Plain Facts For
I first met the author of this book in 1959. We were both young men in our twenties and neither of us could know that, that meeting was to be the beginning of a long association and friendship.
Many times Mr. Philip acted as translator for me and when I came to know that he had written a book in Malayalam that was being used by the Lord in quite a remarkable way, I felt that I should do my best to return the compliment! The translation was published in 1969. The Malayalam original has gone through many editions and translations have been made into a number of Indian languages. I join with my friend and colleague, Mr. K. A. Philip in praying God's blessing on this English edition.
Max S. Liddle
There are many people today who think it foolish to affirm the existence of God. However, even if you are in this category, we request you to read this little book right through.
A person who adamantly insists that there is no God is compelled to believe that the whole of this universe came about by accident. On the other hand, the person who believes in the existence of God is convinced that all has been fashioned by God. Which of these two beliefs best conforms to reasonable argument?
If someone were to show a watch to his friend and say, "Do you know how this watch was formed? A few pieces of metal combined themselves together to become an instrument for telling the time," would he not be considering his friend a fool? We know full well that technicians must employ ingenuity of mind and dexterity of hand in order to make a watch. Similarly, if a person looks at the universe and says, "all this formed itself over a long period of time," does it make sense?
There are also those who argue that all we see around us is the product of an evolutionary process. This argument begins with the surmise that some rudiments of what exists now existed in the beginning. How did these things containing the primary cause of life come to exist? Science is stumped for an answer. A few molecules joined together in such a way as to form cells, so 'science' informs us. But how did these molecules themselves, with all their complexity come about? Is it possible that they could have just happened? No scientist has yet produced a substance from nothing; that is quite impossible. But it is certainly not so difficult to understand that God has brought everything into existence from nothing.
There is an order, an arrangement, pertaining to every thing in the universe. We experience the sun rising in the east and setting in the west. The reverse process never takes place. The stars in their serried ranks and planets such as ours travel only along predetermined paths. All creatures are subject to absolute laws in their action. Has all this orderliness come about by accident? "Yes," affirms the atheists. But would that same atheist, if placed in a room which has been decorated and furnished in an orderly fashion, accept it if he is told, "all this happened by accident?"
"This is the space age. With the help of science man has succeeded in putting satellites into orbit around the earth and the sun. He has reached the moon and has investigated other planets. In this age it is foolish to say that there is a God and that that God has created the universe." This kind of attitude is prevalent today. Entry into the space age is certainly a tremendous achievement. Moreover, interplanetary travel is now a distinct possibility. But in none of these things is there cause for excessive wonder. The reason is that what we call "scientific progress" really consists in discovering scientific principles and putting them to use. Not only so, once such a discovery is made and its secret understood, it no longer continues to amaze us. Indeed if there is any cause for amazement, it lies, not in the fact that man is making a few scientific discoveries, nor in the fact that he is reaching for other planets, but rather in the fact that he uses these exploits as an argument to deny the existence of the God who created all these things.
Let us suppose that a rich man has some mice living in one of his mansions. Let us suppose also that these mice regularly gather together for the mutual interchange of views. On one such occasion they come to the conclusion, "This spacious mansion in which we play as we please came into existence of itself. It has neither maker nor owner." Man's so-called 'discovery' that there is no God is about equal to the 'discovery' of this mousey debating society. The owner of that mansion probably has other, larger mansions, that are the result of his wise and prudent industry. Now let us suppose that after a prolonged effort a few mice manage to reach the next mansion. Then immediately their faith in their own ability is increased and they begin to proclaim even more loudly their former discovery. "We are not prepared to believe that these mansions have a builder and owner. We are convinced that they arose of their own volition." This, unfortunately is the kind of 'conviction' which characterises some of our contemporaries.
Properly understood space technology provides convincing evidence for the existence of God. Just reflect on how much time and labour scientists and technicians put into making a satellite. Think how many calculations and carefully planned preparations lie behind its construction. If the launching of a very small object a few miles into the sky has involved the maximum exercise of man's mental ingenuity and craftsmanship, we cannot avoid the conclusion that there must be defects in the logic which claims that no intellect lies behind the placing of the sun, moon and stars in their respective orbits.
"If God exists, then where is He? Will you show me?" This type of question is very childish. Is it to be wondered at if this human insect is unable to see the Creator of the universe with his natural eyes? Is it possible for one of the germs in our bloodstream to behold the sun and other celestial spheres? Certainly not. Nevertheless that germ encounters their influence. Some germs are even destroyed by the rays of the sun. Similarly, eventhough we cannot see God with our natural eyes, we can know His majesty and presence.
"Who created God?" This question is meaningless, simply because, if God is a created being then He is not God. God is not bound within the limits of time and space. In any series of cause and effect, there must be a first cause. That first cause is God. God is the ultimate cause of creation.
