Category Archives: Evangelism

Sharing the Good News

Rayliu1

Pastor Ray’s blog Raykliu is continued in Rayliu1.

Please go to http://rayliu1.wordpress.com/ for future posts.Pastor Ray’s blog

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God’s “Angel”

stk202819rke

Our sister in Christ could have been very bitter, but instead she is full of joy and thankful for what the Lord allowed to happen in her life. She is number 6 in a family of 7 siblings. When she was one year old, she contracted polio which was misdiagnosed as a high fever. As a result, she was confined to a wheel chair at a very tender age.

Her brothers and sisters attended public school, but because of her condition she attended special education and heard Bible stories when young, although she did not understand them at that time. As she grew up, she felt her parents did not love her because of her handicap. The physical challenge increased her isolation and loneliness, and as a teenager she often contemplated suicide to end it all. The only thing that held her back was her fear of pain, so she hung on.

When she was 19, she “happened” to meet our hostess in a park. Instead of the usual apathy she expected, she was very warm and friendly towards her, showering her with care and concern. For the first time in her life she felt loved and accepted, and she thought our friend was an angel sent by God to encourage her. She hoped to see her again, but for the next 6 months they did not run into each other again, even though they lived in the same neighborhood.

Then one day they “accidentally” bumped into each other. It turned out both had been thinking about the other, so they agreed to meet daily, which they continued for half a year. Although our friend is an excellent evangelist, she never applied any pressure on her, but waited patiently for her to ask about spiritual things. One day she could not contain herself anymore, so she asked, “What are you doing in Taiwan?” This opened the dialogue towards the gospel, and six months later she was ready to be baptized. She grew in the Lord and even earned 24 credit hours at a bible school. Today she is a strong and cheerful Christian, more joyful than many we know.

Circumstances do not define us, God does. How well we relate to challenges in life depend on who we are inside. If you are God’s child, strengthen yourself in the Lord (1 Sam 30:6). If you are God’s servant, be an encourager. Your action speaks louder than your words.

The Kingdom Strikes Back!

We attended one of the projects our friends started – temple ministry. Rather than waiting for people to come to church, they went to the local temples to share the gospel by word and deed. Isn’t it time for your church to “go and make disciples” instead of just inviting people to come?

Setting up health "clinic" in front of community center to mingle with seniors who hang-out there.

Setting up health “clinic” in front of community center to mingle with seniors who hang-out there.

Services include measuring blood pressure and pulse, after which the seniors are given Ensure milk and bread.

Services include measuring blood pressure and pulse, after which the seniors are given Ensure milk and bread.

Neck and shoulder massage.

Neck and shoulder massage.

Foot massage. How many Christian workers do you know who have the humility to do that to  serve the people?

Foot massage. How many Christian workers do you know who have the humility to do that to serve the people?

Our friends use a gospel van, donated by a Christian foundation, to transport the equipment.

Our friends use a gospel van, donated by a Christian foundation, to transport the equipment.

But notice where the community center is located - right next to a Taoist temple! The Kingdom strikes back.

But notice where the community center is located – right next to a Taoist temple! The Kingdom strikes back.

After the health service our friends told bible stories right in front of the temple. The gates of Hades will not overpower it (Mt 16:18).

After the health service our friends told bible stories right in front of the temple. The gates of Hades will not overpower it (Mt 16:18).

Becoming a Christian (2 of 2)

Romans 10 9-10 d

(Continued from yesterday)

We have a Chinese saying, “sow melon, reap melons; sow bean, reap beans”.
Gal 6:7 For whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.
What is the consequence of sin?
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,
The wages, what you earn, from sin is death. Not just physical death, but also spiritual death, eternal separation from God.

Because God is just, He must punish sin:
Ex 34:7b He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.
• Ezk 18:4 The soul who sins will die.

Otherwise there would be no justice in this world, if sin can escape unpunished.

