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.

1 December 2015

The Way to the Father

(Gospel e-Letter - December 2015)

The Lord Jesus told us plainly what our life’s purpose should be. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Our ultimate aim should be to meet the Father, both now and for eternity. We were created to know and glorify him, to experience his love and be enthralled by his majestic beauty.

Jesus also told us how to reach our goal. “I am the way,” he said. We can approach the Father through the Son, who came down from heaven for this very end.

Jesus insists that he alone is the way. No person will ever be welcomed by God except through his Son. Such an exclusive claim jars in the ears of modern society. The nineteenth century mystic, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, expressed the sentiment of our own culture. He says that there are various ways to God, just as “a man can reach the roof of a house by stone stairs or a ladder or a rope-ladder or a rope or even by a bamboo pole.” Most people today believe that all religions ultimately lead to God.

Ramakrishna may succeed in getting on top of the roof using a rope. There he would meet many other likeminded people, just as religious as he is. But let’s be honest: would he meet God? The Creator and Ruler of all things does not live on a rooftop; the Almighty God dwells in the highest heavens in unapproachable light. Only one bridge covers the infinite distance between the creature and the Creator, between the sinner and a thrice-holy God. The bridge is Jesus Christ, the only Mediator appointed by the Father himself. “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Abraham, David, Mary the mother of Jesus, the repentant woman who washed his feet with her tears, the malefactor crucified beside him, the apostles Peter and Paul, together with all the other saints, are in heaven in joyful fellowship with God, through the Lord Jesus. If we honestly desire to join their company in eternal felicity we must, like them, entrust ourselves to the Lord Jesus and seek to become his disciples.

Jesus is the way because he is God’s only Son, the image of the invisible God. When one of the apostles requested him to show them the Father, Jesus replied, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Elsewhere he declared, “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27).

Moreover, Jesus is the way to the Father because he took away the sin that separates man from God. The eternal Son became a human being so that he would offer himself as a sin-offering. He cleanses his people from all iniquity and qualify them to draw near the glorious light of God the Father.

Lord Jesus, up till now I have wandered in darkness; I am lost and do not know where I’m going. I cannot depend on human wisdom, man-made religions or systems of philosophy. Lead me to the Father, Lord Jesus, for you alone are the way to him.

1 November 2015

Created for God

(Gospel e-Letter - November 2015)

There is an infinite space in the human heart. It desires and yearns for more, but it is never filled or satisfied even if it possesses the entire world.

My colleague was preparing to go to work. His daughter asked him to stay at home and play with her. He answered that if he doesn’t work they won’t have money to buy her toys. His daughter replied, “I have enough toys, daddy. I prefer to have you stay with me.”

Even little ones realize that mere stuff isn’t enough. Human beings live and thrive on love; this is how God made us. We should give priority to our family and loved ones and seek to enjoy them all the more. But even this isn’t sufficient. Our heart yearns for the greatest and infinite love. Augustine of Hippo expressed this truth brilliantly in his prayer: “You have created us for yourself, O God, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

People find no lasting and satisfactory repose except in their Maker. “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psalms 42:1). His gifts are sweet and precious – the joy and comfort of the family, the company of friends, physical health, provision of food and shelter, together with the enjoyment of a marvellous creation. But immeasurably sweeter above all else is God himself. Nobody and nothing can rightly compete with him. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalms 73:25).

Many of us are distracted and preoccupied by too much busyness, entertainments and material things. It’s a tragedy that so many people never experience the goodness and sweetness of God. “My people have committed two sins,” God says, “they have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13).

God counsels us to forsake our worthless ways, and invites us to come to him, the spring of living water, to drink of him and satisfy our hearts.

Lord, make known to me the true purpose for which I was born. Show me what a tragedy it would be if I waste my life running after emptiness or frivolity. I realize how impossible it is for me to satisfy myself with whatever this present world can offer. Protect me from vanity. Let me taste of your infinite love so I may enjoy real life. You alone can fill my heart with everlasting joy.

1 October 2015

Pro-Life

(Gospel e-Letter - October 2015)

We have the unique privilege of being created in the image of God. All of us carry the likeness of our Creator (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 5:1-2; Genesis 9:6; James 3:9). For this reason we ought to respect one another.

Moreover I will be greatly offended is someone spits on and tears a photograph of my wife, even though it’s just a picture. Even so, when someone mistreats, injures or kills a fellow man, God considers such behaviour as an affront against him (see Genesis 9:6).

The way we treat others is a sign of our attitude to God in whose image we are made. We cannot be ‘for God’ unless we are also ‘for life’ – from its beginning to its end, from conception to death.

What does it mean to be pro-life? It means to celebrate the gift of life given to us by the Lord. Despite the sorrows and pains that come our way, we need to learn to enjoy all that is beautiful and good, with thanksgiving and a grateful heart. We need to care about others too. We are pro-life if we do everything possible to help, support and protect the life of other people, whoever they may be.

May we open our eyes to see in each other the image of our Maker. Let us set aside every prejudice. We are first of all human beings, irrespective of skin colour, nationality, social status, educational level, age, sex, disability, political affiliation, conduct, character, sexual orientation, religion or any other category that you can think of.

You are a man or a woman, and simply because you are a human being, it is my privilege and solemn duty to respect and love you, and in so doing I express love and glorify God our Creator.

This principle applies to all people, but in particular, to those among us that are small, weak and vulnerable – the unborn children. Let us defend their precious life! Although hidden in the mother’s womb, the unborn child already bears the image of him who is making and knitting her with such amazing skill and love