Try to be unbiased in your thinking. Is there not a small voice in your conscience which keeps insisting "There is a God?" We venture to say that even the atheists will also hear the echo of this voice saying, "There is a God." Yes, indeed there is a God. Think intelligently; look at things objectively. Above all, do not resist the witness of your conscience.
At this point let us say one or two words about the relationship between man and God. On the one hand, if there is a God, He must be the source of all that is good. He must be a holy Being who hates all unrighteousness and sin. He must be righteous in punishing sin. On the other hand, any observation of man's condition will make it clear that he is a sinner (We shall have more to say on the subject of man's sin in the next chapter). Because of this it is impossible for God to refrain from punishing him. But besides righteousness, mercy and love are also attributes of God. It follows, therefore, that in mercy God ought to provide a way for the salvation of sinful man. This is, in fact, what God has done. To put it briefly, God offers to man either judgement based upon His righteousness or salvation based upon His love.
Having realised that there is a God, and that He is both the Judge and Saviour of man, let us think a little about man himself. What is man? What must we, each of us, do in order to be a complete person? These questions deserve study.II. MAN
There are many things about this world that man does not understand. True he is the crown of creation endowed with intelligence. Through investigation and study he has learned something of the secrets of the universe. But even today man has still not succeeded in understanding himself correctly. What is man? What is his destiny? The answering of these questions still presents man with difficult problems.
What is man? Some thinkers dispose of this problem by simply saying that man is a rational animal. Is man nothing more than that? What does his thinking capacity consist of? Those who seek the truth must certainly come to grips with this problem. There is no doubt that man has the capacity for thought. History, literature and science are all the products of this capacity. But apart from these powers of thought and discrimination, is there nothing else in man? Certainly there is something else. The desire which he has to do good and the revulsion of conscience which he feels when he does wrong-where do these come from? To what is this impulse or feeling related? Not to his mind. Eventhough it passes through the mind surely that is not its source. That is clear because there are many things of which the mind approves, but the conscience detests. Therefore we cannot say that conscience is merely a mental activity. Often when we do wrong, conscience accuses us but our mind casts about for ways to justify the deed. No, the voice which accuses us comes from a much more exalted source than the mind. It is related to another part of man. That is his spirit. Now it is becoming clear what man is. He is a rational, spiritual being. Or, to put it in a more detailed way, man is a tripartite, possessing body, mind and spirit. In seeking to define what man is, however, there is one other very important matter which ought to be taken into consideration. There is a basic defect in man. Unless we consider the nature of this defect, our conclusions about man will be entirely erroneous. What is this defect? Simply that man is a sinner.
There is no need for prolonged reflection in order to appreciate that we are sinners. Our conscience alone will tell us that we are transgressors of the laws of the Creator. By thinking forbidden thoughts and doing forbidden deeds we stand revealed as morally polluted. No doubt there are times when we do good and when worthy thoughts occupy our minds. Nevertheless we repeatedly commit offences in thought, word and deed. When it comes to doing good no man is perfect. This imperfection alone is evidence of man's sin, for God's purpose in creating us was that we might please Him by doing good at all times. And our shortcomings in this matter will not be compensated for by the good which, at times, we do happen to do. Supposing you have a bullock. Your purpose in buying the bullock was for ploughing the land or pulling a cart. But if it works only occasionally and spends the rest of the time lying down lazily, you will be disgusted with your purchase. The same is true of man who was created for good works. His occasional attempts at doing good, will not solve the error of his ways. To put it in a nutshell, man has gone completely wrong; he is a sinner. Eventhough there may be some who try their utmost to do good, in the presence of God all are equally wrong. So then, what is man? He is a being composed of body, mind and spirit, and all of these are permeated by sin.
The next thing to which we should give some thought is the question of man's destiny. He exists only a brief time on this earth and lives in it as a mere stranger. Although there may be many things which he calls his own, actually he possesses nothing, because when the time comes for him to leave this world, he leaves everything behind. He travels onward in the chariot of time until he reaches his destination--death. There his life does not end, however. It merely enters a new phase. Just as the caterpillar in the chrysalis breaks open the cage which imprisons it and flies away as a butterfly, so the eternal immortal spirit of man leaves his mortal body and goes to the place prepared for it by the Creator. It should be realised that the human spirit, because it is immortal, does not perish along with this mortal body. It merely passes over from one condition of life to another.
Where does man go after death? The indestructible human spirit enters a new kind of existence. This existence is without end, that is to say, eternal. Thus after death man enters an eternal state.