Man tries to save himself through leading a moral life, religion, and hope their good outweighs their bad deeds. But God knows that we can’t make it on our own, because even our best falls far short of His requirements:
Isa 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.

So, because He loves us, He paid the price to save us:
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

That’s why the key is in your relationship with God, as you pointed out in (3). But that’s the most important thing, not #3. In fact it’s the only thing that counts in the final analysis.
Jn 3:16, 18 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
• 1 Jn 5:11-12 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

As you can see, if you believe i.e. trust in, rely on the Lord Jesus, you have the Son. You are not judged, and you have life. If you do not believe, you have neither the Son nor life. You have been judged already. Whether you are properly related to the Son is the deciding factor. Nothing else matters.

One more verse to bring this full circle:
Jn 15:5 I am the vine, and you are the branches. If any remain in me and I remain in them, they produce much fruit. But without me they can do nothing.
Our relationship to Jesus is as the branches to the vine. We need to remain in Him and He in us, then we will be fruitful. But without Him we can do nothing. Not less fruitful, but absolutely nothing. Because when the branch is not attached to the vine it is dead. That’s why the first thing we need is a genuine relationship with Jesus, not keeping rules. Once we have Christ, everything else will fall into place – your relationship with others, your obeying God’s laws – they will come naturally.

Now, how do you begin that relationship? We begin by confessing Jesus as Lord, and believing Him as the risen Savior:
Rom 10:9-10 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Note your confessing and believing must be genuine. You can’t fool God. If you truly believe and confess Him, God’s promise is you will be saved. And God’s promise can be trusted.

You can express your commitment to follow Christ in a simple prayer with 4 steps:
1. Admit you are a sinner, unable to save yourself, but willing to repent.
2. Believe Jesus is the Son of God who loves you to die for you, and was raised to be your Savior.
3. Confess Jesus as your Lord who will direct your path from now on.
4. Dedicate your life to follow Him.
You can say it in your own words. You don’t need any elaborate ceremony, as God knows our heart.

I hope the above is clear. If you want to discuss anything we’ll be glad to talk to you anytime.

Becoming a Christian (1 of 2)

rich young ruler 3

Q. I read the entire New Testaments and find that I can be a good Christian. In my mind there are three aspects to it:
(1) following the expectation set stated by the Bible,
(2) my interaction with other people,
(3) the relationship between me and God.
I can do (1) easily including the 10 commandments in the Old Testament. As for my interaction with other people, I can always improve myself and find what is being promoted in New Testament is a very good framework and principles.

Unlike (1) and (2), which are visible and behavioral, (3) is the core of the matter, it is my inner world, like a thought or a desire. I think God can help me the most in my inner world where peace and inner strength can be much further developed.

A. First of all I’ll like to commend you for reading through the entire NT. Most people would not have done that before they decide to accept or reject the Gospel, but if you want to choose wisely that’s the right thing to do.

God Himself said:
Deut 4:29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.
• Jer 29:13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

If you do that you will find God in due course.

The three aspects you listed are true, but you have listed them in the reverse sequence. The correct sequence is to start with Jesus first, then you will find reconciliation and peace with God. I don’t know whether that’s what you’re thinking, but some tried to please God by rule-keeping, obeying His laws by self-effort and discipline. I don’t want you to run down a wrong path, so I would like to point out some caveats that have stumbled many people in time past.

I’m sure you’ve read the story of the rich young ruler recorded in Mt 19:16-26, Mk 10:17-27, and Lk 18:18-27. In this story, obtaining eternal life (Mt 19:16), entering into life (v 17), entering the kingdom of heaven (v 23), and being saved (v 25) all mean the same thing. The young man asked Jesus “what good thing shall I do”. The emphasis was on his performance, which is what many people think – by doing good deeds they’ll earn heaven. Jesus knew his heart and tested him by replying “keep the commandments”:
YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER – 6th Commandment;
• YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY – 7th Commandment;
• YOU SHALL NOT STEAL – 8th Commandment;
• YOU SHALL NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS – 9th Commandment;
• HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER – 5th Commandment;
• YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.

