What’s so good about Good Friday?

What’s so good about someone dying?
What’s so good about being nailed on a cross?
What’s so good about being humiliated in front of hundreds, if not, thousands?

I met Tim the other day. He didn’t grow up religious and never went to church. But as I’ve realized through the years, the gospel is the most logical solution to the problem of sin.

Good works won’t work because we’ll never know how much is enough to make it.
Punishing ourselves won’t work because we can only tolerate pain up to a certain extent and give up before it’s ever enough.
Merely saying sorry is also not enough for a holy and just God requires payment for the penalty of sin.

When the first Good Friday happened, Jesus declared in Mark 15:34 “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why did Jesus feel forsaken by the Father?

It was at that circumstance that all of the sin of mankind was placed on Him. “God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus felt forsaken for at that moment, it seemed that there was a separation from the Father for sin cannot be in the same presence of a holy and rigtheous God.

Thus, to the person who trusts Christ for salvation experiences a miracle. Our unrighteousness was placed on Christ and His righteousness placed upon us. This work of imputation is nothing short of miraculous. At that particular time, the greatest exchange happened – an unfair yet amazing one.

All these I explained to Tim. His response?
“Wow, it all make sense to me now! This is indeed good news! In fact, it’s great news! My sin upon Him and His righteousness upon me. Who doesn’t want that? Quite an amazing deal if you’d ask me.”

As a result, after an understanding of the gospel of Jesus, he responds by turning away from sin and fully surrendering his life to Christ as his Lord and Savior.

And to all who hasn’t surrendered their lives yet, today can be your day of salvation. What’s so good about Good Friday? His death provided a way for us to gain life. The Great Exchange occurred on Good Friday – His righteousness upon us and all our unrighteousness upon Him as we respond in faith by trusting Christ for our salvation.

If this is the desire of your hear, you can pray this prayer by faith, receive His forgiveness and experience the new life He offers to everyone who believes:

Lord, thank You for coming to die on the cross. I understand that You died so that the penalty of sin can be paid for. I repent from all my sins and trust Christ for forgiveness. He died so that I may have life. Today, I respond to His love for me. I surrender my past, my sins, my unrighteousness and by faith receive the righteousness of Christ offered to me through His work in Calvary. Help me to live for you from this day forward, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to live a life that would please and honor God. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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In the day to day ministry that I am privileged to participate in, I get to speak with many people who would hit a speed bump in their relationships, careers and future aspirations.

Jessie (not his real name) is uncertain about his future in the current position for he has in the company because he decided to keep his integrity intact by not giving in to the pressure of getting involved with under the table deals. As a result, he gets bypassed for every possible promotion he should’ve had the past years.

Sharon just found out that her husband has had an affair. Though it wasn’t a long drawn out relationship, still, it has crushed her and has no clue how to put the pieces back together with her 2 children.

Rick perseveres to witness to his schoolmates about the gospel message of Christ and yet rejection and persecution slammed the door shut everytime he opened up spiritual conversations.

Now, with our limited perspective, it seems that giving up is a viable option. But this is not what we are told in the Scriptures. The Bible will make no sense at all without the eternal perspective.

In Colossians 3:2-4, Paul declares:

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

We are told that as a result of what Jesus has done, our lives are no longer lived for our own benefit. With this in mind, we are given a perspective – “this life isn’t all that there is!”  There is a glory that will appear when Christ appears. There is a better end than what we are living in right now. Sin has been conquered. We have been redeemed and heaven and earth will be restored when the New Jerusalem appears. All the troubles, hardship, brokenness and sacrifice would make no sense without an eternal perspective.

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that “if only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied than all men.”
If God isn’t taking us somewhere, then following Jesus is a sheer waste of time!

Why would Jessie keep standing up for his convictions in the workplace?
In everyone’s eyes, he is being stupid.
Why would Rita forgive her husband’s transgression? He doesn’t deserve it. He may be repentant but he’s caused her lots of pain. Without eternal perspective, she is just getting duped.
Why would Rick persist on sharing God’s love to his friends?
If there’s no eternity, then he is just wasting his time.

