Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The greatest truth

Last Sunday, I once again had the opportunity of giving a short gospel message at a local nursing home. Over the past 10 months or so, I have been speaking from the gospel of John, starting at the very first verse and moving on bit by bit. This past Sunday was the day when I came to what is probably the most well-known verse in the Bible:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

This one sentence has been translated into different languages of the whole world more often than any other sentence.


Because it tells us the most important message that people in the world need to hear today. For many reasons, John 3:16 is the greatest truth there is. Take a look at how this verse can be broken down:

God – the greatest Giver

so – the greatest degree

loved – the greatest motive

the world – the greatest company

that He gave – the greatest act

His only begotten Son – the greatest gift

that whosoever – the greatest invitation

believeth – the greatest decision

in Him – the greatest Person

should not perish – the greatest deliverance

but – the greatest difference

have – the greatest certainty

everlasting life – the greatest possession

(This breakdown has been slightly adjusted from a blog post I found on the internet a year or two ago and found to be very helpful for a Bible study I was preparing.)

God dramatically intervened in history some 2,000 years ago by sending His only Son to this world. Jesus Christ came to die for the sins of people from every tongue and tribe and nation. By placing our faith in Christ, we can have our sins forgiven and receive eternal life.

God’s invitation still is open to “whosoever”. The only question is: What will you do with Jesus? Will you believe in Him or reject Him? There is no other alternative. The world’s greatest truth calls for your greatest decision.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

How to enjoy the World Cup finals without committing idolatry

The following article is by my friend Vic Gill and was originally posted on the website "That I may know Him".

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen (1 John 5:21)

With the World Cup 2010 Finals fast approaching, the world embraces itself for what commentators call the ‘world’s biggest sporting showdown.’ For one whole month 32 national football teams will converge upon South Africa to compete for the most coveted ‘relic’ of the sporting world – the 18 carat gold World Cup Trophy. Not to mention the accolade of the teams name going down in footballs hall of fame. It’s meant to be the crème da le crème of all sporting events and you can be pretty sure that this event will engulf the world for its four week long duration. Football will literally take over.

It just so happens that on Sunday 11th July – the same day as the World Cup Final – my wife and I will celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary and run the London 10k marathon for Leprosy Mission, all in one day. Now, I’m not a sports fanatic or football crazy either, but here’s hoping that England makes it to the final. Wouldn’t it be even better if England goes on to win the world cup? I sure do hope so. Football, like anything good, noble and worthy can be enjoyed and it can be enjoyed even more when you know that life is not about football, but about the glory of God’s Son, Jesus Christ and His pleasure. That is what man was made for. But something has gone wrong.

What’s gone wrong?

Something needs to be said about a major event like this from a Biblical perspective. God’s Word is not vacant but penetrates into every facet of life. The Bible has something to say about everything, and yes, even the hysteria that surrounds major sports tournaments. The worship of the One True God has been replaced by so many millions of people with the worship of football. Generation after generation is being brought up with more knowledge about their football team than their Creator.

I am deeply troubled about the way in which football is religiously followed by the masses. It is a sad reality to see how sport is idolised and worshipped by so many millions of people. It is the equivalent of a modern day religion for the masses. It has its own stars, celebrities, relics, mantras, chants, followers and experts. Loyal fans even employ the use of Biblical language to express the emotion they feel. Some call it the ‘beautiful game.’ Good players are often called ‘God’; transferring players are referred to as ‘Judas.’ Chants such as ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘When the Saints go marching in’ are belted out from the stands. Managers are encouraged with slogans such as ‘In Rafa We Trust.’

What is Idolatry?

You shall have no other gods before Me (Exodus 20:3)

Idolatry is the love of someone or something more than the love of the God who created you and gave you life. Whilst many may not practice the idol worship of statues, the modern day form of idolatry is bowing at the altar of self and celebrity. The worship of anything that is not the One True God is idolatry. Idolatry is not just the bowing to idols and statues; it is the allegiance and condition of the heart and mind. It is what you are devoted to. It is what occupies your mind and your thought life. Where you spend your money, time and talk is usually a tell-tale sign of what your god is.

This generation has made a god out of football. It has given football more time, love and affection than God. If you have done this, you are guilty before God and will be judged by Him on judgement day. You are sinning against God when you live for anything else but God. The very God who created you and gave you breathe is ignored, rejected and replaced with idols such as football.

So here are three things you can do to enjoy the 2010 World Cup Final without committing idolatry.

Let your treasure be Christ

Jesus said: For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Luke 12:34)

You can enjoy the 2010 World Cup Final without committing idolatry. One way is found in the above words of Christ. Let your treasure be in Christ first and foremost. The distribution of your time, money and strength is a display of the condition of your heart. If your treasure and heart is in anything other Jesus Christ, then you need to repent, make a u-turn and place your treasures in the right place. As you watch the football, keep reminding yourself of the eternal treasures of salvation and unsearchable riches which are in Christ Jesus. Let your hope and joy be rekindled each time you think about Jesus. Know that after the football tournament, whether your team wins or not, you have a spectacular trophy that awaits you in the heavens. Joy, real joy is the outcome of knowing, following and walking in Christ. The joys of repentance are worth more than all the diamonds in the earth.

Spend More Time Giving Him Glory

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being. (Revelation 4:11)

Another way in which you can enjoy the 2010 World Cup Final without committing idolatry is by spending more time with Him. I am certain that many hours will be spent enjoying and watching World Cup Football. However, the child of God should have a soul stirring desire within their hearts to spend time giving Him glory. Redeem the time and use it wisely. You were made to worship God. You were made to adore God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength. Many Christians are miserable because they spend so little time in God’s presence. Don’t waste countless hours watching football and then give God a passing nod. You were not made to worship man or football. You were not made to religiously follow a football team. You were made for God’s pleasure so that you could enjoy Him for ever. A.W. Tozer said, “Jesus Christ came to make worshippers out of rebels.” Worship Him above all things and let every other pursuit fall into the shadow of this awesome and great privilege. Football will come and go, but God will stand tall forever, abiding eternally.

Speak less about football, more about Jesus

He must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30)

The final way in which you can enjoy the 2010 World Cup Final without committing idolatry is by telling others about Jesus the Saviour. This is incredibly soul satisfying. It brings pleasure to the heart to talk about the Master. During the World Cup season make it an effort to speak less about football and more about Jesus. Tell the world of the soul satisfying Saviour. Tell your football watching friends about the Saviour who died for their sins. Speak much about the sinless Saviour who gave Himself as a ransom for many. Speak about the final judgement seat of Christ before which all humans will one day stand. As Christians we are not to drop our guard and we are certainly not to go passive because everyone else is preoccupied with the football. Remember that during the tournament many millions of people are still dying and going to hell. Remember that many people are still living in complete darkness. Remember there that there are still villages where the Gospel has not been preached. Remember there is a world outside of football which still lives in sin, death, disease, sickness and misery.

I believe if you do these things, you can enjoy the 2010 World Cup Finals without committing idolatry.

Article republished with kind permission of the author Vic Gill.