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THE GOSPEL (SIN, JUDGMENT, PUNISHMENT)

1 Corinthians 15:1-15:4
Key Verse: 15:3-4

Happy Easter! Today we are going to study the gospel key verses.

The gospel…what does it mean? The gospel means “good news”. Now, everyone has a different opinion of what’s considered good news. But the gospel applies to all of us, whether you’re young or old. Male or female. Asian, Black or White.

Look at 1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For what I received, I pass on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

In his letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul says that the gospel consists of two historical facts — Jesus’ death and resurrection. Why is this good news? Now the key to understanding the gospel is to identify what’s the root problem of each person, each family and the whole world. And to do that, we must first start with the…bad news. My message has 3 parts: Sin, Judgement and Punishment.

Part I. SIN

Look at Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is the bad news. The world has a tendency to view sin like a ranking system:

“Oh, I just told a little white lie” or “I might not believe in God but at least I’m a good person. I haven’t murdered, stole and committed a crime. But overall, I’m much better than most people!”

But in God’s eyes, we all fall short of his approval and his mark, because of sin. When we understand that the basic definition of sin is missing the mark, then we can also understand how much we need God’s grace in our lives.

Sin vs. crime: What do you think…do you think they are the same or different? Now there is a difference with committing a “sin” and committing a “crime”. Crime is breaking man-made laws, but sin is breaking God’s laws. So, what causes us to sin? The answer to this question can be found in the book of Genesis.

In Genesis chapter 1, God created the perfect world and everything that he saw, he said that it was good…very good, including man he created. In Genesis chapter 2, God gave Adam a paradise to enjoy and take care of…at the same time, he did give Adam his Holy Command:

Look at Genesis 2:16-17. “And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

This is known as Adam’s Bible. It teaches God’s fundamental law toward mankind—to thank him for his love and provision and to obey him, acknowledging God as God. As long as man abided with this law, man had no problem, enjoying the paradise to its fullest.

God gave man his law as the key to paradise, that man might have a right relationship with God and with all things. But in Genesis chapter 3, we see man’s fall. God loved Adam so much that he prepared a beautiful and abundant garden and gave it to him free of charge. But man didn’t continually appreciate God’s love. Later man lost his thankful heart and began to doubt God’s love.

Moreover, mankind became proud…wanting to become like God, instead of acknowledging God as God and obeying him. As a result, he disobeyed God’s law and committed sin against Him, eating the forbidden fruit. So we can see that the root of sin was an unthankful heart, doubt and pride. Our ungratefulness leads us to doubt God’s love and his laws, which leads to ungodly thoughts and desires; and eventually we will disobey God.

Then what were the results of committing sin? The immediate results of sin were shame and then fear. Adam and Eve realized that they were naked and felt ashamed; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Sin makes us feel ashamed and have low self-esteem.

Genesis 3:9-10 say:

“But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Sin also made man fearful. Man became fearful of God and tried to hide himself from God. As a result, man’s relationship with God was broken because of sin. Before sinning, man enjoyed paradise, having a perfect relationship with God and with each other. But as soon as man sinned, he immediately lost his inner peace, love, happiness and he began to suffer from a sense of shame, fear and loneliness. Sin leads to a broken relationship with God and with each other.

There’s more…Genesis chapters 4 to 6 shows us how sin increasingly grew and spread from one person to his entire family, then eventually, to whole world from the times of Adam to Noah. Adam and Eve’s sinful nature influenced their children. Cain killed his younger brother Abel out of jealousy. Then, at the time of Noah, all the people on the earth were corrupt in God’s sight and were full of violence. Every inclination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil all the time.

In the movie “Spider Man 3” there’s a scene where a character has a small drop of evil goo land on his hand…in matter of seconds this deadly goo quickly consumes his body. The harder the character tries to fight against it with his own strength, the more the evil goo undertakes his body, mind and soul…transforming him into a wicked monster. This is how sin grows, spreads and influences our lives, our families and the world we live in today.

We now live in a sin-sick world, which is far from a very good world God intended it to be.

Look at Romans 6:23a: “For the wages of sin is death…”

The fundamental result of sin is death. It is just as God said: “When you eat of it, you will surely die.” Now sin does not necessarily result in physical death right away. Some people may think, “Nothing happens, even though I enjoy sinning!” However, when we sin, we experience the symptoms of spiritual death: We feel guilty, empty, confused and disconnected from God. This causes us to feel depressed and lifeless…and eventually, we all die physically, as well. There was no death in the Garden of Eden, but death came into the world, as the wages of sin.

Benjamin Franklin once said “In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.” All die, because all are sinners.

