male and with no blemish. That is the crucial condition that God required. It is written through out the Scriptures.

Cornelius realized that he may be on to something. He had to ask, what did the animals represent? And what is the connection between the sacrifice and Jesus? He went over to the corner of the large tent where the baggage was stored. He pulled out a big chest that carried his collection of books and scrolls. When he opened the lid, he rummaged through it; pulling out five big books. Cornelius had not read these books since way before he joined the Legion. They were the first books that Jacob helped him translate into Greek when he was still in his teens. It took them six years. They were the books of Moses.

That whole night, he poured through the books jumping from one story to the next, always writing down notes. He did not know when he finally fell asleep, but when he woke up and opened his eyes, he found that Jacob was there looking over some of the notes that he wrote. There was a tray of food and drink next to him.

“You have been busy, I see,” Jacob said as Cornelius was stretching his arms up. Pointing at his notes, he asked, “You have listed about twenty five references to the type of animal sacrifices from the story of Abel to the laying of Levitical ordinances^^. What do you hope to conclude from your research?”

^^ Levitical laws are found in the book of Leviticus, the 3rd book of Moses

“I have been working off a premise.”

“And that is?”

“That Jesus is offering himself as the guilt offering,” Cornelius answered. Jacob looked at him questioningly. “But I needed a better understanding of guilt offerings, hence my pulling out the Book of Moses to see where it all started. I tell you Jacob. It was like my eyes have opened up. I cannot explain it, but I began to see this book in the way it was meant to be seen.”

“What do you mean?”

—————————————————————————————-

The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

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Thank you

Johann Q

GOSPEL part 1

DOES JESUS KNOW YOU?

As a Filipino, I live in a country that is mostly Roman Catholic. I myself is still ‘technically’ a catholic except that I am more Bible based in my practices. One time, I was told a joke about ‘how many Catholics would enter Heaven’. I never got the punchline, because I bluntly shocked the teller of the joke that in all probability very few might ever enter the kingdom of heaven. You can well imagine that at that time, my revelation was less than receptive and I was not given a chance to explain. In retrospect, I should have been gentler in my approach. So, in this blog, I hope to explain clearly in what I was trying to disclose and then impart to you Good News.

First thing first, the basis of my disclosure came from the words of Jesus himself in his Sermon on the Mouth. He said…

v21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
v22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
v23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’… ” 

Matthew 7

When the teller of the joke asked me ‘how many Catholics would enter Heaven?’, this particular passage was forefront in my mind. At that matter, it is always forefront in my mind. Why? The seriousness of it is the reason why I think about it all the time especially when I am among people; strangers, friends and family alike. I mean, who would want to hear Jesus say, ‘I never knew you’?

When Jesus spoke these words, he was in the conclusive end of his sermon. These three verses is a ‘nutshell’ picture of the end of times. In the book of Revelation, John the Apostle described the final event of the end time with the returning of Jesus to the Earth… not anymore as our Savior… but as Judge! He came to judge ‘the dead, great and small, standing before the throne…’ (Rev 20:12) then they were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.’ (Rev 20:14)

2nd-death-w

I can understand the evil being thrown into Hell, but then, how could Jesus cast those…

– that prophesied in his name…
– drove out demons in his name…
– performed many miracles in his name…
– and those that called him, ‘Lord Lord’…

…into Hell?

The answer can be found within the same passage. Those that can enter the kingdom of heaven are the ones who do the will of my Father’.

Let’s look closer at those who stood before Jesus the Judge in verse 22 of Matthew 7 and see how they did not live up to His will.

‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

These people were just denied entry and were pleading for ‘justice’. Their arguments was that they deserved to go into heaven because of the ‘good’ things they did in Jesus’ name.

How could this be against God’s will?

As a catholic, I was taught to always do good works with the belief that this would save me from Hell. But as I read the Bible, I learned that this was contrary to God’s will which says that…

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. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This verse as well as more in Scripture indicate that good works whether done in his name or not, were never meant as a way to enter into heaven. This is fundamental.

But, of course, I have gotten into trouble with people whenever I try to impart with this part of the message. Some have accused me, even in tears, that I have devalued their works of good intentions and have branded them as ‘evil’. I admit that I have hesitated to approach teaching people with the bad news aspects of the gospel; fearing that I would be branded as being negative all the time.

Let me say that the message is not yet complete. The gospel which means “good news” is still to come.

