SOME GOOD NEWS
MALVERN RESIDENT TO ANOTHER
GREETINGS, GIDDAY, KIA-ORA,
We are part of a group of families who are fellow residents of Malvern. Well, Darfield to be exact. Like many in our region and right across the whole world, our lives are being powerfully transformed by Jesus. The great thing is that this experience is not only limited to a select few, but it is available to everyone.
As with most things, when you discover a great deal, you want to tell others about it.
This being the case, we decided to compile this small booklet, knowing that time does not always allow to explain things in full. But not only that, some of the things that need to be understood can take time to process which may be better suited for the quietness of one’s own home.
And so…how have our lives been transformed by Jesus?
Well, it comes down understanding five main things…
- The truth about God.
- The truth about ourselves.
- he problem we all face.
- What God has done to resolve this problem.
- How we need to respond.
You don’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to acknowledge that it’s impossible for something to come from nothing.
Think of the houses that are being built in the new subdivisions all around us. If someone was to say that those houses just randomly appeared, you would think that person was either having you on, or that they were out of their minds. Instead, we look at a house with it’s architectural design and carefully
constructed materials, and we draw the only reasonable conclusion, “someone must have made this”.
Well in a similar way, as we look at the world around us; the plants, animals, human-beings; the ocean, seasons, gravity, the sun, stars and planets for instance – it’s only reasonable to conclude the same thing, “someone must have made this.” Well, this is exactly what the Bible confirms…
'' FOR SINCE THE CREATION OF THE WORLD GOD’S INVISIBLE QUALITIES—HIS ETERNAL POWER AND DIVINE NATURE—HAVE BEEN CLEARLY SEEN, BEING UNDERSTOOD FROM WHAT HAS BEEN MADE, SO THAT PEOPLE ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE. ``
What this means, is that the existence of the universe points to the fact that there is a God who has created it.
So if there is a divine being who is responsible for bringing everything into existence, the question arises, “how can we know what God is like?”
Simply put, the only way we can know what God is like is if he chooses to reveal himself to us. Thankfully for us, he has revealed himself…
through the Bible – a book that is actually a collection of books, all which are inspired by God.
And what we learn about God is that He is perfect in every way. He is never unjust or unfair, but he always does what is right. He is loving, caring and compassionate.
So…that’s the truth about God. But what about you and I?
A good way to cut to the chase is to ask the question, “do you consider yourself to be a good person?”
If you’re anything like us, you’re thinking something like, “I know I’m not perfect, but generally speaking, I consider myself to be a good person. After all, I’m not as bad as others.”
And that’s fair enough. It’s only natural for us to assess ourselves by measuring ourselves against others. After all, what other standard do we have to measure by?
But have you ever considered this question – “are you a good person
according to God’s standard?” If you’re anything like us, the fi rst thing that comes to mind is, “it depends, what is God’s standard of good?”
Simply put, God’s standard of good is complete moral perfection, as he reveals in his law, the ten commandments.
Let’s take a moment to look at a few and see how we stack up to God’s standard…
Firstly, how many lies do you estimate that you have told in your entire life time?
If you’re anything like us, it’s in the hundreds or even thousands.
What do you call someone who has lied? Simple. A liar.
Ok, how about this one – have you ever stolen something regardless of its value?
Whether it was lollies as a child, music or movies from the internet, stationery from work, or taxes on an annual return, it’s most likely that each one of us has taken something which has not belonged to us.
What do you call someone who has stolen something? A thief.
How about this one – have you ever used God’s name to express displeasure or to curse? e.g. “Oh my God!”, “Jesus Christ!”
The Bible calls this blasphemy, which is really serious to God.
Ok, one more - Jesus once said, that if we look at another person with lust, we have committed adultery on a heart level.
Have you ever looked at another person with lust? If you’re a red-blooded kiwi, of course you have.
So…what we’ve done, is that we’ve stepped through four of the ten commandments, which is God’s standard as to whether or not someone is good.
Now, please rest assured that we are certainly not judging you. In fact, we are in exactly the same boat.
But here’s the question – if God was to judge you according to his standard, the ten
commandments, would you be found innocent or guilty?