Now just remember the condition in which man enters eternity; it is as a sinner. What sort of eternal existence awaits the sinner--the breaker of God's laws? To answer that question we need to understand the nature of eternity because it is that which determines man's condition there. An illustration will make this clear. Two men fall into a deep lake. One man knows how to swim, the other does not. The experienced swimmer begins to swim. To him it is a pleasant experience. But the other is in terror of his life. The one is in fine fettle, the other in agony of distress. Water is like that--causing pleasure to the swimmer and tragedy to the non swimmer. Similarly it is quite natural that eternity will bring sorrow to the sinner but pleasure to the righteous man. The joyous aspect of eternity may be called Heaven and the unbearable agony, Hell. Were there a sinless man, Heaven would be his by right. But there is no such man who is untainted by sin. Thus it follows naturally that after death the destiny of sinful man is hell.
Is there a way of escape from such a punishment? We have already seen that all men, because they are sinners, are subject to the punishment of Hell. But has anyone yet succeeded in finding any way to deliver man from this doom? Man himself makes many efforts to achieve this. There are many who think that deliverance is attainable through living a good life. But this human race which is subject to the punishment of Hell cannot possibly attain salvation through good works (more about this later). The reason is that even when he is doing these good works man is a sinner. So how is it that real peace, that is salvation, can be obtained?
God has himself borne the punishment of man's sin which is the torment of Hell. Jesus Christ who is God experienced the agony of Hell on our behalf on Calvary's cross. Because He took upon Himself the punishment which we ought to have suffered, we need not experience that agony. That means that we have the right to go to Heaven. But there is one condition which we must fulfil. We, each one of us, must believe that Jesus Christ died as the atonement for our sins in order that we might be delivered and further, that through that death, He Himself has become our Saviour. Then Heaven becomes ours. This is the only way of escape from Hell--the way which God has prepared.
Refusal to believe inevitably involves punishment. Life after death will be existence in Hell. But by receiving Jesus Christ into our hearts as our own Saviour we shall escape Hell's punishment and receive the gift of salvation.
What is a complete man? The complete man is he who by faith, has seen in Christ the atonement for his sin and thus is made fit for Heaven. The man who does not believe, but, forgetting the Saviour, hankers after this deceitful world and indulges in his carnal pleasures and evil thoughts, is a vile wretched person, deserving only hell. Such a man can never attain to complete manhood. Only the man who by faith in Christ has turned away from that Hell-bound course and started on the way to Heaven can realise the goal of complete manhood. This change of life, which is a spiritual revolution, is possible only through Christ. It is not correct to speak of anyone as a "complete man" apart from this experience. Let me illustrate the point. A fertilised egg is to all outward appearances indistinguishable from one that is unfertilised. Both may be tended under conditions suitable for hatching but only the former can produce a chicken. This is because it alone has life. Hence, though both look alike, no one could possibly claim that the second egg is fulfilling its proper function. In the same way, although men are alike as to outward appearances, only he who has received life through Christ, and is producing life unto eternity deserves to be called a complete man.
We have demonstrated clearly that it is possible for a person to become a complete man through faith in Jesus Christ. In the next chapter we shall have a few things to say about our Redeemer Jesus Christ.III. THE SAVIOUR
We have already seen that man is deserving only of Hell and that there is only one Person, Jesus Christ, who is able to save him. Let us consider a few things about Christ.
Jesus was born in Palestine two thousand years ago. The Jews were the only people then really expecting the coming of a Saviour. This was because many of their prophets had prophesied of Him. In accordance with their prophecies Christ Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin. From the age of thirty, for a period of three years through His many teachings and miraculous works, He made clear His identity and purpose in coming to the world. Furthermore He informed His disciples that He would be put to death by the Jews, but would rise again from the dead on the third day. And that is exactly what did happen. In the light of these historical events, it would be well for the reader to understand who the Lord Jesus Christ is.
Now think; who is this Jesus Christ? Is He some ordinary man now dead and buried in Palestine? No, Jesus Christ is God--the One who is able to grant salvation to all who believe in Him, the one who today lives in heaven caring for mankind. "Jesus Christ is God? Oh no, it is a mistake to claim anything for him other than that he was a good and great man who was put to death by wicked men." This opinion is fairly wide spread. It is perfectly correct to speak of Him as a good Man. He gave bread to the hungry, lived His life among the poor, never sinned--certainly He was a good Man. But if Jesus Christ was a good Man it follows that the things spoken by Him must be true and factual. Here, then, are some of the things which He said. "I am in the Father, and the Father (i.e. God) in Me" (John 14: 10). Again, "I am the Door (i.e. the Door to salvation). By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved" (John 10:9). What have you to say about a person who makes such claims as these? We are compelled to agree that He is truly God. The only alternative we have is to call Him a liar and a deceiver. Either His words are true or they are false, there is no other alternative. Jesus Christ was not a deceiver nor was He a speaker of falsehoods. But He is the God who "remembered us in our low estate," the one who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Who is this great Man, who though owning neither wheat fields nor barns, provided bread and satisfied the hunger of many thousands, who healed the sick, raised the dead, controlled the wind and the sea by the word of His power, who exercised lordship over evil spirits, who died, rose again from the dead, ascended to Heaven, who not only declared, "Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world" but further promised, "Behold I come quickly," who even today can change the sinful heart of man bringing in the hope of salvation--who is He? He is God Himself. He is truly Man and truly God.
