Thursday 21 December 2017


A Christmas reflection: Nine reasons why Christ came to this world

Tis the season to be jolly! At least that’s what commercial Christmas is about: Shopping, exchanging gifts and dining in fine restaurants.

Amid this celebratory mood, it’s easy to forget the meaning behind this year-end celebration—to honour the coming of Christ to the world.

Let’s pause a few minutes to consider this: What made Jesus leave the comfort and security of heaven to come to earth as a man with his inherent weaknesses and limitations?

Here are NINE reasons for Jesus’ coming to this world:

To reconcile us to God

Christ is the sacrificial Lamb of God. He came to die on the cross, bearing the punishment for our sins. Sin had caused man to be separated from God. But when we believe that He died for our sins, we receive God’s forgiveness and, therefore, become reconciled to God.

Thus, the main purpose of Christ’s coming is to save man from sin, restore the broken relationship between God and man and enable him to get to heaven (salvation) one day when he expires.

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
  • “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
  • “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” (1 John 4:10).
  • “God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Since Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, sinners should respond quickly with joyful repentance.

To establish God’s kingdom

While Christ was on earth, He proclaimed: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Thus, the gospel (good news) is not just about saving man from sin. There is a much bigger purpose—establishing God’s kingdom.

What is God’s kingdom? It is the realm where God’s authority and dominion reside, both a present and future reality.

God’s kingdom is a present reality in that it exists within the hearts of born-again believers (Luke 17:21).

But God’s kingdom is also a future reality. This will be fulfilled when the Holy City descends from heaven; God will dwell with His people there (Revelation 21:2-3). Christ will literally reign for 1000 years on earth.

To empower us to live righteously

When we believe in Christ, the Holy Spirit who indwells us empowers us to overcome sin. It all begins when believers become identified with Christ’s death. Our old self was crucified with Christ so that we are no longer enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6).

We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (Romans 8:12). For the law of the Spirit of life has set us free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

As we die to self, walk in the Spirit, seek God in prayer, and fellowship with other believers, we will be strengthened from within to overcome sin (Luke 9: 23, Galatians 5:16, Matthew 26:41, 2 Timothy 2:22).

To show us how to serve in humility, power and love

In the last Passover meal He shared with His disciples, Jesus arose and washed their feet. By this humble act, a lowly task performed by servants for visitors, Jesus showed us how we should serve each other (John 13:1-5).

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Christ also demonstrated how he ministered to people with love and power. Love alone without power is futile; power without love is just a show.

Love: When Christ moved on this earth, He had compassion on the multitudes and healed them (Matthew 14:14).

Power: God anointed Christ with the Holy Spirit’s power as He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38).

To give us purpose and meaning in life

Is life meant to be something like this? Go to school, work hard, enter university, work hard, get a degree, secure a good job, buy a house and a car, get married, have children, then grandchildren, get to play with them and then watch TV on our rocking chair the rest of our lives till we die?

No, Christ came to inject meaning and purpose into our lives. He came that we may have life, and that we may have it more abundantly (John 10:10). He introduced His disciples to a different kind of “food”, which is the will of God—that which He was sent to accomplish (John 4: 32-34).

More than food and material riches, which man hankers after, Christ promised a different kind of satisfaction and fulfillment that the world cannot match—and, in the hereafter, eternal life and rewards for good works. He told the Samaritan woman at the well that He offers living water which truly satisfies; whoever drinks of it will never thirst (John 4: 13-14).

Love and forgiveness towards others

Jesus taught us that it is important to set our relationship with others aright once we are reconciled to God.

In The Lord’s Prayer, He made it clear that before we can receive God’s forgiveness, we need to forgive others (Matthew 6:12). We are to constantly forgive others, even seventy times seven times. Since there is no limit to God’s forgiveness, we should not place a limit to forgiveness in inter-personal relationships (Matthew 18:22).

