30 September 2018

The Sinner's Prayer

Someone wrote to me, “You say that you believe and that you are saved right now. I suppose this is the result of some form of prayer said with sincerity and published by some Protestant or Evangelical group.”

I would like to share my response about this important issue.

No, I am not saved because I said a prayer. Many wrongly assume they are saved because they said the "sinner's prayer" or because they went forward in an evangelistic meeting or signed a card. This false idea is not much different from the Roman Catholic doctrine that a person is born again by submitting to water baptism. It is arguably worse than baptismal regeneration, for Christ did command his disciples to be baptized, but He never conditioned salvation on walking up an aisle and repeating a formula.

The truth of the matter is that salvation is not something that humans do, but something that God does for and in us. Salvation is of the LORD (Jonah 2:9). The prayer for mercy, faith, repentance, obedience to baptism, love and holiness issue from a new heart that the Lord grants to undeserving sinners. Salvation is not something we can earn or achieve. God, the one and only Saviour, declares: "I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." Therefore the Scriptures conclude: "So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, but of God who shows mercy" (Romans 9:15,16).

We are the lost, helpless sinners, and we cannot by our will or action attain salvation. We are totally dependent on the sovereign mercy of God. In the Bible we don't read about the lost sheep seeking and finding the shepherd; rather we only read how the Good Shepherd seeks and finds the lost sheep.

You seem to be surprised that I claim to be saved right now. Yes, I do have eternal life, and I know it. How so? Am I being presumptuous? No, rather, I am confident in the Word and promises of God. You know John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." By God's grace, I believe in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. I trust in Him for my salvation. I know my faith is genuine because I love God and seek with all my heart to obey His commandments.

Now, since I believe in the Son of God, the Bible assures me that I "have everlasting life." Eternal life is my present possession. I thank God for His amazing love -- all glory to Him!

The so-called "sinner's prayer" can be an expression of true faith in response to the Gospel message and the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart. On the other hand, the "sinner's prayer" could also be the occasion of terrible self-deception because the unrepentant and unbeliever could be easily induced by to parrot a few religious sentences. A million sinner's prayers will not keep you out of hell unless you truly believe in the Lord Jesus, as evidenced by a consistent life of practical holiness and love.

(Gospel e-Letter - October 2018)

1 September 2018

Images of Christ

What shall we say about the paintings and statues of Jesus? Apart from any artistic value, let us be frank about them: they are just the imaginations of artists and sculptors, they are not true images of our Lord.

What does the Scripture say about this subject? We believe that in the incarnation, the eternal Son of God also became a man. His contemporaries saw and touched him, and spoke to him. We do not have that privilege.

The Bible gives us a glimpse of his physical appearance: “He had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). The glory of Christ was not in his physical look. Moreover, during his passion, many people were appalled by him because his face was so disfigured that he did not seem like a man (Isaiah 52:14). Jesus endured the horrendous ordeal of the cross to redeem his church.

It is no surprise that the church loves her Beloved Saviour, and lives with the hope of his appearing. But for now, the church has to wait. What the Apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians, still applies to us today: “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Peter 1:8). At present Christians “live by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

But someone might object, “Personally I don’t see anything wrong with images of Christ. I feel that they teach me and help me to worship him.”

Consider, my friend, what you are saying. How come you find nothing wrong with false images of Christ? What do they teach you but lies? How can you give true worship with a false image? Why do you ignore the Word of God that states: “you do not now see him”? Why do you insist on seeing him even though it’s a fabricated image?

I exhort all who desire Christ: put away these vain paintings and statues. Instead, let us daily read and meditate on the Scriptures because they speak of him. Though the Scriptures the Holy Spirit reveals his glory, and thus we will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as we eagerly await his glorious appearing.

(Gospel e-Letter - September 2018)

1 August 2018

The Wrath of Jesus

I believe in the God of mercy, grace and love, but I also believe that he is the God of justice, holiness and wrath. Indeed the Lord shows both mercy and wrath; mercy to his elect, wrath to the wicked, both now and for eternity in hell.

Even when he extends mercy to his people, God does not ignore his justice. God can only justify sinners by faith because Jesus paid the penalty for their sins on the cross.

The Bible warns unbelievers that they are already under the wrath of God. ‘Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him’ (John 3:36). Elsewhere the Scripture says, ‘the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness’ (Romans 1:18).

Sadly, many people remain hardened in unbelief and impenitence, not realizing that they are stocking up wrath which will be poured on their heads on the day of judgement:

‘But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed … for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger’ (Romans 2:5, 8). We would be fools if we ignore God’s warning of the coming judgement: ‘Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient’ (Ephesians 5:6).

The Bible gives us a glimpse of the terrible retribution upon sinners on that day. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!’ (Revelation 6:16).

