Newsletter April, 2005

ORLANDO CHINESE CHURCH

MONTHLY NEWSLETTER

April, 2005


Believe In The Lord Jesus

Many people can only believe what they see, so they do not believe in God. However, in reality, God's majesty is manifested in all visible living things including men.

God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:20). For example, it is no coincidence that there is life on earth. Astronomer Hugh Ross listed 33 different constants (such as the weight and the volume of the earth, the distance between the earth and the sun, and etc.) in our solar system that enable life on earth. He concluded that "much less than one chance in a million trillion exists that even one such planet would occur anywhere in the universe" (The Creator And The Cosmos, NavPress, 1995). It is really amazing. We would never say that a camera came into existence by itself without a designer or a manufacturer. How can we then believe that the much more complex and precise human eye is formed by itself?

Romans 1:19 also tells us that what is known of God is manifest in men; for God manifested it unto them. For instance, even though men are mortal, men always seek immortality. It was said that once an emperor of the Tang Dynasty sought for an immortal life, so much so that he took an immortal-life tonic from a sorcerer and was poisoned to death. We can never find the right way for eternal life on our own. Since ancient times, men have been worshipping God. Xinhua news agency reported on April 28, 1999 that recent genetic study had revealed that us Chinese people could not have evolved from the Peking man pekinensis. Instead, our genes share a common origin with other races of people in the world. We like to call ourselves the descendents of Emperor Yen-Huang. According to historical writings, we know that Emperor Huang worshiped God whenever he came to a mountain. He also gave the worship a special name called "feng chan". Today, on all five continents you can find people worshipping God. This tells us that human beings have the instinct to worship God. When you call someone Mr. Wang by mistake, you cannot deny that you know that Mr. Wang exists. Likewise, when people worship false gods by mistake, they at least know that God exists. However, when people worship things other than the true God, they are sinners in the eyes of God.

Though many people do not believe in either eternity or God, most people admit that they have conscience. When a person does something wrong that none other know about, he supposedly should feel lucky and happy. Instead, often times the wrong doer becomes very anxious and restless due to the accusations of his conscience. In 1811, during the presidency of James Madison, a "conscience fund" was set up when someone sent in an anonymous check for $5. Obviously the man had defrauded the government and wanted to get peace with his own guilty conscience. By Year 2000, the federal government had collected $3.5 million in that conscience fund.

In addition, we often face blames from our conscience even when we have not done anything against human laws or regulations. During the big famine in Sudan, a photo was taken of a bald-headed vulture staring at a skinny girl while she was trying to climb to the rescue center. That photo won the Pulitzer Prize. However, the prize-winning photographer, Kevin Carter, took his own life months later, because he did not help the girl at the time as his conscience directed him to. Apparently, conscience is not totally based on human laws. Instead, it often demands much more from us. If God had not put conscience in men, few people would choose to have it. Many people would rather have no conscience so that they can do whatever they want to without the bother from their conscience. The great German philosopher Immanuel Kant once said, "Since we have conscience and ethics, we cannot deny the existence of God." Romans 2:14-15 clearly indicates that conscience has been put in us to bear witness of God's law.

Hebrews 10:1-4 show us that during the Old Testament time, the Israelite could not fully purify their conscience through the sacrifices. As a result, they constantly felt guilty and had to offer sacrifices frequently. John 8:3-11 tells the story of a woman caught in adultery. The Pharisees brought her and made her stand before the crowd on the temple ground. They asked Jesus if they should stone her to death as per the law. Jesus said, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." At these words, they went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last. Jesus was left alone with the woman. The original Greek Bible indicates that they left because their conscience revealed their sins. If we honestly examine our conscience, we'll find sins we have committed such as lies, pride, jealousy, evil desires, etc.

Most religions advise people to do more good deeds and less bad ones in order to avoid the accusations from our conscience. There was a monk in Tang Dynasty who was good at meditation. Once he meditated for such a long time that a bird made a nest in his hair. When he was finished, he went back into the temple with the bird nest in his hair. A great Chinese poet of that time, Bai Juyi, asked the monk to put his belief into simple words. The monk answered, "The key is to do all good and to avoid all wrong." Bai laughed at the monk, saying, "Even a three year old knows that." However, the monk replied, "An eighty year old cannot do what a three year old knows." It's true that we all know that we should behave ourselves. Yet we often fail. No matter how hard we try, we won't be good enough in the sight of God.

