15 April 2016

Standing before the Judgement Seat

Without exception every person will appear before the judgement seat of God. The Lord will divide humanity into two groups: the wheat and the tares; the sheep and the goats; the saved and the lost. Jesus solemnly warns that some professing Christians will be revealed as hypocrites when their evil works are exposed, and they will be lost.

What about genuine Christians who sincerely believe in Jesus Christ, trusting him for salvation, who hate sin and strive to please God? Why should they give an account of their lives to God? Is it to determine whether they had made it to heaven or not?

No! Christians do not have to wait until Judgement Day to know whether they have eternal life or not. They already have eternal life. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God," writes the apostle John, "that you may know (present knowledge) that you have (present possession) eternal life" (1 John 5:13).

Isn't that amazing? Believers can know by God's Word that they possess eternal life. They can know now, even during their life on earth. Eternal life is the gift of God (Romans 6:23) that he gives to his children from the moment they believe in his Son.

Christians do not stand before God so that it would be decided whether they are justified (declared just) or condemned (declared guilty). The Bible assures believers that they are already justified: "Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). "Having been justified" - something that has already happened. God has already declared every believer "justified" on the basis of what Christ has done for them.

They are not judged for their sins at that time because their sins have already been paid for by Christ on the cross. That is why Jesus can reassure his people that they already have eternal life and that they "shall not come into judgement" (John 5:24).

So why stand before the judgement seat of Christ at all? The Bible teaches that they will be rewarded for their good works during their lifetime. Christ "will reward each according to his works" (Matthew 16:27). He promises, "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done" (Revelation 22:12).

Christians do not dread the Day of the Lord. It is their graduation day rather than an arraignment before a criminal court. They make it their aim to please their Lord and eagerly await his return. It is not an appointment with an angry judge but with their beloved Spouse.

26 March 2016

Jesus is Risen!

The apostles are credible witnesses. They weren’t gullible fools who accepted whatever came their way. They were completely assured about the resurrection only after Jesus gave them many convincing proofs. They saw him, touched him, ate with him and talked with him on many different occasions. They could not resist the evidence.

From Pentecost onwards, when the Holy Spirit came on them, they started preaching Jesus as risen from the dead. Though the religious leaders threatened them, mistreated and threw them in prison, the apostles and early disciples all continued to proclaim the message of which they were so certain. “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Their testimony is recorded for all generations in the Holy Bible. As we read it, we must reach a decision. Truth does not change even though we don’t believe, but our eternal destiny, in heaven or hell, depends on what we do with the gospel of truth.

Since Jesus rose from the dead, as Scripture affirms, then we have hope that we too, who will one day yield to death, will also be raised to life by God Almighty. Life is not absurd. There is an eternal destiny, either good or bad, awaiting each and every one of us.

If you die unforgiven, sin will be a burden that you will have to carry beyond the grave to your condemnation and eternal punishment, with those who defied or ignored their Creator, and did not believe in the name of his unique Son.

On the other hand, those who trust in Christ are forgiven, beloved by God the Father. Though they are harassed by life’s troubles, the disciples of the risen Christ find a sure hope in his resurrection; by this hope they are able to face physical death. In the midst of their trials and suffering, Christians look up to heaven, where their Lord is, who went before them to prepare a place for them. The grave is not the last word for them. When the King of kings returns he will call his subjects by raising them to incorruptible and everlasting life, completely redeemed in soul and body. They will thus meet the Father. “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).

Their pilgrimage to the Father would then come to a close. The joy of the children of God, crowned with eternal glory, will be theirs forever.

29 February 2016

Going Home

The Lord was pleased to call my mother home. My mother was a wise and a hard-working woman, but the most prominent characteristic was her kind generosity. She dedicated her entire life in the humble service of others, not least to me and my brothers and sisters.

My mother is gone; the beautiful memories remain as well as the gratitude of her children for her hard work, good example and love.

When I told my son that grandma died, John asked me, “Dad are you crying?” Yes, son, I weep. The tears are a sign of grief for the loss of my mum; the tears are also a sign of my joy and consolation.

