OPINION POLL

Please read the description of these three professing Chrisians (below).

You may select one or more options.

Who is going to heaven?

28 January 2015

Opinion Poll - Who’s Going To Heaven?

What do you think about the following three professing Christians? Let us call them Abe, Ben and Carl. Who is in a saving relationship with the Lord? Who is on the road to heaven?

  • All three believe in the Lord Jesus and the principal truths of the Christian faith, including the doctrines listed in the Apostle’s Creed; they also believe the promises of salvation written in the Bible.
  • Abe and Ben are baptised, attend church and pray regularly. Both of them are zealous for good works, and try to avoid sin, though they admit that sometimes they fail. Abe is motivated by love and gratitude to God for his grace and salvation. Ben also thanks God for his goodness, and additionally, he is also motivated to do good works to merit more graces and eternal life.
  • Carl prayed to receive Christ as Saviour. He is not baptised, does not attend church regularly and has not yet submitted to Christ as Lord. His life has not changed since he was born again. He trusts in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Carl is convinced that salvation is by faith alone. 

What do you think about Abe, Ben and Carl: who (one or more) is on the way to heaven? Please select one or more options on the online poll above.

1 January 2015

New every morning

At the end of the year and the beginning of another we wish each other health, prosperity and a happy New Year. Many of us also take a good look at ourselves, identify areas that need to change, and make plans and resolutions to improve our lives.

The new year gives us hope of renewal. But in itself time alone cannot carry the weight of our hopes. The year may be new, but we and the world we’re living in isn’t getting any newer. If anything we’re getting a year older.

No, our hope is not found in the new year, in ourselves or in our own strength. Where then may we find a genuine hope that will not disappoint us? The Scripture invites us to look unto the eternal and unchangeable God, who sustains and renews us by his grace.

    The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
        his mercies never come to an end;
    they are new every morning;
        great is your faithfulness.
    “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
        “therefore I will hope in him.”
                                     Lamentations 3:22-24.

The Lord is an eternal spring of living water, daily refreshing our soul with his love and mercy. Just like the sun rises every morning, so the Lord renews his goodness to his people and fill our heart with joy. It is no wonder that the prophet confesses the Lord as his portion and his hope.

Therefore at the beginning of the new year, and in every day of our lives, let us trust and hope in the Lord. Then we can face tomorrow with courage and confidence. We do not know the future, but we know the Lord, which is much better. We know that he is good to his people, he keeps his promises, he will never leave or forsake us, and he will bring us safely home.

1 December 2014

The Two Advents of Christ

(Gospel e-Letter - December 2014)

There is a close link between the first and second advents of Christ. We may consider the glorious return of the Lord at the end of the age as the fitting conclusion to his redemptive work two thousand years ago.

Jesus said that a grain of wheat will remain alone unless it falls to the ground and dies, but if it dies it will produce a plentiful harvest. That is the reason why the eternal Son of God became a man and gave his life on the cross. He died to produce much fruit – the fruit are all the people he redeemed to himself. At his return the Lord will reap the fruit of his labours and will gather all his people in his Father’s house.

“Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).

So at his first coming Christ offered his body and blood as a sin sacrifice to relieve many from the burden and guilt of their sins. He will not bear any sins when he comes again because he has already done so previously. The Lord will come to save his people from the punishment of hell and to take them with him to enjoy God in heaven.

We do well to ask about the personal impact of the two advents of the Lord. Am I redeemed by the blood of Christ? Will he save me on the last day? Am I among those who are “waiting for him”? The Scriptures clearly answers such questions by identifying the genuine disciples of Christ.

“We wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13, 14).

The redeemed consider Jesus as their God, and thus they worship and adore him. They also count him as their only Saviour, entrusting him alone with the salvation of their soul. Finally they manifest the work of Christ in their life by personal holiness, purity and fervent love.

What will the great day of Christ’s appearing mean to you? I hope and pray that it would be the joyful meeting with your Saviour.

1 November 2014

The Veneration of Relics

(Gospel e-Letter - November 2014)

A relic held by a bishop,
touched by devout Catholics.
An anomymous 'St Pacificus'
in a church in Gozo, Malta.
Wrist bone of St Paul, Malta.

Relic of St George
carried in procession.
The veneration of relics is not just a bizarre religious practice of Medieval Catholicism. It is still practiced today. The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges the veneration of relics as a form of piety and popular devotion among the faithful (para. 1674).

In my country one can find scores of relics exhibited in churches; they are also carried in solemn religious processions. They include bones and blood, or some object or piece of cloth that had touched a saint (though the authenticity of some of them is doubtful). Devout Catholics kiss and touch them, just as I used to do when I was a child, in the hope that through them and the intercession of the saint, God will grant them a grace, a healing or even a miracle.

Burying the Dead

It is not unnatural for us to keep mementos of our departed loved ones. But the veneration of relics goes far beyond that. The bones of the dead ought to be buried rather than displayed in public. 2 Kings 13:21 is often misused as evidence for relics. ‘Once while some Israelites were burying a man, suddenly they saw a band of raiders; so they threw the man's body into Elisha's tomb. When the body touched Elisha's bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet.’ If anything, this scripture argues against the Catholic practice. The prophet’s remains were accidentally exposed because they were burying another man. Unlike the practice in the Catholic Church, Elisha’s bones were not enshrined on some altar but buried in the ground, where they ought to be.

Why don’t we rather leave the remains of the dead resting in their graves until the glorious day of the resurrection, and concentrate on building a love relationship with our living Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, animated by the Spirit of God and guided by his holy Word?

Miraculous Signs

God certainly performed miracles, signs and wonders though his prophets and apostles, and even sometimes through material objects (Acts 5:15; 19:11-12). They performed marvelous miracles for a very special purpose – the miracles served as signs that they were indeed God’s authentic messengers of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:3,4). The physical connection (their touch, word, clothes and even their shadow) showed without any doubt that they were God’s chosen spokesmen and that their message was the revelation of God.

God’s people are fully convinced that the prophets and the apostles are God’s messengers, and that their teaching recorded in the Holy Scriptures by the Holy Spirit is the authentic message from God. Hence we do not ask for more signs and wonders. We have God’s Word and through it we have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom we are blessed with all spiritual blessings.

Reaching God

The apostle Paul said nothing to Christians about preserving and exhibiting his bones and clothes in reliquaries. His burning desire was the proclamation and defence of the gospel message by which men and women may come to know the true and living God through Jesus Christ. It is the gospel that we must preserve and cherish! If we believe the gospel and trust in Christ for salvation, we would be as close to the Father as we could possibly be. A splinter from the cross, a piece of cloth from Mary’s veil, Paul’s wrist bone or the arm of Saint George cannot get us an inch closer, even if they were genuine.

These things are worse than useless for they engender superstition and bring scorn on the sufficiency of Christ. They undermine the child-like faith that Christains should have in their perfect Priest and Mediator. The point of contact between God and us are not clots of dried blood and bones of the saints, but the blood Christ shed on the cross for the redemption of his people. Christians can enter before the throne of grace through a new and living way. In Jesus we have free access to the Father and are fully confident that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.