No Other Gospel

6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:6-9 / NIV)

Knowing the true gospel of Christ is so important. Being able to discern false teachings is so important. It is because there is only one way, Jesus Christ, who redeems and saves. He is the Word who was, in the beginning, with God and who was God (John1:1).

And he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And it is not by good works or any works we do, but “by grace” one receives salvation. Through faith in Jesus Christ, we are redeemed. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Rom.3:22-24). Because of salvation that we have received freely by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, we do the good works. Because we are redeemed, we want to live the life that is worthy of the gospel. Let’s not forget that what count is not our deeds but Christ’s. Our deeds are the fruits of the gift we received from God in Christ.

Amen!

The Foolishness to the World,

1 Corinthians 1:18-31

18 For the message of cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

            “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;

            the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greek look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

There is nothing for us to boast about but the Gospel.

We do not need to add anything of our own because cross itself is the power and the wisdom of God. And our humanly intelligence cannot grasp the depth and the power of the cross, so it tells us that the cross is foolishness. However, that foolishness is of God, which is wiser than our wisdom. Preach the Gospel. We do not need to add anything to it although we might be mistakenly thinking that our words and thoughts would make it sound better. Preach the Gospel. Preach the cross of Christ.

“The cross is not something to which one may add human wisdom and thereby make it superior; rather, the cross stands in absolute, uncompromising contradiction to human wisdom” (Fee, 66).

Who could have thought of God to be crucified? It is God’s scheme. God’s promise for the redemption of His people had been foretold over and over again throughout the Old Testament. Yet, crucifixion of Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Redeemer, had never come across the minds of the people who heard the message. Why? Because it is, according to Fee’s terms, “too preposterous” and “too humiliating” (Fee, 68).

“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Rom. 1:21-23).

This is the result of human wisdom. All we can do on our own, at the best, is to create something like us and label it ‘God’ and worship our creation. As Paul wrote in verse 21 of 1 Corinthians 1, we did not come to know God. Through the foolishness of what was preached, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God revealed Himself so vividly to redeem the ones who believe. Things from our own do not help us know God. Only God shows Himself to us so that we may know Him. Then, why do we even try to add our own voice and lowly wisdom to what is so powerful as it is? Why do we try to empty the power of cross?

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel – not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power” (1 Corinthians1:17).

Cross was the way of God. Cross was the way no one had expected. God works in the ways that often seem “foolish” to us.  Paul in v.22-23 says, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greek look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified

Fee informs us, “Messiah meant power, splendor, triumph; crucifixion meant weakness, humiliation, defeat. Little wonder that both Jew and Greek were scandalized by the Christian message” (Fee, 75). The Jews could not be angrier than they were about such a blasphemous message. For Greek, the message could not be crazier than it is. But that was the way of God by which He gives salvation to all who believe. For those who are called, the crucifixion of Christ is the power and the wisdom that is the greatest of all.

Sometimes, I find myself being frightened by the demands of the world. I become anxious, thinking ‘what if I do not know the answers?’ or ‘what if I cannot show them what they are looking for?’ But there is no need for me to worry. What the world really needs is not my wisdom and knowledge, but Christ crucified. Christ resurrected. Christ the living. This is a simple truth that I have known since I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, yet I often forget. This is not to say that I want to be lazy about learning and growing in my knowledge. I should not be lazy. But through this passage, God is reminding me that what I need to take with me when I go out to the world is the Gospel, the living power and wisdom of the one true living God.

 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Romans1:16).

Source Used.

Fee, Gordon D. The First Epistle to the Corinthians. In The New International Commentary on the New Testament.Grand Rapids,MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987.

“Personal Relationship with Christ” that We Speak Of …

Christians, including myself, frequently speak of a “personal relationship” that we have with Christ. I often wondered what people meant when they said, “I have personal relationship with him.” When others asked me about it, I simply said things like “I know him and he knows me”, “The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in me”, “The relationship between me, as his servant, and him, as my LORD and Savior”, “loving relationship”, and so forth. I believe all of them are exactly what any other Christians mean when they talk about the relationship with Christ. However, God taught me through a particular passage about the relationship we speak of in more vivid way.

Romans 6:4-10 (NIV)

4 We were therefore buried  with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we  know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin – 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer  has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

In this passage, the apostle Paul wrote about what takes place when a person accepts Christ as his Lord and Savior. When a person accepts Christ, his old-self, which is controlled by the power of sin, dies with Christ’s death on the cross. And, the person receives new life, which is under the Lordship of Christ, completely released from the power of sin, with the resurrection of Christ. The radical change from death to life takes place when we believe Jesus Christ in our hearts as our Lord and Savior. Our union with Christ as believers is  the “personal relationship” with him that we speak of.