My mother believed and trusted her soul in the hands of the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, and she followed him. The Good Shepherd, who gave his life for his sheep, took care of her during her life; he was always with her even when she passed through the dark valley of death, and brought her to the Father’s house with great joy. Yes, I rejoice, for just as my daughter Elizabeth said, “Grandma is with Jesus.”

The time for our departure will come too. As the Bible says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

All worldly and material things will come to nothing. Money and possessions will suddenly loose all their value. Earthly joys and sufferings will both end. We will leave everything behind us, even our loved ones, and our bodies will return to dust. Only one thing remains: faith! Faith in Christ! For by faith we challenge and overcome our last enemy, death, and enter into the joy of the Father through our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

31 January 2016

The Honest Gospel Truth

(Gospel e-Letter - February 2016)

Pope Francis made this astonishing statement: 'Many think differently, feel differently, seeking God or meeting God in different ways. In this crowd, in this range of religions, there is only one certainty that we have for all: we are all children of God.' (Link).

Is it true that people of different religions are ‘seeking or meeting God in different ways’? The Lord Jesus speaks only of himself as ‘the Way’ and affirmed that ‘no one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). Similarly the Apostle Paul said that there is ‘there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus’ (1 Tim 2:5); while the Apostle Peter said that ‘there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12).

Is it true that ‘we are all children of God’? Are Jews, Buddhists and Muslims children of God? The Jews who did not believe in Jesus claimed that they had ‘one Father, even God.’ Yet Jesus corrected them, ‘You are of your father the devil’ (John 8:41,44). The Apostle Paul reminded the believers in Ephesus that before their conversion to Christ they had ‘no hope and without God in the world’ (Eph 2:12). It is only through faith in Christ that we become children of God, as the Scripture promises, ‘to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’ (John 1:12).

Telling non-Christians that they are meeting God in their own way and that they are already children of God is both untrue and misleading! The physician should not tell his seriously ill patient that all is well with him. He should rather tell him the sad truth about his condition, while also offering the cure that he needs.

The world desperately need to hear the honest gospel truth. Human religions are utterly futile. Apart from Christ people are lost in sin and alienated from the true and living God. There is only one hope! They can be reconciled to God and adopted as his children only through faith in Christ Jesus.

1 January 2016

My Peace I Give You

(Gospel e-Letter - January 2016)

The peace that Christ gives us is genuine and enduring, the peace of the world is shallow and short-lived.

Jesus did not come to the world to bring political stability among the nations. Despite all the efforts and peace treaties, humanity has never found rest. The world that rejects the Prince of peace is destined to live without peace. There were wars in the past, there are wars today, and they will continue to the very end. Whether it is strife within families or hostilities between nations, cultures and religions, there will be no end to conflicts as long as sin, jealousy and hatred continue to reign in the human heart.

The disciples of Christ are not exempt from trouble. They often find themselves entangled in conflicts even though they do their utmost to live in peace with all people. Moreover they also suffer because of their loyalty to Christ. He spent his life doing good to all, and yet he was hated and crucified because he exposed the world’s sin and hypocrisy. Since Christians carry his name, they cannot expect to be treated any better than their Master. Just as the world rejected Jesus, it will also persecute his disciples.  The peace of Christ is most certainly not a pleasant vacation in this rebellious land.

What then is the peace that Christ gives? First and foremost, the Lord Jesus came to reconcile man to God. Peace with God is humanity most pressing and urgent need. Sin makes us God’s enemies! Unless sin is taken away, we have nothing to look forward to except for his wrath and condemnation. Jesus brought reconciliation by his death on the cross. All those who believe in him are justified, right with God, and therefore at peace with their Maker.

In addition to peace with God, the Lord Jesus gives his disciples the peace of God. Jesus teaches them to exchange their anxieties and worries with prayers and a child-like trust in God, their loving Father, who has perfect control of all things. Why should they worry when God is taking care of them? God does not always calm the tempest around them, but he calms their hearts  and grants them an inner peace that surpasses understanding.

Jesus’ disciples can face the future with confidence because they know him who holds the future in his all-powerful, sovereign and gracious hands. They are confident that the Lord will keep his word. The final chapter of their story is happy for the Lord Jesus will bring them to the eternal peace of his Father’s House, just as he has promised.