Turning to his enemies, He once challenged them with the question, "which of you convinceth me of sin?" (John 8:46), but His enemies, though had tried hard to snare Him in His speech or discover some shortcoming in His life, were reduced to silence. Jesus Christ lived an absolutely sinless life. It was because He, as God, was free from the influence of sin, that man's salvation has become possible. "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21).
If Jesus Christ be God, should not His life, death and resurrection have a place in your life? He invites all those who are labouring for salvation to come to Him. "I will give you rest," He has promised. "I am the door," He also declared, meaning that He is the only one Door to salvation. There is, apart from Christ, no other way of salvation. "Neither is there salvation in any other. For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
It may, however, be urged that in this matter we are very narrow minded--that surely Christ cannot be the only Saviour. On the contrary, apart from Jesus Christ, no one else able to save man, has ever come to this world. Nor has anyone else ever claimed to be able to save man. An examination of Gita will confirm this. The avathars have had as their purpose the destruction of evil men and the preservation of the good. But the coming of Jesus Christ was for the fulfilment of an entirely different purpose. He himself said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). He came to give eternal life or salvation to the world.
What is it that Jesus Christ has done for mankind? He bore the sin of the world on the cross. He endured the just punishment of our sin, and delivered us from the agony of hell. Let me illustrate this point with a simple story.
There was once a teacher who had given a great deal of attention to preserving discipline in the classroom. He had issued a warning that any breach of that discipline on the part of the children would be met with a fitting punishment. But one day one of the children committed a serious offence in the class. Taking hold of the cane, the teacher called the boy who came forward to receive his punishment. But what took place was different from what everybody had expected. The teacher who was very fond of the boy had no real desire to beat him. On the other hand he had no intention of breaking his code of discipline which decreed that the child should be punished. So he handed over the stick and ordered the boy to beat him! The student hesitated at first, but the teacher insisted until finally he gave his teacher a stinging blow. That blow suffered by his teacher profoundly touched the lad's heart. Until then he had not appreciated the seriousness of the situation. A transformation took place in his life. From that time he began to view his teacher who had received the punishment for his offence in a new light and from then on an intensely intimate relationship sprang up between them.
This is precisely what Jesus Christ has done. In Christ we see God suffering pain inflicted by man in order that He might atone for the sins of man. Because of His love for us, He has no desire that man should plunge into Hell. But on the other hand it is absolutely essential that God should never deviate from His righteousness.
That is why God, in order to fit us for heaven, came as man and endured the punishment of sin. Just as in the case of the pupil who found relief from punishment through his teacher's goodness, so there ought to be a complete change of attitude on our part also. Because Christ has borne our punishment we need never be punished for our sin. It is sufficient if with repentant and changed minds we receive him as our Saviour that wonderful Lord who loved us and bore such anguish for us. This, and this alone, is sufficient for salvation.
We have already pointed out that human effort to gain an entrance to heaven is utterly futile. Unless man is delivered from sin he cannot be saved. But man is unable to extricate himself from the predicament of sin. To put it plainly, man's works will not aid him in the quest for salvation. If a non swimmer is about to drown, his struggles in the water will do nothing to help him reach the bank. Even if a man standing on the bank gives him shouted instructions on how to swim, it will not help him out of his predicament. His mad, panic-stricken threshing about in the water will not benefit him in the slightest. Such is the condition of the man who is deep in sin. Through his own efforts salvation is unobtainable. Advice from 'those on the bank' is fruitless. "Lead a virtuous life, discipline your mind, learn self-control." This kind of advice affords cold comfort to the sinner. The man who is going under for the third time has only one hope-a rescuer who will leap into the water, seize hold of him and draw him to the bank. A sinner also needs a Saviour who will rescue him from the peril of sin and carry him safely to heaven. Through that Saviour alone can salvation for the soul be obtained. It is true that there have been any number of religious teachers who have given good advice to men. But they have not succeeded in giving men salvation. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15). Friend, Christ is my Saviour, and He may be yours also. The person who believes in Him has eternal life. "As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12).