We know the answer. We would be found guilty.
By our own admission, we are lying, thieving, blaspheming, adulterers at heart, and that was only looking at four of the ten commandments.
Now at this point, we may be thinking, “if God’s
standard is that high, wouldn’t everyone be found guilty?”
Exactly. The Bible puts it like this…
'' FOR ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD…. ``
And this brings us to the problem that we all face...
With all of the uncertainty that we can face in life, there is one thing that we can be completely certain of – ten out of ten people will one day die.
It’s an inescapable reality that we must all face one day.
The Bible puts it like this…
'' IT IS APPOINTED FOR MEN TO DIE ONCE, BUT AFTER THIS THE JUDGMENT… (HEBREWS 9:27)
The sober reality is that each one of us will one day stand before the one who has made us,
and he will judge us according to his perfect moral standard, the ten commandments.
The result of that day of judgement will either land a person in heaven – a place of unending joy together with God. Or hell – a place of unending misery apart from God.
The question again - if God was to judge you according to his standard, the ten commandments, would you be found innocent or guilty? And if guilty, would it be heaven or hell?
Now we can totally understand the natural resistance to this idea of hell.
Maybe at this point, you’re thinking to yourself, “surely God will see the good that I’ve done – surely that has got to count for something?”
But try that in a court of law. “Judge, I know that I’ve broken the law, but I helped my mum with the dishes when I was young, and I’ve donated to charities.”
What would the judge say?
The judge would be pleased that you’ve done good. But the good doesn’t cancel out the bad. Instead, the judge must issue a just penalty for the crime that’s been committed.
Or maybe we’re thinking to ourselves, “if God is loving and forgiving, surely he will just forgive me for my wrong?”
But again, try that in a court of law.
If a judge let a guilty criminal off the hook without any penalty, we would consider that judge to be corrupt, unjust, and not doing their job properly.
On the other hand, the Bible tells us that God is a good, just judge, and must therefore do what any good judge must do when it comes to wrong doing.
In a sense, hell can be understood as God’s means of justice – prison without parole.The Bible puts it like this…
'' FOR ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD…. ``
What this means is that our sin separates us from God because God is perfect and we are not.
Some may still object by saying, “I just don’t believe in hell”. Well, this is kind of like a
convicted criminal telling the judge that he doesn’t believe in the electric chair. The criminal’s belief doesn’t change the reality if that’s what his sentence is.
With this in mind, we come back to the question – “does it concern you that if God was to judge you by his standard, you would be found guilty rather than innocent? Therefore, you would be destined for hell rather than heaven?”
When we’re honest, of course this concerns us.
We love life. And if there is an opportunity for life to continue beyond the here and now, don’t we want to take it?
But what about this dilemma between the fact that God is good, and we are not?
How is it possible that anyone can be forgiven and experience heaven, given that God is just?
Now we realise that what’s been explained about judgement and hell are not easy truths to talk about. But then again, if it’s true, then it’s something that should be considered.
It’s like the doctor who has to inform his patient of their life-threatening disease. It is not an easy thing to do, but it is necessary, so that the appropriate treatment can be applied.
In a similar way, it is important that we understand the bad news, so that we can appreciate the good news.
What is the good news? What is the treatment for our condition?
The good news is that God is rich in mercy and he has provided a way for our sins to be punished without us having to experience the penalty ourselves.
How is this possible?
Well, a little over 2,000 years ago, God came to earth as a man, in the person of Jesus. He lived a perfectly sinless life. He proved himself to be God through what he taught, along with the many, many miracles that he performed.
But his main purpose for coming to earth, is so that he could die by way of crucifi xion, a cruel and horrible death.
Now…this is the critical thing to understand about the death of Jesus…
His death was very unique in the sense that when Jesus died, he took upon himself all of the punishment that our sins deserve. The innocent taking the place of the guilty.
To better understand this, think of the courtroom scene again. The judge finds us guilty as charged and fines us $100 trillion dollars or life imprisonment. Unable to pay the fine, but just before the judge lowers the hammer, a person rushes into the courtroom and agrees to pay the $100 trillion dollars on our behalf.