The last one is not one of the 10, but something far greater:
Mt 22:39-40 The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
• Mk 12:31 The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
• Rom 13:9 … and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”
• Ga 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”

The young man didn’t know himself as well as Jesus knew him, and said, “All these things I have kept.” I think superficially he had kept the letter of the law, as Jesus felt a love for him (Mk 10:21), but according to the spirit of the law as interpreted by Jesus, he, along with all of us, failed miserably. For example:
Mt 5:21-22 “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
• Mt 5:27-28 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Who hasn’t been angry, ever? Who has never had lustful thoughts? We’re all guilty. And that’s just two commandments!

Jesus knew his weakness, so He probed further, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” At this he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. He was unwilling to part with his riches to follow Jesus. His Achilles’ heel was covetousness, or greed.

Everyone has his or her own Achilles heel. For some it’s pride, for others power. Some are addicted to money, or sex, or any other sin that controls them. If we think we can meet God’s requirements in our own strength, we are sadly mistaken, for God’s standard is perfection:
Mt 5:48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
And none of us is perfect, as:
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
You may be able to keep some laws, but remember:
Jas 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
The law is like a chain of links. Even if one link breaks, the whole chain is broken.

So don’t try the performance route. It does not work. The Jews tried to be meticulous law-keepers, but for all their effort they were hypocrites and deserved only “woes”. (Read Mt 23).

(To be continued)

All Roads Lead to Rome?

all roads lead to Rome 2

Q. Aren’t all religions basically the same, teaching us to do good? Isn’t it simply everyone looking at God from his cultural perspective, like the proverbial blind men and the elephant?

A. No, all roads do NOT lead to Rome, only those surrounding Rome. And while we are all limited by our culture and knowledge, the blind men and the elephant is a false analogy, as God had revealed Himself to us and we are NOT blind and can see:

Rom 1:19-20 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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.

God has revealed Himself to men, through His creation (general revelation), and His word the Bible (special revelation). Everything has been made plain, clearly seen and understood, so that people are without excuse. When they refuse to accept, they are suppressing the truth by their wickedness (Rom 1:18). It is an act of the will, not out of ignorance.

All religions are NOT basically the same. Some are non-theistic e.g. pure Buddhism; some polytheistic e.g. Taoism, Mormonism; and some pantheistic e.g. Hinduism, New Age etc. Only Christianity, Judaism and Islam are monotheistic. And among them only Christians believe in the triune God.

The way of salvation is also very different. All religions teach men to do good to earn God’s approval i.e. the way of works, by self effort. Only Christianity tells people no matter how hard you try, your best efforts are not good enough. Our righteous acts are like filthy rags, and our sins sweep us away (Isa 64:6). The only way to be reconciled to God is by grace through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. No one comes to the Father except through Him (Jn 14:6).

Don’t get fooled by generalities that seemed true but are in fact false. They only provide people an excuse not to face the truth. You owe it to yourself to find out what’s real, reliable, and trustworthy. Don’t be deceived.

Trusting, not Trying

trusting trying 1

Yesterday we saw Paul concluded, in no uncertain terms, that the whole world is guilty before God. What can we do then to deal with this sin problem? The natural reaction of most people is to try harder to live a good life, to do more good than bad, which to them somehow tips the cosmic balance in their favor. But this is not the way according to God. The proper way, in fact the only way, is to trust, not try – to believe God, not in your own efforts. It makes the difference between heaven and hell. One little word appears a total of 9 times in Rom 4:3-24 in the NIV- “credit”:

4:3-5 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
• 4:9-11 Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised; and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them,
• Rom 4:22-24 Therefore IT WAS ALSO CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him, but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,

The word means “to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over“. It is simply given to us, free! Did Abraham do anything? None whatsoever, absolutely nothing! He simply believed God, took God at His word, placed himself completely in God’s hands, and God reckoned him as righteous, in right relationship with God. He did not count his sins against him.