Jesus Christ died for us and rose again from the dead on the third day. Subsequent to this for a period of forty days He appeared to His disciples on a number of occasions giving them instructions and advice. Then, before their wondering gaze, He ascended to Heaven. He is coming again to take all those who are saved to be with Himself and judge the unsaved with banishment to Hell. Even now His words stand ready to be fulfilled. His coming may take place at any moment and when He does come, it will happen with utter suddenness and speed. Hence it is essential to receive Him as Saviour before His coming takes place. For after His coming, instead of Saviour, He will be the Judge pronouncing just sentence upon the evil deeds of men. Before you finish reading this booklet the Lord may come. Therefore do not waste the present opportunity of salvation. Prepare for the coming of Christ by receiving Him as your Saviour.IV. BELIEVE
You will notice the frequent use which we have made of such verbs as "believe," "receive," "accept." These words have been used only in the Biblical sense. We are to receive Christ into our hearts, just as we would receive a guest into our house. Accepting Christ as your own Saviour is really as simple and definite an act as accepting a marriage partner. The words "as your own Saviour" also need some amplification. There are, of course, any number of people who recognise Christ as the Saviour of the world but as a result of such an admission no personal benefit accrues to them. Certainly Christ is the Saviour of the world, there is not question about that. His death is sufficient to save every man from Hell. When does that salvation take effect in a person's experience? It is when that person can in sincerity say, "Christ is my Saviour." Let us suppose that a very wealthy man has prepared a sumptuous feast for all who care to attend. He has already borne the whole expense and the trouble involved in such a function. He invites everyone. The hungry have only to go there and eat, but each must share personally in the feast if his hunger is to be satisfied. Salvation is just like this. If you want to have a part in the salvation effected by Christ through His death on the cross, then you must receive Him as your own Saviour. The act of believing thus brings us into a wonderful relationship with Christ.
What then must you believe? How should this faith express itself? "I am a sinner, The punishment of sin is hell. Therefore I, who am a sinner, deserve to go to hell. But because Jesus Christ, Himself God, in dying for me upon the cross, experienced on my behalf the torment of hell, I am delivered from hell. Not only so, but heaven is my portion through that Saviour who today is risen and alive from the dead. Yes, Jesus is my Saviour To Him I owe an eternal debt of gratitude." Salvation is the making of a confession of faith such as that above, whether in these words or in your own words, it does not matter as long as the words expressed arise from the depths of your heart, inspired by a true sense of your need. This is the only way of salvation.
We have clearly pointed out the way of deliverance. And irrespective of your particular circumstances or character this is the only way by which you can become fit for heaven.
Perhaps you are a seeker after truth. If so we have already placed before you in logical sequence a number of facts worthy of consideration. If these truths have failed to convince you fully, or if you have any doubt at all, please write to us and we shall be happy to supply you with further information.
Or it may be that you feel quite indifferent to what we have written. You may even be thinking that such things as God, the soul, heaven and hell, are all figments of the human imagination and as such are not worth serious thought. We really feel sorry for you if this is the case because you are one of many who are thoughtlessly leaping to such conclusions. Some people indeed are putting forward these ideas after only the most superficial consideration of the issues involved and without due regard for the orderly thinking which such subjects demand. We have tried hard to get you to think along right lines with the hope of confronting you with Jesus Christ the only hope of mankind. Do not be hasty in your judgement but rather read over these pages again several times if necessary. We want also to invite your attention to another book which it is essential you should read. That book is a wonderful book, God's word, the Holy Bible. In fact all that we have done in this book is to touch upon some of the truths revealed in the Bible.
God, spirit, life after death--these are realities, the existence of which cannot be doubted. That man one day will have to stand before an almighty God is also true. Make no mistake about this! Your life is not a joke. Food and drink are not the be-all and end-all of life. Rather this life is to be thought of as the sole opportunity given to man for preparing to face eternity. In preparation for the solemn confrontation with God which awaits him, each reader will do well to consider the great facts placed before him in this book.
We well remember a friend who said to us once, "I don't know whether man has a further life or not. Nor in fact do I have the time to think about it!" This irresponsible outlook is really fraught with danger. A careless attitude such as this in temporal matters will of course bring severe losses, though these, of course, will be as short-lived as life itself. But a negligent attitude toward spiritual matters will result in irreparable, eternal loss. Some years ago the "Titanic", a great English ship, the largest and most luxurious liner of the day, was crossing the Atlantic ocean to America. As the voyage progressed the passengers became fully occupied with the fun and entertainment provided for them. The fact that they were passengers on the world's mightiest liner lent added zest to the round of pleasure. Meanwhile a message was received by the ship's wireless that a huge iceberg was drifting in the path of the ship. This news however, scarcely bothered the captain. He did not want to be troubled about the possible presence of an iceberg. The voyage was going well and he did not want to entertain the possibility that anything could go wrong. As the passage was progressing smoothly he expected it to continue so. But what happened? The ship smashed against the iceberg and was wrecked. The very thing the Captain had never dreamed could occur, had become a harsh reality. Reader, is there not a responsibility on your part to face up to the implications of a future life? But this is precisely what you put off doing. Nevertheless one day you will have to face up to reality. The ship of your life will smash headlong into this reality and you yourself will sink into the very pit of hell. Let this be a warning to you. In contrast to the perilous course you now follow there is a true way. Choose it. Now you are a sinner. The way you tread leads on to death and Hell. But before you encounter death flee to the city of refuge, Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Do it now.