This fact has a significant implication. Union with Christ that has brought us from death to life has made us new creation of God. Our lives should reflect the change! We cannot be the same as we had been before we met Christ. In the passage we are looking at, we are not necessarily talking about how much or how often we read our Bible, how much we pray, or how much we are involved in church activities. We are talking about whether our lives show the freedom from the power of sin. Are we living as the ones who are under the Lordship of Christ? Are we becoming more and more like Christ?

Paul in verses 11-14 commanded believers to remember the change in the state of our being that occurred when we accepted Jesus Christ and to live as who we are in Christ. We cannot say that we have personal relationship and live as the ones who do not have it. We must be different not only in the ways we participate in religious activities but also in the ways we actually live our lives. Being active in religious activities does not necessarily mean that you have personal relationship with Him!

The Good News ..

Praise the LORD !

At the end of last semester, God convicted my heart of the need for intentional witnessing. I have never really met people who do not know Christ since I got to the United States.  Since 2003, the year I came to the United States, I spent most of my time at school, church, and home. When I was in high school, I was not really talking to many people because of my language barrier. Then, when my English got better, I was in college, a Baptist College in the seminary where I am studying now. In my undergrad, I studied so hard that I had hardly ever hung out even with my friends. But when I was graduating from college, I realized that it was a big mistake.

I came to seminary not to do academic study only. I came to school to learn so that I can teach others. I came to school to prepare for the ministry God has called me to. Good thing I was looking forward to my future ministry, but too bad that I was missing out the ministry God had given me as I was studying at the seminary. So, when I was coming back to do my graduate study,  I decided that I would not make the same mistake again.

So, last semester, which was my first semester in grad school, God allowed me to have time to spend with people that I love. Last semester, God restored my relationships with the people that I could have the sense of belonging, which I had lost for a quite long time. Then, at the end of semester, I felt like God was telling me that now it is the time for me to go and meet new people so that they can have “restored relationship with Him”. I knew that I would never be able to meet new people without intentionally going out to meet them.

From that time, one of my prayer requests for 2011 has been that God would lead me to intentionally go out and seek those people who are longing for the relationship with God. And, I am writing this to tell you about how quickly He responded to the prayer.

Because of one of the assignments in a class I’m taking this semester, I am obligated to go out to do personal evangelism. This has prevented me from making excuses for not going out. So, I have been going out to share my faith every week since the first week of this month. And, last week, I had a chance to lead somebody to Christ. “O…my…gosh….. really?!” This was my initial response. My presentation of the gospel was not so very much organized or structured. I was not very eloquent in my sharing. Yet, the lady I was sharing with was really listening, and, without any hesitance, accepted Jesus as her Savior and LORD. It was truly the work of the Holy Spirit. Although I spoke, it was Him who worked in her heart. It was the power of the Gospel that saved her. All I did was “speaking”. Then, yesterday, as I was spending time with my friend’s  sister, God allowed me to have a chance to share the Gospel. Growing up in a Christian home, she was very familiar with the Gospel. Yet, she had never made it personal until last night!

“PRAISE THE LORD!!!”

First for their salvation, and second for Him using someone like me.  I just wanted to share my experience with you so that you can rejoice in God’s work in the lives of people around us!

Also, I want to share one thing that really helped me overcome my fear of witnessing. I am aware of that many people are afraid of sharing their faith with people that they know or people that they do not know. I was in the same place, and I cannot say that I would never be in the same place again. But this really helped me a lot when I was sharing my faith with others, and I hope it would help you as well as you share the gospel with the people you care.

“I am not ashamed of the gospel,

because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:

first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Rom. 1:16/ NIV)

“The Word of God” has the power to change lives. As it changed your life, it has the power to change other people’s lives as well. What we need to do is to trust in the power of the Gospel. It is not you that brings salvation. It is the power of the Gospel that brings salvation to those who believe. All we have to do is to trust and “talk” about it, and God will work through us.

Philippians 3:18-21

18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears,

many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach,

and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.

20  But our citizenship is in heaven.

And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control,

will transform our lowly bodies

so that they will be like his glorious body.  (NIV)

 

Does your life look like that of the ones whose citizenship is in heaven? Do you have the hope of resurrection Paul and the believers in Philippi had?