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Gospel key verses (Sin and Judgment)

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

Part 1: Sin and Judgment

What could be the good news for those who were diagnosed with the final stage of cancer? What could be the good news for those who received a death sentence for crime? If they learned that there is a way to be healed from a cancer and a way to be released from death sentence, what will they do? What would you do if you are the one?

Today is Easter, the day Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour rose from the dead on the third day after he died and was buried. It is the day that proclaims good news to all who are under death sentence for their sins.

Apostle Paul received this good news from Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. He was running there to persecute the followers of Jesus. On that day, however, Jesus freed Paul from the prison of sin and death recovering his spiritual blindness. God’s compassion and love is beyond our imagination. God wanted to reach this dying man captured by hatred and self-righteousness. Likewise, God wants to reach us to give the good news which is the gospel of his glorious Son Jesus no matter what spiritual circumstances we are in. May God bless us to receive this gospel wholeheartedly today!

Through 1 Cor 15:3-4, Paul reveals what gospel is for he received it and experienced what it does in his life. He said, “For what I received I passed 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.” First of all, the gospel became the first importance, the treasure to Paul. But not the treasure that he wanted to keep and enjoy it secretly but that he wanted to pass on to others as of first importance. He knew that it was the most urgent need for all who have sinned. What is the content of the gospel? 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. He died, was buried and rose again. Why? It is because of our sins. Now, it is obvious then, to know the gospel, we must know what sin is and what sin does. We need to trace back to Genesis. After God put Adam into the garden of Eden to take care of it, God commanded Adam not to eat fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil warning him that when he eats of it, he will surely die. It was the love of God to make all things perfect to maintain the love relationship between him and mankind. However, Satan tempted woman, Adam’s wife deceiving that she will be like God when she eats the forbidden fruit and that she will not die. However, woman disobeyed God’s command out of unthankful heart and doubt and Adam sinned against God by listening to his wife. Since then sin entered into man’s heart, destroyed the image of God in man and began to spread wildly in this world. As a result of the fall of Adam due to the sin of disobedience to the word of the Creator God wanting to be like him in his pride, we face the world we are now living.

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Now, Paul, in this verse, addresses that not only Adam and Eve sinned but all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. No one wants to hear that “You are wrong” or “You are a sinner.” Young and old, man and woman, grown up and child, husband and wife, mature and immature… (that’s why Adam blamed his wife and even God and Eve blamed the serpent. There is constant fight and division in the place where no one admits his or her wrong and sin.) Deep down in our hearts, we are so against this statement. However, God’s word clearly charges us that we are sinners. We are not only sinners but also recipients of the gospel of Jesus for Christ died for our sins. There are many passages that can tell about the condition of sinful mankind, but I will introduce from the same chapter Rom 3 which described the condition of sinners so vividly quoting from the Old Testament. Verses 11-18 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves, their tongues practise deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Based on this, there is no such thing that who is better or worse in regard to sin. The charge given to mankind is God’s absolute standard. So how God sees us should be our interest rather than to feel superior or inferior to others. And we are sinners not because we sin, but because we are born with sinful nature. This means that we are capable of committing all evil deeds. Ge 6:5 says “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” Also Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (KJV: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?) Think about the most wicked, corrupted and deceitful thing or person. Whatever that is in your mind now is not worse than your heart condition. Can you understand it?

How did Jesus say about sin? Here are two examples regarding murder and adultery. Mt 5:22-23 says, “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,” is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Mt 5:28-29 says, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” Can we avoid from pronouncement that we are sinners? We might have murdered someone repeatedly or have murdered many people in life based on the ruler Jesus measures. How about sin of adultery in this sensual media prevalent society that doesn’t even care the eyes of little vulnerable children.

The word of God declares that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom 3:23) Here, the glory of God means the image of God. Because of sin, the image of God, the very divine nature of God in us was destroyed. No one under the power of sin could reach the glory of God. What’s worse? Romans 6:23 declares death sentence. “For the wages of sin is death.” The punishment of the sin that we commit is death. Crying out loud, regretting wrong decision and doing all the good works cannot change the destiny of sinners. Making excuses doesn’t work either. Here in this verse, the death refers physical death which is the separation of spirit from mortal body. We hear tragic news of death everyday. Our hearts are sunken at such news. Deep sorrow and fear smears into our hearts. We can’t imagine the time when we can’t see and hug our beloved ones no longer because of death. However, this physical death is not the end. Hebrews 9:27 says, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” Everyone dies without exception. Just like that everyone will face judgment. No favoritism, no exception. In a way, our life on earth is the preparation to meet God in his supreme court after we die. No one wants to marry without preparation. No one wants to face final exams without preparation. No one wants to travel without any preparation. Because the ending will be so desperate. How is your preparation going to meet God at the judgment seat of him? Here is one example who prepared well. In the parable of the tenants in Mt 25:20-21. “The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. “Master, he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.’”” Here is another one. Who didn’t prepare well. In the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12, the rich fool says, “And I’ll say to myself, ‘You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself? (19-20)’” Then let’s look at the basis of God’s judgment more closely. First, let’s read 2 Cor 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.” Good news, the gospel is only available for us to receive while we are alive. After death, we receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Also, everything we did is recorded and stored up in heaven. We can’t hide anything. We can’t get any help from anyone but stand before Christ all alone. What defines good or bad? As we surveyed, the word of God is the standard which defines good or bad. And based on God’s words, no one is righteous but all are sinners. Second, God judges based on one’s purpose of life. Let’s read Rom 2:6-9. “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 and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.” Again God judges our deeds and our motives as well. We have studied the book of 1 Samuel over the last several months and we learned that God truly honours who honours him and those who despise him will be disdained. 1 Sam 16:7 says, “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” God knows our deepest desire and motivation inside of us. Mt 10:26 says, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known.” David confessed in Psalms 139 that before a word is on his tongue God knows it completely. God’s judgement will be fair and thorough. His repay to each person according to what they have done will be right and just. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honour and immortality, he will give eternal life. Those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.

