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.

 

 

Sketching HIStory #9

Gen 3 – Broken Relationship

Before we delve into Genesis 3:6-15, I invite you to watch the video below and get a basic definition of SIN.

Now, let us see mankind’s first act of SIN.

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When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. [Gen 3:6]

Biblically speaking, temptation is not sin, but it does lead you to a trap that ‘plunge people into ruin and destruction’ (1 Timothy 6:9). Let’s recap. The serpent had told Eve that God had lied about the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He then enticed her to focus on the fruit; especially on how by eating it, she would be exactly like God. Now, the Bible doesn’t say this, but I surmised that after the serpent pointed her toward the tree with a curious Adam not far behind, slinked away. That left Eve to get a lot closer to the tree, than she had ever been. I’m almost sure she was feeling a sense that she had never experienced before – apprehension. That feeling is built into all of us when God created us in His image. What triggered that feeling is our…

Conscience

But the serpent’s wiles had a slight advantage over Eve’s conscience. Do you recall what Eve said to the serpent? Eve believed that if she even touched the forbidden fruit, she would die. This was, of course, erroneous. But imagine, if you will, Eve hesitatingly approach the tree, then she saw that the fruit looked quite delectable. She reaches out, then hesitates again, remembering that if she touches it, she dies. Then she remembers what the serpent said. With one finger, she gingerly touches the fruit and nothing happens. She’s now convinced. She pulls the fruit off the tree and took a bite. Adam saw that Eve was enjoying the fruit. She beckoned for him to join her and he took a bite.

Why didn’t the conscience take control of their action? One other aspect of being in the image of God is our free will. And both Adam and Eve chose to ignore their consciences or more directly chose not to believe God and ate the fruit.

For every action taken, there are circumstances.

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Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. [vs 7]

There is nothing like the gut-feeling pain of realizing you have done something really wrong. Adam and Eve knew they committed the fatal deed and the innocent feelings that they had was replaced by a sense of foreboding. That same guilt feeling made them look at each other closely and they realized each other’s nakedness. They both did not like it. To alleviate their shame, they tried to hide behind some sewn fig leaves to hide their private parts. But this experience of foreboding does not end there.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” [vs 8-11]

When I first read these verses, I had that nagging question of why would God ask Adam, ‘where was he?’ or ‘did he eat from the forbidden tree?’. If He is all-seeing and all-knowing, then how was it that He didn’t know? Of course, God knew. So, why would He confront Adam with those questions? Let me put this question in another way. Why not would a forgiving God ask such questions if not to give opportunity for Adam to clear his conscience of guilt? I truly believe that God would have forgiven Adam and Eve at that time… if they confessed rightly. And when I say rightly, I mean speaking the simple truth.

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The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” [vs 12]

It is said that confession is good for the soul. I have experienced it myself. Whenever I confessed my wrong doings, it always feel like a heavy weight was lifted off my chest. Imagine what our world would be like if Adam just confessed, but he didn’t! Instead, he took the route of what we call the ‘blame game’. He blamed Eve for his action, but that is not all. He also blamed God for putting Eve with him. Here is a thought for everyone. When you are angry with life, do you eventually blame God? If truth be told, is that really fair?

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Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” [vs 13]

Eve was right to say of what the serpent did. However, this is no excuse. She can not claim that ‘the devil made me do it’.

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So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” [vs 14-15]

Did you notice that God did not ask the serpent what he did? I will not get into it much except to say, that God’s standard of justice to us is a lot more lenient than what those spiritual creatures get in their rebellion. There is no trial, but judgement… and no hope of pardon.

Now, I hope you understand why I aesthetically chose the Komodo Dragon to represent the Serpent of Eden. My original idea was to use the Velociraptor as the serpent but I changed my mind mainly because… well, it could have been way too much Jurasic World… if you know what I mean. Anyway, I wish I could have presented an animation of this scene.

By the way, this depiction of the serpent’s fate is not an actual representation of snakes having no limbs. What Genesis 3:14 describe may be more figurative on the fall of an angel who once was an anointed cherub on the holy mount of God but was expelled; then cast to the earth [Ezekiel 28:12-19].

But here is the clincher in God’s curse on the serpent. Hidden in the devil’s fate is a sliver of prophetic hope for us which we will cover in my next post.