Some feel that being righteous must be based on some ritual, in Abraham’s case circumcision, in order to have this right standing before God. Nowadays that ritual might be changed to joining a church, or temple in other religions, or baptism, or becoming lifelong vegetarians etc. But that is not the case. Abraham was counted righteous while uncircumcised, before any ritual, which came later only as a sign that he had faith. So not works, not rituals, only faith, trusting in God alone.

That’s good news! Because we gentiles can believe in God who justifies the ungodly, who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, and our faith is credited as righteousness. We too, can be right with God, no longer alienated from God because our sins have been forgiven. We no longer have to live under the burden of guilt. Have you done that, trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and reconciled to God? Don’t delay. That’s the most important decision you can make. Do it now.

But Now …

Mini-series on Rom 1-5 continued

Romans 3 21-26

When I was a young Christian, my pastor taught me to look for the big “buts” in the Bible, because these are often the turning points where important truths are expounded. In Romans “but now” appears in 3:21, where after charging that both Jews and Gentiles are under the power of sin, Paul turned from the problem of all humanity to the solution – the righteousness of God. Righteousness, the condition acceptable to God, is a key theme in Romans. It is introduced in 1:17, briefly referenced to in 3:5, but formally discussed first in 3:21-31.

Rom 1:17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last …
• Rom 3:5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say?
• Rom 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
• Rom 3:22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
• Rom 3:25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished
• Rom 3:26 He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Up to this point, what did Paul teach about righteousness? A lot:

• It is the righteousness of God, His righteousness (1:17; 3:5, 21, 25, 26). We have only unrighteousness (3:5).
• It is revealed in the gospel (1:17), but has been made known through the Law and the Prophets (3:21). In other words, it is not something new, but in continuity with the Old Testament.
• It is given through, and received by, faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (1:17; 3:22, 25, 26). It is available only through Jesus, nowhere else. He is the only way.
• It is apart from the law (3:21). You can’t get righteousness by law-keeping. You get it by faith, not works.
• God gave Christ as the atoning sacrifice so as to be just and the justifier (3:26).

The last one requires a little explanation. God is just and must punish sin, otherwise sin would go unpunished and there would be no justice. The perpetrators would get off free without penalty, while the victims would not get recompense. Yet God is also love and does not want anyone to perish (2 Pet 3:9). He does not take any pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezk 18:23; 33:11). This dilemma is resolved by God paying the penalty Himself. He sent His only Son to be the substitute to die for all those who repent and believe, restoring them to be in right relationship with God.

In OT times God in His forbearance had left sins committed unpunished. It was as if He had turned a blind eye to sin and was unjust. But when Christ came He took upon Himself all the sins of those who believed in Him. In shedding His blood on the cross, He paid the penalty for all our sins, so sin is punished and God can justly forgive us. In Jesus’ capacity as the judge He is just in punishing sin, but in His role as the atoning sacrifice He is the justifier who showed mercy by paying the penalty Himself. So God’s justice and love are both satisfied by Jesus’ death on the cross once for all.

That’s the marvel of the gospel – free for us who put our faith in Christ, but at tremendous cost to Christ who paid with His own life. The only question remaining is: Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Only you can decide for yourself. I hope you make the right choice.

