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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A QUESTION OF ETERNITY: IN OR OUT?

“So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.” (Matthew 27:41–44, ESV)
At the time of writing this piece, a bruising debate rages on in the UK, “In or Out”. The issue of contention being whether the UK is better off remaining in the European Union or out of the Union.

This debate, as divisive and acrimonious as it has unfortunately become particularly for the Tories, is only of transient consequence when compared to the weightier question of one's eternal destiny and the eternal ramifications.

When what is on the line is your membership of the kingdom of God, how do you respond? Are you "IN" or are you "OUT"? The reality of this contrasting positions was nowhere in the Bible brought into sharper focus than in the account of Calvary as Jesus hung on the Cross.

With two criminals crucified alongside Jesus, one on either side of Him, we witness, at this poignant moment of the expiration of natural life, a demonstration of two worlds of decision and the choices facing every person on earth. Both criminals started out rejecting Jesus but one of them, upon reflection, concluded on the innocence of Jesus and the sincerity of His Messianic claims, and pleaded to be received into His Kingdom. While his wish was granted instantly, the other continued in his doubt and died in his unbelief.

The Bible teaches that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23), and this does present everyone with an urgent decision and a very important choice to make. Choose Jesus Christ as Saviour for access to God's Kingdom and Eternal Life or continue without Christ and wherever that leads. Everyone born into this fallen world faces the same question - Life In God's Kingdom or Life Outside God's Kingdom. Are you "In" or are you "Out".

Jesus came into the world to make the case for why you should choose to come into the Kingdom of God, into His love and peace, and to pay with His own life the price for your access into that Kingdom by dying a propitiatory death. He rose again as the scripture said in order to prove the veracity of His claims and work.

As the bystanders, the priests and the Roman Soldiers hauled abuses, mocked and ridiculed Jesus on the day of His crucifixion, the criminals, even as they faced their own sure and painful death, exhibited the extent of man's depravity, as they relished the opportunity to have a go at mocking Jesus also.

The condition of this two criminals characterises the state of all humanity: “dead in sin” and “enmity toward God”. And the decisions they made after they had had the opportunity to interact with the truth about Jesus again epitomises the differing eternal destinies facing each person in this life as a consequence of their own choices. You always have a choice - IN or OUT - even on your dying bed, you can still say "Yes" to Jesus as long as there is breath in you. But after death it is out of your hand, only God's judgement remains.

There are those who will mock and ridicule Jesus and what He represents, they will make fun of His redemptive work and promises even as they faced certain death, like the thieves on the cross. Yet there are some among these who, like the repentant thief, when confronted with the truth of the gospel – i.e., the person and work of Jesus, would recognise and accept the reality of their sinful nature and their personal need for the salvation that Jesus alone offers.

The repentant thief considered Jesus, His claims, and His work, even His attitude of forgiveness from the cross toward those who persecuted Him - “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34, ESV).

This repentant man saw the real Jesus for the first time in his life, albeit in these dying moments of his life. He pondered the facts before him concerning the person, the character and the work of Jesus and by these he was convicted just moments before he died. And with this sudden contrition he rebuked his fellow-criminal and co-mocker of Jesus, saying to him, “Do you not fear God?” Furthermore, he testified about his own guilt and and the innocence of Jesus saying, “We are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man [Jesus] has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:41). When you see Jesus a you ought to, His light will reveal your darkness, and if you let Him, His life will become your light - the light that overcomes darkness (John 1:4-5).

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”” (Luke 23:39–43, ESV)

The repentant criminal’s sudden enlightenment led him to respond in a manner that every sinner must, if they are to partake of the promise and benefits of God's Kingdom of Light. He expressed a genuine faith and a desire to be part of Jesus' future plan. He prayed that Jesus would remember him when He came into His kingdom. And his request did not go unheeded. Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).

The promise is to all and true both in this life and in the life to come. Jesus' promise to all is unambiguous: “Whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).

So, where will you spend eternity and how will you be spending the rest of your natural life – with Jesus or without? “In” God's Kingdom or “Out”? Today is the day of salvation, do not harden your heart. Now is the hour of decision!

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Yes, some will mock and reject the offer of God’s love, reconciliation and peace through Jesus Christ, “But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

In or Out? Choose wisely!

Grace to you.

Pastor Victor Ubani

Saturday, 15 December 2012

A JOYFUL CHRISTMAS STARTS WITH “CHRIST”

Christmastime is a season of great joy, goodwill and celebration! But this joy and celebration will be hollow if we do not discern, and focus our celebration on, the person and purpose behind “Christmas”.

"Who" are we celebrating and "Why" are we celebrating this obviously important person? Why the Christmas dinners, the exchange of gifts, the rejoicing, the colourful decorations and the general sense of goodwill all around. In a nutshell: JESUS CHRIST!

Without equivocation, Jesus Christ gives Christmas its meaning. God our Creator has stepped out of eternity and stepped into time in human form, and Christmas celebrates this message of love, hope, redemption, and peace. A Saviour is born; the Redeemer has come to buy our freedom from sin and give us peace.

Friday, 24 August 2012

THE UNEXPECTEDNESS OF GOD

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways, declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 55:8)
God will do what He wants to do and it’s not always going to be what you expected or how you expected it.

To walk faithfully with God, we cannot struggle with the truth that God does not work to man’s agenda. He does not change to fit our perception or expectations of Him. He calls man to follow His divine plan.

In following, we sometimes make the mistake of thinking that God must respond to our needs in a specific way, or that He will deal with a situation the same way he dealt with it the last time. Nothing will please man more than to be able to reduce God to a formula. The truth, however, is that there is an unexpectedness about God. He will answer our prayers and meets our needs in a variety of ways, and all according to His purpose.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

THE POWER TO FORGIVE


 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,” (Luke 17:3, ESV)
“… forgive, and you will be forgiven;” (Luke 6:37, ESV)
Forgiveness is one of those things that concern every human being. Not only do we all stand in need of it from God, but in our relationship with one another, we also are either giving forgiveness or receiving it.

In a nutshell, the thrust of what I am about to share with you is this: “You have the power to forgive”. As a citizen of the Kingdom of God, you have been commanded to forgive. And in order that you are able to do this, the King has given you the grace to comprehensively obey His command.

Monday, 9 April 2012

BY THE BLOOD

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body…” (Hebrews 10:19-20, NIV)
“Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.” (Hebrews 4:16, NET)
No one can “confidently approach the throne of grace” (“the Most Holy Place”) on the merit of their own achievement or self-righteousness. We can only approach God and enter in His presence through Christ on the grounds of His atoning sacrifice.

It’s on the merit of the spotless life which Christ lived and the sacrificial death He died that anyone who seeks a relationship with God today can stand without any sense of guilt or condemnation. That is, to stand behind the blood of Jesus that speaks better things – the blood that speaks forgiveness!