The judge can therefore legally dismiss our case, because justice has been done. We can freely walk out of the courtroom because our fine has been paid for by another. Well in a similar way, this is what the death of Jesus accomplished on our behalf. We are guilty of breaking God’s law, but we have the opportunity to go free because our fine has been paid for by another.
Because of God’s great love for us, he made a way for our sin to be forgiven and for us to experience everlasting life.
The Bible puts it like this…
'' VERY RARELY WILL ANYONE DIE FOR A RIGHTEOUS PERSON, THOUGH FOR A GOOD PERSON SOMEONE MIGHT POSSIBLY DARE TO DIE. BUT GOD DEMONSTRATES HIS OWN LOVE FOR US IN THIS: WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US. (ROMANS 5:7-8)
THE WAGES OF SIN IS DEATH, BUT THE GIFT OF GOD IS ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD. (ROMANS 6:23)``
Well, it didn’t end there. Three days later, Jesus rose again from dead which was witnessed by over 500 people over a period of forty days. His resurrection proved that everything Jesus said was true. That Jesus is God, that his death was accepted by God as full payment for our sin, and that there is also future hope for us beyond the grave.
Jesus ascended into heaven and promised to return one day to bring complete restoration to
the world that he created.
But in the meantime, he is offering people an opportunity to receive forgiveness for their sins, along with the hope of everlasting life in heaven.
Now perhaps at this point, we’re thinking to ourselves, “is there anything required of me to experience God’s forgiveness and hope for the future?”
As it is with any kind of gift, we need to receive it in order for us to benefit from it.
The way that we receive forgiveness and the hope of everlasting life is by responding with repentance and faith, which are really two sides of the same coin.
Repentance is a change of mind.
A change in one’s mind to agree with what the
Bible says about God – that he is perfect, just and must therefore punish those who break his commands.
A change in one’s mind to agree with what the Bible says about ourselves – that we are guilty of sin, breaking God’s law, and are therefore deserving of the just penalty of hell.
Faith is believing, clinging to and relying upon Jesus.
Believing, clinging to and relying upon the fact that Jesus died in our place as our substitute, taking upon himself the just penalty that our sin deserves.
Believing, clinging to and relying upon the fact that Jesus rose again from the dead, offering forgiveness for our sins, and a destiny with him in heaven.
Believing, clinging to and relying upon the fact that Jesus is our only hope of entering into a right
relationship with God, because our good works cannot earn God’s favour.
The Bible puts it like this…
'' FOR IT IS BY GRACE YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED, THROUGH FAITH—AND THIS IS NOT FROM YOURSELVES, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD— NOT BY WORKS, SO THAT NO ONE CAN BOAST. (EPHESIANS 2:8-9) ``
If the truths from the Bible which are communicated in this booklet are meeting you where you are currently at, please let us encourage you to pray to God, asking him to save you, and thanking him for Jesus.
True repentance and faith will have a transforming effect in your life, as God replaces your desire to sin with a desire to follow his plans and purposes for your life, in which you will experience true joy, peace and hope.
Although this change doesn’t happen all at once, the way to help facilitate this change is by…
Reading the Bible. If you don’t have one, we would love to gift you with one (www.goodnews4malvern.nz).
Attending a Christianity Explored course (www.christianityexplored.org. Your local Malvern contacts: www.goodnews4malvern.nz).
Becoming part of a local church. Where you can gather with other people who are on a similar journey, to learn more about God and his plans and purposes for your life. We can help you fi nd a local church to gather together with (www.goodnews4malvern.nz).
Now if the content of this booklet has caught your attention, but you feel like you’re sitting on the fence about the whole thing, the Christianity Explored course (mentioned above) will probably be right up your alley. It’s a place where you can ask questions, while learning more about the claims of Christianity in a relaxed environment.
Either way, thank you for taking the time to read through this booklet.
Jesus is transforming our lives through the hope and the purpose he offers. He can do the same for you also.
'' FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE
GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON, THAT
WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH
BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. FOR GOD DID NOT
SEND HIS SON INTO THE WORLD TO
CONDEMN THE WORLD, BUT TO SAVE THE
WORLD THROUGH HIM.
(JOHN 3:16-17) ``