None Righteous

Romans 3 10-12 

We finally come to Romans 3 where Paul, like a skillful crown prosecutor, made the charge that both Jews and Gentiles alike are under sin. This he stated in no uncertain terms, four times positively and seven times negatively, making sure that everyone is included in the indictment, with no exceptions:

Positive – all-inclusive:
v 9 all under the power of sin
• v 12 All have turned away,
• v 19 every mouth silenced … whole world held accountable to God

Negative – no exclusions:
v 10 no one righteous, not even one
• v 11 no one who understands; no one who seeks God.
• v 12 no one who does good, not even one.
• v 20 no one righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law

I mean, you can’t state something any stronger than that! There is no one, absolutely no one, who is righteous before God by their own works. All are guilty, all sinned, all are accountable to God, without exception. That includes you and me. Notice also that in terms of sins of commission, the verbal ones are mentioned more than those acted out:
v 13 throats, tongues, lips
• v 14 mouths
• v 15 feet

This corresponds with current realities as well, when more people are hurt by toxic words and attitudes than by active criminal offenses. What then can we do? We will turn to that in our next post.

Interesting Testimony

street gang fight 1

My wife attended a reunion of her high school graduating class, who met for the first time after 47 years. Some like us went to Canada for university and stayed, but a few moved to Australia and the US. So it was a happy and noisy occasion as they tried to match faces to what they remembered from 47 years ago! The spouses didn’t know anyone, so we talked among ourselves as in any social gathering of strangers. The person who sat next to me is a Christian with an interesting testimony. Here’s his story.

He was a rebel at age 19, involved in street gangs in New York. When some classmates tried to witness to him, he would ridicule them. One time he got into a fight, and found himself surrounded by over a dozen hoodlums with wooden clubs and water pipes as weapon. He was vastly outnumbered and tried to run away, but someone smashed his club on his head, and blood oozed out from his cracked skull.

He was left for dead on the street, but as he laid in a pool of blood on the pavement he remembered Jesus. In desperation he cried out, “If you are really there, save me and I will believe in you.” Somehow he managed to pull himself up, staggered onto the road, and tried to ask for help. He saw a car coming and tried to stop it by waving his arms. Usually drivers in that dangerous part of town do not stop, especially when the stranger standing in the middle of the road was drenched in blood. But unexpectedly, the first car did. The driver told him to hop in, as blood continued to flow and stained the entire back seat.

The driver took him to the emergency department of the nearest hospital, where they gave him seventeen stitches to close up the wound. When he came to, the doctor told him if he had come five minutes later, he would have been a “goner”. He tried to find the driver to thank him, but he left already without leaving his name and phone number. It was then that he realized the Lord had intervened to save his life, so he started going to church and committed his life to Christ, baptizing later in the sea.

t-boned 1

But his miraculous encounters did not end there. In his late thirties he was working daytime in the post office, and part-time as a cab driver. One winter there was severe snow storm and workers were told to go home early. He was trying to get home on an icy secondary highway, when he heard a loud thud as if something was caught under his car. So he pulled over to the left shoulder of the divided highway, got out, and stooped between the driver side of his car and the concrete divider to examine what’s caught underneath the car.

Unfortunately his car was positioned at the T-junction of a country road on the right side intersecting the highway. Normally cars on the country road would stop at a stop sign to wait for the traffic to clear before turning onto the highway, but because the road surface was very slippery, like sheer ice, an on-coming car was unable to stop, and about to T-bone our friend’s car , crushing him between the car and the divider! The driver frantically blasted his horn to warn our friend to get out of the way, but as he was crouching down in a very narrow spot, there was no time to get up and run. He looked up, saw a bright light, and shouted, “God save me!”

The next thing he knew was he was lying on the snowy ground on the other side of the divided highway. He thought he had died, but felt his legs and they were still there, and he could move his arms! Next he saw the driver leaning over him and asked, “Do you really know how to fly?!” It was then that he remembered a great force yanked him away to safety just before the other car T-boned his, but to the other driver it appeared as if he himself flew away like Superman!

This was the second time the Lord intervened to save his life. From that point on his Christian walk was cranked up several notches. Everywhere he went he would tell people his testimony and ask them to believe in Jesus. That was over twenty years ago, but he hasn’t lost steam yet. Wouldn’t it be great if more Christians were like him, boldly sharing Christ to anyone, anytime, anywhere?