Message No. 3 To Seekers, Doubters and Unbelievers in Coronavirus Times
Hi there! I hope all is well with you, and you are somehow weathering out this coronavirus disaster which is affecting the whole world.
Last time, in Message No. 2, I spoke about Jesus Christ as being both man and God, and that this realization gave me great peace and clarity in my own life. It also made me realize that events do not happen by chance or accident – God is totally in control of everything that happens to me and you. That’s very comforting to know, when a catastrophe like the present one strikes us.
Message No. 3 - You Can't Save Yourself
How exactly are we to think of God and Jesus? Are they two separate beings? Two separate gods? Is one of them greater than the other? And if they are one God, how can He be on earth as Jesus and at the same time be in heaven, or in control of the rest of the universe? These were the questions I was facing, after I understood that God had come to earth as the man Jesus Christ.
The first thing to say about God is that He is not only the Creator of the universe and everything that exists, but that He has always been and always will be. Before anything ever existed, God was there – and after even the whole universe comes to an end, God will still be there. He exists eternally. In the Bible’s Old Testament, there is a story about how Moses sees a bush in the desert, which doesn’t stop burning. He realizes that God is somehow appearing to him in that bush, and God talks to Him. When Moses asks God His name, God replies: “I AM WHO I AM”. I AM WHO I AM – that is the nature of God: always living, and always present.
The Bible also describes God as having a hidden aspect, which no man can ever see – also called the “Father” – and a creative, outgoing aspect, which is called the “Word”: in other words, the Word that the Father speaks. This is how creation came into being. The Father spoke His Word (not literally, of course), and the universe was created. Everything that God created was good. God loved His creation. And the highpoint of God’s creation – at least on our planet – was man. Man was the highpoint because God created Him to reflect something of Himself: something of His intelligence, something of His goodness, something of His love.
Very often today, you will hear what – in my opinion – is an unnecessary debate: did God create the universe in one go, or did it evolve, as science teaches us? Actually, even Charles Darwin, who thought up the theory of evolution, believed in God. For him, there was no conflict between God and evolution. I have a brother-in-law who is a lecturer in geology, and he tells his students at the beginning of each academic year that he is a Christian. He also knows very well that rocks and fossils of creatures appeared in different geological ages, stretching over hundreds of millions of years. And he says to his students: “Just in case you’re going to ask me how I can reconcile my faith in God with evolution, I’ll tell you. In the Bible, it says that, with God, one day is like a thousand years. So there’s no reason why God should not create everything over a very long period of time”. And then his students no longer ask him such questions!
God created man to be a reflection of His own goodness and love. But when we look at man down the ages, and also man today, we don’t see too much of this goodness and love. We see a lot of evil: violence, greed, betrayal and exploitation. People often resemble the devil more than they represent God. Speaking of the devil, we haven’t mentioned him before. Where does he come from? Where does evil come from? And what changed us from godly creatures into little devils?
The Bible tells us that there was an evil force around, which at some stage tempted man to do wrong. We see this in the well-known story of Adam and Eve, and the snake which tempts them into disobeying God and eating fruit from a tree they weren’t supposed to eat from. We can think of the story like this: when we are born, we are still in quite a godly state of being. Babies and very small children often give us the impression of being close to God: innocent, not yet touched by the dirtiness of this world. But there is already an evil presence in the world, which sooner or later will lead them astray as they grow up – not just once, but many times.
In the Christian faith, God created only good creatures. Among those creatures were angels – superior, more intelligent and powerful creatures than ourselves, who dwelt in heaven, which God had also created along with the universe. It was pride – a desire to be God Himself – that led a leading angel to rebel against God, taking one third of all the angels in heaven with him. They were banished from heaven to earth, becoming demons that tempt people to disobey God – sometimes even possessing or controlling people. These fallen angels or demons will be destroyed by God, but for now He allows them to lead men and women astray. In the story of Adam and Eve and the snake, the snake represents that leading demon, also called the “devil” or “Satan”, who succeeds in getting Adam and Eve to disobey God. Adam and Eve represent our ancestors, and what the Bible says is that every human being inherits the sinfulness of those ancestors.
You have probably seen trees with all the leaves on them covered in spots – the whole tree is sick. Well, that’s how it is with the “tree of man”. Every new leaf that springs from it – in other words, every new-born child – is stained with the spots of sin, and will by nature turn away from God. This inherited sinfulness is called “original sin”, and it shows the extent to which the devil comes into each person’s life. In fact, we are all helplessly sick because of sin, and by ourselves we can’t get out of this mess. We’re not strong enough, and after death we are in danger of going to the same place where the devil will go – to hell. God will punish us for having turned away from Him. Even if it’s only one sin, we have sinned against a holy God and deserve to be condemned.
Have you ever tried to make and keep New Year resolutions? To give up your favourite indulgences as of January 1st? For example, smoking, or over-eating, or addictive computer games? It doesn’t usually work, does it? In the same way, we think we can save ourselves from being condemned by God by doing good deeds, trying to be nice and kind, and so on. We think that if we will try hard enough, we might score enough points for God to let us into heaven. And maybe that is what other religions believe and teach. But not Christianity.
Christianity teaches – the Bible teaches – that no one can get to heaven by their own strength. We are too sinful: our very nature inclines us towards sin. We are like those spotted leaves. If God doesn’t step in to help us, we will all die, being eternally separated from God. You will die like that, my Friend. You cannot save yourself, no matter how good you try to be.
This leads us to the 64,000-dollar question: “What must I do to be saved? If I can’t do anything to save myself, how can I possibly be saved from hell? Is there any hope for me?”
Dear Friend, I think those are the questions you should be asking yourself. Examine your conscience. How often have you turned away from God? Maybe you’re turned away from Him now. How often have you done, said or even thought things you know God would condemn, because He is holy? If you’re honest, the answer will be: many, many, many times. Your unbelief itself is a turning away from God, a rebellion, a thinking that you know better than God. If you’re honest with yourself, you’re not good and kind at all. You’re full of sin and impurity, and therefore you’re heading for a disastrous confrontation with God. One day, there’ll be a showdown.
Preview of Next Message
So, is there a way out? I’ll look at the answer to that in my next message, Message No. 4. God bless.