You may well be a God fearing person, the member of some church or religion, the regulations of which you punctiliously observe. Even so without the change of heart resulting from faith in Christ you cannot be saved. You may know of Him, you may honour Him-perhaps you may even love Him. But such an attitude does not of itself ensure salvation. You must receive Him into your heart by placing your faith in His sacrifice for sin. Again an illustration may serve to clarify our meaning. Let us suppose that you are suffering from an illness. The proper medicine is in your possession. Sometimes you take it out and look at it, at other times you exhibit it to your friends extolling its virtues. But none of this will hasten your recovery. You must take the medicine. So it is that deliverance or salvation is not to be had by merely knowing about Christ, or thinking about Christ, or even preaching about Christ. The way of salvation is through receiving Him into your heart.
Let us now think for a moment about the consequences of not believing. You should realise that when you stand exposed to the wrath of God nothing can help you. Yet if you depart from this world having rejected the only way of deliverance, it will be as one whose only destiny is the punishment of hell. How pitiable an end that will be! But today simply through faith in Jesus, salvation may become yours. Reject this Saviour and an eternity spent in hell will be your portion. God Almighty desires to give us heaven, a gift which He has prepared through Christ's death upon the cross. But the possibility of Hell also lies before us. Which will you choose? To choose one is to reject the other. Happy is the person who gains heaven through faith in Christ. But take care lest another fate befall you. If there is one thing in this fleeting life which can be classed as urgently requiring our attention, it is the question of receiving Christ as Saviour. Our hold on life is extremely tenuous. This applies equally to all-strong men, kings, lords, statesmen and scientist. "Dust thou art; and unto dust thou shalt return." This is all that can be said concerning man. But before you breathe your last, place your trust in Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life. Our Saviour will come again and when He does, the door of salvation, which now stands open, will be closed and all those who are not saved will be punished and cast into hell. But the company of the redeemed will share His reign throughout eternity.
Now we have made it quite clear that the greatest achievement of this brief lifetime is to obtain assurance concerning our life after death. This is because death or the Lord's second coming could take place at any moment. So long as you remain unsaved you have every reason to fear both of these events. But the person who is saved finds joy in the prospect of either. Will you not enter into this blissful condition right now?V. SALVATION
Now let us pass on to a consideration of some of the features of this salvation which we receive through Jesus Christ.
One of these features is that we can enjoy the assurance of salvation. We can receive the certainty of eternal life in this life itself. "These things have l written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God (Jesus Christ); that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). But in this connection we have heard a number of people express the following doubt. "How can a man possibly claim to be saved? How is it possible to be sure about salvation? Surely these issues are only to be decided after death." The answer to that is as follows. The truth that the person who believes in Jesus Christ has salvation does not have its origin in either the opinion or belief of a large number of people. Were that the case we would have just cause to doubt it. However, salvation is something which God has revealed in His holy Scriptures and which has been proved true in the experience of believers. The Word of God has this to say, "But as many as received Him (Jesus), to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name" (John 1:12). If someone conveys the news to a person who ought to be punished for murder that the judge has set him free, he is not likely to believe it. But show him the official document duly signed by the judge and then set him free immediately and there will be no room at all for any doubts. So it is with the salvation of the soul. The Word of God declares that he who believes is saved; hence it is quite pointless to entertain doubts on this matter.
The next special feature concerning Salvation is that it is an event which occurs once in a lifetime. When a child is born, the time of birth is not a matter of doubt. This is also the case concerning the new birth through Christ. This new birth (or salvation) takes place at a particular time. There can be no question of it taking place gradually. We receive Christ at a particular time and that time can be remembered, ought to be remembered and indeed always will be remembered.
Now, many will have something like this to say; "I am a man earnestly trying to please God but I certainly cannot say that I am saved in the way you describe." Yes, they know many facts about Christ. They sincerely attend to spiritual matters. Yet at the same time they are not saved. If you are in doubt about your salvation, that doubt itself proves that you are not saved. Do you doubt whether you are married? Of course not! Marriage is conducted with one's full knowledge, consent and, of course, participation. A man and a woman enter into the mutual trust and love of a life's partnership at a particular moment. In the same way at a particular point of time we receive Jesus Christ as Saviour, and, united to Him, begin a new life. Thus there is no need for doubt as to whether this has happened or not. Therefore if you yourself are in any doubt what you must do is immediately to own that you are a sinner and receive Him as your Saviour.