Besides, when we do good deeds to please men and to win their praises, God is not pleased. Matthew 6:1-2 says,"be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." Galatians 1:10, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ."

As the saying goes, it is easy to do a good deed, but it is difficult to maintain good deeds everyday. Proverb 3:27 tells us not to withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in our power to act. God demands complete goodness in us. However, who dare to say that he has done all good deeds he could? As Matthew 23:23 records, Jesus once criticized the self-righteous people, "woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former." In Taiwan, a Christian built many houses to accomodate the homeless. Brother Kou Shiyuan was pleased at this and said to him, "The only thing missing is a church for these people." This brother answered, "My sole purpose is to help them in their living. To building a church would cause them to misunderstand my purpose." Brother Kou was very sad at hearing this reply. God does want us to do good deeds. But the best deed is to lead people to repentance and to peace. Can food, clothes, and worldwide fame truly bring us peace and joy? Beethoven was a world famous composer. Before he died, he asked himself a question in vain, "Is my life's purpose just to compose nine symphonies?" Rockefeller is a millionaire. When he was asked when he would feel content. He answered, "I would be happy when I have one more dollar." Men can never find peace if the inner problem is not solved. They have to keep themselves busy to escape the inner emptiness. Men need a home for their souls. However, this cannot be achieved through social gospel that focuses on social welfare.

On the one hand, we cannot be completely good and righteous. On the other hand, our good deeds can rarely undo the sin we commit. Can a murderer be released from jail simply because he gives all his belongings to the poor? We know that there's no such thing. Man's sins cannot be forgiven through good deeds. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says that surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sins not. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

What can men do then? The only way is to trust in the true gospel through the Son of man who descended out of heaven and is in heaven. Romans 3:24-25 tells us that we can now be justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. Romans 5:1 says,"therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ". We are happy that six new brothers and sisters will be baptized on Easter Sunday. 1 Peter 3:21 tells us that this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also--not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Hebrews 10:22 encourages us to draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Our wish to have a peaceful conscience, a close relation with God, an access to eternal life cannot be realized through our own way, because it is far beyond our power and authority. With grace and mercy, God gave us His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins on the cross to pour out his precious blood to cleanse our conscience. Now, when we believe in the heavenly Sonship of Jesus, confess our sins, and believe that Jesus has made atonement for our sins, God calls us righteous. Jesus Christ did not just die for us; he was also resurrected so that we know for sure that he is the Son of God. His resurrection was witnessed by more than five hundred people. As per John 5:24, Jesus once said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." Therefore, we can indeed obtain peaceful conscience, be reconciled to God, and have eternal life. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." God Himself reveals that the only way to have our sins forgiven, to be right with God, and to have eternal life is through believing in Jesus Christ.

The great German theologist and reformer Martin Luther once hated God because of the torturing accusations from his conscience. He said, "When I was a monk, I was close to failure at each attack of a temptation. I tried all I could to suppress the voice of my conscience. I confessed my sins everyday without any use. I became very blue, hopeless, and bitter. Finally, I said to myself, 'Look, you are still jealous, quick tempered, and full of flesh. Poor guy, you have become a monk for nothing!' I saw myself as a big sinner before God. It was an impossible mission for me to ease the judging anger of God with my good deeds." Later he came to understand the true meaning of the gospel in the Spirit. He realized that through God's grace, sinners were called righteous once they believed. At such recognition, he was revived to be a new person. From then on, he found comfort, peace and joy in the Lord. Then when Martin was asked about how he could overcome the temptations of the devil. He answered, "When Satan knocks on the door of my heart and asks, 'Anyone home?' My dear Lord Jesus would open the door and answer him, 'Martin Luther used to live here, but he has moved out. Now I am here.' At the sight of Jesus' nail pierced hands and wounded side, the devil takes the flight."

The good news we are sharing is not about a religion or about the good deeds of Christians but about Jesus Christ. As atonement for our sin, he suffered in our place and was crucified, so that whoever trusts in him can have clear conscience. He was resurrected as a proof of his heavenly Sonship so that whoever trusts in him will not perish but have eternal life. Do you want such grace and eternal life? Come and believe in our Lord Jesus today. (Wang)