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


(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

1 September 2015

The Litany of Mary

(Gospel e-Letter - September 2015)

During my childhood I used to recite the rosary and other prayers daily with my family. One of the prayers was the litany of Mary, which consist of a long series of invocations to Mary under different titles, and to which we responded, ‘Ora pro nobis’ (pray for us). Some of the Marian titles include the following:

  • Gate of heaven. 
  • Morning star. 
  • Health of the sick. 
  • Refuge of sinners. 
  • Comforter of the afflicted. 
  • Help of Christians.

What an exalted view of Mary! It is no wonder that as a young Catholic I looked up to her for my physical and spiritual needs, as countless millions of Catholics do. She is the gate, and I hoped that after death I would enter heaven through her. St Louis de Montfort says that ‘through her, Jesus came to us; through her we should go to him.’

In the Scriptures we discover a different picture. All those titles really belong to someone else. They are all titles of the Lord Jesus.

  • Gate of heaven: Jesus said, ‘I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved’ (John 10:9).
  • Morning star: ‘I, Jesus ... I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star’ (Revelation 22:16)
  • Health of the sick: ‘I am the LORD, your healer’ (Exodus 15:26).
  • Refuge of sinners: ‘On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God’ (Psalm 62:7).
  • Comforter of the afflicted, ‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me’ (Psalm 23:4).
  • Help of Christians: ‘Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life’ (Psalm 54:4).

The Scriptures point to the Lord Jesus as the gate, the morning star, healer, refuge, comforter and helper. Mary entered into heaven through him. We must do likewise. There is no other way to enter heaven.

1 August 2015

The Ark of the Covenant

(Gospel e-Letter - August 2015)

The Ark of the Covenant was Israel’s most sacred religious article. It was a gold-covered wooden box containing the stone tablets of the Law (Deut 10:1-5). The lid, over which were mounted two golden cherubims, was the symbolic throne of God. It was known as the mercy seat (Exodus 25:10-22). The ark was kept in the inner chamber of the tabernacle (and later in the temple), the Holy of Holies. The ark symbolized God’s presence among his covenant people.

The original ark has long been lost; more importantly the old covenant has been replaced by the new, which is much better. It all began with the angel’s annunciation to a virgin Israelite woman, Mary. The child that was conceived in her by the power of the Holy Spirit was the Son of God. For this reason some Church Fathers refer to Mary as the Ark of the New Covenant.

When Mary gave birth to Jesus the people of Israel had the great privilege of having the Lord living among them. He was truly their Emanuel, ‘God with us’. Some Church Fathers also call Mary the ‘tabernacle’ of God, but the New Testament points to Jesus as the tabernacle. The apostle John writes that ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14). The word translated ‘dwelt’ is the verbal form of ‘tabernacle’ – so we can say that the Word “tabernacled” among us!

What about our present time? Where is God’s presence among his people today, now that the Son has ascended into heaven? Jesus told his disciples that after he departure he will send the Holy Spirit. The promise was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. The people of God, the church, is the holy temple where God dwells by the Holy Spirit. God is present with us, especially in the assembly of the church.

Even so, this age will come to its consummation at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ when he will gather his people and take them into the very presence of God in heaven. That is the ultimate hope of all Christians.

The Ark teaches us how this hope can be fulfilled. While representing God’s presence with Israel, it also reminded them that sin was in the way. The people did not have free access to God’s presence. The Ark was kept in the Holy of holies, hidden behind the veil. Only the high priest could enter once a year on the Day of Atonement, to sprinkle the blood of the sacrificial animal on the Ark. The ritual showed that God’s wrath against sin can only be appeased by the death of a sacrificial victim. God could be merciful to sinners because someone else died in their place.

All this was a figure of Christ. He died on the cross, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. He did not enter a temple made with hands, but into heaven itself, in the presence of God on the basis of the infinite merits of his blood. God’s wrath is appeased. The veil was torn from top to bottom. The way is now wide open! Through Christ we can receive mercy and forgiveness, and enjoy communion with the Father now and for eternity.

1 July 2015

Christ Died for Us

(Gospel e-Letter - July 2015)

An evangelistic tract reassures the reader (who is presumed to be unsaved) that “God loves you so much he gave his only begotten Son, Jesus, to bear your sin and die in your place.” A Bible verse is quoted to support that statement: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Does this scripture prove the point? Can an unrepentant sinner say, “God loves me”, and ignore the fact that the Bible says that God hates all evildoers (Psalm 5:5)? Can the unbeliever say, “Since Christ died in my place to take away my sin, I am free from guilt and punishment”? Can he ignore Jesus’ warning that unbelievers die in their sins (John 8:21, 24)?

A proper understanding of this scripture shows that it does prove God’s amazing love to his people, sinful as they are, but it gives no comfort to the unrepentant and unbelieving sinner whatsoever. While it clearly teaches that Christ is the sin-bearer for his people, it does not teach the same regarding the lost. It is not even speaking about them. The lost, unless they repent and believe in Christ, will bear their sins upon their heads at death and after judgement they will spend eternity in Hell.

The Apostle Paul states that God made Christ “sin for us.” In context the word “us” refers to Paul, the writer, and the Christians in Corinth to whom the letter was originally addressed. Naturally, the same is applicable to all Christians. Therefore “us” must mean Christians, and it cannot be twisted to mean Christians and unbelievers.

God made Jesus “sin for us” is a profound summary statement of Christ’s redemptive work. He, the immaculate and sinless Son of God, became “sin” for our sake. Not that he became a sinner by nature or by practice. As the representative head of his people Jesus took upon himself the legal responsibility and punishment for their sins. He bore their sin and was sacrificed as a sin-offering to pay the full payment required by the Law of God. Thus God’s people are freed from sin because it was taken away by their Saviour. What a glorious truth revealed by God in this scripture!

Every one of us must ask in all seriousness, “Am I included in the ‘us’ of 2 Corinthians 5:21?” It is only when a sinner repents and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ that he can rejoice in God’s love and the substitutionary sacrifice of his beloved Son.