By receiving Christ as Saviour a great change occurs in our life. This change involves not only the reception of salvation but a complete spiritual renewal and the experience of an unearthly joy and peace. No sorrow is able to overcome the spiritual joy resulting from the reorientation of life. For though the person concerned is living in the world and has a human tendency to sin, the Lord Himself supplies the strength through which these may be overcome. "The blood of Jesus Christ His (God's) Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). While it is true that those who have experienced salvation may and do fall inadvertently into sin, it is also true that immediate forgiveness may be obtained from the Lord through confession of the particular sin. "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). Simply believe that the Lord who loved us and for our sakes bore the agony of the cross is the One who forgives our sins. And He is the One too, who gives us the desire and capacity to do good. This is the kind of life enjoyed by those who are saved.
Yet another feature of this salvation is that man's efforts are quite insufficient to achieve it. A study of the principles of many religions will show that they are concerned with the different ways in which man has set out to find God . But this idea fails to take into consideration the great gulf between the Creator and the created. Man has no power to bridge this gulf and find God. It is perfectly apparent that no communication could ever be established between a worm and human being. If the difference between two creatures is of such a magnitude, how much greater must be the distance separating man from his Creator! Nevertheless our salvation rests upon the truth that God came seeking for us. God came to this earth to save man in his helpless condition. The debt (eternal punishment) which we could not discharge, He paid. And this, remember, was done at Calvary.
A friend once exclaimed to us, "The idea that such a great matter as salvation can be had so easily, scarcely seems possible! Salvation by faith alone? The idea just isn't acceptable." Now the answer to that is worth thinking over. It certainly is true that salvation is a great matter. And it is perfectly natural that it should be obtained in a simple way. Just reflect a little about nature and you will see that all things which God gives are great things yet may be received by man without any effort on his part. God freely gives the necessary air, water, and sunlight to mention but a few. We do not even have to believe that we shall receive them! Consequently why doubt that we may receive God's gift of salvation through faith? God has borne the necessary expense and trouble of salvation. Now He offers it to us! Our part is to reach out the hand of faith and take it. Hence this way is indeed simple.
"If good works are not necessary for salvation, then what is the use of them at all?" Now this is a question forever arising in people's minds. Let us venture a few remarks toward the solution of this difficulty.
If we write down a few zeros like this-00000-what meaning does it convey? Obviously it has neither meaning nor value. No matter how many times we multiply it, the meaning is the same. Now the works which we do for salvation are precisely like this. Works done for salvation are worthless in themselves and their cumulative value is precisely zero! Now add these zeros to a complete number-for example look at 10000. The more we increase the number of zeroes the more we enhance the value of the number. Our good works must also be established upon a complete foundation. Only such good works can be described as fruitful. That complete foundation is the salvation which we receive through Christ. After we are saved we are obliged to do good works. But they are not for salvation but as a result of salvation.
Let us emphasise that once more. Good works are not done for salvation but as a result of salvation. You are a member of a household. You became so because you were born as the offspring of your father. You certainly did not attain that status through any efforts of your own. In the same way it is through no effort of ours that we become children of God, i.e., are saved. ("For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9). Because you have been born as his son your endeavour will be to please your father by living in a manner worthy of his home. Not that you will be above making some foolish mistakes. But even if you do your father will forgive you. Nevertheless you will not trade on your father's forgiving attitude as giving an opportunity for deliberate wrong doing. Mistakes will occur of course. But when they do occur they do not imply that you are no longer a member of the household or a son of the family. This illustration will help to clarify some of the things mentioned below.
1. We who have become children of God ought to do only those things which are pleasing to God our Father--"For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Eph. 2:10).
2. But our shortcomings in this endeavour do not result in the loss of our status as sons of God i.e., our salvation--"I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish" (John 10:28).
3. If we do sin we should seek forgiveness from the Lord just as we would from a father--"My little children, these things I write unto you that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1,2). "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Now the man who says, "God will forgive me; therefore I can live as I please," is, in reality, not saved at all. On the other hand the man who is really saved will always have the attitude, "Sinful conduct is a grief to my Father and I must not continue in it."
Friend, will you now become a sharer in this salvation? If God were to require your soul of you today, where would you spend eternity? May you have no rest of mind until this most important question is satisfactorily answered!VI. THE NEW WAY OF LIFE
It remains for us to give some consideration to various aspects of the life which we receive through the death of Christ at Calvary. What kind of life should this be? How should it be lived? We shall bring this little book to a conclusion with a consideration of these points.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). These are the words of the apostle Paul, a man who, constrained by the love of Christ, had abandoned his former selfish mode of life to follow the Saviour. "To live is Christ; to die is gain." What does this mean? The life of an individual may be summed up under these two headings--'to live' and 'to die.' The expression 'to live' has reference to our life in this world, whereas 'to die' is meant to indicate the life beyond.