In fact, Jesus taught that love should be the hallmark of His followers: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

To destroy the works of the devil

The battle between good and evil not only exists in the galaxies in “Star Wars” but also in the spiritual realm. From Genesis to Revelation, spiritual warfare is evident.

It does not get any clearer than this: “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8b).

By defying death, through His resurrection, Christ “disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities”. He “shamed them publicly” by His victory over them at the cross (Colossians 2:15).

Believers, now seated in the heavenly places next to Christ, rest in an exalted position over the principalities and powers (Ephesians 2:6). The battle has already been won. Our task is to have faith and enforce the victory that Christ has achieved for us at the cross (Ephesians 6:10-11).

To overcome the fear of death

Christ came that He might set free those who through fear of death were subject to life-long slavery (Hebrews 2:15).

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). Can we think of any other promise that offers greater hope to a man when he passes through the valley of death?

The resurrection of Jesus is the epitome of hope. There is life after death for believers—everlasting life in heaven. Just as Jesus’ death is not final, physical death is not final for those who believe in Him.

To restore what was lost in Creation

In the creation account, God instructed Adam and Eve to tend the fruitful Garden of Eden. However, beguiled by Satan, they fell into sin. Among the consequences of the Fall, man would need to toil to earn a living and he will die one day.

But the consolation is that Christ will come one day to undo the works of Satan.  Christ, the seed of woman, born of a virgin, will ultimately defeat Satan on the cross (by His resurrection from the dead) though Satan bruised the heel of Christ, causing His death.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
 and between your offspring and her offspring;
he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:15)

One day, the likes of the paradise that existed in the Garden of Eden will be restored. When God establishes the new heaven and new earth, with gates made of pearls and streets of gold, a state of glorious perfection will once again become a reality.

To recapitulate, what is the main reason why Christ came into this world? He wants to draw us into an everlasting relationship with God, one that transcends our earthly life into eternity.

Christmas is about Jesus who came down to earth 2000 years ago to die for man’s sins. Jesus is God but He stooped low to take the form of man. Furthermore, He willingly subjected Himself to flogging, and the humiliation and excruciating pain of being hung on the cross.

In doing so, He paved the way for man to be forgiven and be reconciled to God. Now those who believe in His sacrificial death on the cross can enter into a personal relationship with God. He is ever ready to forgive us our sins if we believe in Him. 

And for those who already have Christ in our hearts, this season is an opportune time to pause and reflect as to whether we harbour any unforgiveness or resentment against anyone. Inasmuch as God has forgiven us, we too need to forgive; so make decisive steps to be reconciled to our friends or family members. For bitterness, if left unchecked, will destroy us more than the ones with whom we have issues.

As the lyrics of “Christmas isn’t Christmas” tell us:
“Christmas isn't Christmas till it happens in your heart
Somewhere deep inside you
Is where Christmas really starts
So give your heart to Jesus,
you'll discover when you do
That it's Christmas, really Christmas for you.”

Christmas Isn't Christmas (Till It Happens In Your Heart)


As we reflect on the various characters in the birth narrative of Jesus, we rediscover the meaning of Christmas.

Time and again God had been speaking to Francis that He wanted him to be a preacher. But he created all sorts of excuses. He thought, “Why can’t I be a successful businessman and then donate generously to missions?”

Can joy come out of giving? Wouldn’t it be better to be on the receiving end instead?

Jesus sacrificed His own life that those who believe in Him might live eternally.
Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift.
Now the One who gave us the greatest gift of all inspires us to give.

Friday 8 December 2017


Exploring the positive aspects of grace and why we need it so badly

Some believers abuse God’s grace, using it as a licence for sinning, thinking that the more they sin, God’s grace will abound even more (Jude 4, Romans 6:1).

Such are the inherent dangers in overemphasising grace—when we go overboard on grace and think that God’s favour will forever remain with us, no matter how we live out our lives.