Remember! Jesus is giving us a peak into an ‘end time’ event. Rule of thumb – when the Lord provides a prophecy like this, He is giving you an opportunity to seriously check where you are and ask yourselves…

Does Jesus know you?

Some have asked on how could Jesus not know who they were? Is he not God and all knowing? Of course, He is! So, how can he say, “I never knew you”?

Again, let’s take a closer look at Revelation 20:12.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. [Rev 20:12]

Two books were opened. One book clearly cites all the deeds and all the secrets that mankind hated to bring to light. The other is the book of life. In that book is a list of names of those who will enter the kingdom of heaven… that is, eternal life. I believe when Jesus says “I never knew you” is because your name was not in the book of life. So, I again ask…

Does Jesus know you?

Is your NAME in the Book of Life?

I apologize for being so blunt again. I must ask this of you because I care. I must risk alienation so that you will be aware. You see, Jesus ended his Sermon on the Mount with these words as a way of splashing ice cold water on your face to WAKE YOU UP!

Now, I must ask…

Do you want your name to be in the book of life?

I invite you to wait for my next GOSPEL post. Meanwhile, below are three verses that I challenge you to observe, analyze and then meditate about it on your own. It is eye opening.

1 Corinthians 15:2-4
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…

Ephesians 2:8-9
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.

Roman 3:28
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch17 – part 2

REVELATIONS – Emmaus, BethanyCG-book-cover-w

Later, in Arturos’ quarters, General Alto gave them their orders. “Tribune, your cohorts will be relieved in two weeks. They have earned some rest at Caesarea. However, Arturos, you will be stationed in Jerusalem with at least ten squads of your cohort.”

“Yes sir. Thank you.”

“Centurion, the governor wants you back at what you were doing, as soon as possible. He is giving you a squad of Equites Legati*. This is my suggestion. Tighten up your network of informants. With the light cavalrymen, you are to report more frequently, even if you have nothing to report. The governor demands it. He feels that with the biggest Jewish festival coming in a month or so that something significant is going to happen. He does not want to be caught unaware again.”

* Equites Legati were actually lightly armored cavalry men used mostly for reconnaissance and as messengers.

“Yes sir. I will leave in a couple of days.”

“Oh yes, I almost forgot. He wants you to be closer but not necessarily in Jerusalem. There is a supply outpost in Emmaus. It is only seven miles from the city. Establish yourself there within the week.”

“But, sir?”

“I know you want to closely follow this Jesus fellow, Centurion. You need not fret. He seems to have moved his operation to Judea and around the Perean Basin since last week. Apparently, this Jesus wanted you to know where he will be. One of his closest followers approached Centurion Porcius in Capernaum and gave him this note. I was at the Bethsaida fort when he reported to me. Since, we were already coming here I figured I will give it to you myself.” He handed the folded parchment to him.

“Thank you, sir.”

When he opened the note, what was written was a single Hebrew word, ‘Bethany’.

After a good nights rest, Cornelius opted to leave that day for Judea. He dispatched Nacob and Lyca, two of his best men as well as three of the light cavalrymen to Capernaum. They will hand over written orders to Porcius. The three cavalrymen will be stationed there. Nacob and Lyca will then bring whatever personal gear left there to Emmaus.

Flavius came up to him as he mounted. “Well, it looks like I will be in Jerusalem with the Tribune. I will see you there in two weeks.”

“Until then,” he said with hand raised in farewell as he led his contingent of fifteen men who rode on two wagons and the remaining four cavalrymen out the fort.

They actually did good timing. At the end of the second day, they rolled into the outpost about a mile outside of Emmaus. It was actually a small fort manned by only forty men. It was extensive mainly because the animal pens and grain storage were within. The fort’s commander was an aging veteran who lost his arm. His name was Verinius. Not wanting to quit the Legion, the only position open to him was procurement. He was jovial and quite accommodating. His men were easily billeted in the barracks. Verinius offered his quarters since Cornelius outranked him, but he declined telling him that he is not there to take command of the fort and its operation. So, they set up his campaign tent.

That night, he could not sleep. He went over to his desks and lit several oil lamps. He stared a long time at the top sheet of a stack of parchments. It was the passages of the suffering servant that he translated. Since the battle, his mind kept returning to that nagging desire for understanding ‘why the Messiah had to suffer so and die?’

—————————————————————————————-

The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

If you want to support my writing, you can donate by clicking below…

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

Thank you

Johann Q