Tuesday, July 8, 2014

There is good news

I've noticed that although this site is new, I've been getting hits from places like Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. I'm not sure why folks from those countries would find my blog. I understand it takes quite some time before a new blog will show up on search engines. Nonetheless, this internet thing is far-reaching - it is amazing how we can connect with folks across the globe that we may never see in person on this earth.

It is also true that a registered 'view' on a page does not mean somebody has actually read it, but one can hope!

So I was thinking, I am focusing on this horrid subject of 'hell' and writing in detail about final punishment - shouldn't I also include the flip side of this subject: the good news?

The good news is the Gospel of Jesus Christ (we may call Him Yeshua, Messiah, Lord, Adonai, Emmanuel and the list goes on). Paul recounts the good news to new believers: "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…" (1 Cor. 15:1-4)

So you may wonder why did Jesus need to die for our sins? And why is that such good news? Well, for one, without Jesus we are totally separate from God and without hope:

"Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, …remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, …and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." (Eph. 2:11-13)

The Bible explains the truth about God and the world. We learn that sin is in the world ("…through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." - Rom. 5:12); we learn that sin is in us ("There is none who does good, there is not even one." - Rom. 3:12).

The Creator God, Yahweh (who also is called by many names in the Bible) is holy and our sin separates us from Him. In the end, sin brings death ("The wages of sin is death" - Rom. 6:23). We are slaves to sin and as we serve our 'master' we make ourselves enemies of the one true God (Rom. 5:10). If He is the Good Shepherd, we are the sheep that wander away from Him ("All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way." - Isa. 53:6).

We are so saturated with sin that even our 'good works' are like filthy, contaminated rags to Him (Isa. 64:6). We are apart from our holy Creator and without hope in the world (Eph. 2:12). Oh, wretched souls that we are, who can save us?

Thanks be to God for His Son Jesus! (Rom. 7:25, 1 Cor. 15:57, 2 Cor. 9:15)

If I were to describe Jesus in just one word it would be: LIFE! 

The life is in Jesus ("…God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son."  - 1 John 5:11). Without Jesus there is no life. He gives life to whom He chooses (John 5:21). Only in Him is life. There is no other way (Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life…"  - John 14:6). Because He lives, we may live also (John 14:19). 

We sing a song at church sometimes and right in the middle of the song, it suddenly says, "I"m alive, I'm alive, I'm alive!" over and over. I never imagine for a moment that I am singing about being physically alive. It is about life in Jesus - TRUE life, eternal life ("This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." - John 17:3). Because without Him is death (Rom. 6:23).

When you are born again by God's Spirit, your sins are washed away (Acts 22:16). The living water washes you cleaner than a newborn. Your crimson stains are made white as snow (Isa. 1:18). Don't you know we could never do that, with every talent and every effort of every soul on earth - we could never wash away the stain of sin. But Jesus does it! He pays a huge price, but He willingly pays it (He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities…" - Isa. 53:5).

The wages of sin is death. Our debt was piled high. We had no hope of paying it except by our final death. Jesus, who alone has this power, stepped in and took the debtor's note and cancelled it completely! He nailed it to the cross (Col. 2:14). My God, that is wonderful news. Who ever heard of any gift so staggeringly valuable and undeserved?

"…the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."   
                                                                          - Rom. 6:23

A person cannot do it justice. My suggestion is to read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - and then keep going through the New Testament. You will get the idea of the Good News. (Then of course, you should read the Old Testament too. Maybe just start with looking up all the verses in this post - it will be fun, too!)

If you feel yourself drawn to Him, do not resist. Listen to what His Spirit tells you from the Word and do it. You will have such joy that it will not be contained! ("Though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory." - 1 Peter 1:8)

Do you ever wonder why Christians are always getting in trouble for 'proselytizing'? It is because they cannot keep this good news to themselves! From the overflow of your heart your mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). Who can contain the Holy Spirit of the Lord living inside these clay vessels? Living water starts to flow out! Jesus said, "he who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water." - John 7:38

Once you taste the goodness of God, you will find no finer fare. You will realize there is no other place to go, for Jesus has words of life! (John 6:68) And He has the name that is above every other name (Eph. 1:21, Phil. 2:9).

Christians, if I have in any way not represented the Gospel correctly, please share a gentle correction. If you are not yet a Christian and have questions, please ask any that are on your heart.

God is pleased if you seek for immortality, but remember that He is the ONLY source of true life (Rom. 2:6-7, John 6:40).

"Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”  - Acts 2:37-39

Now, do you think that is good news? I do too.

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I understand this is a difficult subject and there are different views from folks who all value God's inspired word. I value your feedback, corrections and questions. Please leave a comment!