We don’t often hear these days about the wrath of the Lamb; many people prefer the soft and affable caricature of ‘Jesus’. Notwithstanding such fantasies, the Lord Jesus will execute God’s wrath on the world. ‘Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron sceptre. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty’ (Revelation 19:15).

The same Lord Jesus is the only cover and protection against God’s righteous wrath and indignation for us sinners. We who truly believe in him can rest assured that since we have now been 'justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him' (Romans 5:9). We are not terrified by God’s judgement, for 'we wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath' (1 Thessalonians 1:10); 'For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ' (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

On that momentous day, what will the Lord Jesus show you? Mercy or wrath? Will he take you in his arms or will he stamp you under his feet?

(Gospel e-Letter - August 2018)

1 July 2018

Blessed is She that Believed

Faith is a brilliant jewel that adorns the holy character of Mary. Through faith, she received the unique blessing of becoming the mother of the Lord according to the flesh. Even as Elizabeth exclaimed, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

It could not have been easy for the young Jewish woman to accept the angel’s message that she would conceive and give birth to a son. How could that be? What would Joseph, her espoused husband, think? Will he put her away? Will she be disgraced among her people? And how was it possible that a virgin could conceive?

Despite many questions and uncertainties, Mary believed God’s message. She may not have understood everything, but this she knew for certain: God is trustworthy and he is able to do what he promised. Mary’s response reveals her believing and obedient heart, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

We are faced with a similar decision. God’s Word comes to us promising salvation to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. “For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” And again, “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom 10:11, 13).

All sorts of questions immediately arise in our minds. How could that be? I am a great sinner! I am unworthy! I have no merits!

To such objections, faith responds: My guilt is great; greater still is the grace of God. I have nothing to offer to God, but I will cling to the cross of Christ, his Son. Since God has promised that whoever believes in Jesus will be saved, I am fully convinced that he will keep his word. God is faithful! Therefore I now trust in the Lord Jesus for my salvation. I rely completely on Him. Lord, my soul is in your mighty and merciful hands!

Blessed are we who believe, for God will most certainly keep his Word and save us.

(Gospel e-Letter - July 2018)

1 June 2018

Did Christ Redeem the Whole World?

According to Roman Catholic teaching, the whole world has been redeemed by the work of Jesus Christ. Pope Francis said: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class!”

Is this true?

The dictionary defines the word "redemption" as the "releasing effected by payment of ransom; deliverance; liberation procured by the payment of a ransom." The concept of deliverance and the payment of a ransom emerge clearly from the use of the word in the Bible. The Redeemer is the Lord; redemption comes from Him, and the ransom He paid was His blood, His life. The sinner is delivered from the present evil age, the former way of life, the curse of the law and from sin (cf. Psalm 111:9; 130:7; Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45; Acts 20:28; Romans 3:24; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:20; 7:23; Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 1:4; 3:13; 4:4,5; Colossians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18,19; Hebrews 9:12,15; Revelation 5:9).

We must emphasize that according to the Holy Scriptures, redemption means the forgiveness of sins: "In Him (in Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). And again, "In whom (in Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:14). The apostle Paul equates "redemption" with "forgiveness." In other words, to have "redemption" is the same as having "forgiveness of sins." Whoever is forgiven is redeemed; whoever is redeemed is forgiven.

Now please ask yourself this question: “If the whole world is redeemed (as the Catholic church teaches), and the Bible says that redemption means the forgiveness of sins, is it true that the whole world is forgiven?” You will agree that this is not so. Rather than forgiven, the world is guilty before God (Romans 3:19). Multitudes are still bound by sin, and unless they are freed from that bondage before their death, they are in danger of eternal perdition in hell. Clearly, the whole world is not forgiven. And therefore, since the whole world is not forgiven, the Roman Catholic theory that the whole world is redeemed is false.

Who then has the right to say, “I am redeemed by Christ?” The Bible tells us clearly that a person must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins. As the Apostle Peter preached: “To Him (Christ) all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

If you want to be redeemed and forgiven, believe in Him; believe in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ for He is able to save to the uttermost. Believe in Him, do not rely on your penances, your works, or someone else. Believe in Him, completely. Believe in Him, alone.

If you do so, you will have remission of sins, according to the promise, “whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” If you believe in Christ you will be redeemed, freed from your sins, not on account of anything that you have done, but by the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. With the believers in Ephesus and Colosse, and all believers everywhere and in all ages, you can rejoice and say, “In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Then, being free from sin, you will have all the opportunity in the world to do good works to express your gratitude for the amazing love of God.

Make no mistake! Only believers in Christ are redeemed and forgiven; the rest are not. The opportunity for you to be freed for your sin is now. Turn to Jesus. If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Only then you will become a child of God.

(Gospel e-Letter - June 2018)