Everything God does and everything God calls us to do will only make sense from an eternal perspective. Paul says, if our hope is only in this life, then “we are to be pitied than all men.”

But that’s not where the story ends. The story ends with Christ as King of all kings and Lord of all Lords. The story ends with Jesus on the throne victorious. The story ends with God’s people from every tribe, language, nation and people worshiping the Ancient of Days.

Remember, this life isn’t all that there is.
When we see things from an eternal perspective, things eventually make sense.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:18)

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A failure to grasp the grace that have been demonstrated to me will cause the failure of demonstrating grace to other people.

I grew up religious. But we all know that being religious doesn’t necessarily mean being righteous. I had a semblance of virtue but only I knew the wickedness brewing inside of me.

It didn’t take long to show on the outside what stemmed from the inside – pride, greed, immorality, selfishness, self-righteousness. And when it did, I would mess up big time.

Gratefully, at 17, God rescued me from my sinfulness. But that rescue mission didn’t stop that moment when I accepted Christ. He had to rescue me daily from slipping back to my old self. I am forever grateful for the gospel that frees me from sin, the Holy Spirit that sanctifies me to become more like Christ and the hope of the resurrection that is to come where sin will no longer be present.

I used to have great difficulty dispensing forgiveness. I said “great difficulty” because to this day, offense is never an easy thing to deal with. But it has become quicker to forgive when I remember that I myself have been forgiven.

I love how Colossians 3:13 (NLT) puts it.

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”

Make allowance for each other’s faults.
In other words, Paul was telling the church, “Expect it. You’ll have to practice forgiveness for offense will happen. The people you have relationship with, they have faults. They are not perfect. Because of that, not only will you have to make allowances for their faults but choose to forgive when the opportunity arises.”

How in the world can we do it?
As the Lord has forgiven, we are to forgive others.

This we need to remember, we are first a sinner
and only secondarily sinned against.
Read it again.
We are first a sinner and only secondarily sinned against.

When we have no idea how much we have been forgiven, it will be hard for us to release forgiveness. If we don’t comprehend how much grace has been dispensed toward us, then we will have a hard time dispensing the same grace to others.

And this will extend to our marriage, friendships, work relationships, family relationships, classmates and church friends.

The more aware we are of our own need for grace, we become more willing to extend it to others.

“But this person doesn’t deserve my grace! You have no idea how much he/she offended me.”
Well, that’s why it’s called grace.
Grace is kindness undeserved.
The bottom line is that the person we choose to forgive may not change when we first extend grace.

Once we embrace this truth, it will not just benefit those we forgive. It will greatly free us from baggages we’ve been carrying for days, weeks, months, maybe even years.

Grace changes everything!

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Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)

What does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel of Christ?
Do I need to be perfect?
Should I strive to be sinless?
What if I sin again?

Here are a few thoughts on what it’s not followed by what it is according to Scriptures.

What “living a life worthy of the gospel” is not:

1. A way by which we can earn our salvation.

No one can ever receive God’s forgiveness and redemption by his own merit. As Isaiah puts it, “our righteousness is as filthy rags.” (Is. 64:6) Our personal righteousness doesn’t measure up to the standards of God’s holiness.

2. A way to perfection.

Perfection can never be achieved apart from the imputation or transfer of Christ’s perfect moral record upon our imperfect moral record. When a person comes to faith in Christ, a divine exchange happens – Christ’s righteousness upon us and our unrighteousness upon Him.

3. A way to gain more favor from God.

To a person who has been rescued by Jesus’ gospel redemption, there’s no additional favor to gain for he already has the full extent of God’s love and favor through Christ.

As a result, the saying is true –

There’s nothing you can do to make God love you less
nor make Him love you more.

