Sunday, 9 December 2018
Believe and have eternal life
John 3:16, 17, 36
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
God’s love is amazing. When we speak of God’s love we may have a limited understanding of what we say. A person may feel that he deserves God’s love because of who he is but he forgets his background and from where God has taken him. God’s love was demonstrated to every nation: whoever believes in Him has life.
We are told about destruction and eternal life: He who does not believe in the Son of God finds himself in serious trouble. When God says it, we need to take note. God says that the person who believes in Him will receive eternal life. We receive eternal life when we draw near to the Son of God who has eternal life. The person who meets with Him and is one with Him, will experience eternal life.
God said, “What can I do that will save mankind? What must I do that man will be rescued from the old life of sin, be changed and renewed?” That is why Jesus Christ is of paramount importance. He should not only be spoken about but there should be evidence of a changed life in every child of God. Our lives should be radically different because of the love that Jesus demonstrated to us. It should be crystal clear that we have been saved from our filthy rags and been given a clean, snow-white garment.
In western Africa people still live under terrible conditions, not only there but many of the countries north of South Africa experience hardship. They say that South Africans live in the ‘America of Africa’ and there should be no reason for us to complain.
In many of these countries pit toilets are still used. A hole is dug and covered with a wooden construction which may or may not have a seat. White termites which eat the wood are also problematic. One day, while a child was using the toilet, the wooden structure gave way and the child fell into the hole. One can imagine the years of filth that the child fell into. Nobody was prepared to descend into the hole to save the child. Many people had ideas and suggestions on how to save the child, they even threw in a rope for the child to hold onto and they pulled him up, but he was too weak to hold on long enough and he fell back into the filth. The local missionary heard the commotion and arrived at the scene where he saw the child sinking into the filth. This servant of God said, “This is my opportunity to demonstrate God’s love. I’ll do it. I’ll go down.” He asked the men to lower him into the hole with a rope. When he reached the filth he tied the rope around the child and they were both lifted out. From that time Jesus was known as the One who came into our filth and lifted us out.
Consider how many people in this world are drowning in their sin and pleading for help. People discuss the issues, they talk and they say someone else will help them but they are not prepared to help.
Consider your own life: Where do you come from? In what condition were you when God rescued you? Why do you pull up your nose when others are in need? You do not want to be inconvenienced by a bad odour. Do you remember what you were like when God found you? Do you have a right to be arrogant and unwilling to help? Are you any better?
When you see people dressed in rags, you question how you can approach people like these who are in such a bad state. You make negative comments. You do not see an opportunity to demonstrate God’s love. Whenever you see young men from CYPSA who have come out of different types of addiction, remind yourself that you were once like that too. You were also enslaved, in bondage and burdened by your sin, you cried out in desperation, not knowing who or what could help you. If you received the mercy of God, how can you look down on someone else who still requires grace and mercy?
Behold, the love of God with which He loved the world. The world is us, we who are so utterly wicked – why would God love us? A holy God who loves evil man. What did God see in man? Jesus loved us to such an extent that He left heaven’s glory, entered the sinful world to save us from the pigsty. Allow Jesus to throw you a rope of rescue and take hold of it.
God says that if you do not believe, you will perish but if you repent and believe on Him, He will change you and you will become His servant and propagate the gospel. This is the inheritance that God gives you when you believe in his Son: He will not only give you life but eternal life. See how much you lose if you have not surrendered your life to Christ – you lose eternal life.
God makes it very clear: There is eternal death and destruction but there is also eternal life. Those who walk the way of faith obey God and it will be evident for all to see.
Abraham heard God’s voice. He obeyed God when he was told to leave his country. Abraham did not know where he was going, but by faith he obeyed. By faith he lived as a nomad, trusting and believing that God is true to his word. Do we have the faith of Abraham? Are we prepared to let go of everything in obedience to God. Can you part from wrong things in your life? Even though God clearly shows you to leave that place and leave your people, you question Him. This is where I was born, where I grew up, how can I do it?
Reverend Stegen related an incident that took place many years ago in the Netherlands. The Dutch engineers reclaim land from the sea, construct dykes and use the land for living and agriculture. The government officials told an older man to relocate to another area because it was in danger of flooding due to the poor condition of the dykes. But he refused to budge because it was the area where he grew up, it was his land and inheritance. The dyke eventually burst, the area was flooded and he perished. You may call him a fool but what about you when God says leave the place where you are, you will perish if you remain there. But you say, this is where I have grown up and live, I cannot change.
Sin will destroy you and leave you with nothing. God beckons you with these words: I have eternal life. Come to this land of eternal life. But you refuse to respond. Do you want to perish in your sin? We have ears but we need to hear with them. When God speaks we need to pay attention because nobody is greater than God. There is no price higher than the one God paid by giving his own Son. There is no better sacrifice God could bring than that of His son, Jesus Christ. There is no other way to receive that life but to deny everything else and receive the Son. He who has the Son has eternal life.
Possibly you have given your life to the Lord but there may still be things in your life – hatred, grudges and unforgiveness. How will you be saved if these things are still in your life? Do not take grudges lightly. Do not take unforgiveness lightly. Hatred and grudges caused me to end up in jail. If you are ruled by hatred and grudges you will do things which you will regret for the rest of your life. You will ask yourself, why did I not forgive? Look where I am now.
Young people, some of you possibly bear grudges against your parents. You wish the old man or woman would kick the bucket so that you can carry on with your lives. If these are your thoughts, before God you have already murdered them. You have blood on your hands. You may respond by saying I am not a sinner, I have not murdered anyone, but anger, bearing a grudge and unforgiveness before God is murder. This is what God showed me when I came to this mission. I realized I was a bad sinner but I excused myself saying that I sometimes went to church. But when God worked in my life I saw many corpses in front of me. I asked the Lord who they were because I did not know them. I admitted that I had killed one person but all these corpses… God said that I was guilty. I responded by asking how it happened because I never carried a gun and I did not know how I could have killed so many people. God said, “It is through your tongue. This is what killed all these people. Your tongue gossiped about them. They are like corpses because of your tongue.” Do not take it lightly. Do not say – I just thought it. I just said this about that person. God will call you to account for the deaths of these people you killed with your tongue. I saw that I had blood on my hands. I thank God for the blood of the Lord Jesus, for His grace. I thank him for the gospel that is able to save a person completely. I cannot thank God enough for what He did for me. He forgave me and rescued me.
Do you want to continue sinning so that God’s grace must increase? The Bible says, God forbid. You must say: God loved me. He did not leave me to die in my sin. He came close to me, embraced me and rescued me. That is what God can do for you.
The man who does not believe in the Son of Man, will not see life and God’s wrath will remain on him. Why do you choose to perish in your sin when God’s grace is so freely available? Why don’t you ask God to save you as well? Why don’t you say, “Lord, I am bound with chains of sin. Please rescue me that I might receive that life.” He who believes in the Son has eternal life.
Choir, First Song
Choir, Second Song
Choir, Third Song