When apostle Paul writes to his friends in the city of Ephesus, he tells them that before they were saved they were in a dead condition. "And you hath He quickened (made alive), who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). This means that the unsaved man is dead spiritually, that is to say, a spiritual corpse. But a saved man, realising this fact, has received life from Christ. The tragedy today is, that instead of receiving eternal life through faith in and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, man is busily engaged in the vain task of improving the corpse. You cannot benefit a dead body by injecting stimulants or by robing it in expensive clothing. The proper time to think about these matters will come when a way of restoring life to the corpse has been discovered. The essential thing to learn about life is, that without the principle of life there can be no such thing as a way of life.
It follows therefore that those who have not received true life through Christ are not living at all; they are dead. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life" (John 3:36). "I am come that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). These are the words of Jesus Christ. It was on the basis of his inseparable relationship with Jesus Christ who also said, "I am the resurrection and the life, "that Paul made his statement, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Here are some further words of Paul: "1 have been crucified with Christ; and l, no longer live. but Christ lives in Me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20). What greatest description of life can be found than this? The person who has yielded his life to Christ has been mystically identified with his Lord in crucifixion and death. The implication of this is that, just as a dead person is incapable of any action, so a believer is unable to commit sin. But the believer is identified with Christ, not only in death but in life also; because Christ lives, he lives. Therefore the believer has the responsibility to live in holiness as Christ did.
Hence the words, ". . . the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." What does this mean? The apostle Paul has dealt with this point in detail in Romans chapters six, seven and eight. Briefly his argument is as follows: a person who is saved possesses two natures. These are described as the 'old man' and the 'new man.' This 'new man' is the life which he received through Christ; the 'old man' is the flesh by which is meant his old habits and disposition. The 'old man' must be overcome. Our 'old self' is crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin because any one who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he can not die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:6-11).
It is hardly necessary to state that the two natures in a believer are mutually opposed. The old man continually seeks to hinder spiritual growth. To this activity we can trace the tendency to do wrong. Satan, the enemy of souls, uses this carnal nature to oppose the new man. This conflict will never be finished until we leave the body. But the living Saviour does grant us here and now the necessary strength to overcome Satan and the 'old man.'
Paul shows us the secret of victory over these opposing forces. "Be strong," he says, "in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:10-17).
Now what is meant by the expression, "To die is gain?" Those who have no true concept of life will treat the statement of Paul with contempt. How can death possibly be a gain? But death is indeed a gain to all who can say "For me to live is Christ." If a man has the assurance that death ushers him into the presence of his Lord surely it is a gain. But for those who are not saved death is an irreparable loss. For such death is the portal to eternal hell. That is why Jesus Christ once asked, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul" (Mark 8:36).
The believer in Christ has indeed a blessed hope. A reading of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 will cause us to understand the basis of our hope. In these Passages it is made clear that Jesus Christ will personally descend from heaven and that when He does, those who have died as believers will rise from the dead while those believers who are alive on the earth will receive transformed bodies. Then both groups will rise to meet the Lord in the air.
Blessed is the simple believer who stands upon these truths! Their realisation becomes an inspiring factor in his daily life.
In the light of these facts the life of a believer is seen to be fraught with responsibility. How many People there are who throw away their lives for the sake of bankrupt ideologies and in the service of men as frail as they. But is it not also sad to think of believers frittering away their time in idleness--believers who have an understanding of eternal values. If You realise the practical implications of what we believe, we would devote every energy to thinking, speaking and working for Christ. We must surrender our lives to the Lord entirely. We must surrender our every desire and ambition to Him. Jesus Christ wants only such wholehearted people. Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). Let us step out in service of Him, yielding to Him not only all that we have, but offering ourselves to His control.
The Lord Jesus Christ demands nothing
less than this complete dedication in return for what he has done for
us. He is worthy of the best we have--time, talents, wealth--all must be
for Him. Impelled by His command and constrained by His love we must
ceaselessly preach His message of salvation. Nothing else is of
importance to us. Let the world think what it may. We care not for its
opinions. Our watchword is, "For to me to live is Christ and to die
In this book we have been able to deal only in a brief way with matters deserving full treatment. As a result some facts may not be as clear as they ought to be. Even apart from this there may well be a desire on the part of some to know more about these matters. In any event we would welcome the opportunity to correspond with any who are interested.
Should the reader even now have made the decision to receive Christ as personal Saviour and lead a new life, we request that this information be sent to us for prayer.