Yet, it does not mean that grace is unimportant or irrelevant in the lives of believers. 

The poet Robert Frost penned that “all you really want in the end is mercy.” I think he was spot on there with this one-liner. Undeniably, we all need God’s mercy and grace.

As we look at our own lives, weigh our brownie points against our sin, we will definitely conclude that a fair judgment on God’s part at the end of our lives here on earth would be this—‘guilty’.

For we have all sinned and fall short of God’s standards. If not for God’s grace and mercy, where will we be? (Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8).

As Christians, we are saved by God’s grace, not by our good works, AND stay on in this journey of faith because of His grace.

Like the penitent tax collector in Luke 18:9-14, we are constantly in need of God’s grace and mercy. We, in fact, need lots of His grace and mercy.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Luke 18:9-14)

Yes, there is nothing wrong with a teaching that emphasises grace provided …
  • it (grace) leads to transformed lives.

  • it (grace) is not misused as a licence for sinning.

  • personal responsibility is being emphasised to the same degree as grace.

Apart from grace being God’s unmerited favour towards sinners, what are the other positive aspects of grace?

Among other things, there is grace that sustains, grace that empowers, grace that denies self and grace that reflects wisdom in speech and thought.

Firstly, there is a grace that sustains us in times of trials and tribulations. The apostle Paul was afflicted with a thorn in the flesh. When he sought God for its removal, he was told, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians12:9).

This thorn, a messenger of Satan, was God’s way of keeping him from being too elated over the abundance of revelations he received while he was being transported to heaven. 

However, the exact nature of the thorn, whether it was an ailment or persecution, is unclear.
While others would have wallowed in self-pity, Paul remained level-headed and victorious even amid such adverse circumstances—truly a testimony to God’s sustaining grace.

Secondly, God’s grace also empowers us to serve Him and bless the body of believers and even beyond:
  • “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:6-8).

  • “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies” (1 Peter 4:10-11).

  • “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:7, 11-12).

Thirdly, the self-effacing aspect of grace is best epitomised in the life of Jesus. It’s a grace that puts the interests of others before self: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

Grace that reflects self-denial is also seen in Jesus’ humility. Though He was God, He gave up all his glory and power to become man. Born in a manger to humble parents, he was obedient to the point of death at the cross (Philippians 2:6-8).

Fourthly, grace is a quality reflected in our speech: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).

Now gracious speech is likely to come from a mind that has been filled with wisdom from above: “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17).

If we say we believe in grace, then our speech must be gentle and show respect to all, even those who have different viewpoints.

Believing in a gracious God who forgives us of our sins is fine. And we certainly need loads of God’s grace and mercy.

But we also need to discover the reality of grace that sustains and empowers. We need grace to deny ourselves – that which Christ so beautifully epitomised. And, finally, we need to learn how to be gracious in speech, which is indicative of godly wisdom.

As we revisit these positive aspects of grace, we need to ask: “Are we demonstrating all these various facets of grace in our lives?”


When we think the more we sin, the more God’s grace abounds
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?” (Romans 6:1)
When we pervert God’s grace, using it as a licence for living immoral lives
“I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives.” (Jude 4)

Grace, not an excuse to remain in our sins, but a reason to live righteously
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12)


The only way to know God and relate to Him is to embrace Him as He truly is—a God of grace, love and mercy AND a God of justice, righteousness and truth. To just know Him as either the former or latter is to live in complacency and indifference to sin OR guilt and despair over sin. The essence of idolatry is to entertain thoughts about God that misrepresent Him.

Hyper-grace: “The truth is you are saved by grace and you are kept by grace. It’s grace from start to finish! Don’t let anyone frighten you into doing dead works, but rest secure in His finished work. Just as you did nothing to earn salvation, there is nothing you can do to lose it.”

Our lives must show evidence of change in thought and behavior after we have experienced God’s love.

What fate awaits those who sin repeatedly after they have believed?