In Christ, we have the full extent of His love.
For God demonstrates His love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Man’s depravity forever excludes him from being “worthy of the gospel.
His salvation merits his uncompromising, unmitigated, undying commitment to live as those who are saved by the only One able to save and the only One who is worthy of praise. (Tony Miano)

What then, does it mean to live a life worthy of the gospel?

It is living a life consistent with God’s Word resulting from being justified by Christ alone through His work of redemption. In other words, as Paul puts it, “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old is gone and the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Only he who has been changed on the inside will be able to demonstrate that on the outside by the power of the Holy Spirit. What comes after salvation is the sanctifying work of the Spirit to change us to become more like Christ. This too, is by His grace.

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son to be the atoning sacrifice for my sin. I understand that I am saved not by my good works but only through Christ’s work on the cross. Help to me to grasp that in a greater way and embrace it more and more as each day would pass. By Your grace, help me to live for You in the power of the Holy Spirit so I can live a life that brings glory to Your name. May my life be pleasing to You and You alone. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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What’s so special about Mandy Thursday? I understand Friday for that’s when Jesus was crucified. Saturday was when Jesus was in the grave. As for Sunday, it was the greatest event in all of human history.

What happened on Thursday? And why’s so “maundy” about it?

Maundy comes from the Latin word where we derive the word ‘mandate’. It was a day where a command was given by Jesus. It was on the night before he was betrayed where He took the cup and the bread, blessed and gave thanks to share the meal with His disciples.

It was during the meal that Jesus took a basin of water, wrapped a towel around His waist and started to wash the disciples feet. So what was the “mandate” that made Thursday Maundy?

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

What He did (washing the feet of his disciples) preceded what He said (love one another).

It was a powerful moment for if He only told them what they needed to do, they would most likely obey but the impact wouldn’t be as intense and compelling.

If their Master could serve them the way He did, how much more can they do the same to others?

His command to love one another is an overflow of the love we have received.
We love because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

REFLECTION APPLICATION:

1. Pray to Jesus now and thank Him for His sacrificial love to take our place on the cross for He died on our behalf. He paid the debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

2. Pray for someone now to know Christ personally as their Lord and Savior (family member, friend, officemate, classmate).

3. Text that person a verse to encourage and reflect on what Jesus did on the cross.

Blog Banners.001“I don’t think you really believe in what you’re saying.”

Joe Kim (not his real name) was telling me today regarding his experience before he met Christ. He was in high school when someone shared the gospel to him in Korea. He felt that his friend had just come from an evangelistic seminar and he was his friend’s first “project.”

Growing up in a Buddhist background, Joe wasn’t all that interested. In fact, he challenged his friend’s faith by telling him that “he really didn’t believe in what he was saying.”

When his friend asked how come he said that, Joe’s answer was, “Well, if you really believed in what you’re saying, it would show in how you live.” Joe loved his friend. In fact, they were often together, even in parties and drinking sprees. But he concluded that what his friend declared didn’t really work.

“If you believed in what you are declaring, you’re life would be different.”

Joe’s statement hit me. In fact, it hit me quite hard.
I began to look at my own life to see if what I believed lined up with how I lived my life.

Jesus addressed the crowds and told them this about the religious leaders of his time,

“Pay attention to what they tell you and do it. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” (Matthew 23:3)
What they taught didn’t line up with how they lived.

Our lives are sometimes the only Bible our friends will read. We can say one thing but if our life exemplifies something else, it will be difficult to believe. Does this mean that our lives need to be perfect? By no means. However, the important thing is that we’re progressing towards what God intended for us to go towards – to become like Christ. And THAT would be entirely by His grace working itself out in our daily lives.

LORD, thank You for saving me by Your grace. It is never by personal merit or deserved achievement. As I grow in the knowledge of Your grace and salvation, allow me to grow in greater Christ-likeness and holiness. May my life be a story of someone who was undeserving yet unconditionally cared for, fully known yet fully loved. And for that, I am forever grateful. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.