PART 2: JUDGEMENT

Look at Hebrews 9:27:

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”

justice as well as the God of love. His kingdom is the kingdom of justice with order and peace. So its inevitable that God evaluates and judges both good and evil. We can see that God showed his righteous judgment throughout the history of the Bible. In Noahs time, God sent a worldwide flood to judge the sin of mankind. Both Sodom and Gomorrah gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion so God judged them harshly, destroying both cities with a rainstorm of burning sulfur.

So, I would like to add to Benjamin Franklins famous quote… “In this world nothing can be certain, except death, taxes and God’s judgment”. Its unavoidable.

Look at 2 Corinthians 5:10:

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”

At the time of judgment, each of us, one by one, must appear before the judgment seat of Christ and be judged according to what we have done while living on earth.

In Romans 2:6-9, the apostle Paul teaches us that God will judge us based on the purpose of our lives, not just our outward deeds:

“God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking, who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

Not only is God assessing what we do…he’s also examining why we do it. That means there could be two Christians who attend church every Sunday. They both pray and read their Bibles religiously. Both always give to their church regularly, they faithfully volunteer in church ministry and they even go out to witness twice a week. Though these two Christian lives seem impressive, God will judge them based on the reason why they did what they did.

Was it to honour and glorify God? Was it self-seeking and prideful with the desire to look good in the eyes of others? Or was it for their own self-satisfaction?

God is not fooled like people. God sees the deepest motive and intention, the purpose of our lives-- and judges accordingly. So his judgment is both just and fair.

PART 3: PUNISHMENT

Look at Revelations 21:8:

“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

After God’s righteous judgment, he will administer his punishment on the guilty. That is the fiery lake of burning sulfur, the eternal condemnation in hell. Two years ago there was a popular Christian movie made, called “Heaven Is For Real”. It a story about a three-year-old boy who goes to heaven briefly during a near-death experience.

Well, I think it’s time someone may make a movie called “Hell Is For Real”…because it is. Jesus himself said about hell several times. On one occasion he said in Mark 9:47-49: “…if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Everyone will be salted with fire.”

According to Revelation 21:8, the first one on the list is the cowardly - those afraid of losing their life or worldly identity after receiving the gospel, even though they know the truth and importance of God’s Word. And it is followed by The unbelieving, those who disbelieve or lack belief in God. The vile,. The murders, anyone who takes away the life of man without just cause, and those who have hatred in their heart towards their brother or sister. The sexual immorality and those who practise magic art. The idolaters: anyone who worships or esteems any one or anything above God…and all liars.

As I think about the list of those destine for hell, I wonder…is God talking about me?

Not so long ago, I was a sexually immoral and self-seeking sinner. Before I came to Bible study at UBF, I was a nominal Christian…and even though I said the sinner’s prayer and thought I was a born-again believer since 2005…I struggled everyday with sexual immorality, developing a nasty habit of picking up and sleeping with random women.

There I was claiming to be a believer of Christ on Sunday, but from Monday to Saturday I was sinning against God and separating myself further and further away from His love for me.

When I think back to the person I once was, I’m disgusted with myself. I was truly a wretched sinner who really deserved the fiery lake of burning sulfur. On the other hand, I pursued my dream of winning Oscar award, as a film director. I have spent the last 10 years of my life pursuing that dream with all my heart and strength. As a result, I’ve made 5 movies, and felt I was heading towards filmmaking greatness. But God opened my eyes to realize that I was nothing but a self seeking sinner who was working hard for my own glory and fame in this world. As God judges me based on my purpose of life, even my hard work and achievements are sinful, and I deserve his punishment.

.

Through Bible study, God has done some wonderful transforming work in my life by the power of his living Word. He changed me from a lukewarm Sunday Christian into a true disciple of Jesus who denies himself, takes up his cross daily and follows him. One year ago, I was a single guy and a professional actor and film director with worldly aspirations..

But now I am an ambassador for Christ and my new purpose in life is to love the LORD with all my heart and make disciples of all nations based on my annual key verse, Matthew 28:18-20. I also will soon become a husband, establishing a Shepherd’s family by God’s blessing.

However, while I meditated on these gospel key verses, I realized that I am a cowardly sinner—with inner fear and lack of faith in God. When I think about my future as a true disciple of Jesus and a disciple-maker, I realize I’m no longer in control.

My days of chasing an Oscar are now over and I’m now chasing Christ. But this new identity is scary to me. I see my new life in Christ ahead of me, and sometimes I’m afraid to continue going forward. I also became discouraged as a Bible teacher, when I saw my empty net even after my 7 months of diligent fishing on campus. But I feel this way because I lack faith in the Living and Almighty God. Before God, I am nothing but a cowardly sinner who will be the first one on the list to be thrown into a fiery lake of burning sulfur.

This is my spiritual reality, and also the destiny of all people--whether they believe or not-- because all have sinned. Yes, the wages of sin is death—spiritual, physical and eternal death in hell.

This is truly bad news!

But there is hope for me…and there’s hope for all of us.

Look at Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Written by Ian

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