Newsletter October, 2003

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

October, 2003


"Am I in the Fold?"

There is a deep restlessness in our soul that causes us to be dissatisfied, worried and afraid of death. As a result, men live in the darkness with no peace nor joy. Being merciful toward man, God sent His only-begotten Son into the world to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows. He was stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. By His scourging we are healed. The apostle John recorded the life of Jesus so that man may (1) know that He is the Christ, the Son of God, and (2) believe in His Name and have life (John 20:31). This divine new life makes the weak strong and the poor satisfied, for all the fullness of God dwells in Him (Col. 1:19, 2:9). We shall meditate upon this life from the first eleven chapters of the gospel of John.

In Chapter 1 John the Baptist testified that Jesus is the Son of God, and also the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (1:29). Then Jesus asked the two disciples Andrew and John, "What do you seek?". This question ought to be answered by ourselves, namely, what do we seek in our lives? In Chapter 2 Jesus changed water into wine at the wedding of Cana. He intends to give man a fuller life in order to manifest His glory. He wants us to have such a life in Him. Jesus told Nicodemus in Chapter 3 that he must be born again. Only through this divine life one can have fellowship with God, to see and then to enter into the Kingdom of God (3:3,5). In Chapter 4 Jesus revealed to the Samaritan woman that He gives the living water, i.e. the eternal life to satisfy her so she will never be thirst again. In Chapter 5 He asked the lame "Do you wish to get well?"(5:6), for the man needed the rest Jesus had to offer. With His Word and through the man's faith He gave him the life that is strong and victorious for deliverance from decay. In Chapter 6 Jesus fed the five thousand to show that He is the bread of life. "He who comes to Me will never hunger and he who believes in Me will never thirst," (6:35). "This is the will of the Father, that all who behold the Son and believe in Him will have eternal life, and I will raise them to life in the last day," (6:40). Truly our Lord is God, who supplies all our needs, so Peter responded, "Lord, you have words of eternal life. To whom shall we go?" (6:68). Jesus of Chapter 7 asked us not to judge by outward appearance but in the light of the Spirit to know Him as the Son and receive Him by faith. By doing so there flows the river of living water from one's innermost being, (7:38).

Chapters 8 through 11 represent another new section. It explains that one must remove three things in order to receive this eternal life: sin, blindness and death, which the life Jesus gives will deal with. In Chapter 8 an adulteress was caught and brought to Jesus. He teaches that all have sinned, but He does not condemn. The Savior full of grace comes not to judge but to release the sinners from sin, so that they sin no more, (8:11). Without blotting out sin one cannot have the divine life of the Son. Then Jesus healed the blind in Chapter 9, and led him step by step to know that He is the Son of God and the Christ. We are all born blind spiritually, not seeing our own sins in darkness nor our need for redemption (9:39-41). Thank God for He is the light of the world (8:12), and came to open our eyes so that we have the light of life showing a new direction. Jesus said in John 10:9-10, "I am the door. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved..... I come so that they may have life and have it more abundantly." Only by entering the fold through Jesus Christ one can hear His voice and follow Him. True salvation comes with His abundant life, i.e. the eternal life (10:27-28). In Chapter 11 Jesus raised Lazareth from the dead to manifest His mighty power of resurrection, overcoming the power of death. In v. 25-26 Jesus said, "I am resurrection and life. Whoever believes in Me, though dead, shall live again. He who lives and believes in Me shall never die." It was not only a word for Martha, but for the whole world: He who truly believes in Him will have eternal life and never die. Coming to 11:53 the high priest and the Pharisees determined to kill Jesus the Savior of the world. The Master had taught the truth of salvation and the enemy was determined to eliminate Him. How the religion and life are in direct contrast opposing each other! Religion has the appearance of goodness, but cannot solve man's problems. It does not give the divine life, but leads to destruction and death.

Why is it that many accepted Jesus but do not enjoy the abundant life? Jesus pointed out in 10:10a that it is because of the thieves entering into the fold. The Jewish religious power formed a false fold, no longer the fold of Jesus. The same is true for today's church; many who do not have Jesus' life have entered. They represent a false religion or prophet to divide and to form factions.... They steal the flock's life, and kill and destroy. The apostle Paul called our attention to such thieves.

The "thieves" emphasize the following:

(1) Good deeds: This is essential, but the Pharisees only did it on the surface to obey the law. They condemned others and did not allow others to have Jesus. They crucified the Lord of life, for they themselves had no life.

(2) Rituals: Membership, baptism and communion...they have it all except Jesus Christ. Nicodemus observed the rituals far better than we do, but he needed to be born again. Only when he believed in Jesus that he was saved.

(3) Busyness: The thieves demand that you attend meetings, serve and pray... These are important and good. Nicodemus was a teacher, knowing full well the law. But he must be born again. Cornelius was a God-fearing man, nevertheless he was not saved, until Peter came to proclaim the Name of Jesus.

(4) Zeal: The Lord wants us to be zealous, but our zeal is not equivalent to salvation. Often as soon as a man expresses a spiritual desire in Jesus, we put him to work, demand his zeal but never find out if he truly believes. The Pharisees were far more zealous than we are, but they did not receive the life of Jesus, nor did they lead others to Jesus.

(5) Furthermore, one may see visions and experience miracles such as tongues and prophecy.... But, if he does not have the life of Christ, he is like the blind man in Chapter 9, who met Jesus, washed his eyes and saw, yet not saved. Not until he was excommunicated and Jesus revealed Himself to this man that he was saved. How pitiful in today's church circle that many are as blind as that man. They experienced healing but do not know who the Son of God is. This is the devil's scheme by entering into the fold to steal and kill and destroy. Satan does not want man to have Jesus. He may even give you some success, an answered prayer, a resolved conflict, all in accordance with your wishes. But in the end you do not have Jesus. All the successes become a substitute for the true blessing of God, i.e. Jesus the Son.

Jesus said, "I am the door. He who enters through Me will be saved, and go in and out and find pasture," (10:9). Jesus wants to call His sheep by name and lead them out. He goes ahead of them and His sheep follow Him, for they hear His voice," (10:3-4). There is none other than Jesus being the way and our only door. The flock of the Shepherd must enter through Him to go to the Father (14:6). If you claim to be a believer but hear not His voice, you may not truly know Jesus yet. If you do not follow Him, He will not profess you either. As a true believer, we must know how to hear His voice and follow Him, then He condemns us not. Our conscience must be touched as those in Chapter 8, and our eyes open as in Chapter 9 to truly repent before God with honesty. Then our sins will be forgiven as in Chapter 10 to enter into that abundant life. In 9:41 Jesus pointed out to the Pharisees that they said they could see, therefore their sins remained. If we feel that we know and see more than others, perhaps our sins remain. True salvation definitely takes us through this step of denying self and trusting God. When we fully surrender ourselves to the Master, ours is the salvation. Otherwise, we will be like the crowd in John 8-10 who did not believe no matter how much and how hard Jesus preached to them. "What do you seek?" asked Jesus. "Do you want to be well?" asked Jesus. Only through this door of forgiveness can we hear the voice of Jesus and follow Him, then we are the truly disciples of the Master who promises life and life more abundant.