GOSPEL part 6

FAITH OR NO FAITH IN HIM [pg 2]

In my last Gospel article, we talked about faith in God and it’s meaning. We asked, ‘how do we put faith in God who is invisible’ unless He let Himself known… which He did. I cited 3 ways for you to get to see Him, know Him and put faith in Him. The first one I cited was based on Romans 1:18-20 where God made His eternal power and divine nature be seen in nature especially when you look with humbling eyes.

Of course, with no other context as guide, the most that we human beings can conclude from nature is that it was made by a great being with power beyond imagining.

Consider the native tribes of both North and South America. Before the advent of Christianity, they believed in an all powerful great spirit of some sort. In ancient times, Norse beliefs as well as other European religions based the identities of their many deities from what they observed in nature. A good example is the Norse god Thor, the god of thunder, who was first named so by the ancients to explain away a violent thunder storm.

Practically every culture in the world interpreted attributes of their respected deity derived from their observation of nature. But their interpretations varied so much, how were human beings to distinguish the true God. Fortunately, God did not leave it up to just our own interpretation of creation as the source of His true character. He made sure that we got His word… His written word.

The Bible Reveals Who God Is

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. It is the account of God’s action in the world, and his purpose with all creation. And it’s considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans.

From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work… [2 Timothy 3:15-17]

There is much more information about the Bible I could add here but I leave it up to you to research it on your own. What I will say is this, as the Bible is God-breathed (that is, written by men who were inspired by Him), it holds the key to life eternal. And God had intended it to be read by all of us so that we may believe.

Romans 10:17
Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

Hebrews 4:2
For we also received the good news just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, since they did not share the faith of those who comprehended it.

Galatians 3:5
Does God lavish His Spirit on you and work miracles among you because you practice the Law, or because you hear and believe?

But there are always some that doubt the integrity of the Bible. This is where we, that is believers, come in.

Seeing God in the Testimonies of Believers

In the beginning of the book of Hebrews, the author had given us the image that God had first spoken to the ancient Hebrews through many prophets who ultimately wrote the Old Testament of the Bible. The main theme of the Old Testament was to prophetically point to God’s promised Redeemer. Enter Jesus Christ who is God in human form… visible to people. His incredible act and testimony was chronicled in the New Testament of the Bible. From the time Jesus ascended into Heaven, He had set into motion an era of grace that is still going on up until today. How?

On the day of Pentecost, He first set His Spirit to indwell the Apostles and a group of a hundred and twenty believers. Then He sent them out unto the world to share God’s love to people. When people looked at these believers, what they saw was God’s love.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. [1 John 4:12]

As they saw God’s love perfected in believers, they too wanted it and believed. For the past 2000 years, since Jesus walked the Earth, millions upon millions have believed.

You have heard the saying that ‘faith is seeing’, well, I pray for your sake that you would truly open your eyes, for God is not so invisible as many claims. The truth is right before your eyes if you are willing to see.

If you do believe…

———————————-

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.*

* Note: It is not the prayer that saves us but faith in Christ. The prayer is a way express belief.

GOSPEL part 4

SQUARE & ROUND PEG ANALOGY

Good News! Eternal life is in hand for all who believe 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 (1 Corinthians 15:4). Of course, while we are still walking this world, we are yet to experience the unimaginable glory of eternal life. However, God provided a way for believers to get a taste of it in this world. It required a major transformation.

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]

How does one become ‘a new creature’? At that matter, what exactly kind of creatures were we before becoming a new creature?

Well, we have to go back to the beginning, when God first created Adam and Eve. In the beginning, they were spiritually alive mainly because they were in close relationship with Him in the Garden of Eden. But then they sinned! Though they were physically alive, inside… they were separated from God… that is, they became spiritually dead. When they were cast out of Eden, every human being born outside that Garden were born spiritually dead.

The Apostle Paul laid out our reality in this verse below. Keep in mind that Paul was speaking to believers.

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 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. 3 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. [Ephesians 2:1-3]

{ I will hold off in explaining about the ruler of the kingdom of the air and the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient for later posts. }

But for those who believe, this is what happened.

4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. [Ephesians 2:4-5]

How would God make us ALIVE?

In John 3, Jesus Himself explained this to a very religious scholar (Nicodemus) who secretly visited him at night. Unapologetically, he basically said that unless Nicodemus (and everyone else, as well) become BORN AGAIN, no one can see the kingdom of God [vs3]. In verses 5-6, Jesus expanded more on the meaning by saying that to enter the kingdom of God, they must be born of water and the Spirit; with flesh giving birth to flesh first, then the Spirit giving birth to spirit.

To better illustrate the meaning, consider this analogy.

How does a square peg fit into a round hole?

Let us imagine that you are a square peg. But you have a problem. There is a desired place to be in and that is at the other side of an obstruction or a thick wall. There is only one opening and that is through a round hole of which you, the square peg, could not fit through because you are the wrong shape.

So, how are you, the square peg, to fit through a round hole? The answer is simple enough. You must be transformed into a round peg. But the reality is that you are unable to change yourself. What is the solution? Enter the woodcrafter.

The woodcrafter sizes you up then proceeds to reshape you into the perfect round peg.

I hope you have guessed what the analogy above is all about.

Again Jesus cited 2 conditions (John 3:5-6) of what it would take be ‘born again’. The first condition is that one has to be born of water. Let me say right here and now, that being born of water has nothing to do with ‘water baptism’ as some had believed. Let’s not beat around the bush. Being born of water is actually our physical birth – flesh giving birth to flesh first (John 3:4). And like the analogy, mankind started out just like the square peg. Like the square peg, mankind too want to fit through the round hole which is a representation to the gate of eternal life. Unfortunately, like the square peg, humans are not the right shape and in our case, (because of sin) we are spiritually dead.

And I too was a square peg. Then, I heard the message of truth, the gospel of my salvation, after which I believed! But that was as far as I was capable of. Enter the woodcrafter… oops, I mean the Lord our God.

When God saw my faith, He took over the process of my transformation… making me into a ‘new creation’. How?

If you recall what Jesus said that we must be ‘born of water and the Spirit’. Well, since I was born physically, this satisfied Jesus’ first criteria, born of water; that leaves being born of ‘Spirit’.

‘Spirit’ is actually referring to the Holy Spirit of God. What Jesus was saying was that what was lacking in my spirit was the Holy Spirit. This made sense since I was spiritually dead or I should say that my soul was empty of which only God could fill. And that was what God did. In 1990, He made me complete spiritually. I was born again. His Spirit in me guaranteed my salvation.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. [Ephesians 1:13-14]

This is my reality today. I am not deserving of it, yet He saved and placed His Spirit in me. For as long I am still in this world, His Spirit guides and equips me. And most especially, His Spirit sustains me even during when I am a quadriplegic today. By every right, I should be depressed and miserable but yet I have real JOY! I credit the Holy Spirit in me.

So, let me ask you…

Are you still a SQUARE PEG?

I pray, you would believe.

———————————————

I encourage you to, 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.

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.