Now, it becomes clear that there is eternal life and eternal death. What is eternal death? It is spiritual death which means eternal separation of spirit from the Father God. Based on Rev 21:8 we call this second death. It says, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexsually 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.” Who are going into such a terrible place? Through Adam’s fall, all mankind were doomed to die physically and spiritually as God clearly said to Adam that you will surely die when you eat of it. Cain sinned against God and God cursed him to be driven out of his presence. This separation from God was an unbearable punishment. What could be the most dreadful thing that can happen in one’s life? It is the eternal separation from God and eternal suffering in the fiery hell. You and I were all under this curse because of our sin until Christ Jesus came and removed this death sentence by paying the price for our sins through his blood.

To Paul, it was truly a good news of great joy! To me, it was truly good news as I was living under the power of sin without knowing true peace that comes from God. I have never thought that I was a sinner. Simply, I couldn’t accept that I am a sinner. I thought I was a pretty decent person seeking and doing some good deeds. However, it was only by my own relativistic standard. I was so shocked to find who I was by the truth, the very absolute and accurate standard of God. I was guilty with the same charges which revelation 21 pronounces: a coward, unbelieving and vile person. A murderer, liar, idol worshiper and adulteress. I lived my life as if I was a god and the owner of my own life competing with others to be higher. I rejected God who created me and rejected Jesus who died to restore God’s glory in me through shedding his own blood. I was busy seeking self glory following my sinful evil desire yet not knowing that the wages of my very own sin, the death is on its way. At the realization that it was my sin that crucified Jesus, my Lord and Christ, I couldn’t but help crying out, “what shall I do?” And this question was blessed question that opened the door for the gospel, Jesus Christ could come into my heart. I no longer desired all counterfeit peace, joy, hope and love but I wanted to know God who loved me and who reached this wretched dying sinner to give the gospel of Jesus Christ. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed true freedom finding my saviour and Lord and the object of my love and worship and my purpose of life. I wanted to serve not myself but my new and eternal King and my Master Jesus Christ. Starting my life of faith in 1998 when the gospel which was passed on to me through my bible teacher and all the servants of God in this ministry, God has led me to know the power of gospel faithfully. I too started to pass this gospel on to others as of first importance and I could understand the desperate heart of God to give the good news to those who are living under the power of sin. However, I confess that my passion and my heart desire to pass this good news has grown lukewarm lately. Besides, I have gone through many difficult times in my own personal spiritual journey due to my sin of unbelief, impatience and the love of this world. The gospel has never lost its power, but I became helpless in my struggling. I began to complain and blame secretly and became very emotional. I looked fine outwardly perhaps in the eyes of people. But inwardly, I had no peace and no joy that used to spring up in my heart. But my heart was proud to cry out again ‘what shall I do?’ I knew I am an undeserved sinner who can stand here and it was very hard to come to the cross again with these burden of sins. While I was keeping thinking about my qualification to be a messenger of this wonderful gospel to his people, the Lord’s answer was this. “It is for you, Esther.” The Lord was waiting for me to humbly come to him to grant forgiveness of my sins. Through preparing this message, God once again reminded me of the gospel, the good news I received and he renewed my mind to find and to obey the will of God upon my life. I am praying for the blessing upon the flock of God and my children in their hard time of life. Sometimes, I am tempted to tell what they want to hear and provide what they want to have. But I know that only gospel of Jesus will give them peace, joy, love and hope and eternal life. I deeply repent of my unbelief and doubt without depending on the power of the gospel of God. And I thank God for another blessed question he threw to me during this preparation of message. “Is your preparation to meet me at my court going well?” I found the answer for that question. It was neither yes nor no, but it was my repentance and my faith in the blood of Jesus my Saviour and Lord who made a way for me to eternal life. It was my decision of faith to hold firmly to the word of God and pass this gospel onto those who suffer under the power of sin. Praise Jesus who redeemed us from eternal death sentence by dying on a cross! This good news, the gospel of Jesus can truly be good news for those who realize how helpless and wretched sinner they are by coming to him crying out “what shall I do?”and believe that Jesus died for their sins to save them from eternal separation from God. This good news is for you and me!

(Written by Esther)

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